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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The Israel Brief

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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).


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).


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).

The Israel Brief- 07-10 November 2022

The Israel Brief – 07 November 2022 – Netanyahu starts meetings. Pres Herzog at COP27. Hamas arrest 2 for rockets. Lions cubs born at Jerusalem Zoo.

The Israel Brief – 08 November 2022 – Biden and Bibi speak. Israel, UAE and Jordan renew deal. Terror victim passes away. Breakthrough in breast cancer treatment.

The Israel Brief – 09 November 2022 – President Herzog receives election results. DM Gantz explains why Israel cannot supply Ukraine with air defense systems. President of Cyprus awarded Presidential Medal of Honour. Remembering KristallNacht.

The Israel Brief – 10 November 2022 – President Herzog hot mic. US Ambassador warns against any annexation of the West Bank. Netanyahu speaks with German Chancellor. One Republic in Israel.

09 November 2022 – Hügo Krüger Channel – Rolene Marks interviewed: The Israeli/Palestine Situation

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).


For simply standing and fighting for the truth

Back on “home soil”,Grant Gochin, who has spent the past 25 years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania, addressed the Jewish community of Cape Town, South Africa on October 27, 2022. A shocking indictment, discover below the complicity of Lithuania in the Shoah and its attempts thereafter to bury that past.

Chaverim, friends, I am honored and delighted to be on my home soil, speaking to my own people. My mishpocha. Thank you for coming. My sincere thanks to the organizers and attendees, and those who have kept me going in this cause.

Every Jewish person in this room has ancestry from Lithuania. Most of us here now, are alive because our families got out before Lithuanians were able to murder us. We are all who are left, to remember and speak the truth. Our families’ voices cannot be stilled through apathy or forgetfulness. Our families’ voices must be heard.

I became eager to find out about the “Old Country” from the stories and lessons of my paternal grandfather. More and more, I knew I had to walk those streets and see those forests.

I was the very first Jew to apply to Lithuania for citizenship. Three times, they rejected me for reasons even the Lithuanian Supreme Court ruled to be absurd.

I discovered there were two sets of rules, one for real “ethnic” Lithuanians, and a separate queue for Litvaks. This simplified their process – automatic denial for Jews.

I fought back.

Who is doing What! Not Germans but Lithuanian militiamen round up Jewish women. Kovno, Lithuania, June-July 1941.

I sued the Lithuanian government five times to expose and dismantle their “No Jew Citizenship Policy”. I started with the arduous task of bringing the injustices into the light. I badgered, pestered, begged, spoke and wrote to anyone having anything to do with Lithuanian Jewish policy. Sadly, the only chink apparent in the Lithuanian armor of distortion is their fear of public humiliation. They do not care about facts, morals, rights, truth or Jews. Eventually, Lithuania was shamed into having no option other than to change some of their Jewish laws.

Even now, I take personal pride and joy in every Lithuanian citizenship acquired by a South African. I urge every single one of you to apply.

Lithuanian citizenship IS our birthright. It IS our history. It IS our entitlement. Lithuania should have been where our families could have lived in peace and safety, grown, and been buried with dignity. We are owed.

Your Grandparents’ documents from Lithuania all prominently say “Zydu or Zydas”. “Jew or Jewess”. Just like Apartheid South Africa, we Jews could never be listed simply as Lithuanian, our racial classification was “Jew”.

As was “explained” to me by a Lithuanian diplomat in about 1990; a Jew could never be a “Lithuanian”, and a “Lithuanian” could never be a Jew. On our citizenship applications, they used to require our religious identity as a racial and national identification. Apartheid.

Today, Lithuania wants us to identify as Lithuanian because it sounds less apartheid, less racist. While they have removed our racial classification from their application forms, our names and our documents still show exactly who we are – JEWS!

We remain Litvak Jews. They didn’t murder 96.4% of Jews because they were Lithuanians, they murdered our families because we ARE Jews. They, on the other hand, remain Lithuanians.

This is the reason why so many of our family members fought against Apartheid so staunchly. Jews were the victims of Apartheid in Lithuania and are all too familiar with its recognizable hideous hatred. Whereas our families had no advocates and no safe harbor and were unable to defend themselves in Lithuania, they could stand up for black South Africans. And, in huge numbers, they did.

I identified the murderer of my own family in the Lithuanian Holocaust. To my amazement and disgust, I discovered that he is celebrated as a beloved and admired national hero in Lithuania. His name was Jonas Noreika.

Jonas Noreika. Angelic in appearance here, this beloved and admired national hero in Lithuania was a Nazi collaborator and mass murderer.

It is fact that Noreika personally was responsible for the savage and senseless slaughter of up to 14,500 of our family members.

Currently however, Noreika has been re-written in Lithuanian history as a heroic rescuer of Jews. The government of Lithuania enforces and applauds these falsifications. A result is that I have pending criminal charges against me – for “slandering” their heroes.

A few years ago, Noreika’s granddaughter, Silvia Foti, stepped forward to admit her grandfather’s crimes. She and I have now combined efforts. We have both written exposes of how the government of Lithuania fraudulently rewrote her grandfather into a national hero.

Lithuania has blocked every single path to actual truths inside Lithuania. The sole path left is judgement by the Court of public opinion. THAT my friends, is the main reason we are here today.

For the past few weeks, I have been publishing Lithuanian Holocaust testimonies in the Times of Israel. They are harrowing to read. A normal human mind cannot contemplate the horrors that were inflicted upon our families. I guarantee, you will be shocked by what you read. Remember the facts.

There are approximately 200 people in this room. Look around you my friends. Had we been in Lithuania, only seven of us would have survived to write one of those testimonies. Who among us would have been the survivor?

Lithuanians certainly were not and are not truthful about their crimes. They either mewl about having been victims and claim they heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing, instead, they claim they were just too busy rescuing Jews to notice what was happening. Now, I ask you – do you believe that?

Michael Kretzmer, an English-Litvak documentarian, made a harrowing film called “J’Accuse! Lithuania”, which will receive its World Première at the Jewish International Film Festival in Australia next month.

The movie centers on Noreika and his activities during the Holocaust, as he systematically murdered the Jews of Northern Lithuania. Many of our South African Jewish families came from Northern Lithuania. This movie is as personal for you, as it is for me, as it should be for all of humanity. The movie is quite simply –  devastating.

My Oupa [grandfather] spent his life in South Africa searching for information about our murdered relatives. And then, in April 1984, the discovery:

In April 1984, the German magazine, Der Spiegel exposed Noreika as the primary murderer of the Jewish population in my Oupa’s region. 1984! Let us remember, that was before the advent of the internet and worldwide knowledge. The boat carrying magazines from Europe took about a month to arrive in Port Elizabeth – with hard copies. Oupa read Der Spiegel every month. At the end of May 1984, he finally read the April edition.

Noreika’s murders, inhumanity, and the gleeful cruelty and barbarity of the Lithuanians were all clearly revealed on the pages.

After reading and rereading the article, Oupa lost all hope of ever finding any familial Survivors. He was depleted and without further purpose.

A mere few days later, he dropped dead of a stress induced heart attack. I believe these Lithuanian monsters effectively killed my Oupa too. For me – Lithuanian Holocaust fraud is deeply personal.

Thirteen years after Jonas Noreika was exposed as a prime Holocaust preparator and the genocidal murderer of my own family, Lithuania declared him a national hero.

Sign of the Times! For fighting against the Soviets, his killing of Jews in the Holocaust is forgotten or forgiven. Here is a restored memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika in Vilnius.

Since Jew killing was by then a worldwide sport, Lithuanians were not satisfied murdering just their own Jewish citizens, so, they travelled all over Europe, volunteering to work in the Concentration Camps so they could also murder Jews in other countries.

Lithuanian army contingents travelled to neighboring countries to gleefully slaughter as many Jews in Europe as they could. Even some Nazis were horrified at the brutality and sheer bestial activity of Lithuanians.

Lithuanian murderers were supremely effective. Noreika was a minor murderer in comparison to other Lithuanians, he only murdered about 14,500 of us. 14,500. That is more than all the Jews in Cape Town.

Another in their disgusting pantheon of Jew murdering heroes, Antanas Baltušis, served as the leader of the guards at the Majdanek Concentration Camp.

The Lithuanian Government claims he only served on the outside of the camp, and therefore was unaware of what was happening inside. Preposterous! Do they really expect ANYONE to believe that?

Have you ever heard of a guard serving on the inside of a gas chamber? Oblivious to the screams, stench, smoke and blood of those actively being murdered two meters from him? By his own subordinates!

Damnation Road. Is walking down a street in Kaunus (Kovno) named after a murderer – Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas (1915–1948)  – now considered in Lithuania ‘Holocaust Remembrance’?

The distortion, revision and lies carefully constructed by the Lithuanian Government are so blatantly crude, that one wonders, whom do they think will actually believe it? We are not that naïve. Even so, Baltusis remains their national hero.

Yet another of their heroes, Kazys Škirpa, early on called for the elimination of Jews from Lithuania.

In 1939 there were approximately 250,000 Jews. Today approximately 2,500. It does not take a mathematical genius to recognize that 99% of Lithuanian Jews have been eliminated. Skirpa’s plan is the most successful program Lithuania has ever had in its entire history.

80% of Jews were eliminated prior to the Final Solution being established. The government of Lithuania says Skirpa’s call to “eliminate” Jews was just a mere “incident of antisemitism”. – “A mere incident”?

The Lithuanian government line is that these Jews are “lost”. Let me help Lithuania. Our families are not “lost”. We all know exactly where they are. They lie twisted in death pits strewn throughout Lithuania.

President Isaac Herzog and incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are both Litvaks with origins in Seduva. The murderer of their Lithuanian families in Seduva was Izidorius Pucevicius, also declared a hero of Lithuania, also rewritten as a rescuer of Jews.

Also rebranded “national hero” is Jonas Semaska, another Holocaust perpetrator. There are many others whose names and deeds we will never know.

I have provided the Lithuanian Government with more than a dozen names of their heroes who were Holocaust perpetrators. They. Do. Not. Care.

The Lithuanian lies that perpetuate today, are responsible for murdering our families yet a second time.

According to the post Holocaust legal Nuremberg definition, every single member of Lithuania’s wartime Provisional Government falls into the category of a Holocaust perpetrator.

The Lithuanian government tells us that the only ones to blame for the Holocaust were the “Nazis and their collaborators”. This stance has been created to focus only on Nazis and to distract away from Lithuanians.

They ignore the fact that Lithuanians began murdering Jews even before the Nazis arrived in Lithuania. What they refuse to acknowledge is simply that there were so very few Nazis in Lithuania. That Nazis gave Lithuanians weapons and Lithuanians joyously, willingly and enthusiastically murdered Jews.

Today, when you hear the Lithuanian Ambassador use the phrase “Nazis and their collaborators”, understand that this is a specific and deliberate form of Holocaust revisionism, distortion and distraction. The Ambassadors’ words are perfectly, excruciatingly and exactly crafted to minimize, eradicate and shift blame.

From Burying Jews to Burying the truth of their Murder.  Lithuanian collaborators guard Jews before their execution. Ponary, Lithuania, June–July, 1941.

Yad Vashem declared 0.04% of Lithuanians were Righteous Gentiles. 0.04%. That leaves 99.96% of Lithuanians who were either perpetrators, bystanders, or cannot prove that they were rescuers. Those who cannot prove that they were rescuers include Noreika, Pucevicius, Semaska and so many more.

Lithuania did not punish a single Holocaust perpetrator.

There is not a single piece of evidence that Nazis punished any Lithuanians for refusing to murder a Jew. The infinitesimally small number of Lithuanian rescuers were rescuing the Jews NOT from Nazis, but from – FELLOW LITHUANIANS!

Yad Vashem states plainly and clearly their definition for Righteous Gentiles; however, the Lithuanian government has created and defined their own standard for identifying “Righteous Gentiles”. THIS is a false system.

Privately, some members of the government admit the truth. But they insist that “education requires time”. How much time do they need? After 80 years – time is up.

Facts are simply facts. They do not change with age.

Through my legal actions, I have been able to expose the Lithuanian President, Prime Minister, Parliament, Public Prosecutor, Heritage Department, Mayor of Vilnius, every single one of their Courts including both of their Supreme Courts, as participants in the national program of Holocaust deception. Thus, I am persona non grata in Lithuania.

Efraim Zuroff of the Israeli Simon Wiesenthal Center and I share the honor of being two of the most hated people in Lithuania. Regardless of the blatant, absurd accusations they hurl at any of us in the small cadre fighting for truth, we stand steadfast.

Lithuanian officials come to South Africa to meet with Jewish leaders and implore them to promote tourism and investment in Lithuania, all the while as they continue to lie about the past.

Lithuania’s strategy is to delay and obstruct. They hope people like me will get so tired, we will give up. I will not. Lithuania has never told the truth about the Holocaust. I am not going anywhere and there are others to take up the reins.

I have brought close to 30 legal actions against the government of Lithuania. All of them were simply demanding the truth. Every case has been dismissed on legal technicalities, without ever examining any facts. So much for an independent judiciary. Their legal responses prove that when representatives of the Lithuanian government tell us they “want to know the truth”, and that they “oppose Holocaust distortion”, they are lying.

My cases stand as permanent proof that 78 years after the end of the Shoah, Lithuania is a country that elevates Holocaust fraud.

Lithuania comprehensively and deliberately lying about the greatest crime in the history of the world, begs the question:

 Is there anything they will not lie about?

The current Lithuanian Ambassador to South Africa, Dainius Junevicius, with full knowledge of Lithuania’s Holocaust frauds, signed a pledge in front of thirty four government representatives that Lithuania would not honor Holocaust perpetrators as their national heroes. Shameless.

They lie as easily as they breathe and as frequently. Nothing, absolutely nothing they say can be accepted as truth. When the government of Lithuania and their representatives communicate on Jewish issues, understand they are likely being deceptive.

Thankfully my friends, I am not alone in this fight. Many governments, organizations and individuals have voiced their staunch disapproval of Lithuania’s Holocaust deceptions, including – the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the US State Department, the US Congress, Lithuania’s own Presidential Commission, Simon Wiesenthal Center, American Jewish Congress, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the European Jewish Community, the World Jewish Congress and many more. Lithuania stands exposed in front of the world as Holocaust revisionists.

Lithuania claims that they want to talk to “anyone open and ready to discuss painful issues of the past, on a respectful and constructive basis BUT, only with those who share the effort to find the truth and reconciliation”. Their definition of those “sharing the effort to find the truth” refers to only those who will tolerate their Holocaust frauds. I am not one, and neither should you be. It obviously isn’t the US Government either, who have repeatedly and fruitlessly appealed to Lithuania to tell the truth. Lithuania’s truth is lies.

My case is currently in front of the United Nations. My case could take decades to be resolved. Indeed, I may not even be alive to hear the verdict. Our best immediate recourse is the Court of public opinion. And that is those of us in this room.

When they look us in the eye and misrepresent, they are insulting us and treating us with contempt. More importantly, when Lithuania covers up the crime of genocide and avoids culpability, it shows current and future mass murderers that they too can get away with murder. It has worked for Lithuania, and it will work for others. This places our future generations at risk. We are not just addressing this for our ancestors, we are doing this to protect our children.

US President John F. Kennedy stated the situation exactly. He said., “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” For Lithuania, their heroes are a statement of their national values.

We Jews worldwide, including in South Africa, attend Lithuanian events and hear warm words. Only an analysis of these words shows the exact same terms being used in the UK, US, SA & Israel. Their words are a dictated script written in Vilnius, crafted very carefully to distract from truth and soften their crimes. Do they really think we cannot figure it out? Their diplomatic staff are trained salespeople, skilled in how to convey their distorted messages.

They tell us that they are serious about remembering. Yet, my cases and the continual lies prove otherwise. Their standard procedure remains Holocaust revisionism.

Holocaust revisionism IS antisemitism. Defining the murderers of Jews as national heroes IS insulting the victims and insulting to every one of us. Rewriting history to declare the murderers as innocent or heroic is dehumanizing to EVERY Jew.

Germany’s official stance is to accept responsibility for the Shoah. There is now strong friendship between Jews and Germany and Israel and Germany. Lithuania has only lied, twisted and committed fraud. There is no honest basis for a relationship between Jews and Lithuania.

To attempt to correct this abhorrent situation, Lithuania urgently needs to show us they are sincere in outing the truth. Only firm and immediate action is acceptable. I propose the following :

Close down their bogus Genocide Center and revoke all findings

Create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of non-Lithuanian, credentialed historians to establish the actual truth – just like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission South Africa had.

Just stop distorting and lying.

If Lithuania genuinely wants to apologize for their behaviors, frauds and murders, I have a suggestion. Follow the example of Spain and Portugal and issue a mass blanket grant of full Lithuanian citizenship to all Litvaks. Worldwide. Laws can definitely be changed. They can definitely make this happen. Each of YOU deserves an immediate and unilateral grant of Lithuanian citizenship for what they did to our families, and for their rampant and consistent Holocaust fraud. We are entitled to it, and we should demand it.

I do not anticipate success in Lithuania. They have no intention of ever telling the truth. They manipulate us because they know South African Jews want their European passport. They can manipulate us because they have that power over us. Looking us straight in the eye while lying, while simultaneously hero worshiping the murderers is Holocaust Triumphalism.

It is easier for Lithuania to pretend our cause does not exist. We know the truth. We remember. And we must teach our future generations well. We are the protectors and guardians of Holocaust history. We need your voice. Please follow us on social media and in the Times of Israel. We need people to know what we are doing and how we are doing it. For the memory of our families and for the dignity of ourselves.

Lithuania CANNOT win. Lithuania WILL not win.

I thank you all.


About the speaker:

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

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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 09 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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This rapper’s ramblings are serious and dangerous

By Jonathan Feldstein

Rapper on a Rampage. Venting against Jews, a menacing Kanye West (“Ye”) said he would go “death con 3 On Jewish people”.

As tempting as it is to ignore to the antisemitic rants of rapper Kanye West or “Ye”, with more Twitter followers than there are Jews in the world at a ratio of about 2:1, we cannot afford the luxury to ignore. A wizer world needs to stand up and say: “Nay to Ye.


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The hijab and the nuanced position of Iranian women

By Hügo Krüger

Momentous Move! Banned from Iran’s national chess team for playing without a headscarf, teenager switched allegiances to the USA.

Having travelled across Iran noting the hijab’s enforcement differing from city to city and within family to family, the writer believes the upliftment of Iranian women will be driven more by technology and urbanisation than intellectual debate. “Encourage modernization” rather than “preach revolution” counsels the writer.


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From Russia to Iran – will the rumble of their people lead to a tumble of their leadership?

By Neville Berman

Toppling a Tyrant. A message to his tyrannical peers, with the fall of Saddam Hussein, his once revered statue comes a tumbling after.

From Marcos and Ceausescu to Hussein and Ghaddafi there comes a tip-over point when autocratic rulers cross a line and a repressed people rise up and answer – “ENOUGH”. With the present rumblings in Russia and the protests across Iran, should Putin and the Mullahs be worried?


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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).


Rapper’s ramblings are serious and dangerous

By Jonathan Feldstein

One doesn’t just wake up and make a string of antisemitic remarks without some deep seeded hatred of Jewish people. The latest example came from none other than the famous American rapper and fashion designer, Kanye West, recently self-rebranded as Ye.

His mental health issues are not an excuse.

Kanye’s hateful rants demonstrate a great paradox of antisemites throughout history: using a platform of “fame” to make vile statements about Jews, at the same time disproving the antisemitic screed that Jews control Hollywood where he’s famous. Surely if that were the case, he’d never have been able to make such statements to begin with.

But that’s not the only contradiction in Kanye’s antisemitism.

One can be forgiven for making an ignorant hurtful mistake. Yet unfortunately, when called out about it, Kanye became more offensive rather than being humble, contrite, or even apologetic.  That is just as bad as his offensive series of statements because he had the opportunity to do right, but he chose to continue to double-down on the oldest hatred in the world.

One of Kanye’s most egregious statements with potential to incite assaults against Jews was his vow to “go death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE,” meaning “DEFCON,” the term referring to a high state of alert of the US military. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s advocating for widespread violence against Jews, another Holocaust, or anything of the sort. But maybe he is. We don’t know because he didn’t clarify, or apologize.  And he’s simply too ignorant and arrogant to care.

Take Him at Face Value. A menacing Kanye West said he would go “death con 3 On Jewish people”.

His followers saw no problem to hang banners over a major LA highway, supporting Kanye’s antisemitic remarks; punctuated with a Nazi “heil Hitler” salute.

Kanye’s antisemitic rants were not limited to threatening violence. He also invoked a variety of demeaning antisemitic tropes and stereotypes.  Speaking on the Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, somehow discussion about the Abraham Accords came up, the 2020 agreements between Israel and four Arab countries brokered by the Trump administration. Kanye couldn’t resist the opportunity to headline his antisemitism. He said that he “thought” the agreement was motivated by (Trump’s Jewish son-in-law’s) Jared Kushner’s greed. “I just think it was to make money.”

In Ye’s Crosshairs. Kanye West says Jared Kushner only brokered Abraham Accords “to make money”.

After Kanye’s “Death con 3” comment was deleted by Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram), Kanye invoked the antisemitic trope of Jews controlling the media, flipping to Twitter to call out Facebook’s Jewish founder Mark Zuckerberg, “Who do you think created cancel culture?” I’m sure that Kanye was not referring to the Jamaican bobsled team.

Before Twitter deleted Kanyes’s antisemitic tweets, he was able to get off a volley of offensive statements, underscoring the idea of Jewish control of the media. “You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

In case anyone doubted what Kanye meant, a few days later he used another platform to rant:

  • Jewish people have owned the Black voice. Whether it’s through us wearing the Ralph Lauren shirt, or it’s all of us being signed to a record label, or having a Jewish manager, or being signed to a Jewish basketball team, or doing a movie on a Jewish platform like Disney.”
  • You get used to paparazzi taking a picture of you, and you don’t get money off it. You just get used to being screwed by the Jewish media. The Jewish media blocked me out.”

If all this weren’t bad enough, Kanye took a low road down a path of nonsensical and offensive historical revisionism. He wrote:

 “The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti-Semitic because black people are actually Jew also.”

Caught in his crosshairs are not just the undermining of all Jews with an absurd derivative of replacement theology, but also actual black Jews who he mocks and delegitimizes.

He obviously sees no contradiction in blaming the Jews for controlling the media, canceling him, and owning the black voice, and in another “thought” says that the Jews aren’t really Jews, and its blacks that are Jews. For antisemites like Kanye, actual history and facts don’t matter.

In a head spinning comment that initially seemed unrelated, Kanye criticized Planned Parenthood as created “to control the Jew population.” While Planned Parenthood has roots in eugenics promoting abortion among African Americans, Kanye used this to confuse and create more antisemitic hate. Explaining what he meant, he ‘clarified’ with:

When I say Jew, I mean the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people known as the race Black really are.”

Kanye on Planned Parenthood

So, if all black people are actually the real Jews, how can the Jews be controlling the media and silencing him?  If he were really Jewish, he might know that Judah is one of the TEN lost tribes.  But let’s not let facts get in the way of Kanye’s Jew-hatred.

Part of the danger of Kanye’s comments is that he has more Twitter followers than there are actual Jews in the world at a ratio of about 2:1. The negative influence of his antisemitic ignorance is real and borderlines shouting “Jews control the media” in a crowded theater of ignorant people. It can certainly be used to incite violence.

It’s true that black slaves in America derived inspiration from the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt, believing that the God who delivered the Jews from the original slavery would deliver them. It’s even true that a fringe group of former slaves began a movement adopting themselves as Jews, as a badge of honor. 

To me, as a Jew, that’s inspiring. God has used the Jewish people throughout history to show His faithfulness. But that doesn’t make people inspired by God’s faithfulness to actual Jews, Jews themselves. No more than if Kanye inspired me does it make me black.

As much as facts don’t matter, I suspect that science doesn’t matter either. But let’s be generous with Kanye.  Who would like to join me in getting him a DNA test for Christmas to find out if he’s really a Jew? Then he can blame the man in the mirror for controlling the media and silencing himself?

Because of his global following, Kanye’s antisemitic rants have the ability to spill over and adversely impact black-Jewish relations. One positive outcome is the statement of the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance:

 “Ye’s (Kanye) recent statements about the Jewish community are hurtful, offensive and wrong. They perpetuate stereotypes that have been the basis for discrimination and violence against Jews for thousands of years. Words like this tear at the fabric of the black-Jewish relationship.”

Kanye on Kwanzaa and Hanukkah

Adidas and others have severed their relationship with Kanye, realizing that he’s crossed a line and is no longer the brand with which they want to associate. You can join the Inspiration from Zion podcast for a detailed conversation about this.

As much as I appreciate various social media sites taking down Kanye’s hateful and even dangerous posts, and companies having the moral backbone to disassociate from a person who is so rabidly antisemitic, there’s a tremendous paradox that so many others from Islamic Iranian jihadists to radical Palestinian Arab terrorists are allowed freedom to use all the social media platforms not just to incite hate but to organize their hate into actual deadly violence.  If the social media is going to “go death con 3” on Kanye’s antisemitism, maybe they should also have a peek at what’s being posted and tweeted in Persian and Arabic.

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).


The hijab and the nuanced position of Iranian women

By Hügo Krüger

On 16 September 2022 the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in a hospital in Tehran following her arrest by Iran’s Guidance Patrol. Although the details surrounding her death has been disputed, given that she suffered from previous brain injuries (later acknowledged by her family’s lawyer), the event sparked protests and spoke to an underlying anger within Iranian Society.

Death in Custody. Protests following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini arrested by the ‘Modesty Police” over the  Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. (Photo credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Iranian women started protesting with the Slogan, “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi” – “Women Live, Freedom” and they were joined by the Iranian diaspora in cities like San Francisco, Toronto, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and New York. Much like the Black Lives Matter protests that swept through the United States in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd – the nuanced details of Mahsa Amini’s death no longer mattered, as the movement spoke to systemic issues within the society.

To the protestors, the Hijab symbolizes the status of women in general as Iran still upholds laws and practices like the following that are outright discriminatory.

  • Laws that forbid married women from leaving Iran without their husband’s consent.
  • Legislation that makes it difficult for women to file for a divorce as they risk losing the custody of their children to the father once the children are older than seven.
  • Laws and practices that prevent women from getting married without their father’s permissions.
  • All girls over 7 years old are required to wear a headscarf when going to school, with the practice being mandatory in public from the age of 9
Road to Revolution. Thousands of mourners shouting “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator” walked along a road, through a field and across a river to bypass roadblocks and reach the graveyard where Amini was buried.

There are however signs of reform within Iranian society as since 2019 Iran abolished a law that prevented Iranian women who marry foreigners to pass citizenship onto their children. A 2018 survey published by Iran’s Parliamentary Research Center (PRC) showed that between 60 to 70% of Iranian women do not follow ” the Islamic dress code” strictly in public”. The report  also noted that positive attitudes to the dress code has been steady falling since 1992 and proposed the repealing of Iran’s hijab as the measure was clearly counterproductive.

The PRC also proposed repealing Iran’s hijab law as one of five approaches the state could adopt to counter waning support of the hijab, arguing that the state’s aim of getting people to embrace it could be achieved in more subtle ways.”

The debate in Iran opened up in recent times with calls for reform that included a former Iranian President, a former Mayor of Tehran, the Grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, a former brigadier general of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and a senior Islamic Cleric.

Future down the Road. The uncertainty for women in Iran is reflected in this photo of a child covering her face and a young woman riding on a bus in Tehran. (photo © Reuters)

When it comes to women, Iran is a country of contradictions, the above mentioned laws stand in stark contrast against the remarkable achievement that over 70% of Iran’s mathematics and science graduates are women, a higher proportion than in most liberal western democracies. Iranian Mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani, was the first and only women to date to have won a Field’s Medal in Mathematics and in 2016 Dorsa Derakhshani became Iran’s first female Chess Grandmaster. She obtained the title after the Iranian Federation banned her for refusing to wear a Hijab, and her brother was punished for playing a match against an Israeli Opponent . When it comes to Sports, Iranian Female Athletes compete at an International Level and have won a series of Gold Medals at the Olympic Games. Iran’s fertility rate (usually the best proxy that economists use to measure the advancement of women) has fallen to levels below China’s thanks to rapid urbanization rate that occurred in the period following the collapse of the last Shah’s Rule.

Playing by her own Rules. A defiant 19 -year-old Dorsa Derakhshani was banned in 2017 from Iran’s national chess team for playing without wearing a headscarf during a competition in Gibraltar and accordingly switched allegiances to the US.

So why the contradiction with the hijab and other outdated practices?

Under strict Islamic Rule, the purpose of Hijab is to encourage modesty, both physically and spiritually as stated in [Qur’an 24:31].

“And tell the believing women to reduce of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which appears thereof and to wrap their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, fathers, sons, husband’s sons, brothers, brother’s son, sister’s sons…”

Despite being mandated religiously, the practice of wearing face veils varies throughout the Muslim World. Media reports often don’t distinguish between the different types of veils like the Hijab, Niqab, Burka, Chador and Dupatta. The adherence to the particular type is often a function of cultural and conservative attitudes that in certain countries, like Iran predate the arrival of Islamic Rule.

Surveys report that the practice of wearing a face veil in one form or another ranges significantly in among Muslim Women Worldwide, from a 90% acceptance rate in Egypt, to less than half in Lebanon. Even in countries with sizable Muslim minorities and strong rights for women, many women actively chose to wear the veil out of their own free will with acceptance ranging from 65% in the United States, 64% in India and more than 50% among South Africa’s university educated Muslim Women. Today only two countries, Afghanistan and Iran mandate the wearing of head scarves in public as since 2018 it is no longer compulsory in Saudi Arabia – although it is still practiced by the majority of the population.

Adherence to the practice changed throughout the last century in Iranian society. From 1936, the Shah Reza Pahlavi implemented a series of “modernisation reforms” like the Kashf-e-Hijab, that gave the police the right to rip the hijab from a women’s face. His aim was to modernise Iran and remove the influence of the Muslim Clerics in the society, but the practice ultimately backfired and emboldened the revolutionary movement.

Despite attempts to celebrate it, the Pahlavi Dynasty was cruel. The Shah ruled Iran with an Iron fist and notably with the SAVAK – a Gestapo like security force that routinely tortured dissidents of the state. In the years prior to the 1979 revolution, Iranians found escape in the Madrassas and Mosques that offered a form of congregation and solitude from the brutality of the Monarchy. The role of the Mosques became a political instrument that was used to mobilise dissident voices against the regime. Women started wearing their head scarves as a symbol of rebellion against the Monarchy.

But in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution the Hijab moved again from the positive to a negative. After adopting the constitution known as the Velayat-e faqih, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini dictated that face covering become mandatory for women in public life to conceal their “nakedness”. His decision sparked the 1979 Women’s Day Protests, the first rebellion against the introduction of the veil. The protest had an initial moderate success, but it only delayed the Hijab’s systemic implementation. In 1980, unveiled women were refused entry into public life and by 1983, women could face corporate punishment for not wearing a headscarf. Then during the Iran Iraq War, the status of the Hijab briefly changed again as Iranian Women wore the headscarf as a symbol to get behind the war effort. It’s also worth recalling that it was ultimately thanks to Israeli Weapons and Military support that Iran could repel Saddam Hussein’s Army as at the time Israeli Intelligence regarded Iraq as a bigger threat to National Security.

Today under Iranian Law, women over the age of 9 are required to wear a veil in public and since 2005, they could be fined by Iran’s Guidance Patrol, known as the ‘Morality Police’ in the West, for not adhering to the country’s dress code. The right to enforce the dress code rule is also exerted by more than one institution that includes the infamous paramilitary Basij – an institution that is less accountable to the public. As soon as the hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad instituted the Guidance Patrol, tales of police brutality and abuse of power became evident. Powerless and humiliated citizens, who couldn’t take their anger out at the police decided in turn to chastise and attack religious women who wore the veil out of conviction.

Close Inspections Of A ‘Moral’ Kind. Morality police patrols are tasked with ensuring that women are not wearing “bad hijab”.

The behavior of the Guidance Patrols in some cases was so violent and harsh that it led to a popular backlash. But since they were connected with the police force, the ordinary people did not dare respond to them. Rather, they attack religious people who would verbally chastise them for the way they were dressed. On June 13, 2012, it was reported that a 30-year-old woman was abused in Punak, Tehran. After having chastised a woman who, according to her, was improperly wearing the veil, she was attacked by the improperly attired woman who pulled off her veil. The next day, a woman who was accompanied by her 3-year-old child was beaten by two other improperly veiled women in Khaniabad, Tehran. A few days later, a young man was beaten and wounded after chastising another man who, according to witnesses, was dressed very inappropriately.”

My experience in traveling through Iran with my wife has been that the hijab’s enforcement clearly differs from city to city and within family to family. In Iran’s religious capital Qom, it is rare to find a woman without a full chador, yet just South in Isfahan, particularly younger women preferred to wear only a headscarf. In the northern more liberal areas around Rasht and in Tehran, it’s not too uncommon to see women barely respecting the rule in public and often in restaurants or on the Caspian Sea’s beach, they simply don’t care about the Hijab.

As confirmed to me by a former journalist; Fereshteh Sadeghi; the protests in the aftermath of Masha Amini is not as widespread as reported in the western media, they came overwhelmingly from the upper classes and university students. Her observation ties in with a 2018 poll that found that many Iranians agree with the statement that “Women should wear the hijab even if they don’t believe in it”. The poll notes that the attitude and opinion is a function of geography, and therefore clearly even abolishing the law will not entirely remove the practice or eliminate the cultural pressures that exist within Iranian Society.

A Cover Up. On 8 March 1979, more than 100,000 women gathered on the streets of the Iranian capital to protest against the new Islamic government’s compulsory hijab ruling, which meant that women would henceforth be required to wear a headscarf when away from home.

Nuance should be added here as educated Muslim women throughout the world wear a veil out of their own free will. The Iranian government as advised by its own parliament has no reason to fear that the practice will go away, even if the laws that mandate them are removed.

The modernisation of Iran should be encouraged if Iranians and others around the world wish to see constructive constitutional change within the Islamic Republic and its relations to other Middle Eastern countries and notably the hostile relationship with Israel. But I also caution against those who preach the language of revolution. The nature of the Iranian regime is that the security forces act as a shadow of power. They have shown their willingness to squash any attempt that challenges their rule. In the unlikely event that that the government is toppled, the IRCG will quickly exert control over Iran and potentially bring a more devasting order to power as was the case in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The Iranian military is still one of the most respected institutions in the country and despite western media coverage, the majority of Iranians do actually support their government.

Flaming Passions. How long will the flame of revolution burn amongst a rising populace as seen by these demonstrators in Tehran? (Photo: Obtained by AFP via Getty Images)

The upliftment of women in Iran, much like elsewhere in the world often has little to do with the morality and debate taking places within the intellectual silos, but is rather driven by the technology and urbanisation that breaks down traditional and religious authority. The advancement of women is comparable to the abolition of slavery that was only defeated after the widespread use of the steam engine and not due to the moral debates that took place since the time of Aristotle. Telling women what they should and should not wear simple cannot be justified in the modern era and as Iran’s own government admitted in 2018, the society has long past moved the point where the law is enforceable.

About the writer:

Hügo Krüger is a South African born Structural/Nuclear Engineer, writer and YouTube podcaster, commentating on topics relating to Energy and Geopolitical Matters, Hügo is married to an Iranian born Mathematician and Artist; the couple resides in Paris.