Understanding Zionism

By Rolene Marks

Maligned, misunderstood, and derided, provocative, emotive and polarizing. Often condemned, just the mention of the word Zionism is enough to raise the blood pressure of many. This often results in both pro and anti-Israel activists engaging in a battle of words. Frighteningly, this battlefield has expanded way beyond the Social Network to university campuses and other congregating venues where Jews identifying as Zionist are at physical risk.

So, what is Zionism exactly and why is it such a hot-button issue?

Simply put, Zionism is the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is a guarantee of the rights of the Jewish people to organize themselves politically and assign it a name that hearkens back to ancient roots and love for Zion.

Zion is synonymous with city of God; the place that God loves – Jerusalem. ‘Mount Zion’ – on the southeast side of the Old City – is the high hill on which King David built a citadel. The word Zion occurs over 150 times in the Bible and essentially means “fortification” and has the idea of being “raised” as a “monument”.

image002 (73)
The Written word. The word Zion from which Zionism takes its name appears 150 times in the Bible.

Zion is described both as the City of David and the City of God.

The word Zion is embedded into Jewish religion and culture as it is embedded into the rock and masonry of Israel’s capital – Jerusalem.

Complex Relationships

The great American civil rights leader, Rev Dr Martin Luther King is rumoured to have described Zionism as “nothing more that the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland”.

image006 (47).jpg

After thousands of years of being made aware that we are unwelcome in many countries, Jews have returned en masse to our ancient and ancestral homeland.  The word Zion refers to those biblical ties since time immemorial. It is proof that Jews have “indigenous people’s rights to the land” and in case anybody has doubt, there is antiquity being discovered every day that supports this.

Israel’s detractors are quick to point out that Nelson Mandela, the father of democratic South Africa and the icon of the anti-Apartheid struggle’s support of Palestinians. What they neglect to conveniently mention is Madiba’s support for the Jewish people’s right to self-determination – Zionism.

Mandela has been quoted as saying

“As a movement, we recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism,” he said in 1993. “We insist on the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigor support the Palestinian right to national self-determination.”

There has been much debate, discussion and social media brouhaha over who is or what defines a Zionist. Zionism is not restricted to Jews, but many Christians, Druze and yes, even Muslims consider themselves Zionists. Supporting Jewish rights to self-determination in no way makes one anti-Palestinian. Sadly, so much misunderstanding about what constitutes Zionism has resulted in alienating people who have an emotional attachment to Israel.  Too many would prefer that Zionism be relegated onto the pile of other unwanted “isms”.

Open-Ended Hatred

Many thought that with the realisation of the modern state of Israel, anti-Semitism would disappear but instead it has reared its head in a new form – anti-Zionism.

The world has emerged a hostile place for Zionists.

Ask the students on campus who are bullied and sometimes physically threatened for their political beliefs. Or the store owners in Europe who find their shops ransacked for carrying Israeli products. Or the travelers turned away from accommodation for being Israeli. The rise of the alt-right in the USA with their Nazi salutes and propensity for spray painting swastikas or the neo Nazis, the UK Labor party with its ongoing accusations of institutionalized antisemitism and BDS supporters in Europe, South America and South Africa has many Jews feeling afraid and isolated.

The argument “I am not an anti-Semite, I just don’t like Zionists” is spurious.

Even the French President, Emmanuel Macron says anti-Zionism is “a new type of antiSemitism.” He told the Israeli Prime Minister when speaking in Paris at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv round-up, in which 13,152 French Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps that France will “not surrender” to anti-Israel rhetoric.

image004 (75)
French President’s Promise to Crack Down on Anti-Semitism Could Threaten Critics of Israel (https://twitter.com/i/status/1098321796737236993)

There are an estimated 50 Muslim countries in the world, and an estimated 30 countries that define themselves as Christian. There is only one Jewish state and yet, so many have an issue with its very existence?

Saying that the Jews have no right to organize themselves politically and call it Zionism is in fact, racism.

Is it politically correct to criticize Israel?

For sure!

Criticising the government and its policies is the national sport of Israel.

Is Israel perfect? No. And it is perfectly okay and healthy to say so. However, saying that Jews have no right to national self-determination or that Israel has no right to exist is racist and anti-Semitic.

I believe part of being a Zionist is being able to criticize and improve. I believe that Zionism means that you want to see an exemplary Israel – a light unto the nations. An Israel that is tolerant and welcoming and grateful for all who support her. This is dignified, this is keeping with the tenets of our founders who envisioned this. There is room in the Zionist tent for everyone – Jew, Christian, Muslim, as well as from left to right across the political spectrum.

These values are enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

image001 (81)
Return To Zion. Returning after nearly 3000 years, Ethiopian Jews aboard an Israeli air force plane flying from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv in 1991.

I invite anyone who is somewhat skeptical or perhaps undecided about their views on Zionism to ask themselves how different it is to their national aspirations. Perhaps this will lead to a lot more understanding, a lot less maligning and hopefully an end to the rising violence that so many supporters of Israel are currently enduring.

 

 

(*Title picture: courtesy)

First do no harm

By Rolene Marks

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct privilege of attending a rehearsal by a fantastic organization called Ukuleles for Peace. The brainchild of Briton, Paul Moore, who realized that something positive had to come out of the chaos of the second Intifada,  this outfit endeavours to bring together Jewish and Muslim youth in Israel to find common ground by creating beautiful music together. The instrument of choice? Ukuleles.

Now one would think that the idea of 12 youth from various backgrounds creating harmony while strumming their ukuleles would melt the most cynical of hearts. It did for some – but not others. The 12 unsuspecting students and their stringed accoutrement unwittingly unleashed chaos on social media.

Screenshot_2019-08-22-07-48-33-546_com.twitter.android.pngThere were a few who took great exception to this story and unleashed a tirade of accusations – accusing those of supporting this project of being “naïve” and of “not taking into account the threats posed by Iran or Hamas” and that we needed “to go back to lalaland with our ukuleles”.

This was quite a strong reaction and it made me wonder what triggered this kind of negative response. Was it the idea of youth from two different communities coming together? Was it that someone not Israeli had identified an opportunity and come up with a solution how to transcend the chaos and conflict and create something positive? Was it the ukuleles?

Whatever it was, it triggered a very aggressive reaction – and an all-out social media war.  Many who support this initiative felt compelled to jump in and defend the other position and it got me thinking, we are all working on the same side so why is there such mutual aggression?

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the mediums of choice for anyone wishing to share an opinion.

These social media platforms, while being very positive and useful mediums for sharing your message also has a dark side. These platforms have also provided a space for many who think that they are “experts” or at the very least keyboard generals.  In the war against racism, discrimination and antisemitism, social media is fast becoming the biggest battlefield.

As the mega-superstar, Lady Gaga, once said social media is the toilet of the internet.

Nothing is off limits – body shaming, parenting shaming, political viewpoint shaming is all the rage and if anyone can find something about you to insult, you bet your bottom dollar that they will.

And if you are a Zionist –whoo boy, it is open season for attack!!!

It is important to engage and be engaged BUT the how we do it is so important. At a time when antisemitism is rising around the world and many of us feel vulnerable; afraid and attacked (especially by trolls who hide behind the anonymity of a keyboard) is the right response to be as aggressive and abusive?

I am of the opinion that it is not. It is one thing to stand strong and unwavering in your identity – it is another to abuse someone else for a divergent opinion. Make a point emphatically but don’t personally attack people. In other words, play the ball not the player – that way you don’t come across as aggressive – and keep your credibility.

The way that we make our arguments in a public sphere has tremendous impact on our community – and Israel. We forget that the words we say have power. Aggression only serves to harm an empathy and open-mindedness that many have for hearing our point of view.

Have we lost our ability to have intelligent, nuanced conversation?

The whole point of social media is to create community and it is a great medium for connecting Israel to our diverse diaspora communities and is a great opportunity to engage on issues which can be very emotive. This can be done without baying for blood or verbally abusing someone with a different opinion. It only harms us.

Sometimes it is hard to keep a level head – the world seems so polarized, divided between left and right, pro and anti and often nuance and context are the first casualties. Antisemitism is rising; it makes us angry and rightly so.

I believe we need to show up. Show up for the conversation, no matter how difficult it may be. I sincerely believe that very time we engage, like or share on social media, send an email, we stand on the shoulders of the generations that came before us who had no voice and we speak for them.  It is a moral imperative to talk, to engage with others, to take advantage of the uncomfortable questions not just as an opportunity to present Israel’s side of the argument but to truly listen to the concerns of others. Instead of shutting down, let’s learn how to answer effectively, factually and with maturity.

We can go on the offensive and fight fact with fact but it is not about who screams the loudest. It is about fighting the injustice of hatred and also making sure that Israel’s narrative is presented in a way that does not bring harm to the image of the country her civilians and our diaspora communities. It is a hideous side effect that every time there is a conflagration or issue in Israel, those who hate take their tempers out on our diaspora communities.

We also need to celebrate the small victories. In a region where terrorism and incitement are all too often the norm, small occasions that bring together people from different backgrounds are cause for celebration – not condemnation.

Perhaps we should take the oath that doctors take before we react emotionally on social media. Our words have consequences. Perhaps it is time to take the oath first do no harm.

First do no harm2

AN OPEN LETTER TO UCT ON INVITING DR. STEVEN SALAITA TO DELIVER THE ANNUAL TB DAVIE MEMORIAL LECTURE THIS PAST AUGUST

By Stephen Schulman

To: Professor Mamakgethi Phakeng

Vice Chancellor

University of Cape Town

24th August 2019

 

Dear Professor Phakeng,

As an alumnus of the university, I received the latest Alumni News that contained a most informative article on pages 38 & 39 titled:

“The Development of Academic Freedom at UCT. Where does Flemming Rose Fit In?”

The article not only analyses and explains the function of the annual T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture but also goes to great lengths in extolling its centricity in the promotion of the core values that constitute the bedrock of UCT. The lecture “is meant as a platform for critically analyzing academic freedom”.

image003 (75)
Champion Of Academic Freedom. TB Davie led the University of Cape Town (UCT) during the politically turbulent post World War II years, from 1948 until his death in 1955. He courageously championed the cause of academic freedom and university autonomy, defining academic freedom as the university’s right to determine who shall be taught, who shall teach, what shall be taught and how it should be taught, without regard to any criterion except academic merit. His legacy continues in the memorial lecture series named after him.

These cherished values led to the dis-invitation of Flemming Rose, the Danish journalist from giving the 2016 T.B. Davie lecture after his newspaper had published cartoons of the prophet Muhammed eleven years previously. The then V.C., Dr. Price on behalf of the university’s management outlined three main reasons for this decision:

….”the risk that Rose’s lecture would provoke conflict on campus, the security risks of presenting the lecture,” and last but not least the disingenuous argument “that in the 2016 climate,” the lecture “might retard rather than advance academic freedom on campus.”

In the aftermath of this decision, the university, in September of the same year, convened a debate with a representative panel of its professors presenting their views to underline and strengthen UCT’s academic credo.

To quote Prof. Sandra Klopper: “Respect and tolerance for cultural, religious, political and other differences and acknowledgement of the values of diversity in society were part of the UCT statement of values.” She goes on to qualify: “Espousing an idea that is intolerant that causes harm through the advocacy of views that are demonstrably offensive, is in my view, not consistent with the idea of academic freedom.”

Prof. Imraam Coovadia, a member of the university’s panel in justifying the decision, voiced his opinion that ….”this is not a speaker who’s going to enlighten us intellectually” as well as his fear of resultant campus mob violence, assaulting of office bearers and wanton property destruction – well founded in the wake of the wholesale rioting, burning of churches and murdering of innocent Christians by Moslem mobs after the publishing of the cartoons!  Assoc. Prof. Adam Haupt, another panel member: “We’re arguing about someone we already know is racist and is a provocateur in the worst possible way…”

Nevertheless, in spite of its trumpeted statement of values, the university decided to invite Dr. Steven Salaita who gave the 2019 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on the 7th August.

Salaita1
Dr Steven Salaita says UCT exercised academic freedom in its proposal to boycott Israeli institutions.

Dr. Salaita is a 3rd rate academic who on account of his views has been discredited and declared persona non grata by the American academia. His work is dominated by a singular obsession with and virulent hatred of Israel.  He has an enmity and hostility towards anyone who disagrees with him and freely and publicly insults and abuses those who dare to think otherwise.

Here are some of his tweets:

  • You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing.”
  • Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being.”
  • This is not a conflict between Israel and Hamas. It’s a struggle by an indigenous people against colonial power.”
  • The logic of ‘antisemitism’ deployed by Zionists, if applied in principle, would make pretty much everybody not a sociopath ‘antisemitic’.
  • If it’s ‘antisemitic’ to deplore colonisation, land theft, and child murder, then what choice does any person of conscience have?”
  • “Zionists: transforming antisemitism from something horrible into something honourable since 1948.”
  • “I repeat: if you’re defending Israel right now, then ‘hopelessly brainwashed’ is your best prognosis.”
  • “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?”

 In addition to his filthy gutter mouth – unbecoming for any self-respecting person, let alone an academic – he resorts to the classic anti-Semitic tropes of demonization that would do Julius Streicher proud! His tweets bear eloquent testimony to his obsession – no need for elucidation!

In keeping with his bias, his doctoral thesis tried to prove the pathetically ridiculous fallacy that Zionism was inspired by and has links to the colonization of North America and therefore is a colonial racist entity committing cultural and racial genocide. His work is riddled with bias and multiple unsubstantiated falsehoods as are the books that he has written.

In all fairness to him, I read the transcript of his address and bravely ploughed through a convoluted, obtuse text riddled with both sniveling self-pity and spewing venom, the majority of which is devoted to axe-grinding, settling scores with his opponents and resorting to the well-worn trope that there was a Zionist (read: Jewish) conspiracy behind his being evicted from American academia.

Then, oozing cheap sentimentality, in an obvious attempt to garner sympathy, there is a long, totally irrelevant and maudlin digression about his son’s baseball game with a reminder of his paternal love and concern. In a first for this long history of lectures, he promotes the brand of sports drink that his son buys. Does Salaita get royalties from the manufacturer?

In my student days, I attended the T.B. Davie Memorial lectures and heard many distinguished speakers on academic freedom, but never have I read such an amalgam of unadulterated drivel, pseudo academic bilge and unabashed anti-Semitism.

 Is this the dignified and respected academic that UCT sees fit to invite to deliver a prestigious annual lecture?

Is this the lecturer that the council has deemed fit to follow in the footsteps of such distinguished personages such as Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama?

Is this person with his foul mouth, his hatred and anti-Semitism, his complete intolerance of any views that do not correspond to his own, with his antiSemitic tropes such as the demonization of Israel’s prime minister, spouting the usual well-worn clichés suitable to address the convocation?

Is this not a person who conforms to being “….someone we already know is racist and is a provocateur in the worst possible way…”

Is this a person who embodies and promotes: “Respect and tolerance for cultural, religious, political and other differences and acknowledgement of the values of diversity in society were part of the UCT statement of values”?

Is this the person with behaviour and views so antithetical to the declared academic ideals of UCT that the university accords honor?

The university, understandably, does not wish to offend the sensibilities and beliefs of its Moslem students. However, when it comes to its Jewish students, all these lofty principles fly out of the window and Israel bashing and anti – Semitic statements become the order of the day. It pains me to say that the actions of this institution carry the rank stench of hypocrisy.

Has my alma mater sunk so low as to dredge the dregs of academia? Or, is it simply because they found someone suitable to echo their own beliefs?

Dear Professor Phakeng, I am appalled and disgusted by the actions of UCT. I am ashamed to say that I am a graduate of this once proud university.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon. Israel

 

 

About the writer:

Stephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance

Supreme Irony Of Omar And Tlaib Crying Foul At Israel Ban

Currently features at the  Herald Sun (Australia)

By  Alex Ryvchin 

It is difficult not to savour the irony of two United States congresswomen who advocate boycotts of Israel crying foul at being denied entry into the very country they seek to erase.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, two members of the Democratic Party’s “Squad” of neophyte congresswomen from the Party’s radical left faction, have made their names by seeking to collapse decades of bipartisan support for Israel in US politics and using America’s democratic ally in the Middle-East as a wedge issue to divide their Party.

image003 (72)
Divide & Conquer. Sowing seeds of discord, US Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar at a news conference at the Capitol, July 15, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Omar, who courted Jewish support during her election campaign by declaring her opposition to organised boycotts of Israel, before promptly embracing them upon her election, has brandished virtually every antisemitic slur imaginable in her brief political career. She accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world” and called on “Allah to awaken the people” to Israel’s evil.

She accused American Jews who support the Israel alliance of dual loyalties.

She accused American Jews of buying political influence.

And she has declared her support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel artists, academics, and businesses, a campaign which in the words of its framers seeks the “complete and total isolation of Israel”, and the end of a Jewish state within any borders whatsoever.

Her congressional colleague Rashida Tlaib, openly supports a “one-state solution” to the conflict by which the solitary Jewish state is replaced by what would be the 22nd majority Arab state, and has recently taken to falsifying history, claiming that good-hearted, kindly Arab Palestinians opened their homes to Jewish interlopers fleeing the Holocaust. In fact, the majority of Israelis are from the Middle East and have no historical connection to Europe. More so, the Palestinian leadership sought at every turn, through violence and political maneuvering, to block entry into the land by fleeing European Jews. Their leader, Haj Amin-Al Husseini was a key Nazi collaborator and recruited Muslims to the Nazi killing squads and called on them to “kill Jews wherever you find them; this pleases God, history and religion.”

image005 (66)
Shared Vision. Devising the demise of Jews globally, Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine Haj Amin al-Husseini meets with Adolf Hitler, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia

To be sure, the decision to bar entry into Israel to Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib is a fraught one which will have immense political implications for Israel. For decades, the imperative of American Jewish leaders has been to ensure that support for Israel transcends party politics. While some US Presidents and Congresses have been more sympathetic to Israel than others, baseline support for the peace and security of Israel has been remarkably resilient, even as politics has become more bitter and divided. But the decision of the Israeli Government, which (although now said to be unconnected) followed a Twitter statement from Donald Trump that “it would show great weakness if Israel allowed” the congresswomen entry, will only serve to rally the Democratic Party around the anti-Israel congresswomen and position them as the popular symbols of opposition to Donald Trump.

Just last month, despite intense lobbying by Omar and Tlaib, the US Congress adopted a resolution by a whopping 398-17 that rejected the anti-Israel boycott campaign, affirmed the two-state solution and calling for increased military aid to Israel.

But seeking to travel to Israel was a clever gambit by the congresswomen, who have carved out a unique ability to at once advance their agenda by using their power as influential public figures, while decrying the “privilege” of opposing political forces that supposedly keeps them in subservience.

A leaked itinerary for the congresswomen confirmed that they weren’t scheduled to meet with any mainstream Jewish groups or political figures and were being chaperoned by the NGO Miftah, which has accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children for Passover rituals and regularly praises Palestinians who kill Israeli civilians as “martyrs”.

image007 (35)
True Colours. The Palestinian organization, Miftah, that had organized Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s planned delegation to Jerusalem and the West Bank once claimed that Jews put Christian blood in matzah, echoing a centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

If Israel allowed them entry, the congresswomen would have without question used the opportunity to advance their aim of turning public and political opinion against Israel by embarking on a carefully choreographed and live tweeted escapade showcasing the noble Palestinian struggle against the insatiable blood-lust of Jewish Israelis.

But by refusing entry, Israel inevitably opens itself up to criticism of being, at best, glass-jawed, and at worst, non-democratic. The former is a judgement call, but the latter is a spurious claim, given that countries routinely bar entry on character grounds, even to elected politicians of friendly countries (Dutch MP Geert Wilders was initially denied entry to Britain in 2009). Only in the case of Israel does this lead to the country’s democratic character being called into question.

The claim appears more dubious still when it is advanced by those who support the Palestinian national movement, the leadership of which is split between the wholly corrupt Fatah, whose President Mahmoud Abbas is currently luxuriating in the fourteenth year of a four-year term, and the Islamist Hamas, which regularly takes to tethering political opponents, suspected homosexuals and trade unionists to the backs of motorcycles and dragging them through the streets of Gaza.

The long-term implications of the Israeli Government’s decision on public opinion in the United States and Democratic Party support remains to be seen, though the alliance has spanned seven decades and has withstood far greater challenges than this. But with both a pro-Israel US President and the anti-Israel congresswomen cynically using the Jewish State in their campaigns to divide and conquer, it is difficult to envisage a scenario in which this latest skirmish ends well for Israel and those who support it.

 

 

 

 

Alex-Ryvchin.jpgAlexander (Alex) Ryvchin is an Australian writer, advocate, commentator, and lawyer. A former spokesman for the Zionist Federation UK, Ryvchin’s writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Jewish history have been published in numerous international newspapers including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, The National Post and The Jerusalem Post. Ryvchin is a regular columnist for The Spectator.

AOC, His Name Was Dvir Sorek

By Gidon Ben Zvi

Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently revealed her true feelings about Israel. During the radio interview on the 30 July on the “Ebro in the Morning” show based in New York, AOC concurred wholeheartedly with the program’s host that:

“…what’s going on with Israel and Palestine…is very, very, criminal, and it is very, very unjust.”

image003 (70)
Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while on New York radio station Hot 97’s morning show “Ebro in the Morning” with Ibrahim “Ebro” Darden.

A few days following this interview where AOC added that Palestinians “have no choice”  but to “RIOT” because they are “marginalized” by Israel, an 18-year-old yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier  named Dvir Sorek was found stabbed to death near Kibbutz Migdal Oz in the West Bank. Sorek was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found. Sorek was studying at a seminary as part of a program combining Torah studies and military service. He was last seen leaving Migdal Oz to buy books for his teachers.

Dvir Sorek2
Stabbed to death, 19-year-old yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier Dvir Sorek was found dead clutching the books of the famous Israeli author, David Grossman, a left-wing, secular, peace activist and a longtime supporter of the two-state solution.

While it’s highly unlikely that AOC has ever heard of Dvir Sorek, her words, coming as they do from an American Congresswoman carry extra weight and the danger of lending credence to the idea that attacking unarmed Israelis out of a feeling of being “marginalized” isn’t only understandable but justified.

“Once someone doesn’t have access to clean water, they have no choice but to riot, right?” Ocasio-Cortez rhetorically asked during the morning radio show.

By selectively overlooking horrific crimes if they’re perpetrated in the name of a fashionable cause, AOC is shaping up to be a 2019 version of the “useful idiot”, a term attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but crept into the political jargon of describing someone propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals.

Meanwhile, the reaction of pro-Israel advocacy groups to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks was swift and ineffective. Matt Brooks, ­executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stated that AOC’s comments come, “…from an intolerance of Jews and Israel that is unacceptable in the halls of Congress and in American political ­discourse.” Countering the outrageous statements of those who view Israel as uniquely wicked with statements expressing outrage at those statements does little if anything to make the moral case for Israel.

The way to defeat the Palestinian victimhood narrative that justifies terrorist attacks against Jews is for the Israeli government and its friends around the world to advocate for a more robust counter-terrorism policy. Once the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is made to understand that its very survival depends on making compromises with Israel, a practical prospect for peace will become much more likely.

But for too long successive Israeli governments have bowed to international pressure to fight terrorism in a restrained, predictable manner. In the halls of the US Congress many of Israel’s harshest critics and even some of its erstwhile supporters repeatedly push Israel to fight the enemies at its gate in a proportional manner. While Israel should be able to respond immediately, so goes the conventional wisdom, it must only use enough force to reinstate the status quo.

Dvir Sorek3
Nearly 1,000 people attended the funeral of Israeli yeshivah student and IDF recruit Dvir Sorek, 19, in the Jewish settlement of Ofra on Aug. 8, 2019. Photo: Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Such a doctrine only codifies the perpetuation of hostilities between Israel and the terrorist groups at its borders. Indeed, proportionality has greatly weakened Israel’s deterrence capability against terrorism, according to former IDF Chief of Staff and leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz.

More broadly, friends of Israel who acquiesce to the country being held to such an unrealistic standard of conduct are also doing a great disservice to the many people around the world who are subjected to far greater crimes against humanity. In her radio interview AOC mentioned these communities: “…I’m talking about Latin America. I’m talking about all over the world.” But by lumping a democratic state like Israel in with some of the world’s worst human rights violators, the freshman Congresswoman is effectively providing cover for repressive regimes to perpetrate gross human rights violations with impunity.

A “useful idiot” indeed.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers have effectively wrapped the Palestinian narrative in the mantel of justice. To reclaim the moral high ground, Israel and its supporters should focus less on the proportionality of the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct and more on the rightness of the Jewish state’s cause. War is always a terrible last resort, yet it’s sometimes the only way to keep free countries free. As Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

In case AOC lost track: Young Dvir Sorek was a patriot.

Those who ended his life were tyrants.

 

 

image007 (33).jpg

Gidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer whose  work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, the Algemeiner, American Thinker, the Jewish Journal, Israel Hayom, and United with Israel. Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind (jsmstateofmind.com).

A former Californian, the writer lives with his wife and four children in Israel.

 

*Title Picture: Dvir Sorek, 19, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)

“A Labour Of Hate”

The thin veil for Antisemitism in British Labour Party exposed

By Paul Charney, Chairman of the Zionist Federation UK and Ireland

The Labour Party have just announced another new initiative to deal with antisemitism of their members. The UK Jewish community is seething with anger and even Jewish Labour members will be wary and sceptical. Labour cannot spend years allowing an antisemitic culture to flourish under Jeremy Corbyn and expect another plan like this to be accepted with open arms.

image002 (60)

True Colours. Jeremy Corbyn at the launch in Bradford of the Labour Party manifesto for the general election in May 2017. The line “FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW” has morphed since then into “FOR THE MANY, NOT THE JEW”. See below. Between January and June 2019, Labour received 625 complaints about members relating to anti-Semitism.

image003 (62).jpg

The demands by the community for a proper independent process have not been met – just a promise to speed things up.

Recently the UK watched a BBC1 Panorama (broadcasted on the 10th July) exposé about antisemitism within the Labour Party, and what was clear was even the non-Jewish whistleblowers showed little room for optimism as to how this party can comeback from being labelled as the most antisemitic party since the Nazis, and worse yet, as to how they would behave in Government. Furthermore, they are the second party other than the far-right nationalist British Nationalist Party (BNP) to be subjected to a full enquiry by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission since its establishment.

The BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism within the British Labour party broadcasted on July 10 2019 exposed Jew-hatred within the party as well as exposing “smokescreening”, i.e. camouflaging its antisemitism.  It also revealed that some members of the Labour party are “actual Holocaust promoters” with one former staffer revealing that she was regularly told that “Hitler was right” and “Hitler did not go far enough.”

Regarding Israel, while Labour talks of “two states”, it fails to ever add “an Israel within secure borders”. It talks about Palestinian refugees and their descendants, meaning a Palestinian “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to Israel but always under UNRWA’s endless generation rules. This would translate to the world’s only Jewish State  ceasing to exist.

Is this Labour’s aim?

Labour behavior shows it has little time for Israel supporters and certainly only accepts Israel’s legitimacy as conditional.

Jeremey Corbyn has provided a legitimate open space for people to feel safe in expressing not just unmitigated anti-Zionist rhetoric, but also allows for that thin veil of masked antisemitsm to be removed.  Once you allow the disease of antisemitism to flourish it becomes very difficult to eradicate it and most Jews will remain sceptical whilst the present leadership remains in place. The rest of us will remain uneasy about the future leaders of a party that we know has been hijacked by anti-Western, anti-establishment extremists.

image004 (65)
Brought To Account. London, UK. 8th April, 2018. An antisemitism protest against Jeremy Corbyn, outside Labour Party offices in Victoria Street. Credit: Guy Bell/Alamy Live News

Whilst Zionism has finally found a safe legitimate and justifiable place within UK politics, education and society –  including leaders outwardly expressing their Zionists credentials – there remain the critics who will gladly provide endless condemnation against Israel. “No matter what Israel does its simply not good enough because of the occupation”.  We at the Zionist Federation continue to strive to rebrand Israel as it truly is.  However, if you start off by hating Israel then you will not be able to see anything else. We must subsequently focus on those that have not been brainwashed and allow them to form a genuine opinion of a complicated issue that is simply not black or white.

image001 (66)
Enough Is Enough. Never since the end of the World War II and Britain’s painful renunciation of the Mandate in Palestine have so many Jews talked openly about antisemitism mostly fomented by the Labour party and its controversial leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Seen here are protesters holding placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

Israel and particularly Zionism is now an important issue for the next generation of Jews in the UK.  For good or bad, Jewish youth are forced into a position by their peers to either support or condemn Israel. They feel that no matter how far they remove themselves from any discussion, since they are Jewish, then they are seen as representatives of the Jewish homeland.

This compels future generations to identify one way or another.

Whilst the rest of the country remain focused on dealing with Brexit.

 

 

image006 (39).jpgPaul Charney was first elected Chairman of the Zionist Federation UK and Ireland in 2012 and has been re-elected three times. He writes and speaks frequently on Israel and represents Zionist supporters across the country. Born in South Africa, Paul lived for many years in Israel, where he served for 4.5 years as a Tank Platoon Officer in the IDF. Having initially studied Law and worked as a lawyer in the UK, he now runs his own Land and Planning Company across the UK.

Our Letter to Rep. Rashida Tlaib

Join us for a day while we are in Israel together.

By Gina Raphael

 

Dear Congresswoman Tlaib,

IMG_2885 (2)
Gina Raphael with her 10 year old daughter Mia

My name is Gina Raphael and I am from Los Angeles, California. Outside of my business and family, my energies are focused on developing the State of Israel as a beacon of light to the world. I’m so glad you’re visiting Israel in August along with Rep. Omar. I, too am traveling to Israel at the same time along with my ten-year-old daughter Mia, who is also an immigrant, adopted from China. Mia has been fortunate to visit Israel many times and has grown to love Israel just as much as her love for America. We would like to invite both of you to spend a day with us in Israel’s north and experience some of the amazing work going on. We’d love to show you what is really happening outside of the media.

Rashida Tlaib2
world-class Culinary Institute – Israel

For instance, we can visit the future site of a world-class Culinary Institute in the north of Israel that will be the finest in the Middle East. It will bring people of all walks of life and religions together through a love for food. The Institute will help to transform a region that has had a 40 percent decline in population. This region is supposed to be the silicon-valley of food technology. Amazing work is happening in Israel’s north that will benefit all Israeli’s population – Jews, Druze, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians alike As they say there, they don’t coexist… they exist as great neighbors. I would be honored to show you how they ‘exist’!

Rashida Tlaib5
Dr Salman Zarka is the general director of Ziv Medical Center, Druze by religion,  whose staff has treated hundreds of wounded Syrian civilian

Close by, we can see the initial plans for a new medical center that will help people of all religions given this lacking resource in the area. On prior visits, we met Syrians who have been helped by Israelis at hospitals. I’m not sure if you realize, but Israel took care of over 4,000 Syrians wounded during the Syrian civil war. The average patient spent over 1 month in the hospital, with a few spending over 18 months. The government hospitals never turned down one patient, regardless of how intensive the wounds or needed surgeries. We’d love to show you the Galilee Medical Center, where 3,000 wounded Syrians were treated. The director of the hospital, Dr. Masad Barhoum, is an Israeli Arab I’m sure you might enjoy a conversation with him to hear what the reality truly is. I would love nothing more than to see kindness like this sprinkled throughout the world.

Rashida Tlaib6
Dr. Masad Barhoum, MD, MHA General Director Galilee Medical Center

We can also receive an update on a program funded by amazing donors in the US that provides new career training to women across religions that have been impacted by violence as well as others just searching for new ways to move their lives forward. While women in Israel build bridges together, it’s disheartening to hear that those in your own community attack those individuals that work together with Jews to make positive change together.

If you let me know at your earliest convenience if you can spend time with Mia and me in Israel, we can try and arrange a meeting with the head of Israel’s Bank Leumi and their new Chairman Dr. Samer Haj Yihye. The head of Israel’s leading bank is an Israeli Arab which highlights the pluralistic nature of the country.

Rashida Tlaib3
Dr Samer Haj-Yihye, newly appointed chairman of Bank Leumi.

We can also ask to meet with Amir Ohana, Israel’s Minister of Justice who is gay. While other countries in the Middle East torture or kill those in the LGBT community the largest city in Israel, Tel Aviv, is known as the most gay friendly city in the world. This is only a sampling of the many things we can do together as we share the beauty of Israel together. As we hope for you to experience the reality of Israel, so you can advocate for the only democracy in the Middle East and America’s closest ally.

Rashida Tlaib4
Amir Ohana, Israel’s Minister of Justice

This will be Mia’s 8th trip to Israel and she has already become a beacon of change. Mia has raised money to help provide special training to young individuals from all different religious backgrounds with special needs pairing them with canines. I’m sure she would like nothing more than showing you the Israel she knows and loves.

Thank you so much.

-Gina Raphael and Mia Raphael

 

 

GinaBio (2).png

 

From Bishops To Pawns

BDS South Africa earlier this year reported on American and African Christian leaders, having issued a joint statement comparing the situation of Palestinians under Israeli occupation to that of black South Africans under Apartheid and urged “Economic Pressure”.

image003 (61)
Doing BDS bidding, South African Christian leaders issue statement urging “economic pressure” against Israel.

The statement follows a “Pilgrimage Group Visit” to Israel-Palestine by a delegation of American and African church leaders, the latter of whom include the General-Secretary of the South African Council of Churches Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Bishop Zipho Siwa, Founder of Grace Bible Church Bishop Mosa Sono, Bishop of the Central and Southern Africa District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Bishop George Crenshaw, President of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa Pastor M.G. Mahlobo,  Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town Most Reverend Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Natal Right Reverend Dino Gabriel, Acting Presiding Bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church Bishop Zandile Myeni, and the Executive Director of Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation Dr Nomasonto Magwaza. Below is a response from a fellow Christian, neither a Bishop nor a pawn.

 

Response To Christian Leaders Urging “Economic Pressure” On Israel

 By Bafana Modise

As a Christian who has traveled to Israel and analyzed the conflict from both sides of the coin, it is truly upsetting that the very leaders who have taught the Bible to millions, as the report suggested, have allowed themselves to be used as pawns to advance a political narrative that is totally contradictory to the very Bible they claim to preach truthfully.

These are the leaders who have taught many to believe in scripture and prophecy. Lest we forget that the Christian faith was born from the land of Israel, and not Palestine. There’s no confusion between the biblical Israel and the current, as the article suggests. Moses, David, Solomon, Yeshua (Jesus), etc. lived and experienced favour from God on the same land.

Biblically and archeologically, we know for a fact, that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, as they remain the only nation to have built a kingdom there, and they have returned more than three times to the same land. “and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 11:12.

Now I wonder if those leaders actually believe and understand what they are currently teaching every Sunday?

The view that Palestine is indigenous to the Arab community suggests that the Bible we read is null and void, or rather it’s a book of fairytale stories, but yet again, the same teachers of the same Bible are the ones advocating for the isolation of Israel. Believers all over the world have been waiting for a time such as this, where all the exiles will return to the land of Israel, as inscribed in the Book of Joel, Zachariah and many others. We were taught in Bible studies, and most probably by the very same churches, that the Lord will restore Zion again in generations to come.

Some preachers today, in their pulpits, have turned around and twisted the scriptures for political points and relevance in the secular world. Christians should remain bold in their faith and never compromise the Gospel, irrespective of the political climate. I urge South Africans to ask the BDS movement these questions:

  • When exactly did this 100-year-old war actually become Apartheid?
  • Was it when the newly founded Jewish state was attacked by the whole Arab world in ’48, or rather in ’67, when the Arab world was certain that victory and annihilation of the Jews was on its way. I hope now you understand why some still have their house keys?!
  • Why are Palestinians in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and others still discriminated against in those countries?
  • Why can’t these countries take responsibility for their failure to destroy the Jewish state and absorb the Palestinians living in their countries for 70 years? The Arab world is equally responsible for Palestinian refugees, which they created by launching war on Israel in the first place.

 Approximately 850 000 Jewish refugees from the  Middle East were absorbed in the new state after they were expelled from Arab countries, many fleeing horrendous persecution – notably in Iraq.

  • Where were the Palestinians when the conference sat in Sudan in 1967 – known as the 3 No’s Conference of Khartoum – resolving that there shall be: No Peace (!), No Recognition (!) and No Negotiation (!), with the State of Israel?

The Palestinians have received millions in aid from the international community, but to this day, there is still no development in Gaza and the West Bank. Unfortunately, the enemies of Palestine are their very own leaders, whom are more interested in settling political scores and demonizing Israel, rather than improving the livelihoods of their people.

My heartfelt opinion on this conflict is that all believers, such as myself, should advocate for peace between the two parties, and if it need be, intervene with messages of unity and love.

To deny and twist Christian beliefs and prophecy in the pursuit of political greener pastures is just as the same as Peter, who loved and stood with Jesus in private and then denied any knowledge of him in Public.

Those listed Christian leaders in the article should rather ask how the Christian churches in the Middle East are thriving? Hopefully their eyes will be opened.

“Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called Sons of God” – Matthew 5:9

 

 

image004 (8).pngBafana Modise (26) is  Radio Personality, Public Speaker, Leadership Coach, Christian Activist and Voice-Over Artist who serves as Education Coordinator at South African Friends of Israel.

“Welcome To The Club”

It depends….!

By David E. Kaplan

If you want to become a life member of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world – the All England Club, which organises the Wimbledon Championships – then either marry a  prince, like Kate Middleton did, or try the easier way and – WIN IT!

When Simona Halep won last Saturday the Wimbledon women’s final, what seemed to please her the most was that as a champion, she, too, now had life membership of the venerable old club started in 1868 “by six gentlemen” at the offices of The Field, the world’s oldest country and field sports magazine.

image003 (59)
Member Of The Club. Simona Halep holds the Venus Rosewater Dish while proudly wearing her new Wimbledon membership badge. (GETTY IMAGES)

Halep had spoken in the locker room earlier in the fortnight about what membership would mean and said:

It was one of my motivations before this tournament, so now I’m happy.”

And Halep wasted little time in taking advantage of her elevated status, being pictured the day after her win against Serena Williams smiling broadly with a purple membership badge pinned to her red dress after being awarded it by club chairman Philip Brook.

However, for some, even by winning the world’s most famous and prestigious tennis event might not get you to the coveted membership; that is if you’re  either Jewish or Black.

Ask  84-year-old Jewish Angela Buxton, who is accusing the All England Club of Antisemitism because she has yet to receive membership 63 years after her victory in 1956.

It’s too late to ask her Black American doubles partner, and twice Wimbledon singles champion Althea Gibson who passed away in 2003.

image001 (15)
Black And White. Angela Buxton (right), won the Wimbeldon ladies doubles in 1956 with Althea Gibson (left), who went on to become the first black player to win the ladies singles title.

In 1956, the English former tennis player Angela Buxton, together with her playing partner, Althea Gibson won the women’s doubles title at both the French Championships and Wimbledon.

Angela Buxton was the first British Jewish player to win a title at Wimbledon. Following the win with Althea Gibson – the first black American woman to compete and to win at the tournament – a British newspaper at the time ran the headline:

Minorities Win

Gibson was the only black woman to win the Wimbledon singles (1957 and 1958) until Venus Williams took the title in 2000.  When she died in 2003, she was still awaiting her membership after applying – like her Jewish partner, Angela –  in 1956.

Born in Liverpool, Angela Buxton was the daughter of second-generation immigrants from Russia. Angela and her family spent the war years in South Africa where she took up tennis at the age of eight and quickly excelled. Returning  to England following WWII, Angela pursued her tennis in London  and then in California where she was coached by Ben Tilden, an ex-Wimbledon winner with whom she began playing mixed doubles.

Angela returned to England in 1953, ready to compete in Wimbledon, but at the Bournemouth Hardcourt Championship she was soundly beaten by the reigning Wimbledon champion Doris Hart. Ready to quit, Buxton decided to play in her last tournament at the 1953  Maccabi Games in Israel. There she won two gold medals which renewed her confidence, and back in London, Angela had her most successful tennis year in 1956. It was “my Wimbledon year,” winning the women’s doubles title and reaching the singles final.

image005 (59)
“Minorities Win”. Angela Buxton (left) and Althea Gibson (right) accept their Wimbledon trophy from the Duchess of Kent after their 1956 doubles victory. (PA IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

Rarely Remembered

So, while the players battle on the manicured grass courts of Wimbledon each year in July surrounded by the history of the world’s oldest tennis tournament, rarely remembered is the prejudice-defying moment in 1956 when Althea and Angela – the  African-American and the  British Jew – teamed up to win the women’s doubles championship.

Both had to overcome prejudice which stands in sharp contrast to today’s diversity in the top ranks of tennis.

When residing in South Africa during the WWII, Angela’s neighbors complained about her playing “with nonwhite girls” with one exploding at her mother, telling her, “You Jews think you own the world.”

Back in England after the war, Angela began winning regularly on the junior tennis circuit and took lessons at London’s renowned Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in West Hampstead. Dating back over 120 years, the CLTC is steeped in history since the first balls were hit on its courts back in the 1800s.

However, much harder than the hard surfaces of the courts, was the below the surface antisemitism in post-Second World War England. Regardless of her talent, her coach at the Cumberland assured her:

You’re perfectly good, but you’re Jewish. We don’t take Jews here.”

The American Civil War might have ended slavery; WWII did not end antisemitism.

“Waiting For Godot”

image004 (61)
Angela and Althea. Angela Buxton (right) will be speaking about her late victorious Wimbledon doubles partner, Althea Gibson (left) at the upcoming 2019 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York.

Like the two central characters in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot who never arrives, so the two players (one posthumously) of the 1956 final are waiting for Wimbledon that too ‘never arrives’.

While Angela was one of the first individuals to be inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame during its opening ceremony in Netanya, Israel in 1981 and next month will be recognised at a special ceremony at the 2019 US Open, where she will deliver a speech about her doubles partner Althea Gibson, Wimbledon still ignores her.

When Angela last inquired about the status of her membership, she was told that “They said I had refused it and my membership had gone to the back of the queue. This is simply not true; I never refused it and there are so many players who didn’t do anything like me and got membership.”

Noting the increase in antisemitism in the UK and its prevalence in the Labour Party – the traditional party of much of Britain’s Jewish community – Angela expressed to The Times, “It’s an unfortunate example of how the British really treat Jews in this country. This sort of thing exacerbates the feeling towards Jews. It’s perfectly ridiculous, it’s laughable. It speaks volumes.”

A Wimbledon spokeswoman responded: “While the decision-making process for membership of the All England Club is a private

image002 (4)
Playing Out The Clock. At 84, Wimbledon women’s single finalist and women’s doubles winner, Angela Buxton remains at the “back of the queue”

matter, we strongly refute any suggestion that race, or religion plays a factor.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon’s Jewish champion Angela Buxton is still waiting for recognition.

Well now that the matter is out in the open and hardly a “private matter”, the question remains:

At 84, how much longer is Angela Buxton expected to still stand “in the queue”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel Apartheid Week

An open letter to the Student Representative Council of the University of Cape Town in response to hosting the annual hate fest in April 2019: The Israeli Apartheid Week.

By Stephen Schulman, a UCT alumnus living in Israel

image001 (63)
Hall Of Hate. Jameson Hall  – renamed in 2018 ‘Saartjie Baartman Hall – is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

Dear members of the UCT SRC,

Now that the new year of 2019 has arrived it came to my notice that you, as in the past, and as is your custom, in the merry month of April, hosted that annual hate fest: the Israeli Apartheid Week.

image006 (5).png

As a past graduate of our proud university and even though many moons have passed, I still feel a kinship to this great institution and its students and therefore would like to draw your attention to certain cogent facts and to engage you in a frank open discussion. I am certain that your studies and exposure to the benefits of academia of my alma mater have endowed you with qualities of intellectual and moral integrity and have instilled in you the virtues of disinterested enquiry, dispassionate objectivity and courtesy that shall enable you to weigh my words and honour me with a reply.

image004 (7).png

You label Israel an “apartheid state”.

To deserve that label, a country must fulfil certain criteria. Apartheid was official government policy, legislated, executed and also condoned and ideologically justified by the main Afrikaner churches. Black people were discriminated against, disenfranchised, relocated, dispossessed and relegated to the fringes of society while there were strict laws against miscegenation and racial intercourse.

image001 (61)
The high-profile marriage in 2018 between Arab-Israeli news anchor, reporter, and television host Lucy Aharish, a Muslim (left), and Israeli film and television actor Tzahi Halevi and a Jew. (Photo: Meir Edery)

Unfortunately, nowadays the term “apartheid” has been too often incorrectly applied to any form of discrimination, been devalued and has consequently lost its original context.

Now, does the State of Israel fulfil the criteria to be so labeled? Does it have an official policy of racial discrimination to groups within its borders?

image005 (8).png

Firstly, all citizens irrespective of race or religion have full equality.There are Arabs serving in the diplomatic corps and an Arab judge in the supreme court. In the Knesset (Israeli parliament) the current minister of communications is a Druse. There are Arab parties in the Knesset and even though they see themselves as Palestinians and their views are often inimical to the state, as Israel is a democratic country, they have the right to express their opinions, which they freely do. Arab citizens are an integral part of the work force and partake fully in society. In my Medical Health Fund and in hospitals and clinics, there are Arab doctors and nurses with Arabs and Jews together in the hospital wards. I have been treated by Arab doctors and nurses and wait my turn in line after other Arab citizens to see a doctor. There is mingling in cinemas, restaurants and supermarkets. Just recently a well-known and popular TV presenter who happens to be a Moslem Arab married a Jew. Is this “apartheid“?

image003 (6).png

Israel has freedom of religion and religious sites are protected by law. The Bahai faith so viciously persecuted in Iran has magnificent gardens and buildings in Haifa. A great number of Christian pilgrims visit our country. The LGBT community lives and works freely here. Do these same conditions exist in the Middle Eastern countries surrounding us, in Gaza and the West Bank?

image007 (11).png

You profess a deep and lasting concern for the Palestinian community. Let us now examine a few facts. In 1948, the United Nations declared Israel as a legitimate state with a right to stand amongst the community of nations. The Israel War of Independence ensued as the fledging state’s Arab neighbors refused to abide by the UN resolution, acknowledge Israel’s existence, avowed to destroy it, “push the Jews into the sea” and promptly invaded the country. In the aftermath of the war, approximately 600,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees. Moreover, approximately 850,000 Jews who had been living in the Arab countries many centuries before Islam dominated the area, were persecuted, subjected to pogroms, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled.

image010 (3).pngIn the name of justice for all, a most relevant and pertinent question would be to enquire about the fate of these 850,000 Jewish refugees. The answer is quite simple: the vast majority were accepted with open arms by the fledgling state while a smaller number having European passports chose to move there. Today, Jews from Arab countries and their descendants are an integral part of modern-day Israel.

Israel did not push them into squalid refugee camps and keep them there to fester as hostages as the Arab countries have done to their fellow Moslems. Israel did not deny them full citizenship and opportunities. You profess deep concern for the Palestinians’ rights. Lebanon restricts them to refugee camps, denies them basic rights such as citizenship, health care, employment and education and disqualifies them from owning property. Moreover, they are barred from studying or practicing in twenty professions. Lebanon continues to ignore calls by various human rights groups to the Lebanese authorities to end discrimination against Palestinians.

Is this not “apartheid” in its true sense?

In reality, the policy and actions of Lebanon are closer to the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. In the wake of the Gulf War, many Gulf states, Qatar included, used the opportunity to expel the Palestinians living there. Saudi Arabia has imprisoned many and in Syria, thousands have been tortured and murdered. Is there an Arab country that has accepted their co-religionists the Palestinian refugees, given them citizenship and full rights as Israel has done to the Jews expelled from the Arab countries?  In the name of full justice and moral consistency, why have you never raised your voices in protest? Why have you not devoted a week to this cause?

The SRC has always stated its awareness of and devotion to causes for human rights.

image008 (7).png

Turkey under Erdogan has summarily dismissed over 100, 000 civil servants, purged the army, jailed many in the opposition and effectively silenced the free press either by laws or intimidation.

Iran is under dictatorship, executing, jailing and torturing many of its citizens, persecuting religious minorities such a the Bahai and actively developing and spreading terrorism throughout the globe.

Saudi Arabia denies gender equality, has religious intolerance ad has executed over 500 people in the last few years.

image009 (3).png

China has forcibly relocated over 1000,000 Moslem Uighurs, incarcerated, executed and harvested the organs of members of the Falun Gong sect. and let us not forget, amongst others, its maltreatment of the Tibetans.

Yet, in the light of all these well-known gross abuses, the SRC has chosen to remain silent. Why is this so?

Is it because you don’t wish to offend and bite the hand that feeds you when Saudi Arabia and China invest large sums of money in SA?

You quite rightly state your pride in being an African university and your involvement in the affairs of the continent and so it should be. Nevertheless, you remain silent in the face of injustices. To name a few:

Zimbabwe is corrupt and oppressive towards its own people. There is slavery in the Sudan and many fellow Africans suffer under incompetent and corrupt rulers. I saw in your group picture where you happily and contentedly sit, that with the exception of one white person that you are all Africans, so in raising your voices you cannot be accused of racism. You have been empowered by your fellow students to speak out. Why is there silence on your part?

image002 (58)
Hall Of Hate. Jameson Memorial Hall is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

When I was at UCT, the SRC saw beyond campus politics, was involved, protested and demonstrated against government apartheid policies. South Africa – your country, the country of your forefathers and your future generations – is mired in deep corruption with its leaders filling their pockets at the expense of the ordinary citizen. Poverty, neglect and crime is rampant. In your site, I searched in vain for any pronouncements of your concern or activism.  It is incomprehensible that you should choose silence!

image011 (2).png

Consequently, your official platform is full of platitudes that unfortunately are devoid of any content. I find it pitiful that you find time to single out Israel while willfully ignoring the rampant injustices around you. I find it pitiful and morally repugnant that you turn a blind eye to many egregious violations of human rights and let hatred, racism and anti-Semitism blind your reason. I find it saddening that you, the student council are devoid of any moral compass and are stained with moral cowardice.

image012.png

I level these charges against you. They are serious. If I have erred, I shall gladly stand to be corrected. I look forward to your reply. If not, then you will have affirmed all my accusations.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon,

Israel.