THE KINGS MISSPEAK

Questioning the claims by the King of Jordan to Protect Christians in the Middle East

By Jonathan Feldstein

I was disappointed to read of Jordanian King Abdullah II warning Israel not to cross “red lines” on Jerusalem during a Christmastime interview on CNN.  Curious as to the nature of King Abdullah’s warning, I decided to watch the interview rather than just comment based on the politicized reports, where the headlines look for click-bait.

By way of full disclosure, I have nothing against King Abdullah.  I think he’s quite a rational, stable, and important leader, for Jordan and for Israel. A close alliance between our countries is important.

Interestingly, Abdullah II’s great grandfather, Abdullah I, moved to the region 100 years ago after he was appointed Emir of Trans-Jordan. He and his brother were rewarded with the territory of what’s today Jordan and Iraq for their loyalty to Britain. As Hashemites, they were moved from their native Mecca where the Saudi dynasty took control of the Arabian peninsula, to these new made-up entities. It was not considered an upgrade at the time, but they took what they could get. This was around the same time my grandparents came home to Israel ending, their and their descendants (my family’s) diaspora.

Twisted Tongue. Jordanian King Abdullah II in an interview with CNN claims to protect Christians in the Middle East. “But does he?” questions the writer. (Photo: Screenshot)

Regarding family, I have a lovely photo of the King’s late father, King Hussein bin Talal, and my father in the early 1990s, just before Israel and Jordan formalized a peace agreement.  My father was overjoyed to meet the King, but also because peace was coming to our counties.  I can see the skyline of Amman from my home, underscoring the geographical proximity and all the historical and modern security issues that go along with that, and I would very much like to meet King Abdullah as my father met his father. However, I must take exception with what he said.

Pursuing Peace. The writer’s father (right) on a UJA mission to Jordan, shakes hands with King Hussein at a reception hosted by the King shortly before the signing of the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.

Indeed, King Abdullah did issue warnings. He cautioned against Jerusalem being “used by extremists on all sides,” an important comment placing himself in the middle. His criticism of Israel initially took a rare tone when he expressed, “If we continue to use Jerusalem as a soapbox for politics, things can get out of control.” Jerusalem, he continued, is a “tinderbox that if it flashes, we won’t be able to walk away from (in the near future).”

King Abdullah underscored how he wants to be perceived as a centrist, engendering sympathy by “living between Iraq and a hard place.” Yet, he warned from his own soapbox that:

 “if people want to get into a conflict with us, we are quite prepared. I like to…look at the glass half full, but we have red lines.”  

While he was not threatening a third intifada, he did toss that in as a possible consequence of crossing the “red lines”.

The “people” he was referring to were Israelis, and the red lines are related to Israel’s presence in and control of parts of Jerusalem, specifically those in which he sees himself as the ‘custodian’. The Jordan River that separates our counties is often brown and murky. So too, King Abdullah’s words were murky.  He repeated a baseless claim he has made before, that as the Moslem Hashemite leader, he’s custodian of Christian and Moslem holy sites.  In fact, he is not.  Jordan’s custodianship only applies to Islamic sites.

King Abdullah spoke of the shrinking number of Christians in the region, noting that the number of Christians is dropping under “pressure.”  He didn’t say it outright, but the pressure to which he was referring is supposedly from Israel.  That too is false.

While indeed the situation of Christians in the region is dire, around the same time as King Abdullah’s CNN interview, Israel released demographics showing a 2% increase in the Christian population in Israel.  Israel is the only area in the region where the number of Christians is actually growing. In fact, the actual pressure on Christians comes from the wider Islamic society in which they live.

But if the King is concerned about the well-being of Christians in the region, he should start in Jordan itself. Why, when I met a Christian woman visiting Jerusalem recently, she would not be photographed with me, or even in Jerusalem, for fear of herself and her ministry in Jordan being threatened. The same happened with a Christian Palestinian Arab from Bethlehem with whom I had the opportunity to do business recently.  When I suggested taking a picture, he stiffened, and he told me that could be dangerous for him in the Palestinian Authority.

Birthplace of Jesus. Will ‘Silent Night’ one day take on a more literal and ominous meaning of the state of the Christian community in Bethlehem, which has dropped from 86% to 12% in the past 60 years, following a trend across the Middle East, except in Israel, where the Christian population is increasing.

One of the most remarkable comments King Abdullah made was in reference to Islam’s reverence of Jesus as messiah. It might be surprising if the King did not have to walk that back for fear of the charge of heresy. That could prove very dangerous for him and his kingdom where he constantly has to underscore his legitimacy as a Hashemite leader of a country that is predominantly Palestinian Arab. Fortunately for the security cooperation between Israel and Jordan where Israel’s intelligence helps keep the Hashemites on the throne.

Sitting on the east bank of the Jordan River, the King said that it was the third holiest site in Christianity being the location where Jesus was baptized. I asked many Christian friends if this was true, and if so, what the first and second most holy Christian sites were. Without exception, all said that a ranking of such sites is disingenuous, and if it were legitimate, there are other sites that would be in contention for third place, fourth, fifth, and even sixth, ahead of the King’s claimed third place.  Then again, with Islam’s third holiest site being in Jerusalem but never once mentioned in the Koran, perhaps his use of the term is deliberately vague.

Others suggested that he was just pandering, trying to be perceived as the savior (pun intended), of Christians in the Middle East, placing a wedge between Jews and Christians and our shared Biblical understanding of the significance of the Land and people of Israel. His saccharine-sweet words “we are committed to defending the rights, the precious heritage, and historic identity of Christians of our region,” hardly stands up to the reality of the plight and persecution of Christians by Muslims in the Middle East.

The King’s warning about protecting the “status quo” in Jerusalem, undermines the rights of Jews and Christians who, by law, are denied the right to pray on the Temple Mount where Jordan has custodianship. Denying the Jewish right to pray at what’s arguably the most holy place in Jerusalem to Jews must be one of his red lines, and about which he sees no problem enforcing, while “defending the rights” of Christians.

Despite the Jordanian King’s claims to protect Christians and Christian sites, I was left feeling uneasy that his comments were more likely to exacerbate than ease tensions and create divisions between Israel’s Jewish and Christian communities, where there are none.

Disputing King Abdullah’s observations, a spokesperson for Christians United for Israel (CUFI) had it right when he said, “Jerusalem never knew true peace or prosperity until its liberation by Israel.”



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 Israel Brief- 20-22 December 2022

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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).

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 21 December 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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Festive Greetings From Israel



 

Lay of the Land wishes a Happy Chanukah and a Happy Christmas to its Jewish and Christian readers across the world as well as a happy New Year to all.  

Lay of the Land will return in the second week of 2023.



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.

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Articles

(1)

UN’SAVOURY

UN representatives downplaying terror when perpetrators are Palestinian and victims are Jews

By David E. Kaplan

Confusion or Connivance. UN’s Tor Wennesland describes Palestinian terrorist attack on Jews as a “scuffle”.

How do the terrorist actions of Palestinian Ammar Hadi Mufleh attempting carjacking an Israeli couple then stabbing an Israeli police officer in the face while trying to grab his rifle, end up being described by a top United Nations official as merely a “scuffle”?   

UN’SAVOURY

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(2)

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CHANUKAH BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

By Jonathan Feldstein

Illuminating. The candles lit on Hanukkah symbolize the oil found in the temple that miraculously burned for eight nights.

How would you relate the biblical story and explain the traditions of Chanukah to those unfamiliar with this eight-day Jewish “festival of lights”? The writer faced this question when addressing pastors from Africa who had previously no interaction with Jews or Jewish culture.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CHANUKAH BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

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(3)

A MATTER OF HONOUR

Film is a cry for justice and a demand for Jewish honour

By Michael Kretzmer

J’Accuse! Film exposes Lithuania’s Holocaust lies exploring what happened then and now.

The writer’s film J’Accuse! includes several lists, notably an 80-name list of the Lithuanian murderers of his own family in Birzai. Fifty of these murderers “WERE NEIGHBOURS”. The willing collaboration of Lithuanians in exterminating its Jewish community can no longer be ignored. “Silence,” says the writer, “is no longer an option.”

A MATTER OF HONOUR

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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).

UN’SAVOURY

UN representatives downplaying terror when perpetrators are Palestinian and victims are Jews

By David E. Kaplan

Words, words, words,” was Hamlet’s reply to Polonius’ question,

What do you read, my lord?”.

By repeating the word three times, Hamlet suggests that what he is reading is meaningless.

Jews can never afford that luxury of dismissing ‘words’ as “meaningless”!

Take the relatively innocuous word “scuffle”. It seems such an insignificant word; hardly worthy of any analysis or concern.  Generally speaking, if reported that there had been somewhere a “scuffle”, one might just as likely ignore the news item.

Yet its usage earlier this month was anything but insignificant and harmless. On the contrary, it exposed blatant antisemitism at high echelons of the United Nations that warranted a summons to Israel’s Foreign Office.

The individual so summoned was the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process- Tor Wennesland.

Blind to the Truth. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace ProcessTor Wennesland, described a Palestinian terrorist attack as a “scuffle” and criticised the Israeli policeman who thwarted the attack.

After Palestinian Ammar Hadi Mufleh and two male accomplices failed in their attempt to carjack an Israeli couple on the 2 December 2022, they then tried to grab an Israeli police officer’s rifle, stabbing him before the officer responded by shooting Mufleh dead. The stabbing and shooting can be seen clearly on security camera video footage.

Terrifying Truth. Seeing it as a “scuffle”, UN ignores footage showing Ammar Mufleh trying to grab the police officer’s weapon during the struggle.

While this was a clear premeditated terrorist attack only thwarted by the  quick action of the Israeli police officer, this was not the way the UN’s Wennesland saw it.  Soon after the failed terrorist attack,

Wennesland, who not only should have known better but in fact did know better –  tweeted that he was :

horrified by today’s killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mufleh , during a scuffle with an Israeli soldier near Huwara in the occupied West Bank. My heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. Such incidents must be fully and promptly investigated and those responsible held accountable.”

On a Knife-Edge. The knife used by Amar Mufleh in his “scuffle” with Israeli border police on December 2, 2022.

A ”scuffle”?

Displaying no concern for the victims – only “heartfelt condolences”to the attempted killer’s family – how about the UN’s “horrified” Wennesland being “investigated” and held “accountable”?

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanual Nachshon had it right when he tweeted that Wenneland’s remarks are:

a total distortion of reality” explaining that:

“This incident is a major terror attack, in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed in his face and the life of another police officer was threatened and consequently he shot his assailant. This is NOT a ‘scuffle’ – this is a terror attack!”

This devious twisting of facts exposing bias, prejudice and antisemitism is systemic within the United Nations. Not to be outdone by Wennesland, another UN official joined the fray expressing support for terrorist attacks on Israel. Addressing a Hamas conference in Gaza following the terrorist attack, Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories said:

You have a right to resist occupation….Israel says, ‘resistance equals terrorism’, but an occupation requires violence and generates violence.”

Fran’kly Speaking. A strong critic of Israel’s right to exist or defend itself from missile attacks, Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories who compares Israelis to Nazis, addresses the UN, October 2022. (Photo: Screenshot)

Is this not the UN legitimizing and giving green light to violence against Jews?

If the UN has a nefarious track record when it comes to the Jewish state,  Israel also knows how to respond.

When on the 10 November 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism,Chaim Herzog, Israel’s current State President’s father  – then Israeli Ambassador to the UN – responded concluding with these words:

For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such.”

Standing Tall. A resolute Chaim Herzog, Israel’s then Ambassador to the United Nations, addressing the General Assembly in 1975 following the iniquitous resolution equating Zionism with racism. (Photo/Michos Tzovaras)

With that Herzog – before the eyes of the world –  tore the resolution in half.

In further response to that iniquitous UN resolution, the street names of “UN Avenue” in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were switched to “Zionism Avenue“.

Whether thwarting terrorism or antisemitism, Israelis today are STREETSMART!



Chaim Herzog’s Speech in Opposition to U.N. Resolution Equating Zionism With Racism






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- 12-15 December 2022

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The Israel Brief – 13 December 2022 Controversy over electricity on Shabbat. Did IDF release report in haste? Israel to Brief UN representative about Palestinian use of children in conflict. British PM Sunak to visit Israel.



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The Israel Brief – 15 December 2022 Family of Nizar Banat file lawsuit against PA at ICC. Israel says UN must stop allowing antisemitic comments with impunity. Iran expelled from UN Women’s Rights Commission. Bethlehem welcomes tourists.






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 MATTER OF HONOUR

By Michael Kretzmer

My film J’Accuse! includes several lists. There’s the  80-name list of the Lithuanian murderers of my family in Birzai (50 were neighbors); there’s the epic, disputed and mysteriously buried Melamad List of the 21,000+ Lithuanian murderers who mercilessly destroyed the great Jewish civilization of Yiddish Lithuania; there’s the list of the glorious 918 Lithuanian Rescuers, people of unimaginable moral courage who will forever be honored in Jewish memory; and finally there’s the list of Litvak Jews who almost pleased their mothers and changed the world. 

You know, there were so many world famous Litvak writers, doctors, scientists, intellectuals, humorists, Nobel winners, activists, artists and Torah geniuses that it takes about three minutes to roll the names in the film, and then at some speed. And these were only what Wiki yielded – just last week I learned that the late great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the man who changed my own life, was Litvak through his mother. 

Lithuania Uncovered. Originally published in hardcover as ‘The Nazi’s granddaughter’, award-winning journalist discovers that her grandfather, the legendary and heroic Lithuanian “General Storm” executed by the Russians was a Jew-killing antisemite.

Any other People or nation on earth would boast about this until the cows came home. But not us, not the Jews. We kvel (bursting with pride) furtively, privately, fearfully. I know my ‘List of Brilliant Litvaks’ induces a significant wave of ethnic buttock clenching:

Okay, already! Very nice but do you have to be so… public?! So boastful! Especially these days! (Here’s the glorious Jackie Mason on the subject) 

I had no choice. My film J’Accuse! is perhaps above all a demand for Jewish Honour. So the list is in, and proudly so. And from what I gather, the Yidden are loving it. Good. We should be proud and stand tall, especially when confronted by deliberate insult.

The Noreika insult beggars belief. Let me summarise: the Lithuanian government, via its Orwellian Genocide Centre, has manufactured a crude mythology based on lies in order to hero worship a notorious mass murderer, thief and polemical antisemite. Jonas Noreika murdered as many as 14,500 Jews in conditions of unimaginable cruelty and his guilt has been known for decades. Most recently Noreika’s own extraordinary granddaughter, Silvia Foti, has axiomatically blown apart the pathetic denialists in Vilnius. Her book, Storm in the Land of Rain and her devastating  testimony in the film J’Accuse!  has left them looking naked, nasty and ridiculous. 

Researched Reveal. Silvia Foti promised her dying mother she would write about her grandfather, Lithuania’s celebrated war hero and anti-Soviet partisan, Jonas Noreika. However, her research found something unexpected – that he was a Nazi collaborator responsible for the deaths of at least 8,000 Lithuanian Jews, including family of the writer.

That’s their problem. I am more concerned by the Jewish response to this demand for Honour. Why does Honour matter so much? It matters, primarily, because Torah matters. It matters because Jewish ethics and concepts of justice matter. It matters because Jewish Lithuania – that phenomenal, extraordinary civilization – matters. It matters because every human life matters. It matters because Jews, and Jewish civilization, and Jewish survival matter. 

And it matters because of the deranged cruelty with which we were annihilated. These are among the Jews Jonas Noreika dehumanised, imprisoned and murdered.

The rabbis and old men tied to horses by their beards and dragged to death for public entertainment.

The young girls of Plunge dragged from their homes and raped to death in drunken parties in the woods, then dismembered.

The 74 high school girls from Plunge tricked into a Christian conversion then mockingly executed along with everyone else and thrown into a pit

The old, frail men burned or beaten to death in the Demon Dance drinking game

The men, women and children of Plunge starved for three weeks in their own synagogue amid the stench of rotting bodies and human waste, then massacred.

Please imagine if these victims were Black. Or Irish. Or American. Or Muslim. Or anyone who has pride in their identity. No other nation on earth would accept such an insult.

But we Jews accept this Lithuanian insult with barely a murmur of protest. Worse still, important players in our community gobble up their trinkets, gongs, favours and God knows what even as they carry on brazenly holocaust-lying to our faces. Do these important Jews bring up the subject of Noreika and Silvia Foti at all? Do they feel it is unimportant? And precisely on whose behalf do they talk? Anything to say, AJC?

Bridge over Troubled Water. Where once there was a thriving Jewish community in Biržai – including family of the writer – today there is this memorial bridge across water in Astravas grove – the exact site of the death pits in which hundreds of Jewish were buried. Made from sheets of metal that have etched into them 522 names of the known victims, each accompanied by a Star of David – little ones for children and larger ones for adults – the memorial bridge was designed by South African architect Dr Joseph Rabie, whose great grandparents were from Biržai.

Honestly, many of us simply cannot understand it. Perhaps someone with close ties to Lithuania can explain and of course we will listen respectfully. But patrician silence is no longer an option: the devastating testimony of Silvia Foti in her forensic book Storm in the Land of Rain and in the film J’Accuse! make this an urgent discussion. 

It comes to this: do the Jewish People  support the holocaust truth-teller or the Holocaust liar? 

In my view there really is no choice. If we do not honour ourselves, no one will. And who could possibly blame them? 


J’Accuse trailer




About the writer:

Bulawayo born, Michael Kretzmer, a former travel writer for the Sunday Times and director/producer for the BBC and other once important media organisations, a keeper of chickens and grower of fruit and veg, a student of Torah, a Husband, Dad and “Grandad of the greatest kid that was ever born”…and a man determined to fight for justice in Lithuania.





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).

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CHANUKAH BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

By Jonathan Feldstein

Recently, I was asked to teach about Chanukah with a church group in Dallas. I entered the conversation thinking it was really quite straight forward, that most Christians at least in America surrounded by a Judeo-Christian culture, know at least the basics about the holiday.

I began by relating a story about when I did a teaching two years ago with a group of pastors in Africa, who have no interaction with Jews or Jewish culture. One pastor stated excitingly that it seemed like such a great holiday, we should celebrate it more often. I always found that one of the most charming jumping off point for discussion, even with Christians in America who know much more, but typically don’t know as much as one would think.

Chanukah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by Greek enemies of Israel. Rather than destroying the Temple, again, they desecrated it, which left it unfit for ritual use.

The answer to my African pastor friend as to why we don’t celebrate Chanukah more often is because Chanukah is always celebrated on the 25th of the Biblical month of Kislev, the day that the Temple was rededicated, some 2200 years ago.

The restoration of the Temple was made possible by a military victory under the leadership of Judah Maccabi. The name Maccabi has become synonymous with strength and overcoming enemies. It has also been adapted for use in popular culture, among other things the name of a popular musical group and a line of frozen kosher foods in America, as well as the name of one of Israel’s largest health funds.

Most Christians know that Chanukah is an eight-day holiday commemorating the miracle that during the rededication of the Temple enough pure oil was found to light the menorah for one day, but which miraculously lasted for eight days. For eight days we light candles, increasing one candle each night. We eat traditional foods that are fried in oil commemorating the miracle of the oil. Not so healthy but decadent and tasty.

Chanukah is also a musical holiday during which it is customary to sing Psalms 113 to 118, called Hallel, thanking God for the miracles He has performed. There are also many songs celebrating the miraculous victory over Israel‘s enemies.

But even if you were a biblically literate Christian with a deep knowledge of Judaism, how would you know all this about Chanukah since it is not featured prominently in the Bible. For answers to this and other questions delving into the how and why of what we do, I hosted Rabbi Avi Baumol on my Inspiration from Zion podcast.

During my teaching in Dallas, I received questions relating to who lights the candles and why. There were questions relating to the giving of presents as well, with a popular misconception that every family gives every member a present every night. I explained that each family has its tradition.

Also, because Chanukah is not one of the Biblical pilgrimage festivals during which all forms of labor are prohibited as instructed in the Bible, it offers an opportunity for families to have larger social gatherings, employ different traditions. Especially in Israel where it is a public holiday and schools are closed, it’s common for people to travel throughout the country, or even overseas during our popular winter vacation.

I also related how in Israel, weeks and sometimes months before Chanukah, the whole culture begins to focus on the holiday. This includes Chanukah displays in stores, the increasing number of Chanukah delicacies on offer such as latkes and brisket to kugel and jelly doughnuts –  and more. And it’s as mundane as hearing Chanukah songs as background music in malls and other public places, replete with seasonal sales that also employ the holiday themes.  

As much as this was new information for many of the participants, I especially liked engaging them about the place in the New Testament where Chanukah is mentioned. It’s so subtle that if you don’t know what the first century Jewish culture is about, you wouldn’t necessarily know that John 10:22 is talking about Jesus celebrating Chanukah in Jerusalem. But if you don’t know what “the Festival of the dedication” is, you would have no idea that Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday.  

As an Orthodox Jew with less familiarity with the New Testament, this raised many interesting questions which we discussed, but many of which were still unanswered.

Since Chanukah is not a pilgrimage holiday like Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), Sukkot (Tabernacles) when Jews were expected to worship and bring offerings to the Temple, I asked why Jesus was in Jerusalem anyway.

I wanted to understand why this one reference in all of the New Testament was there to begin with. Was it the only time that Jesus came to Jerusalem for the holiday and if so why and what was going on? Or is there something that was unique about this one particular visit, and it’s assumed that Jesus spent many winters celebrating Chanukah in Jerusalem. Unlike today when one can drive between Nazareth and Jerusalem in under three hours, making a pilgrimage by foot or donkey would take days, and days of planning. Forget the time off work.

While the conversation was going on, one person googled and shared some information which affirmed that it was customary for first century Jews to go to the Temple. After all, the military conquest and rededication of the Temple was relatively modern history to them.

This did not answer my questions, but did affirm something that should not be forgotten and that is that Jesus was a first century Jew, his life and culture were Jewish, and he worshiped in the Temple according to Jewish tradition. In a world where ‘Replacement Theology’ (i.e. that God has rejected the Jews and they are no longer his chosen people) remains widespread, and some try to erase the centrality of Jerusalem to Jews (and therefore Christians), it’s important that we remember this, and that Christians understand that everything Jesus did was essentially Jewish.



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

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Also available on YouTube @The Israel Brief  – Simply click on the red subscribe button to receive alerts when a new report is posted.



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

The Israel Brief

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Articles

(1)

‘FRANK’LY SPEAKING

Recalling my interview with a foot soldier who participated in the decisive Battle of El Alamein 80 years ago.

By David E. Kaplan

High Anxiety. An anxious crowd gathers around a radio shop in Tel Aviv Street to hear news of the war

If ever there was a battle whose outcome was of great concern to the Jews of Palestine it was the Battle of Al Alamein in 1942.  Their lives and the future of a Jewish state hung in the balance. The writer recalls his interview with the late Leib Frank who participated in this historically decisive battle.

‘FRANK’LY SPEAKING

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YE-DOLF UNHINGED

Kanye West or ‘Ye’ is engaging in a diatribe against Jews that even has white supremacists aghast

By Rolene Marks

Devil’s Debate. Antisemitic triumvirate Ye, Alex Jones, and Nick Fuentes on Infowars livestream. 

While the convenient impulse is to ignore and not give oxygen to antisemites, Jews have leant the lesson – fatally – of passivity. Public debates with celebrities like Ye joining forces with other kindred antisemites promoting Hitler and spreading Jew hate cannot be ignored. The writer argues say “Nay” to “Ye”.

YE-DOLF UNHINGED

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(3)

THE ARAB VOICE  –  JUNE 2022

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

Arab writers opining on Middle East issues, write on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar unveiling as much a ‘clash of ideas’ as a clash of competing football teams.

THE ARAB VOICE  –  JUNE 2022

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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).

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

THE ARAB VOICE-DECEMBER 2022

Two Arab writers opining on Middle East issues write on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar unveiling as much a ‘clash of values’ as a clash of competing football teams


FOOTBALL AND JUSTICE

By Abdul Latif Al-Minawy

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, November 25

As I write these lines, Breel Embolo, a football (soccer) player on the Swiss national team, scored the winning goal for his team in its World Cup match against Cameroon. This might seem normal to the average reader, but those who are familiar with the player’s background will immediately understand the irony, since Embolo is Cameroonian by birth. One can only imagine how confused – and perhaps torn – the player felt when he scored the goal. Embolo couldn’t be happy or sad. The sadness on his face wasn’t the “ordinary” sadness one would expect from a professional football player who beats his former team. Rather, it was sadness over injustice – the injustice that forced him to leave Africa, abandon his homeland, and move to Switzerland. Few professional opportunities exist for people in Africa. Therefore, exceptionally talented Africans – be it athletes, musicians, artists, or scholars – look to Europe for a better future. At home, they will have to face issues like corruption and nepotism. Abroad, they will have a fair chance for development and growth. And while many talented Africans find themselves pursuing a professional career abroad, nowhere is this more heartbreaking to observe than in sports, where an African player may find himself playing against his own home country’s national team.

Football isn’t just a game. Rather, it is a microcosm of life.

Mixed Feelings. A muted celebration for Breel Embolo after scoring his first World Cup goal for Switzerland against his birth country Cameroon. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

The World Cup is an opportunity for countries to demonstrate their skill and power against others. In beating Cameroon on the playing field, Switzerland affirmed its position as a force to be reckoned with. It is a model for life, neither a continuous winner nor a continuous loser, Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Premier League club Liverpool answered when asked about his permanent smile even when he his team loses. He said:

It is because when my son was born I realized that football is not a matter of life or death. We do not save people’s lives.”

Football should not spread misfortune, hatred and misery. Football should be about joy and inspiration.  

Abdul Latif Al-Minawy



WESTERN VALUES AND THE WORLD CUP

By Meshary Al-Dhaidi 

Alsharq Al-Awsat, London, November 23

The FIFA World Cup is not just the premier sporting event in the Western world, but it is also an occasion to promote Western values across the globe. For a long time, we’ve witnessed liberal values, which were once considered radical, assume the center stage of Western societies. I’m not talking about the normalization of homosexuality or same-sex marriage. I’m talking about how the entire concept of gender has been questioned. There is no more “male” and “female,” but a wide host of other gender identities that people can assume. Even young children are being indoctrinated and taught these ideas and values at school today. These values are being put to the test in the current FIFA World Cup games held in Qatar.

Clash of Values. Football federations who had planned to wear the ‘OneLove‘ armbands to make a statement against discrimination during the World Cup in Qatar were faced with “extreme blackmail” that led to dropping the planned action said German FA.(Photo Reuters)

The International Federation of Football Associations banned the wearing of gay symbols, badges and apparel during the games, including the “one love” badge. This angered some European teams, including Germany’s national team, whose players were filmed covering their mouths – as if they are silenced – ahead of their first match. The Germans lost that game to Japan, and some cynics commented on the score by showing a caricature of the German players with an image of a rainbow in their heads playing against the Japanese players, who had an image of a football in their minds. According to a BBC report, seven European national team captains were expected to wear the “one love” armband during the games. The German Football Association claimed that “depriving us of wearing the armband is like depriving us of speaking.” The only thing that FIFA allowed the captains of the teams was to wear the “no discrimination” badge throughout the tournament period. This is what Germany’s captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did in the match against Japan. However, the truth is that the Western insolence doesn’t even reflect all the players on the Western teams. For example, the captain of the French national team, Hugo Lloris, announced that he would not wear the armband because he wanted to pay respect to his Qatari hosts. They might not like it, but Westerners visiting Qatar for the World Cup games may just discover that the universe doesn’t revolve around their own values. They are neither the source of truth, nor are they the ultimate manufacturers of noble values. Other societies, other peoples, and other countries might not agree with their liberal philosophies and worldviews. They may have their own beliefs, but those beliefs are far from universal. Perhaps a trip to Qatar is what it takes for them to understand this simple reality.

 – Meshary Al-Dhaidi 



*(Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)





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).