NATO 2023 IN LITHUANIA: RIFE WITH POLITICAL PITFALLS 

With the shadow of the Shoah, NATO heading for an unseemly summit

By Grant Gochin

(First published in “The times of Israel)

One of the greatest public relations catastrophes of President Reagan’s tenure was his May 1985 visit to a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, that contained numerous members of the Waffen SS. Today, nearly four decades later, the visit is still remembered with anger, confoundment, and mostly for American embarrassment.

NATO has announced that the next meeting of its member heads of state and government will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12, 2023. There are, unfortunately, obvious parallels to Reagan’s “goodwill” visit to Bitburg.

Capital Crimes. The next meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government will take place in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on 11-12 July 2023. Seen here are the NATO and Lithuanian flags (Photo / E. Genys/LRT)

In World War II, and primarily in the second half of 1941, about 200,000 Lithuanian Jews – about 96% — were systematically expelled from their homes, robbed, starved, tortured, and brutally murdered primarily by ethnic Lithuanian death squads euphemistically referred to auxiliary “police” units. Lithuania does not acknowledge the fact that most of the mass murderers were ethnic Lithuanians. To the contrary, Lithuania in many cases has elevated the stature of many of those who led the Lithuanian Holocaust, arguing that they were anti-Soviet. This itself is an echo of the Nazis canard conflating Jews with communism.

During this NATO summit, the government of Lithuania will likely take the heads of state and delegations to four locations often displayed to visiting dignitaries:

– The “Genocide Museum”, a unique institution in the world that is premised on the contention that ethnic Lithuanians -rather than Jews – were the primary victims of genocide in the 20th Century

 – The Antakalnis Cemetery, their National Cemetery

  – The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences

– The Tuskulėnai Manor 

Sparks Storm. A group of demonstrators stand outside the U.S. Embassy on May 5 1985 in Tel Aviv to protest US President Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg military cemetery where some 50 SS soldiers are buried. (AP Photo/Max Nash)

Lithuania will characterize these locations as mere sites of national historical importance, hoping to deceive naïve foreign leaders. Yet, by giving the honor of their presence to any of these four sites, the foreign leaders are exposing themselves to scandal, embarrassment, and a public relations disaster akin to President Reagan’s Bitburg calamity of 1985. The problem is easily avoided by NATO dignitaries sidestepping these sites:

1.THE GENOCIDE MUSEUM   

Part of the former KGB building in Vilnius now houses “The Museum of Occupations and Battles for Freedom” formally (and informally) known as Lithuania’s Genocide Museum. This is a primary nationalistic tourist attraction. The exterior walls of the museum are inscribed with the names of people sentenced to death by the Soviet regime and executed at the Tuskulėnai Manor house in Vilnius.

Honouring Murderers. Many of the names engraved into the exterior wall of the Genocide Museum in Vilnius dedicated to members of the Lithuanian resistance who were murdered, imprisoned or deported by the Soviet Union from WWII until the 1960s include those of Holocaust perpetrators.

The organization in charge of the museum and for national commemorative policy, the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania (Genocide Center), is best described as Lithuania’s center for Holocaust fraud and fictional history. Indeed, the center’s Lithuanian name translates into English as something quite different – the Center for the Study of the Genocide of Lithuanian Residents and Resistance. This Lithuanian title suggests that ethnic Lithuanians were the victims of genocide – even though there was no systematic mass-murder of ethnic Lithuanians in the 20th Century – and that Lithuanians “resisted” some authority. Did the Lithuanians resist the Nazis? No, they collaborated with the Nazis to a greater extent than any other people in Europe. And after Lithuania regained its independence, it threatened to prosecute Jews who fought against the Nazis.

The Lithuanian government has repeatedly been exposed as promoting Holocaust revisionism. Indeed, for this specific reason, some international academic institutions have terminated their interactions with Lithuanian state-sponsored historical-revision institutions. Lithuania pretends that it is objectively seeking the truth. The record shows quite the opposite. They have gone to great lengths to devise artifices suggesting that Holocaust perpetrators were not involved in the Holocaust. This effort would no doubt win the praise of Goebbels in the Nazi era and is comparable to today’s Kremlin disinformation factories.

Many of the names engraved into the exterior wall of the museum are those of Holocaust perpetrators. This makes the museum a shrine for honoring murderers of Lithuanian Jews as well as those who played no role in the Holocaust. Under growing international pressure, the Genocide Center now vaguely concedes that there are “problems” with some of the names engraved into the museum wall.

In October 2019, the then-director of the Center, Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė said three of the names were complicit in Holocaust crimes. These three were:

  • Antanas Gerdvilis [1]
  • Bronius Jakunskas [2]
  • Petras Jurkus [3]

Burauskaitė omitted others, most notably Jonas Noreika, the murderer of up to 14,500 of Lithuania’s Jewish citizens. The Lithuanian government has now rewritten his history to portray him as a rescuer of Jews. Also omitted is the name of a notorious Holocaust perpetrator whose grandson, Darius Semaška, was Lithuania’s prior ambassador to Germany.

Wall of Shame. The memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika-Vėtra – “a mass murderer of the Jews of northwestern Lithuania” – at the WROBLEWSKI LIBRARY OF THE LITHUANIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES in Vilnius. / BNS

Joseph A. Melamed, a Holocaust survivor from Kovna (Kaunas), Lithuania, who became a Tel Aviv attorney, devoted many years to identifying the Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrators. In a 1999 publication he identified 5,000, but added that the number of Lithuanians “directly involved in acts of genocide” is estimated to total 23,000.[4]

For decades, the Lithuanian government has promised to research and publicize the names of the perpetrators and, more generally, remedy the situation. But this remains unlikely. In 2012, the museum gave to the government a list containing the names of 2,055 supposed perpetrators, but the list was never made public by the museum or the government. A government deputy minister later denied having received the list.

And then-museum-director Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė herself subsequently said that after studying the list for three years, her organization eliminated approximately 1,000 suspects.

The list of perpetrators has now shrunk to a mere 200. The research on this group was due to be completed by the end of 2020. It was not.

In April 2021, Genocide Center historian Rytas Narvydas tried to justify the delay by saying that work had been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Narvydas stated that “103 biographies out of almost 200 have been studied.” At the same time, he conceded that the pace of the study was clearly insufficient. He explained that the problem was that only one person was assigned to perform the research, and that that person could only research between 10 and 12 biographies per year. At this rate, the Genocide Center will need another decade or more to complete their ”study” of just 200 individuals. They have over 100 employees, so the rhetorical question to be asked is why has only one person been assigned to this task?

Arvydas Anušauskas, who is now Lithuania’s Minister of National Defense, was the previous head of the Genocide Center. While there, he oversaw rampant Holocaust revisionism. Among other things, he claimed there had been “exhaustive” research into names engraved  on the exterior wall of the Genocide Museum, and declared that none were Holocaust perpetrators. Anušauskas is a nationalist ideologue who has little to no use for “uncomfortable” facts. His self-described “exhaustive” research apparently was unable to take notice of the Holocaust crimes of Jonas Noreika. This is consistent with Lithuania’s track record of ignoring what Lithuanian perpetrators did during World War II.

When NATO foreign leaders visit the Genocide Museum or the Genocide Center, they will be visiting a shrine of perpetrator veneration. To honor such a shrine would display a profound disrespect to Holocaust victims and give credence to Lithuania’s studied inversion of facts.

Sharing space on the wall are the names of also Nefiodovas[5], Gylys[6], Andriuškevičius, Griška, and Paškevičius.

Foreign leaders should not “pay their respects” to the museum that honoring perpetrators. This is worse than Reagan’s benighted visit to Bitburg.

2. ANTAKALNIS CEMETERY

Antakalnis Cemetery is Lithuania’s national cemetery. The Lithuanian government takes visiting dignitaries to view the graves of its national heroes. Most recently, they took the Queen of Belgium to the cemetery.

The Lithuanian Government will almost certainly fail to inform visiting dignitaries that the cemetery likely contains Holocaust perpetrators whom Lithuania deems to be national heroes.

NATO protects Lithuania from her Russian enemies on the premise that Lithuania adheres to the same values as Western democracies. Yet, clearly, Lithuania does not hold the same values. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other allies would never honor those who committed the mass murder of innocent civilians. NATO dignitaries must be mindful of this and try to avoid embarrassing themselves and the nations they represent.

Grave Injustice. While the Lithuanian government takes visiting dignitaries to view the graves of its national heroes and will likely take next year’s NATO delegation, what is unlikely is that they will inform of the Holocaust perpetrators amongst its “national heroes”.

3. WROBLEWSKI LIBRRARY OF THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF LITHUANIA 

The exterior of this building displays a plaque honoring the genocidal mass murderer of the Jews of northwestern Lithuania – Jonas Noreika. Noreika‘s crimes are well known and have been exposed by his own granddaughter in her non-fiction work, The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal (2021).

Many governments, organizations, and individuals have voiced their staunch disapproval of Lithuania’s disingenuous efforts to deny the culpability of Jonas Noreika. Among those are the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the U.S. Congress and State Department, Lithuania’s own Presidential Commission, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Congress, the World Jewish Congress, and others. Given the volume of condemnations by major institutions, as well as the American, German, and Israeli governments, it is patently obvious that Lithuania’s government is deeply involved in Holocaust denial.

NATO delegations should avoid this location so that it is clear that they do not endorse the honoring of a known Holocaust perpetrator.

4. THE TUSKULėNAI MANOR

On the grounds of the Tuskulėnai Manor is the burial place of approximately 767 Lithuanians who were executed by the Soviets. Among those were many Nazi criminals who were members of the “Ypatingasis būrys” (“Special Squad”), a Lithuanian death squad that operated in the Vilnius Region. Also buried here are members of Rollkommando Hamann, a small mobile killing unit composed of 8 -10 Germans and several dozen local Lithuanian collaborators who traveled throughout the Lithuanian countryside in the second half of 1941.

Menacing Manor. While the grounds of Tuskulėnai Manor is the burial place of approximately 767 Lithuanians executed by the Soviets, less revealed to visitors is that among these were members of a Lithuanian Nazi death squad that operated in the Vilnius Region.

Lithuania deems all who were executed by the Soviets to be  “victims” and does not distinguish war criminals of the worst kind from those who were bona-fide heroes. By conflating them, Lithuania honors perpetrators. NATO should not.

NATO officials and state visitors will have no ability to avoid monuments and honors for Holocaust perpetrators in Lithuania. These monuments are everywhere.

Lithuania should not dupe NATO representatives into unconsciously paying respect to Holocaust perpetrators. If they will not be honest about their history, it is nonetheless incumbent upon the NATO delegations to understand Lithuanian duplicity.

For NATO members to pay respect at monuments for Holocaust perpetrators is to taint the mission of NATO, and question the naïveté of the countries they represent. After all, there will be much press in Vilnius during the summit and the world will see where the delegations pay respects.

Lithuania has made its fraudulent Holocaust positions clear many times, over many years, and in many forums. Even if Lithuania now tells the truth, it has been such a long term effort to bring them to truth, it would be impossible to now consider Lithuania telling truth as voluntary or sincere. They fought it too hard and for too long.

Lithuania themselves hold the key to the problem they have created for NATO. If Lithuania sincerely, honestly, and comprehensively state the details of who, what, when, where, why, and how, the country can move forward over time.

NATO is too critical for our own protection. They should not have been dragged into this Holocaust denial morass.



With gratitude to Evaldas Balciunas:

[1] A member of the June 1941 pro-Nazi “uprising,” a police officer from Alanta, Lithuania, who administered stolen Jewish property and was a Holocaust perpetrator.

[2] An alderman of Kalvarija, Lithuania, who arrested Jews, compiled lists of Jewish families, and seized their property.

[3] He took part in executing so-called Soviet activists in the town of Švėkšna, where the majority of the population was Jewish, and later administered property stolen from the Jews.

[4] Lithuania Crime & Punishment, January 1999 Edition, p. 5.

[5] In April 1941 – two months before the Nazi invasion of Lithuania – Vladimaras Nefiodovas was the commander of the underground pro-Nazi unit in the Kaunas suburb of Petrašiūnai. He was tried by the Soviets for criminal activity and convicted in 1945. At his trial he testified that his unit arrested 50 “loads” of Jews. Presumably, these Jews were among the 125 Jews of Petrašiūnai who were murdered in Petrašiūnai on August 30, 1941.

[6] Pranas Gylys was tried and convicted by a Soviet court for Holocaust crimes. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1946.




About the writer:\

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





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

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Articles

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FORGOTTEN HISTORY REMEMBERED

Ceremony at Johannesburg’s Jewish cemetery will illuminate ‘bloodlines’ between South Africa and Israel

By David E. Kaplan

Story of a Stone. Unveiled by Gen. Smuts in 1922,  a century later sees cornerstone again unveiled.

A lost cornerstone originally unveiled by Prime Minister Jan Smuts honouring South African Jews soldiers killed in WWI, was recently found in the garden of a bowling club and is to be unveiled again, this time by Smuts’ great-grandson. What will also be unveiled are forgotten stories connecting South Africa and Israel.

FORGOTTEN HISTORY REMEMBERED

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(2)

‘RESCUING’ HOLOCAUST SURIVORS TODAY

Christians and Jews unite in providing a helping hand

By staff correspondent

Helping Hands. Jewish and Christian organisations join forces in supporting causes in Israel.

Two organizations – one run by an Orthodox Israeli American Jew, the other by a Chinese American Christian – are partnering to help Holocaust survivors in Israel who are finding themselves in stressful situations. Let them not be failed again!

RESCUING’ HOLOCAUST SURIVORS TODAY

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(3)

THE BUBBLE HAS BURST

Three phases every healthy relationship repeatedly goes through

By Bev Ehrlich

From young Love and Beyond. The dynamics of love changes as the daily dynamics of life change.

How is your relationship with your partner? Ups and downs are normal – part of any partnership’s journey. A ‘relational coach’, the writer who from her own experience of once feeling “helpless” and “strained”, counsels the path forward to restoring a healthy relationship.

THE BUBBLE HAS BURST

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LOTL Co-founders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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

The Israel Brief- 21-24 November 2022

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The Israel Brief – 22 November 2022 Coalition building continues. IDF Chief in USA. 3000th Palestinian child receives life saving surgery in Israel. World Cup updates.



The Israel Brief – 23 November 2022 Terror attacks in Jerusalem. Body of 18 year old Druse-Israeli kidnapped. Coalition talks derail. UAE to teach about Holocaust.



The Israel Brief – 24 November 2022 Tiran Pero returned to his family. Hunt on for Jerusalem terror bombers. Presidents Zelensky and Herzog speak. Elon Musk removes antisemitic Twitter account.






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 BUBBLE HAS BURST

Three Phases Every Healthy Relationship Repeatedly Goes Through

By Bev Ehrlich

Have you ever questioned whether the person you’re in love with is capable of making you happy? Well, how is that working out for you? The marriage we want is like the body we want – flawless!! Relationships are not perfect! Real relationships are the collision of your partner’s imperfections with your flaws. How you manage that, is key to your healthy relationship.

Ed Tronick introduced the idea that all relationships are a constant dance of harmony, disharmony, and repair. Closeness, distance taking, and closeness once again. This pattern can play itself out over decades or 30 times over one dinner.

Photo: Julia C. Basso, PhD

Phase 1: HARMONY – I FEEL CONNECTED

Harmony is when you feel relational with your partner. You can listen to what their needs are, and see their perspective.

Terry Real refers to this first stage as “love without knowledge.” It’s the promise phase in which you might recognize a soul connection. You feel this person completes you. They get you! They will surely heal all your wounds and hurts. They get you in every way.

Real calls this phase “love without knowledge” because, while you may feel like you’ve known this person for your entire life, you don’t know how they keep their sock drawer or how they manage their finances, or if they leave their dirty laundry on the floor.

As you move from being wrapped up in one another, you begin to notice other things going on in your world. Living life together doesn’t seem quite so simple and disillusionment sets in.

Phase 2: RUPTURE – I FEEL DEFENSIVE AND DISCONNECTED

Knowledge without love now comes to the fore. You now know more about your partner. You may feel you now know more about them than you ever wished you knew! You don’t feel very loving at this stage. You begin to behave in a way that keeps you protected and disconnected. Much to your shock and frustration, not only is this person not going to deliver you from all the broken places you’re trying to run from, but you discover that your partner is beautifully designed as Terry Real so eloquently puts it “to stick a burning spear right into your eyeball.”

Looking more closely, we have married our unfinished conversations with our early caretakers.

When we were dating, we met many potential partners who would not have recreated our old family dramas. Our lives together may have been calmer, however, none of them attracted us.

This disillusionment hurts like crazy! You can feel betrayed, angry, and even trapped.

Phase 3: REPAIR ‒ RETURNING TO CONNECTEDNESS   

The third phase of the dance is repair. This is the “knowing stage of love.” You know all about your partner. You know all their ugly and imperfect parts. You know they never pay bills on time or always leave their shoes and socks strewn all over the living room floor, they squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle!! However, despite all this knowledge you choose to love them anyway.

Thomas Hübl  teaches that “healthy intimacy is not something you have, it’s something you do. It’s a minute-to-minute practice; as such, we need to create conditions for sustained practice and build a relationship-cherishing subculture around ourselves, our children, and our marriages. “

A healthy relationship flows from harmony to rupture and doesn’t get stuck there but works its way back into repair and closeness.



About the writer:

Beverly Ehrlich is a relationship coach. She firmly believes that we heal, grow and thrive through healthy and cherishing relationships that show appreciation for each other’s strengths and build on them. Feeling helpless and strained when her husband of many years found himself in the depths of depression, they turned for support to Terry Real’s Relational Life Therapy (RLT). She has since dedicated her life to bringing couples back into healthy connectedness. Beverly encourages her clients to stand up for themselves with love while cherishing their partner at the same time. She teaches strategies that help clients speak their truth so that their partner can hear them and come into repair quicker each 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).

FORGOTTEN HISTORY REMEMBERED

The heroic past shall be ‘unveiled’ at an upcoming ceremony at Johannesburg’s Jewish cemetery illuminating ‘bloodlines’ between South Africa and Israel

By David E. Kaplan

On the 27th November, people of all faiths and races – some wearing medals of battles past – will gather at the South African National Jewish War Memorial at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg. They will do so to remember those South African soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the world wars of the twentieth century that not only “changed the course of history” but profoundly impacted on the destiny of the Jewish people. The acts of bravery by these soldiers – whether aware at the time or not – contributed to the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in their ancestral homeland in 1948.

Live stream link on Sunday 27/11/22, 10:30 (SA time) – https://www.facebook.com/SAZionistFed/

The drama of three long forgotten and for many never even known events, will be ‘unveiled’ together with the stones embodying their pulsating pasts.

STORY OF A STONE

When only a year ago, students at  UCT ( University of Cape Town) tried to expunge the memory of South Africa’s famed wartime Prime Minister Jan Smuts by defacing and covering his bust with plastic bags and ultimately removing it from the campus as well as renaming the historic men’s residence from Smuts Hall to Upper Campus Residence, the upcoming gathering on the 27 November has a contrary agenda of honouring his memory as it connects with the Jewish people. If UCT students sought to ‘cover’ Smuts’ bust, the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), JNF (SA), the South African Jewish ex-Service League together with its committee member, Selwyn Rogoff and its former Chairman, Peter Bailey also representing the Isaac Ochberg Heritage Committee in Israel, have sought to uncover Smuts’ less known past, notably his contribution to the State of Israel.

Century of a Stone. The cornerstone originally unveiled by Prime Minister Smuts in 1922 to be again unveiled by his great-grandson Gareth Shackleford on the 27 November 2022 at West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.

When it was brought to Bailey and Rogoff’s attention that a cornerstone honouring South African Jews who had fought and died in the Great War that had been unveiled by Prime Minister Smuts in November 1922 at the old Jewish Guild War Memorial Building in downtown Johannesburg had after a century of travels to different locations  resurfaced in the garden of a bowling club, they felt a special memorial event marking the centenary should be held. Bailey felt further that it should include two other monumental contributions of South African soldiers who died in the service of that biblical land that would in time emerge as the state of the Jewish people – Israel. Through this writer’s intervention, he contacted Benji Shulman of the SAZF that set in motion the upcoming event that will have Smuts’ great-grandson, Gareth Shackleford, who will unveil again the cornerstone that his grandfather originally unveiled a century earlier reminding the world of the love Smuts had for the Jewish people and his role in the creation of the Jewish state.

Dead at Delville. Included amongst Jewish South African soldiers killed in WWI was the writer’s grandfather’s brother, Victor Kaplan, who volunteered for overseas service and was killed in the Battle of Delville Wood in 1916. (Family photo)

Too few are aware that when Smuts and Chaim Weizmann met in London during the Great War, the two began a close friendship that lasted for the rest of their lives and greatly influenced events in Palestine. In an essay on Smuts and Weizmann, Richard P. Stevens writes:

perhaps few personal friendships have so influenced the course of political events during the twentieth century as the relationship between General Jan Christiaan Smuts, South Africa’s celebrated prime minister, and Chaim Weizmann, Zionist leader, and Israel’s first president.”

Meeting of Minds. They emerged friends with shared visions – Chaim Weizmann (left) and Jan Smuts, circa 1915 (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)

Research reveals that Smuts played a monumental backroom role in the drafting of the Balfour Declaration, providing Weizmann with a direct conduit to the War Cabinet. Another of Smuts’ great-grandsons, Philip Weyers, said of his great-grandfather, who he fondly refers to as “Oubaas” (old boss) that:

he was the anonymous partner to the Balfour Declaration. The spirit and even some of the wording of the Balfour Declaration came from the Oubaas’ mouth. His thoughts and views carried a lot of weight, and is imbedded in that fateful document.

It is little wonder that kibbutz Ramat Yohanan – founded in 1932  – was named in honour of Jan Smuts; ‘Yohanan’ being the Hebrew translation for the Afrikaans ‘Jan’ or English ‘John’, in recognition of his unstinting efforts on behalf of the Jewish people.

LETTER TO LEGEND

However, Israel’s ‘Magna Carta’ – the Balfour Declaration of 1917 – would have meant very little beyond a letter or footnote in history had not the actual ‘feet’ of commonwealth soldiers – including the Cape Corps comprising members of South Africa’s Coloured community – fought valiantly to relieve Palestine of the Ottoman Turks. Some 54 Coloureds  – Christians and Muslims – lost their lives in what became known as the Battle of Megiddo, opening the road for General Allenby’s breakthrough to Damascus. Most important from a Jewish perspective, while it “opened the road” for Allenby, it cleared the region of the occupying Turks, paving the way for a British Mandate and ultimately Jewish statehood in 1948.

Jubilation in Jerusalem. One month after the Balfour Declaration, General Edmund Allenby enters the Old City on the 11 December 1917 to accept the surrender of Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. Next battle to follow – Megiddo.

A year following the famous battle, Field Marshal Viscount Allenby, GCB, GCMG had this to say about the men of the 1st Cape Corps:

 “I heard you are creating a Roll of Honour containing Cape Corps names. I had the honour of serving with many of the Cape Corps in Palestine and I should like to add my tribute of appreciation. The record of those of the Cape Corps who fought under my command is one that any troops might envy. Especially on September 19 and 20, 1918, they covered themselves with glory, displaying a bravery and determination that has never been surpassed.”

A descendant of this battle, Cmdr. M. Adeel Carelse MMM (Ret.), whose grandfather Cpl. C. H. Carelse fought bravely at Square Hill and Kh Jibeit that were decisive battles within the larger Battle of Megiddo and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, will unveil on the 27 November a plaque to the Cape Corps. Today in Cape Town’s suburb of Retreat, there is Square Hill School that is named after this famous battle that too few remember or the sacrifices made.  However, these mostly forgotten battles fought in a biblical land, ended Ottoman Turkish rule and led to the eventual establishment of the independent states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and ISRAEL!

Valiant Fighters. Men of the 1st. Battalion, Cape Corps(160th Brigade, 53 Welsh Division) in Palestine 1918.

WORKED TOGETHER, DIED TOGETHER

The third stone of history to be unturned at the ceremony, will be to remember and honour the 644 black Southern Africans who went down with 140 Yishuv Jews on the SS Erinpura during WWII.

They had all worked together as volunteers on a British labour project in Palestine for the war effort and were together in a convoy in the Mediterranean in May 1943 . The SS Erinpura was carrying more than 1000 troops, including Basuto and Batswanan members of the African Auxiliary Pioneer Corps and Palestinian Jewish soldiers of 462 Transport Company of the British Army when on the evening of 1 May 1943, German bomber aircraft attacked the convoy 30 nautical miles (56 km) north of Benghazi.

They Made History. On parade but soon to be tested in battle are soldiers of the Cape Corp during WW1 who performed so heroically at the Battle of Megiddo in 1918 against the Ottoman Turks.

In one wave of the attacks, a bomb hit the Erinpura in one of her forward holds, causing her to list to starboard and sink within five minutes. The crew of her 12-pounder anti-aircraft gun continued to return fire until she sank with a loss of life of 800 that included the 633 Sotho, 11 Tswana soldiers and 140 Palestinian Jewish soldiers.

Lives lost at Sea. The ‘SS Erinpura Memorial’ on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem is dedicated to the 139 Jewish soldiers of the British Army  462 Moving Unit in British Mandate of Palestine  that lost their lives on the SS Erinpura  that was sunk in an attack  by the Luftwaffe on 1 May 1943.

The monument on Mount Herzl  to the 140 Jewish soldiers who drowned aboard the SS Erinpura is shaped like a ship  with a pool of water representing the sea where on the bottom appear the names of the fallen. Above the pool is a turret adorned with the Hebrew text of Psalm 68, verse 22:

The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea.”

Ship of Soldiers. The ill-fated SS. Erinpura that went down with South African and Jewish Palestinian soldiers in WWII.

This did in a sense happen with the emergence five years later  with the gathering of Jews and the established of the Jewish state in 1948.

It is only fitting that  Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa, Eliav Belotsercovsky, will unveil a memorial plaque at the West Park Cemetery ceremony to the tragic loss of life of both the Yishuv Jews and black South Africans who lost their lives together in a cause that others may live.

Entrance to West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg

EPILOGUE

The years have rolled by and like packed away old unread books, heroic lives were lost tucked away in forgotten chapters in recedingly remembered conflicts. The upcoming ceremony on the 27 November 2022  in Johannesburg is designed to address this amnesia and all across the world are invited to attend on ZOOM

https://www.facebook.com/SAZionistFed/

Before all these events played out, the instruction of ‘being careful not to forget’ was already present in Deuteronomy 4:7–9:“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy son’s sons.





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).

‘RESCUING’ HOLOCAUST SURIVORS TODAY

Christians and Jews unite in providing a helping hand

By staff correspondent

The timing may be coincidental but there are no coincidences.  This week, two parallel, complementary organizations – one run by an Orthodox Israeli American Jew, and one run by a Chinese American Christian – announced a partnership to bless and comfort Holocaust survivors in Israel.  The need and opportunity is great, and time is of the essence the aging population of Holocaust survivors are dying at an alarming rate.  As they age, they also find themselves in challenging and stressful situations where fixed incomes do not cover all their increased needs. They are literally inviting people from around the world to join them.

The Genesis 123 Foundation is a US based 501(C)3 non-profit whose mandate is to build bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians with Israel in ways that are new, unique and meaningful.  Jonathan Feldstein is its Orthodox Jewish, Israeli American president.  Years ago, Feldstein connected with Shirley Burdick, a Chinese American Christian, and founder of the Israeli based non-profit, Ten Gentiles, whose mission is to equip and engage Christians to participate in God’s restoration of Israel alongside the Jewish people.

Helping Hands. On a mission together are founder and CEO of Genesis 123 Foundation Jonathan Feldstein  and founder of the Israeli based non-profit, Ten Gentiles, Shirley Burdick

Feldstein and Burdick became friends and have partnered together on various projects including providing fresh, homemade, hot kosher soup to bless Israeli soldiers guarding at night, keeping Israelis safe, in the Judean mountains. This partnership started with Ten Gentiles purchasing a large soup pot and Feldstein and Burdick preparing and delivering soup one cold winter night. Since then, hundreds of servings of soup, and infinite love and appreciation for the soldiers, have been served.

Recently, Feldstein and Burdick learned of a need and opportunity to be a blessing to elderly Holocaust survivors, and to partner together in a way that neither could do on their own. As they age, and die by the thousands each year, survivors have increased needs medically and economically that create financial stress and trigger PTSD, reminding them of the trauma of suffering and survival that they endured as young people. 

Genesis 123 and Ten Gentiles agreed to partner, with Genesis 123 receiving financial offerings from donations as a US non-profit, and facilitating Ten Gentiles to disburse the funds to benefit Holocaust survivors in need.  Some of the very tangible needs presented include massage and physical therapy to help with healing after a physical trauma (ranging from $500-$700), replacing an AC unit for survivors in the heat of summer ($875-$1,000), home renovation to replace a bathtub with an accessible shower  ($1,780), urgent dental treatment (from $826- $2,105), new eye glasses ($859), hearing aids and eye surgery ($1,071), purchasing a new convertible couch/bed ($780), purchasing a new TV ($560), and a new washing machine and freezer ($800 + $600), laser eye surgery ($820), providing a new computer ($1,156), and offering a rent increase subsidy ($1,500).  This week, Ten Gentiles gave out gift cards to a major Israeli grocery store chain to survivors to be sure that they have basic food supplies going into winter.

Room to Improve. Appalling conditions at homes of Holocaust survivors (Photo: The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel)

These needs are just some of the specific examples of things that have been done by mostly Christian donors so far, and an illustration of what kinds of needs are expected coming up. Most needs fall outside the kinds of things that local government and civil service agencies can do, and involve one-time expenses that are unaffordable for those living on a fixed income.  With about 25% of survivors living below the poverty line, any one of these can push someone over, the stress of which would be compounded by the trauma the survivors suffered in Nazi Europe.

All the survivors for whom needs are being provided are vetted by local social service agencies so that the funds donated will make the biggest impact to those most in need. The more money that is donated, the more survivors that can be helped. 

Mindful of the six million Jews who were murdered, Genesis 123 and Ten Gentiles have established a modest goal of $600,000 as stage one, and agreed to steward the funds with no overhead.  If just 6000 people were to donate $100, the goal could be reached by January’s observance of International Holocaust Memorial Day.

Working through churches around the world, Genesis 123 has also provided handmade holiday cards along with the ability for donors to send their personal blessings and words of encouragement to the survivors directly.  

In announcing their partnership, Feldstein and Burdick realized that it could not be timeous.  As November 9 is the anniversary of the 1938 nationwide pogrom that engulfed Germany’s Jews known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, while the horrors of the past cannot be undone, a redeeming partnership between Jews and Christians to support the shrinking number of remaining survivors can be a blessing and is redemptive.

On Kristallnacht, Jewish institutions and synagogues were vandalized and burned, along with countless private Jewish businesses and homes. Jews were arrested, assaulted, and murdered across Germany in what became the foundation of the systematic mass murder of the Holocaust. 

Because so much of the persecution of the Jews in Europe took place by Christian Europe, this partnership between Jews and Christians is not just a comfort to the survivors but healing in the sense that it mends the relationship that was overcome by hate.  Anyone who wishes to be a blessing and participate in comforting the survivors in the twilight of their lives can visit: genesis123.co/hug-a-holocaust-survivor.  





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- 14-17 November 2022

The Israel Brief – 14 November 2022 Snakey Shaun or is that Sean? Rolene Marks joins JNF USA forva special day in the South. 



The Israel Brief – 15 November 2022 Three killed in terror attack. FBI to investigate Abu Akleh death. Ukraine debacle at UN. Noa Kirel schools “Ye”.



The Israel Brief – 16 November 2022 Coalition talks continue. Israeli tanker hit by bomb off Oman. PM Lapid says IDF soldiers will not be “abandoned to investigations”. Tension between Israel and Ukraine?



The Israel Brief – 17 November 2022 Wanted fugitive caught in South Africa. Netanyahu and Erdogan speak. White House say they did not know about DoJ investigation. MFA help Israelis understand what to expect in Qatar.




14 November 2022 – Rolene Marks talks to WINA’s Rob Schilling about the election results 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- 16 November 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.

The Israel Brief

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Articles

(1)

‘WARRIOR’ AT WAR TO ‘WORRIER’ FOR PEACE

Recollections and reflections of more than a life cut short

By David E. Kaplan

Time Out. More than a ‘smoke-break’ but a break with war – Hussein and Rabin signing the1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

Enriching encounters while visiting northern Israel with a delegation of JNF South Africa on ‘Yitzhak Rabin Day’, revived memories and revealed insights of the man whose presence has not receded despite the body’s long departure.

‘WARRIOR’ AT WAR TO ‘WORRIER’ FOR PEACE

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(2)

OCCUPIER BARBIE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF IHRA

Antisemitism needs to be defined in order to effectively combat this irrational hatred

By Rolene Marks

Flaming Hatred. Anti-Israel animus transitions into antisemitism drawing analogies to the Nazis, declaring Israel racist and illegitimate.

Once labeled “Occupier Barbie”, the writer was recently ‘promoted’ by South African-based spewer of Jew hatred – the Media Review Network (MRN) – as “Chief Hasbara Agent”. Standing up for Israel today attracts constant personal abuse and insults, something this writer is accustomed to as she unpacks the present tsunami of hatred unleashed on Jews around the world.

OCCUPIER BARBIE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF IHRA

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(3)

HATED TODAY IN LITHUANIA

For simply standing and fighting for the truth

A lecture by Grant Gochin

Sign of the Times! Memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika in Vilnius for his fight against the Soviets. Forgotten is his killing of Jews.

The reason why so many of our family members fought so staunchly against Apartheid,” is because they understood from being “victims of Apartheid in Lithuania.” In his shockingly revealing address to South Africa’s Cape Town Jewish community in October, a researcher who lost close family in the Holocaust, peels off the layers of deceit to reveal Lithuanian complicity of a grand scale in the Shoah and its attempts thereafter at cover-up.

HATED TODAY IN LITHUANIA

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LOTL Co-founders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

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


‘WARRIOR’ AT WAR TO ‘WORRIER’ FOR PEACE

A drive up north on Yitzhak Rabin Day led to recollections and reflections of more than a life cut short

By David E. Kaplan

While Americans of a certain age will ask each other where they were when they first heard the news in 1963 that President Kennedy was shot, Israelis are more likely to question of their own leader assassinated on November 4, 1995:

What would have happened had he lived?”

Reflections of “WHAT IF” have persisted unabated  every year around the time of the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was gunned down in office while addressing a peace rally in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995. Despite his physical absence, his spiritual presence remains profoundly felt – even at places far beyond the borders of the country he so valiantly served.

Man of Destiny. Yitzchak Rabin as a young Major General in the IDF.

More than killing a man, the assassin killed a peace process leading to an accelerated and deepening polarisation in Israel  that has influenced the country’s domestic and foreign policy ever since. One wonders if Rabin had not been killed by Yigal Amir that fateful November Saturday 27 years ago, would Israel be different today?

These were the thoughts that I pondered as I traveled north with a JNF (Jewish National Fund) delegation from South Africa, who together with members of our Isaac Ochberg Heritage Committee (Israel), were meeting with the Mayor of Megiddo, Itzik Holawsky and members of the Megiddo Regional Council to discuss joint projects in a region that is so enrichingly connected to the Jewish community of South Africa.

Memorable Meeting. With the photograph of Yitzchak Rabin in the background, members of the Isaac Ochberg Heritage Committee (Israel) and a delegation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) South Africa meet in the Mayor of Megiddo’s office on Rabin Day. (l-r) Mayor Itzik Holawsky, Hagar Reuveni, Isla Feldman, Bev Schneider, David Kaplan, Peter Bailey, Michael Kransdorff and Nati Vierba (Rob Hyde absent). (Photo D.E. kaplan)

The day’s programme, although not intentionally connected with Rabin,  resonated with the spirit of Rabin from the moment we peered out the vehicle’s window as we headed north and saw the sign in bold – Yitzchak  Rabin Highway – the official name of Highway 6. Seeing that sign, jolted my memory back to my interview with Rabin’s trusted friend and confidant, the late Eitan Haber who said “that it was most fitting that Israel’s Cross-Israel Highway (“Highway 6”) was officially dedicated as the ‘Yitzhak Rabin Highway’. He was such a powerful force behind this project as he was in pushing ahead with road development throughout the country.” Nevertheless, the irony was not lost that on this anniversary of a nation mourning the loss of its visionary leader, the leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu was forming a coalition – whose collective mindset represented the antithesis of what Rabin stood and for what he was gunned down for.

On Track. Highway 6 (Hebrew: כביש 6, Kvish Shesh), also known as the Trans-Israel Highway or Cross-Israel Highway is officially dedicated as the Yitzhak Rabin Highway.

Our day would play out with constant  interludes of Rabin from entering Mayor Holawsky’s  office and noticing the photograph of Rabin on the wall behind his desk to visiting a school where the young students – boys and girls – were all singing songs from the Rabin era.

We all joined in. As I watched these youngsters,  I wondered what they knew of the life of the former Prime Minister.

Rabin Remembered. Members of the Isaac Ochberg Heritage Committee (Israel) and a delegation of JNF South Africa attend Rabin Day activities at Megiddo School with representatives of the Megiddo Regional Council.

My father was a happy man; he loved life and loved his tennis,” Rabin’s daughter Dalia Rabin told this writer in an interview at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv in 2010. We were standing next to the glass-encased cabinet of Rabin’s rackets and tennis balls, testimony to the relaxed side of a personality that carried the weight of a nation on his broad shoulders.

Earlier in the interview, Dalia explained the importance of the Center in outreaching to the children of Israel:

We need to reach today’s young generation. We are all concerned about the increased level of violence, a thread, I believe, traceable to the night of the assassination. People woke up the next day to a new reality they were not prepared for. Unfortunately, the shock was never dealt with by the leadership of all political parties at the time and that has impacted on our culture. When you have tensions that are not addressed, when your minorities do not have adequate platforms to express their ideas and beliefs, it leads to frustration. Seeking an outlet, this pent up frustration can lead to violence. We believe that our initiative to ensure every schoolchild in Israel should visit the museum and hopefully thereafter attend our workshops will help address some of the pressing issues confronting our society.”

Revealing Rabin. The writer interviewing Dalia Rabin about her illustrious father at the newly opened Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv in 2010.

I thought too of another image of Rabin that Haber had raised, a far cry from the  ‘cigar and champagne’ image of some of today’s leaders and that would be important for children of today to know about. Haber had told me that “The trappings of high office never got to Rabin, as it might others with less moral stature.” Supporting this observation, Haber revealed a feature of Rabin’s personality that was quite unique for a leader of a country.

Say your Peace. Eitan Haber reads lyrics from the anthem “Song of Peace” at Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in 1995. The sheet of paper had been retrieved from Rabin’s pocket after he was shot by the assassin at a peace rally. (Photo Nati Harnik/AP)

He constantly voiced to me the need to justify his monthly salary. He might have held the highest office in the land, but this man never forgot he was a servant of the people and that he had to give it his all.” It was that “all” that would later cost him his life.

On the return drive home later in the day and seeing once more the sign as we got onto Yitzchak  Rabin Highway, the name again sent my mind back in reverse, this time directly relating to ‘highways’.  I though back to the meeting I attended in the Prime Minister’s office in 1995 representing TELFED with a delegation of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) leadership from South Africa. After welcoming us each individually – there must have been twelve of us altogether –  he said:

I am not sitting behind a desk, please grab a chair and let’s sit in a circle.”

From what could have been a typical formal meeting separating the Prime Minister from his guests,  he immediately transformed it into a relaxed gathering with friends. He made us feel we were meeting with the first name, ‘Yitzchak’, and not the revered surname – ‘Rabin’.

And then, at some stage during our discussions, Rabin did the unexpected by breaking off from the intense conversation with this surprising question:

Do you know what still excites me?”

We all sat there puzzled.

The question, which came out of nowhere, was of course rhetorical, so no-one ventured an answer. No-one was expected to. But for sure, most were probably pondering:

 “What could still excite a man who was in his second term as Prime Minister; had previously been a Minister of Defense, an Ambassador to the USA, Chief of Staff and participated in some capacity in most of the major national events, from all the wars to the most famous rescue operations in history – The Entebbe Raid?”

What was realistically left?” all must have thought at the time.

We did not have to wait long.

Rabin answered:

Waking up on mornings knowing that I would be cutting a ribbon that day opening a new stretch of highway, a bridge or an underpass.”

After a lifetime of excitement, I thought that this sounded so mundane!

I was so wrong!

Only on that 1995 drive back from the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem to Tel  Aviv, did the proverbial shekel drop! It was not so much the “stretch of highway, bridge or underpass” where Rabin was cutting the ribbon that was so significant – it was what potentially lay ‘down the road’. The roads, bridges and underpasses were metaphors – signifying to the Prime Minister easier access to a better future – for they would lead to expansion – new towns, new factories and new lives as Israel developed. Rabin was a man of foresight; he looked not only at the road but down the road and beyond!

Of the many photographs of Rabin throughout his military, diplomatic and political careers, the one that resonates for me the most is one with the late King Hussein of Jordan, taking time out to enjoy a smoke together. It was taken at the Jordanian royal residence in Aqaba after the signing of the historic peace treaty between their countries on the  26 October 1994. Rabin is guiding Hussein’s hand as he lights his cigarette. Rich in symbolism, it captures the atmosphere of two former enemies who had waited a long time for this precious moment who were not only enjoying a ‘smoke break’ but enacting the symbolic ritual of smoking the proverbial  ‘peace pipe’.  

Light Up. King Hussein lights a cigarette for Yitzchak Rabin after their signing the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. Aqaba, October 26, 1994.

As they puffed away,  they had moved on from warriors of war to worriers for peace.

Later reflecting on the singing children at the Megiddo School, we welcome the day when future leaders will be ‘cutting ribbons’, opening new sections of the road ahead – to peace and prosperity.




Visiting a school where the young pupils – boys and girls – were all singing songs from the Rabin era.





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).

OCCUPIER BARBIE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF IHRA

Antisemitism needs to be defined in order to effectively combat this irrational hatred

By Rolene Marks

I was promoted recently. Not content to just call me “Zio racist”, “beneficiary of Apartheid in South Africa because you are white and beneficiary of Apartheid in Israel because you are Jewish”, social media keyboard haters, the Media Review Network (MRN) conferred a promotion on my Zionist self. According to them, I am now “Chief Hasbara Agent”. It is a great pity that my new title doesn’t come with a salary commensurate with such an illustrious promotion but c’est la vie.

You may be asking yourself while reading this, what I am trying to say.

It is no great secret that antisemitism is at alarming levels and that social media platforms are fomenting this ugly, ancient hatred. Social media has given keyboard warriors ample opportunity to spew their venom. As it has in generations before, antisemitism has taken on a new iteration – this time in the guise of anti-Zionism.

Let’s be frank – deciding that out of all the nations in the world, only the Jewish people have no right to a national liberation movement called Zionism that speaks of our return to our ancient and ancestral homeland, IS racist. As demonstrated in the tweet above, denying Jews the centrality of Zion and Israel to our Jewish identity is also antisemitic.

Flaming Hatred. Anti-Israel animus transitions into antisemitism that includes drawing analogies to the Nazis, declaring Israel a racist – and thus illegitimate – endeavor, holding it to standards expected of no other democratic state, and holding Jews collectively responsible for its actions. 

I was once called “Occupier Barbie” as an attempt to diminish my gender and my Zionist identity. While I do have to recognise the originality in coming up with nickname like this, it also speaks to the kind of abuse and insult doled out to Jews on a daily basis. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – and not nearly as vile as some of the more bilious comments we receive. In recent weeks, it appears as if a tsunami of hatred has been unleashed on Jews around the world in every possible iteration.

Why Did Nobody Tell Me That Barbie Is Jewish?!

We thought that we had raised the alarm effectively enough in previous decades to warrant a definition of antisemitism. It was soon recognized that in order to effectively combat this ancient and irrational hatred, it would have to be defined within clear parameters.

The result was – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. This is the accepted, international gold standard by which antisemitism is defined and has been adopted by nearly 40 countries and countless cities, civil society organisations, NGO’s, universities, institutions, business and more – including English Premier League Football/soccer.

IHRA makes it clear exactly what is – and isn’t antisemitic.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

The above definition does not state that criticism of Israeli policy is antisemitic. Criticising policy is democratic – it is also the national sport of Israelis – but it does clearly define anti-Zionism as antisemitism.

It would appear that there are many who are triggered by IHRA. In recent days, Hollywood actor, Mark Ruffalo and others including the UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, have railed against the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Is it because it holds a mirror to their anti-Zionism and their attempts to sneak in their antisemitism in through more nefarious ways?

Would they have the temerity to try to redefine any other form of racism or discrimination or is this honour reserved only for Jews?

No Laughing Matter. Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo who previously declared that Israel was an apartheid state guilty of genocide, urged the UN in a tweet not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

For those triggered by the internationally accepted gold standard definition of antisemitism – IHRA – there is the alternative “Jerusalem Declaration” which very clearly states what some believe antisemitism is while greenlighting their anti-Zionism.

Below are excerpts taken verbatim from the Jerusalem Declaration:

Criticizing or opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism, or arguing for a variety of constitutional arrangements for Jews and Palestinians in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. It is not antisemitic to support arrangements that accord full equality to all inhabitants “between the river and the sea,” whether in two states, a binational state, unitary democratic state, federal state, or in whatever form.

Evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state. This includes its institutions and founding principles. It also includes its policies and practices, domestic and abroad, such as the conduct of Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, the role Israel plays in the region, or any other way in which, as a state, it influences events in the world. It is not antisemitic to point out systematic racial discrimination. In general, the same norms of debate that apply to other states and to other conflicts over national self-determination apply in the case of Israel and Palestine. Thus, even if contentious, it is not antisemitic, in and of itself, to compare Israel with other historical cases, including settler-colonialism or apartheid.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions are commonplace, non-violent forms of political protest against states. In the Israeli case they are not, in and of themselves, antisemitic.

Political speech does not have to be measured, proportional, tempered, or reasonable to be protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and other human rights instruments. Criticism that some may see as excessive or contentious, or as reflecting a “double standard,” is not, in and of itself, antisemitic. In general, the line between antisemitic and non-antisemitic speech is different from the line between unreasonable and reasonable speech.

No attempts to rewrite our history and call into question our ancient ties to our homeland which is now our thriving nation state is going to dilute their antisemitism.

I only need refer to the opening tweet in this article and the slur, “Occupier Barbie”.  They say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. In this case it is the twisting of words and definitions that do cause irreparable harm. We see it every single day, on multiple platforms and across cities around the world.

Antisemitism in America. Seen here at this anti-Israel rally in Washington, DC, March 2010, the common practice of substituting a swastika for a blood-stained Star of David on the Israeli flag.

If there are going to be attempts to deny us peoplehood and a state wrapped up in clever language to try and bypass accepted, working definitions of antisemitism, then Occupier Barbie is a name I will wear like armour.





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).