MUNICH METAMORPHOSIS

Images from ‘blood on the tracks’ to ‘love on the tracks’

By David E. Kaplan

Heartbreaking as it is to read the news everyday about Ukraine,  it was  heartening to see a Ukrainian grace the front page this week of The Jerusalem Post but in another context altogether. Actually, she is as much Israeli today as Ukrainian and this time it was sport rather than war that dominated the front page visuals!

As soon as I saw the smiling female athlete holding aloft in Munich, Germany the Israeli flag with outreached arms, I immediately recognised this triumphant sports lady having interviewed her some years earlier as editor for Hilton Israel Magazine. Under her delightful photo it was reported that Hanna Minenko  had won the bronze medal for Israel in the triple-jump at the 2022 European Athletics Championships, adding a fifth medal to what had become by far Israel’s best-ever showing at the major event. And it was to improve even more.

V for Victory. Former Ukrainian flashing the victory sign for Israel in Munich.

My mind drifted back to 2016 when Minenko – together with her husband former Israeli decathlon champion Anatoly-Minenko entered the lobby of the Hilton Tel Aviv for the interview. All eyes followed her and for obvious reason. Striking, statuesque and slim, the then 26 year-old was wearing an attractive tight-fitting dress revealing the long legs that had been taking the long and triple jumper at great lengths to new heights.

In early 2016, Minenko had only been living in Israel for three years and already held the national record in both the triple jump and long jump. The local media hailed  her as the best ever Israel female track and field athlete. In August the previous year, she had established a personal best of 14.78 meters (m) in the triple jump while winning the silver medal at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing.

Smiling lovingly at her husband while affectionately clutching his hand, she said:

 “I first fell in love with my Israeli, then I fell in love with Israel.”

It had been a case of ‘Love on the Tracks’ – literally!

Anatoly, who was originally from Kazakhstan arrived in Israel in 1997 at the age of ten with his parents. Fast forward the athletes met for the first time years later at a training camp in Yalta, where Hanna says:

He impressed me by the way he was dancing at the disco. He is a very good dancer and thereafter, we stayed in touch through Skype and emails.”

We have a Liftoff. “While many long and the triple jumpers focus on going for height, I concentrate on the speed of my run up,” says Hanna Minenko. “I capitalise on my best asset – my long legs.”

When Anatoly later proposed to Hanna on her birthday at a restaurant in Tel Aviv “it was not easy for me to make up my mind to settle in Israel. People in the Ukraine said there were lots of problems, it’s dangerous, there’s war and conflict; no sort of normal life.”

However, like most visitors to Israel who soon discover that Israel is far removed from what they read about in newspapers or see on television, “I was so amazed when we got married and I came to live here. Life here is wonderful and exciting. I love the atmosphere, the culture, the food and most of all – the people who are warm and so much friendlier than in the Ukraine where life is economically difficult. This country is a success and it shows in the people and their lifestyles. I’m very happy with our home in north Tel Aviv, not far from my club – Maccabi Tel Aviv.”

The strange thing about observations and perceptions is that if Hanna’s family were worried for her all those years back living in Israel, it is Hanna who must be worried for her family today in Ukraine!

I asked her what were her favourite Israeli foods to which she rattled off:

Hummus, falafel, pita, Israeli salads and fruits – all the popular dishes.”

‘Street Food’, I noted and asked, “Don’t you have to watch your diet?

The food is mostly healthy here,” she replied.” It is much easier to keep your weight down in Israel than in the Ukraine, where it is so cold for most of the year that you eat heavier and fattening food, exercise less, and are largely housebound because of the bad weather. Here in Israel – with a predominantly warm climate – your intake of food is less because you don’t feel the need to consume so much, and what’s more, you spend more time outdoors working it off. This place is ideal. My message to Ukrainians: If you want to lose weight and enjoy eating – visit Israel.”

In the three years that Hanna had been in Israel she learnt Hebrew. With so active a schedule, I asked how she managed it?

Well, Anatoly was little help because together we speak Russian.  And when I arrived, I only spent a month at the Ulpan learning Hebrew because I had to train most of the day and was frequently abroad competing. So what did I do? I listened to Israeli pop music and picked up the language and the intonations. For this I must thank Arik Einstein and Shlomo Artzi. It’s the best way – and of course watching TV – to pick up the language and absorb the culture.”

So from popping the question to pop music, Hanna was proudly Israeli and said:

I love the people here so much and my way of expressing my feelings is by standing proudly on the podiums at international sports events.”

She had again that opportunity this week in Munich, which for Israelis, seeing their national flag flying proudly in the Bavarian capital had special significance. After all, Munich had been the capital of the Nazi movement where Adolf Hitler and members of his inner circle, people like Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Göring, began their notorious political careers. It was where Hitler and his fellow fascists attempted in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, a failed coup d’état to take control of Munich and where, at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, 11 Israeli sportsman were taken hostages by Palestinian terrorist. All of them were murdered.

Murder in Munich. Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre(Photo: Courtesy of the Olympic Committee of Israel)

These are the negative images that are implanted in the minds of Israelis, so seeing the flag of the Jewish state paraded victoriously in this symbolic city sent a message as much about the athletes in blue and white as the country they represent.  If in Munich in the early 1920s seeds were sown to exterminate the Jewish people, a century later in 2022, Jews representing their national homeland  were winning medals.

One of the last comments of Hanna in the 2016 interview was to “be an example to the young generation” and “what would make me even happier–would be hearing ‘Hatikva’ at the podiums”.

Well, Israel’s national anthem was heard loud and clear this week in Munich when Israeli Olympian gymnast, Artem Dolgopyat, despite an injured leg, won gold, affirming Israel’s increasing ascendancy in international sport.

Strikes Gold. Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat celebrates his gold in the men’s floor exercise final event at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Munich, Germany, on August 21, 2022. (Ina Fassbender/ AFP)

Interestingly, Artem, like Hanna, was also born in the Ukraine. Together, these Ukrainians are both taking Israel to new heights.

While Hanna continues jumping for glory, Israelis will be jumping for joy!



“Israel’s Fastest Woman”. A month after winning bronze at the World Marathon Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Kenyan-born Israeli, Lonah Chemtai-Salpeter‘s wins another bronze in the 2022 European Championship 10,000 meters in Munich.





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 LAST SHABBAT SUPPER

The day  – 80 years ago this week – my great grandfather ‘died’

By Jonathan Feldstein

The reality is that my great grandparents didn’t just die, they were murdered. They were two of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their willing accomplices throughout Europe. And it wasn’t just the two of them, but their children and grandchildren, and scores of cousins, nieces and nephews, and neighbors. They were lined up and shot in a communal grave on the outskirts of Kańczuga, the Polish town in which they lived and raised their families for generations. Their murder took place 80 years ago this week.

Painfull Portrait. The writer’s great grandparents, Shalom Yaakov and Dreizel Birnbach who 80 years ago this week were – together their children, grandchildren, and rest of their family murdered in Poland during the Holocaust. (Family collection).
 

We know what happened from the testimonies and writings of some who had escaped, or those who were deported earlier and survived. Survivors communicated with their neighbors years later. My great aunt told me she would write to the mayor of Kanczuga after the war, sending along care packages as a bribe for him to provide information, any information, about her parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. Even if what he said was partly fabricated as the historical record seems to demonstrate, it gave her some sense of closure. 

When the war ended, some survivors came back to Kańczuga to look for other survivors, and try to start their lives over in the only place they knew as home.  Several Jews who returned were murdered by their Polish neighbors in a pogrom that took place in April 1945, after the war officially ended. I knew the three young men who buried the victims and extricated the survivors to safety from their Polish neighbors threatening to finish the job. As old men, they shared vivid details with me. Willie Kramberg, with whom I became close, was always “happy” to do so, but prefaced that he won’t sleep for three days as a result of reliving the horrors.

Jewish Life Deleted. The Dzikower Synogogue at the intersection of Sawicki and Wegierska streets in Kańczuga in 1941 (top) and a store in 2019 (bottom). (Courtesy Collection of the Switalski Family)

I have written and spoken about my family’s life, and death, in Kańczuga many times.  I heard stories from my grandmother and great aunt, about their parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. Though I have never been there, Kanczuga is part of my family’s history, but in the distant rear-view mirror. I have a sense of nostalgia for this place which I have never visited, in which my family lived for generations, yet no urgent desire to do so. 

I am grateful that my great grandparents had the sense to begin to get their children out of Poland in the 1930s.  But now, as a grandfather, close in age to that of my great grandparents were when they were murdered, I look back and weep at how painful it must have been not to be able to save everyone much less themselves.  They knew they needed to get their families out of Poland, that time was running out even before the Nazis arrived, but didn’t know when that time would be. Until that last Shabbat, when the Jews of Kańczuga were rounded up and massacred, I suspect they did everything they could to save their family.

Futures Denied. Some six years later, most of these happy faces of Jewish youth taken in Kańczuga in June 25, 1934 would be no more. (Laufer family collection)

Shabbat is a joyous day to celebrate surrounded by family. The sense of helplessness that must have overcome them in those last hours, on their last Shabbat, is incomprehensible as I think about what happened that Saturday 80 years ago. 

The Jewish community had been rounded up and crammed into one of the synagogues.  A hot August day with many times more people packed in than the building was built for. I don’t know if they were told they were being “deported” and given any hope, or not.  I just know how they perished.

While the bullets were German, the jeers from the those lined up to celebrate, or just watch, were Polish. If they were close enough to the Poles, no doubt my relatives saw neighbors they had known all their lives. The Nazis needed wagons and the like to move the Jews from the synagogue in the center of town to the communal grave that the men had been forced to dig outside the town. The Nazis didn’t just bring in their trucks and buses to deport Jews when they invaded. In many places they were forced to walk kilometers to their death, or carted out of town as it might be too “unpleasant” to massacre hundreds or more people too much in public. Where vehicles were needed, they were borrowed or requisitioned from the local Poles, often with the Polish “driver” leading his own horse to carry away his neighbors to their death.

From a Symbol of Life to a Symbol of Death. The ‘Great Synagogue’ – also known as the ‘New Synagogue’ – that was in construction before the outbreak of World War II was a source of great pride to the Jewish community of Kańczuga, until it was transformed into a symbol of Jewish extermination. Around 200 Jews were rounded up in the synagogue before their execution in Siedleczka in August 1942. One wonders what lessons have been learned seeing the antisemitic graffiti on the wall.(Courtesy Laufer Family Collection)
 

I met Benny Schanzer decades ago. He was a teenager when he was being deported 80 years ago.  He shared with me that my great grandmother, Dreizel, saved his life by telling him simply, “You’re too young”.  I don’t know if my great grandmother had any hope for herself or any of her family being saved even at those last horrible moments. She knew the end was near. Benny understood, escaped, and survived to tell me the story decades later.

Before the war and the Holocaust, Kanczuga had about 1000 Jews, representing between a third to half of the population.  There were instances of Jews and the mostly Catholic Poles getting along including attending school, doing business, even serving in civic capacities together.  Antisemitism existed as it did throughout Europe, largely but not exclusively due to Catholic teaching about the Jews.  That sowed the fertile ground in which antisemitism thrived. My grandmother used to me that the ground was soaked in our blood.  She did not mean it metaphorically. Antisemitism didn’t always involve overt persecution, but it was pervasive to the degree that at least my great grandparents had the sense and ability to be able to get four of their children out of Poland. And that when the Jewish community was being deported to their death, local Polish neighbors celebrated, and then took the homes and property of the Jews who once lived next to them.

As a result of four children surviving then, I am here. Including my brothers, our wives, children, and grandchildren we are 22 people. 80 years is not that long ago, but it feels like ancient history.  It’s a significant milestone we cannot let pass without remembering our relatives who were murdered, and honoring the survivors, thanks to whom we are here. 

A Relic of Jewish Life. Following their mass murder, a reminder of a vibrant Jewish life is revealed in these sad remains of a Kańczuga Jewish newspaper.

This year dozens of descendants of the former Kanczuga Jewish community will gather virtually from at least three continents, to remember.  We represent one very small group of descendants of one very small Jewish community, in one very small Polish village.  And my family, a few dozen within that one small town, whose matriarch and patriarch did everything possible to have their children survive. On that level, the incomprehensible number of six million becomes real. 

It’s the sum of hundreds of thousands of entire families, like mine.



You’re invited to join the memorial for the Jewish community of Kanczuga, Monday, September 5 at 9:00pm Israel time, 2:00pm Eastern/11:00am Pacific (US), to remember the victims and honor the survivors who suffered so much but thanks to whom we are here.


About the writer:

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





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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 21 August 2022

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

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THE ISRAEL BRIEF

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Articles

(1)

THREE DECADES LATER

The long arm of Iranian injustice takes out famed writer’s eye

By David E. Kaplan

Lethal Outreach. The Iranian republic has the same nefarious intentions towards the Jewish state as it has to Salmon Rushdie.

There is no time limit on Iranian threats as Salman Rushdie was ruthlessly reminded and which Israel needs no reminder.  When Iran bellows “DEATH TO ISRAEL”, exhibits the Star of David on its paraded missiles and is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, Israelis are not duped by false façades at the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna.

THREE DECADES LATER

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(2)

THE FATAL FLAWS OF THE ONE-STATE SOLUTION

Finding a solution – reappraising the Israel-Palestinian impasse

By Samuel Hyde

Searching for Solutions. The ‘Two-State Solution’ vs the ‘One-State Solution’ have both its attractors and detractors.

Since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, Palestinian leaders have walked away from every deal on the table because any “solution” that does not lead to the dissolution of Israel is ipso facto rejected. Currently compounding this process are present proposals from proponents of one-statism which are for the writer, more “ideological” than “well-reasoned”. Israel is not obliged to commit suicide!

THE FATAL FLAWS OF THE ONE-STATE SOLUTION

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(3)

5 EU COUNTRIES THAT SHOULDN’T BE THROWING STONES

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

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

Participating in Ponary. Lithuanian collaborators enthusiastically guard Jews before their execution at Ponary, Lithuania.

While the Russians are manipulating history to justify its invasion of Ukraine, the plea by Eastern Europe leaders to set the record straight is in the words of the writer “the height of hypocrisy and chutzpah.” These are the very same countries guilty of creating false narratives of events in the Holocaust to cover up its own complicity in the systematic mass murder of Jews.

5 EU COUNTRIES THAT SHOULDN’T BE THROWING STONES

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

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


THREE DECADES LATER

The long arm of Iranian injustice takes out famed writer’s eye

By David E. Kaplan

Be warned – those that stab you in the eye will have no compunction to stabbing you in the back. This is the cautionary message to those participants in the Iran nuclear deal from the murderous attack on Sir Salman Rushdie!

Marked Man. Living with a bounty on his head since 1989, Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed onstage multiple times as he was about to give a public lecture in 14 August 2022 at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua , New York. [File: Charly Triballeau/AFP]

There is no time limit on an Iranian threat to inflict harm; whether on an individual or a country. This is why Israelis are observing the ongoing Rushdie affair through a microscope and not rose-tinted spectacles. They understand clearly the razor sharp message delivered on August 12, 2022,  in a place few outside the USA have ever even heard of –  Chautauqua, New York and they worry about allowing a menace state to get hold of menacing weapons. Particularly when the intended recipient of Iran’s venom is the world’s only Jewish state. For a people that failed to heed the warnings in the 20th century are not going to make the same mistake in the 21st century. Jews today take it very seriously when Iran bellows “DEATH TO ISRAEL”, exhibits the Star of David on its paraded missiles and is HELL-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Writing is on the Missiles. What could be clearer of Iran’s intentions when “Death to Israel” is plastered on its Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ missiles?

While much of the ‘civilised’ world was horrified at the stabbing of Indian-born British-American novelist Salman Rushdie on a public stage, what was Iran response? Afterall, the attempted murderer, 24 year-old Hadi Matar, was specifically carrying out the fatwa (religious edict) delivered on the 14 February 1989 by the then world’s most prominent Shi’a Muslim leader and the Supreme Leader of Iran. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The edict  called for the death of Rushdie and his publishers. 

Words Kill. Born in the US to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun, a border village in Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon,  Hadi Matar arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, N.Y.(Gene J. Puskar / AP)

Iran blamed the victim – Rushdie! He had it coming; he deserved it.

Extensively commenting on the attack, Iranian media were calling the attempted murder “divine retribution“, while the state broadcaster daily, Jaam-e Jam, highlighted the news of Rushdie might losing an eye with this tasteless admonishment:

an eye of the Satan has been blinded“.

It was a play on words following Rushdie’s famed novel ‘The Satanic Verses’.

Matar’s Mug Shots. Facing charges of attempted murder and assault of author Salman Rushdie, Hadi Matar is reported in a New York Post interview saying that “I respect the Ayatollah. I think he’s a great person”.

So while Rushdie – widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest living writers – was knighted for his contribution to the arts in 2008 by Queen Elizabeth II by the traditional placing of a sword on his shoulder, the long arm of Iran instead inserted a knife into the esteemed writer’s eye.

Despite Iran’s fingerprints found glaring at the scene of the crime in Chautauqua, the Islamic republic not only denies any culpability but  accuses the victim and his supporters. Is this a country we are seriously believing will engage honestly regarding the nuclear deal that has existential ramifications for Israel, the region and the world?

Marking the country’s first public reaction to the Rushdie attack, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the following In a televised news:

Regarding the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than [Rushdie] and his supporters worth of blame and even condemnation.”

Dead Set to Kill. Iranian women are seen on February 17, 1989, holding banners reading “Holly Koran” and “Kill Salman Rushdie” during a demonstration against British writer Salman Rushdie in Tehran. (Norbert Schiller/AFP)

Kanaani should have been reminded that on 14 February 2006, the Iranian state news agency reported that “the fatwa will remain in place permanently”. The following year, Rushdie reported that he was still receiving a “sort of Valentine’s card” from Iran each year on 14 February letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him.

It was a vow they kept – thankfully not successfully –   on August 12, 2022, and Rushdie is thought likely to lose sight in one eye as well as suffering nerve damage in his arm and liver.

Is Iran’s theocratic leadership ever to be believed and trusted, particularly as the country wants to make good on its promises, not only to kill Rushdie but to wipe out Israel?

Rogues Gallery. A view of banners depicting Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese town of Yaroun, where the parents of the attempted killer of Rushdie emigrated to the US from. (August 15, 2022. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah)

Since being elected Supreme Leader in 1989 – taking over from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – Ayatollah Sayyed Ali  Khamenei has made it crystal clear he wants Israel – as a country – to disappear.

On December 4, 1990, he expressed:

Regarding the Palestine issue, the problem is taking back Palestine, which means disappearance of Israel. There is no difference between occupied territories before and after [the Arab-Israeli war of] 1967. Every inch of Palestinian land is an inch of Palestinians’ home. Any entity ruling Palestine is illegitimate unless it is Islamic and by Palestinians. Our position is what our late Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] said, “Israel must disappear.”

Doubling down on Iran’s commitment to hasten the demise of the Jewish state, Khamenei on August 19, 1991, expressed:

“. . . Our view regarding the Palestine issue is clear. We believe the solution is destroying the Israeli regime. Forty years has passed [since establishment of the state of Israel], and if another forty years passes, Israel must disappear, and will.”

Iran’s obsessional determination to expunge  Israel from the map has persisted unabated.

In the opening speech to an international conference in support of the Palestinians’ Intifada on April 22, 2001, Khamenei endeavours to mobalise the Muslim world to the mission of destroying “the Zionist regime”:.

He tells his listeners:

 “rest assured that if even a portion of the Islamic world’s resources is devoted to this path [Intifada], we will witness the decay and eventual disappearance of the Zionist regime.”

“Israel must Disappear”. Ayatollah Khamenei has made it crystal clear he wants Israel to disappear having expressed: “Any entity ruling Palestine is illegitimate unless it is Islamic and by Palestinians. Our position is what our late Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] said, “Israel must disappear.”

A decade later in a Friday prayer sermon on February 3, 2012, the Supreme Leader addressing past and future Iranian involvement in anti-Israel activities, expressed explicitly that Israel must not be allowed to survive:

“We have intervened in the anti-Israel struggle, and the results have been the victories in the 33 days war [the 2006 war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon] and the 22 days war [Israel’s attacks on the Gaza strip in December 2008]. From now on we will also support any nation, any group that confronts the Zionist regime; we will help them, and we are not shy about doing so. Israel will go, it must not survive, and it will not.”

When it comes to ending Israel, there is no letup in warning signs. If the Nazi imagery of the Jew was that of the rodent, for the Iranian leadership it is a “cancerous tumor” that “must be removed”. Speaking at a meeting on June 4, 2013, about the steadfastness of his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhhollah Khomeini – the man who issued the apostasy fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the present Ayatollah said:  

our magnanimous Imam is the person who never changed his mind about the Zionist regime; that ‘the Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor that must be removed’.”

For Iran’s leadership, there will never be an acceptance of the Jewish state. It is in their words, “a tumor that must be removed.”

Is it any wonder that Israelis are warry of the future when they read recent headlines in The New York Times:

Some Glimmers of Optimism About Iran Nuclear Deal.

You won’t find too many Israelis feeling positive about an Iran that is as dead set on ending the existence of Israel as it is dead set on possessing nuclear weapons.

Iran Calling the ‘Shots’? Iran wants compensation if US pulls out of nuclear deal again.

And what is the current status of the deal that at best is little more than kicking the can down the road to confront a nuclear Iran later?

Well, instead of iron clad assurances from Iran, what is apparently holding up the deal is not a worried world seeking assurances but a Tehran seeking guarantees that it will be compensated if a future US president pulls out! For Iran it is all about resuscitating its economy and that means the removal of the sanctions regime.

Hadi Matar in court accused of attempting to murder Salman Rushdie

However, in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Accord, Iran has increasingly violated the agreements it made under the deal and expanded its nuclear programme.

If Iran wants these sanctions lifted, they will need to alter their underlying conduct; they will need to change the dangerous activities that gave rise to these sanctions in the first place,” the State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said at a recent briefing.

Does anyone really believe that Iran will “change its dangerous activities”?

Would love to get Salman Rushdie’s take on this!





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- 15-18 August 2022

The Israel Brief – 15 August 2022 – Terror attack in Jerusalem. IDF foils terror tunnel. Melbourne University Student Union passes BDS motion. Celebrating 2 years of the Abraham Accords.



The Israel Brief – 16 August 2022 – IDF soldier killed in tragic incident. Gaza residents confirm IDF claim of misfired PIJ rockets. Israel wants UN official reinstated. Israel wins gold in Munich. All this on the Israel Brief.



The Israel Brief – 17 August 2022 – Abbas appalling Holocaust comments – updates. Turkey and Israel restore full diplomatic relations. Israel appeals to Russia to postpone JAFI hearing. Israel wins gold!



The Israel Brief – 18 August 2022 – German Chancellor Scholtz speaks to PM Lapid. Did PIJ operatives refuse to enter tunnels? Did IDF strike a third country? Will Britain move it’s embassy to Jerusalem?






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 FATAL FLAWS OF THE ONE-STATE SOLUTION

By Samuel Hyde

Proposals of single-state arrangements have been presented to leaders from as early as the 19th century and consistently rejected by both the Jews and Arabs of the land. Therefore the notion that the conflict stems from attempts to partition the land is nothing short of ahistorical, and presenting the one-state idea as new, is nothing short of deceptive.

Over recent years, versions of single-state arrangements have been promoted in dozens of books and hundreds, perhaps thousands of articles and opinion pieces. These one-state arguments are often presented with an aura of sophistication and unconventionality, making them sound appealing. Yet, in truth, one-statism is more an expression of an ideological pursuit or political desperation than a well-reasoned proposal.

Searching for Solutions. ‘Two-State Solution’ may be arduous, but ‘One-State Solution’ appears both unwelcome and unworkable.

Those bursting at the seams of the one-state idea as if it is hot off the press are frequently disingenuous about the motivations that drive their intentions. The people puppeting this idea tend to drift within fringe elements of Western intellectual circles with an already unfavorable attitude toward the Jewish state or in the ideologically driven messianic Israeli right who seek sovereignty over the entire land due to religious dogma.

Both groups claim to despise the other, yet for differing but predaceous reasons, they have reached a consensus – the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot succeed, shouldn’t succeed, and that there should be no further attempts because the idea of partition itself is unjust. This is simply a lazy conclusion. Failure to deliver a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could only count as evidence of the infeasibility of the two-state solution if the process itself were not flawed. The peace process, however, has been so flagrantly flawed that finding fault in the proposed two-state solution amounts to the de-facto exoneration of Palestinian rejection and diplomatic mismanagement.

From Here to – hopefully not – Eternity.  May a solution finally find favor.

In theory, the one-state idea is utopian. In actuality, it is disastrous. It has no support among the vast majority of Jewish-Israelis or Israeli-Arab leaders. In terms of the Palestinians, a study conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research found that only 6% support a single state with equal rights for all.

Young activists, favorable to the preaching of the Israeli messianic right, dress up their talk of the one-state paradigm as the only authentic way for both peoples to achieve justice and reach peace. Oddly, they have concluded that the maximalist vision of the Palestinians – a Palestinian state “from the River to the Sea” could find harmony alongside the Jewish maximalist vision of a Jewish state “from the River to the Sea”. But one could only reach this conclusion if they were to negate the core principle as to why these two maximalist visions exist.

From the Jewish-Israeli perspective, this vision is unique because it is held solely by a fractional minority of the population – Yesha, the settler movement, and their supporters. In this view, there is no acceptable Jewish sovereignty without the wholeness of the land and no acceptable sovereignty in the land unless it is Jewish. From the Palestinian perspective, this maximalist vision is the driving force behind what has always been the Palestinian cause – no Jewish state within any borders – “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

There is no synchronous element to the attitudes behind these two visions. Both movements are negative in nature, preferring to deny the other’s rights and sovereignty above advancing their own.

On the one hand, you have a movement of Israelis who want to settle the land to spur on the messianic dream. On the other, the Palestinians, who believe their claim to the land is exclusive and supreme over that of the Israelis. In both of these visions, neither side dreams of, nor is willing to concede political independence, power, and state-governance to the other.

This optimism surrounding the potential coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis in one state is particularly unwarranted as binational and multinational arrangements show strain elsewhere. If aspirations for self-determination are strong enough to currently challenge the cohesion of developed countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Canada, even without a backdrop of conflict, why try it between two belligerent parties who are actively engaged in conflict? The two peoples in Belgium have very few cultural, historical, and social distinctions between them. Jews and Arabs, on the other hand, do not share a religion, language, institutions, a common historical experience, model figures, or social structures. The failure of the binational model in Belgium is thus all the more damning to any reasoning for implementing this idea between Israelis and Palestinians. Given the profound animosity and distrust due to religious, political, and social divisions between Palestinians and Israelis, the internal ethnic violence that tore apart Yugoslavia and has caused perpetual strife in Lebanon and Iraq is more probable than this fantastical presentation.

On the opposite side of the fence, one encounters people such as Peter Beinart and his comrades who seek to mobilize a one-state movement on the Western left.

Ideological Cul-de-sac. Once an outspoken advocate of 2 states, Peter Beinart has abandoned the concept for a binational state, saying it’s time to ditch Jewish-Palestinian separation ‘and embrace the goal of Jewish-Palestinian equality’.
 

Why should Beinart be entertained with the technicalities of his unoriginal proposal when Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi presented the same plan in a 2009 New York Times essay. Nonetheless, it is critical to grasp what this idea might cause if it were to receive the desired mass backing under the prying prelude of ‘human rights’.

Beinart’s arrival at the one-state solution rests on the idea that Israeli settlements have extended too far into the West Bank for prospects of a peaceful two-state solution. Yet, this is nothing more than a deceptive ploy.

The Jewish settlement system included 451,257 Israeli residents as of 2020. In recent years, the nominal growth of the Jewish population in the West Bank has stabilized at around 13,000 people. The yearly growth rate peaked at 16 percent in 1991 and has since declined, hitting 2.24 percent in 2021. According to three recent surveys, extrapolated from Shaul Arieli’s report “Deceptive Appearances” – the majority of settlers are pragmatic. Even if they disagree with the evacuation of settlements, they will accept the decision if it is sanctioned by a government decision and/or referendum as part of a peace accord. The Israeli NGO Blue White Future’s 2021 Voluntary Evacuation Survey gives solid evidence that 30 percent of the settlers east of the barrier would be willing to leave if sanctioned by the government even without a peace agreement. Less than one-third of the settlers subscribe to the maximalist vision of Yesha’s Greater Israel ideology, of that one-third, only a fractional minority claim they would resist with violence. And yet, the same threats were shouted from the mountain tops by this radical minority regarding the Sinai exchange and the Gaza disengagement; decades later, everyone in Israel is still awaiting the proclaimed violent resistance.

Whenever Israel felt reasonably confident that negotiators grasped the security threat and believed in the moral necessity of a Jewish state, it has been most willing to make territorial concessions. This was evident in the peace offerings by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert in 2000 and 2008 which would have birthed a sovereign Palestinian state thereby ending the occupation, with no settlements, and a capital in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians rejected these offers.

Similarly, George W. Bush‘s administration achieved more territory withdrawals by keeping Israel near and appreciating the risks it faced than Barack Obama‘s government did by deliberately attempting to keep distance between his administration and Jerusalem.

Israel illustrated its willingness once again in the negotiations of the Abraham Accords. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came close to or at least threatened to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank. The stipulations made by the UAE for normalization with the Jewish state were clear from the start – all attempts at annexation must be ended. Almost instantaneously, Netanyahu, whose support base tends to be more favorable to the settlement movement, flushed annexation down the toilet simply to open flight paths between Dubai and Tel Aviv. That’s all it took.

The rupture of the settler dream has always been the two-state solution, so by sinking their teeth into the one-state idea, Beinart and friends have unwittingly become concubines to the goals of the Israeli messianic right they purport to despise.

Continuing to drive the one-state idea also has a detrimental effect on the Palestinians. Over a hundred Palestinians were killed in clashes on the Gaza border in 2018 and 2019 as they demanded their “right of return” to pre-1967 Israel – an action indicative of the Palestinian maximalist vision. Unlike the surrender of settlements, which Israel has proved willing to forgo for peace, as in the cases of Sinai and Gaza, “return” is the one demand that no Israeli government can accept if the Jewish fabric of the country is to be safeguarded. It should be noted that there is no legal “right” for Palestinians, by any international standards, to settle within Israel’s sovereign territory. Anyone who demands that Israel withdraw from parts or all of the West Bank must therefore equally demand the Palestinians relinquish the so-called right of return. These one-state advocates achieve the exact opposite.

There is no precedent under international law to force Israel and Palestine into a single state framework without the consent of both parties. Seeming both have consistently rejected the idea for well over a century, any attempt to do so at a political level effectively violates international law itself.

Yet, if Israelis and Palestinians are to consent to a joint political venture, both would need absolute certainty that their rights as individuals and as a collective would be protected. If either of the peoples believe that the other is not their equal, they will merely use the state’s system as a means to oppress or push the other people out of the territory.

According to a recent study, the most significant component for Israelis to uphold and maintain is democracy. When Western intellectuals advocate for a one-state solution while demanding that Israel maintain its democratic fiber, despite Arabs quickly becoming the majority and Jews a minority in a combined Israel-Palestine, due to immigration and growth rates, the onus of responsibility lies solely with the Arabs.

Since Jews have never been recognized as equal to the Arabs in any country where they have resided as a minority, Jews have every right to wonder if they will be treated fairly and equally under a single Arab majority state. After all, the Jews would be relinquishing their universal right to self-determination in a nation state of their own to live in one-state with the Arabs.

Unfortunately, there is little in today’s Arab-Palestinian society which inspires confidence that they are yielding a path to progress that includes protecting minority rights.

Are one-staters capable of providing proof without a shadow of a doubt that Jews will not be treated as dhimmis (a non-Muslim “protected person” in the Ottoman Empire) or ethnically cleansed as they were for centuries under an Arab majority? No.

In the same study, democracy ranked as the least important element of the settler movement, with Jewish sovereignty over the entire land taking precedence above all. As a result, the Arabs have every reason to wonder how they, as the majority population, will be protected in the settler vision of Jewish control over the entire land. What would it mean for the majority Arab population if this vision came true? To retain Jewish political control, would they be denied the ability to vote? In practice, what does a minority population reigning over a majority population with an anti-democratic attitude sound like? – Apartheid

An additional argument made by the Palestinians are concerns that in a single state where Jews effectively hold all political and economic power, there will be zero incentive to improve the lives of the Arabs, as is the current case in Jerusalem.

Are the settler activists able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that in their vision this will not be the ultimate fate of the Arabs? No.

To this argument, one-staters choose to deflect and deny, either missing the boat entirely or aiming at the wrong target altogether. They make the case that no one can determine such outcomes while no actual political moves have been made towards the one state paradigm. Yet, that is precisely the point, no political moves have been made towards this “solution” despite endless proposals for well over a century, because Israel is not suicidal.

The advocates of the one-state “solution” are blinded by ideology, lack an articulate resolution program, geopolitical strategies, and any robust policy proposals. Because of that the one-state paradigm would merely act as a spring-board from which a mirror of the Balkan war would erupt and serve to change the name from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Jewish-Arab civil war. Despite its branding campaign, the one state paradigm is neither new nor a solution. It is simply fit to be dubbed the old and never ending delusion.


About the writer:

Samuel Hyde is a writer/research fellow at the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance, based in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is a contributing writer/editor of the book “We Should All Be Zionists” with former Israeli Knesset member Dr Einat Wilf.






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).

5 EU COUNTRIES THAT SHOULDN’T BE THROWING STONES

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

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

(First appeared in The Times of Israel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




About the writer:

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







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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 14 August 2022

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

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

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

THE ISRAEL BRIEF

(Click on the blue title)



Articles

(1)

UNhealthy OBSESSION

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

By Rolene Marks

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

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

UNhealthy OBSESSION

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

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

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

(Click on the blue title)




(3)

LIVING UNDER FIRE

Israelis coping with barrage after barrage of rockets fired from Gaza

By Rolene Marks

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

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

LIVING UNDER FIRE

(Click on the blue title)



(4)

FLIGHTPLAN TO FREEDOM

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

By Jonathan Feldstein

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

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

FLIGHTPLAN TO FREEDOM

(Click on the blue title)



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

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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).

LIVING UNDER FIRE

By Rolene Marks

(*This article appears in theJewish Report“)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More than 1100 projectiles were fired at Israel from Gaza.

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

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

WIZO rocket proof daycare centre in Sderot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

The Israel Brief- 08-11 August 2022

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



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



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



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




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






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