A wartime poll by Ramallah based Arab research institute, reveals alarming concerns for Israelis

By Jonathan Feldstein

A recent poll by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), painted a vivid picture of who the innocent Palestinian Arabs are about whom the world is decrying their treatment in Israel’s war with Hamas. The same world that’s been an impotent deaf mute, overlooking decades of abuse and war crimes against the Palestinian Arabs under Hamas, the PLO, and Islamic Jihad.  The current situation begs the question, for another conversation, as to whether anyone in the world actually cares about the well being of the Palestinian Arabs, or if this is just a cover for antisemites to find an excuse to blame Israel again and again and again.

Revelations from Ramallah. The poll that found that an overwhelming 75% of Palestinian Arabs support the October massacre against Israel was conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), a pioneering research, consulting and development firm based in the Palestinian administrative capital of Ramallah.

The wartime poll was conducted between October 31 and November 7, among 668 people in the Palestinian Authority including Gaza and the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria).

So, who are the innocent Palestinian Arabs?

Spoiler alert in case you don’t care or have time for the details: the poll shows that Palestinian Arabs roundly support terror against Israel, reject peace with Israel, and deny Israel’s very right to exist.

To its credit, AWRAD actually published these results. They did so with no shame. They should be ashamed, for their society and everything it says about the century-long dehumanization of Jews and delegitimization of Israel. Maybe it depicts their desire to portray this reality in the hope that there will be change.  However, as deep as the hostility to Israel is, it’s hard to imagine even a handful of righteous people looking to change their society rather than celebrate its deeply rooted evil.

The AWRAD poll depicts widespread hostility, hatred, and legitimization of terror. It did not start just because of the war, and certainly not as a response to the horrific October 7 massacre against Israel. In fact, it shows that innocent Palestinian Arabs celebrate it. These results are the product of hateful incitement against Israel from long before the advent of the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s, and since, celebrating terror, honoring the terrorists, and providing generous pensions to the perpetrators and their families.

The results must be a wake-up call for Israel, the broader world (even the antisemites for whom these facts are an inconvenient truth), and anyone in the international community who truly seeks peace in the Middle East. It underscores that the worn-out paradigms of the past are invalid and the world needs to look through the prism of helping to resolve a problem based on reality, not how people want to think the world ought to be.

Staggering Support for Massacre of Jews. Despite scenes like this of blood splattered in a child’s room following the October 7 Hamas massacre at Kibbutz Nir Oz, the AWRAD poll reveals that 76% of Palestinian society “believe that Hamas plays a somewhat to very positive role.” (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The poll’s overall results indicate that an overwhelming percentage of innocent Palestinian Arabs:

  • overwhelmingly support the October 7 massacre against Israel (75%),
  • support the genocidal creation of a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea” in place of Israel (74.7%),
  • seek the restoration of “historical Palestine” as a final resolution (71.1%), albeit that there was never an independent entity under Arab authority known as Palestine to restore,
  • and obviously they reject coexistence with Israel (85.9%).

As if in a high school popularity contest for homecoming king and queen among competing terrorist organizations, innocent Palestinian Arabs:

  • believe that Hamas plays a somewhat to very positive role (76%),
  • believe that Palestinian Islamic Jihad plays a somewhat to very positive role (84%),
  • believe that Fatah’s (the PLO) terror wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, plays a somewhat to very positive role (79.8%),
  • believe that Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Kassam Brigades, plays a somewhat to very positive function (88.6%).

Innocent Palestinian Arabs also harbor unsurprisingly antisemitic, and anti-Western views, and believe that they are victims and not the perpetrators:

  • 91.5% think that support for Israel is the result of the “influence of the Israeli lobby
  • 85.5% think that support for Israel is the result of “hatred of Arabs
  • 79.5% agreed with the belief that this support is the result of “hatred of Muslims and Islam

Biting the hands that feeds them, which have provided untold millions to fund their society, innocent Palestinian Arabs:

  • see the U.S. role as unfavorable (98.2%) 
  • see the UK role as unfavorable (96.7%)
  • see the EU role as unfavorable (92.6%)

But innocent Palestinian Arabs disdain is not just for the Western hands that feed them. Within the Arab world, innocent Palestinian Arabs:

  • see the United Arab Emirates playing the most negative role (96%)
  • see Saudi Arabia playing the second most negative role (95.5%)
  • see Egypt playing the third most negative role (84.6%)
  • see Jordan playing the fourth negative role (75.6%).
Erase Israel. The slogan is anything but “free” as it means the destruction of the Jewish state and according to the AWRAD poll, is supported by 74.7% of Palestinians.

It’s noteworthy that these countries have either made peace with Israel, or were close to that before October 7.  No doubt innocent Palestinian Arabs must hold in high esteem countries that are rocks of stability and democracy in advocating for their well-being such as Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Looking locally at their own “society”, innocent Palestinian Arabs seek greater control by the most hardline terrorists, in a population where all their leaders come from terrorist organizations. Innocent Palestinian Arabs believe:

  • the Palestinian Authority plays a negative role (87.3%),
  • Fatah (the PLO) plays a positive role. (23.2%), 
  • Hamas should continue to play a role in the Palestinian government (85.8%),
  • support a “national unity” government of Fatah (the PLO) and Hamas. (72.2%),
  • the war will end with a Palestinian victory that “achieves the liberation of Gaza from the Israeli invasion.” (74.3%)

Innocent Palestinian Arabs’ positive perception of the terror organizations that control their society remains high, despite their role in the October 7 massacre and being used as human shields by the very same terrorist leaders who they hold in high esteem.

To be clear, I don’t want to see the death or suffering of any actual innocent Palestinian Arabs. Nor do the vast majority of Israelis. The truism before October 7 remains, if they were to lay down their weapons today, they could have peace tomorrow. If we were to lay down our weapons (or be unprepared or live in a naïve false reality) they would slaughter us.  On October 7 we saw that.

Israelis desperately want peace. But when we look at statistics like these among “innocent Palestinian Arabs”, it makes us question whether there are in fact any actual peace partners on the other side. It’s not only impossible under Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. In the Palestinian Authority controlled “West Bank”, the percentage of people who hold negative and genocidal views of Israel is actually greater.  According to the AWRAD poll, innocent Palestinian Arabs in the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria) support the massacre against Israel at a far greater rate (83.1%) than those in Gaza (63.6%).

The AWRAD poll shows that innocent Palestinian are delusional and hold views that are self-defeating.  It raises the legitimate question as to whether Israel has, or ever will have, peace partners.

It also raises the question as Israel continues in its combat to eradicate Hamas:

 Whether all the ‘innocent’ Palestinian Arabs are really so innocent after all?

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.


Could have been a model of reconciliation but instead the Rainbow Nation embraces terrorists that murder Jews

By Gary Kaplan

I know my paraphrased slogan is less catchy than the heinous one chanted across the globe, including in the city of my birth, Cape Town, South Africa. However, I believe my variation is more reflective of the truth.

South Africa has been robbed. Not at gunpoint for this is about a different type of crime, a different robbery, one that is still in progress and if not stopped, will leave South Africa with its open-ended financial crisis and debt, as well as a moral debt that will never be forgotten nor forgiven.

Sign of the Times. The chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” heard at pro-Palestine marches across the world is an antisemitic slogan calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. Does this sentiment  not share similarity with the apartheid of the old South Africa?

The ANC has not only allowed the anti-Israel movement to accuse Israel of Apartheid but has taken it upon itself to spread the new blood libel of our time and be its megaphone. The Apartheid analogy has served less as a realm of analytical inquiry and more as a rhetorical tool.  Since the Durban conference of 2001, this analogy has been used by activists of the BDS movement, along with their stalwart allies, which in South Africa are the ANC and the South African government. Their intent is to utilise this analogy as a framework that justifies isolating and ultimately dismantling the State of Israel, drawing parallels to how international pressure significantly contributed to the downfall of the Apartheid state. This modus operandi of exporting false narratives is an insult to black South Africans who suffered under the system of absolute racial segregation. Furthermore, it is a tragic theft of the actual black South African Apartheid narrative because the term has been misappropriated to falsely label Israel when referring to its conflict with Palestine. The truth has been robbed.

Morally Repugnant. In a display of zero partiality, South African President Cyril Ramaposa, on a state visit to Qatar, requested that the International Criminal Court investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in its war with Hamas saying Israel has “turned Gaza into a concentration camp where genocide is taking place.” Ignoring the barbarity and butchery Hamas inflicted upon Jewish civilians, the South African president also posted a video of a speech he delivered at a rally in support of Gaza, whose killer squads had perpetrated a massacre  on the 7 October.

Continuing on this misguided path, South Africa’s ANC’s leadership persistently espouses ignorantly on Israel’s war against the terrorist-run state of Gaza. Joining with the outrageous statements by different members of his government, on November 17, President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters during a state visit to Qatar that Gaza:

 “Has now turned into a concentration camp where genocide is taking place.”

It took the South African government nine days to condemn the 7th of October massacre by Hamas, and with that, it quickly blamed Israel for the:

 “genocide of the people of Gaza.”

This type of rhetoric backing Islamic terrorists is yet another slap in the face to the real freedom fighters who opposed Apartheid and exposes South Africa’s Jewish community to the danger of mob violence. We saw last month what transpired on Sea Point beach front when one of the organisers of the violence against Jews, Hannie Orrie, said:

 “We share one objective: to rid this country of Zionism.” The threat of the EFF, South Africa’s third largest political party to close down the Jewish day school, Herzlia, while ominous, is a symptom of the ANC government’s close associations with those terrorists seeking Israel’s destruction.

Jews not Wanted. A violent counter-protest at a rally that was meant to be in support of Israel in Sea Point where Jews were warned to stay away. It begs the question of how safe are Jews in South Africa today?

The Rainbow Nation and the ANC had a choice; they could have made a significant impact by trying to be a role model of reconciliation and broker a peace but instead, they chose to support Hamas that murderously and mercilessly pursues the destruction of the state of Israel. Instead of governing and rebuilding South Africa, they have spent their energy on siding with terrorists and allowing antisemitism and violence to breed and spread across South Africa.

Close or Else What? Although the Jewish community’s leadership is unbowed and defiant, it is a sign of the times in South Africa when the third largest political party can threaten the Westen Cape Premier, Alan Winde that he has “until the end of the year to close down [Herzlia] school, or the EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] South Africa will have to!”

How can a nation reborn after Apartheid be so intertwined with a brutal terrorist organisation like Hamas? Where did it go so wrong?

In my mind, there is a clear link between the Government’s anti-Israel sentiment and the country’s apparent infrastructure collapse, high crime and economic malaise.  I am sure there are many realpolitik reasons for the ANC to be so vocal against Israel, which include anti-western politicians in the ANC, seeking Muslim voters, BRICS, etc. However, they all start from a real ideological point. The ANC admire Hamas, they see them as themselves, and in that obscure way, they have a twisted take on history and reality. The only fundamental similarity between the ANC and the Palestinians is that both are ignoring the chance to govern their people to provide security and prosperity.

I can ensure the South African government that their people would prefer electricity 24 hours a day, clean water and an end to poverty and crime than its shallow forays into ‘foreign policy’.

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it took them 40 years to reach the promised land. Why? Not because they were literally lost but because a generation of slave- mentality needed to die for a new generation to understand the concept of freedom and live freely. It seems the ANC suffer from the same mentality; they too haven’t come to terms with the idea of freedom and its obligations and responsibilities. I find it hard to believe that the rainbow nation was created to align itself with terror and the destruction of the only Jewish state in the world. It seems South Africa today is going through the same evils it once had: racism, antisemitism, bigotry and supremacy. Once again, the Jews of South Africa need to explain to their government their place in society and explain why, even though their skin colour may be white, they are not “colonialists” but Jews. Have the ANC become the people they have fought against decades ago? Their blatant antisemitism would suggest so.

This ANC government supports an organisation responsible for the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust – an organisation whose official policy is to murder Jews and which poses an ongoing threat to the safety of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Blind Support. Supporting Hamas, South Africa’s ANC leadership ignores how the current hostilities began with photos like these of a blood-soaked child’s bed in Kibbutz Kfar Aza where children were butchered on October 7.

It seems to me that the South African government today is no better than when white Afrikaner nationalism of the 1930s sided with Nazism, aligning with evil.

Is this what my Jewish parents so strongly opposed in South Africa? Is this the new South Africa?

The South African government’s comments on “genocide” and “concentration camps” regarding the war in Gaza, place it alongside history’s greatest holocaust deniers. I am sure this is not the legacy Mandela would have wanted to be associated with!

The ANC’s more-recent posturing that the narrative of the Palestinian people’s struggle resembles their own history of racial segregation and oppression undermines the true narrative of the struggle against Apartheid. It is diluting their history and dissipating its value. What started off as a just cause of striving for freedom has bizarrely morphed to supporting destruction, rape and brutal massacre. Who after all in their right mind, takes babies and toddlers as hostages and can claim to be “freedom fighters”?

South Africa – From Economic To Moral Decline. In response to the will of the street, the South African parliament has called on the ANC government to close down the Israeli embassy, while having no problem hosting a Hamas delegation to South Africa that is responsible for the massacre of Jews on October 7, the worst since the Holocaust.

However, in the last week, South Africa’s ANC government has taken its endangerment to Jews to an all-new level by welcoming in the aftermath of the Hamas massacre, a senior Hamas delegation to South Africa to participate in the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine. The delegation included politburo member Bassem Naim, Hamas representative in Iran, Khaled Qaddoumi and Hamas representative in East, Central and Southern Africa Emad Saber.

According to a press release, the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine was jointly organised by the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and the Royal House of Mandela and would commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Global Campaign’s launch and the death of Nelson Mandela. What would Mandela who so loved children, and as president donated half of his salary to poor children and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, gave part of the prize money to help street children say about the users and abusers of his legacy cozying up to the likes of Hamas who in the process of perpetrating a massacre of Jews, take babies and toddlers as hostages?

Seems more of the old South Africa than the new.  

South African Islamic Scholars Laud October 7 Massacre By Hamas: We Are Extremely Proud Of The Mujahideen, Our Brothers And Sisters From Hamas; This Was A Morning Of Honor And Glory; The Al-Qassam Brigades Are Connected To Allah

About the writer:

South Africa-born, Gary Kaplan works in the international relations division at Israel’s national trade union, the Histadrut where inter alia, he manages its youth exchange programme with the German trade union Confederation addressing issues from labour relations to Holocaust remembrance.


The Israeli Message  – We will prevail. We have no choice; we are home and we aren’t going anywhere

By Harris Zvi Green

December 1, 2023

My dearest friends,

After not having seen Omer for eight weeks, he finally made it home for the weekend. We were thrilled to see him and hear about his experiences. Omer is only 21 years old. He has had to shoulder enormous responsibility for achieving his unit’s objectives on the battlefield and ensuring the safety of his soldiers. We are so proud of him and our other serving grandchildren. Indeed, we’re proud of all our soldiers and volunteers.

The week began with a cessation of hostilities to enable a so-called “prisoner exchange”. The release of convicted terrorists plus humanitarian aid to Gaza in return for people who couldn’t harm a fly – elderly ladies, mothers, teenagers and young children. The aid includes fuel which will certainly find its way to re-energizing the Hamas military machine.

Targeting Kids. Kidnapped from kibbutz Nir Oz, the Bibas family – father Yarden, four-year-old Ariel, mother Shirli and baby Kfir were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. The two redheaded children are the youngest hostages still held in Gaza. (Courtesy)

At the time of writing these lines, Hamas continues to hold 145 hostages in captivity under the most appalling conditions. The hostages include 10-month-old Kfir, his four-year-old brother, Ariel, and their parents, Shiri and Yarden Bibas. Nineteen of the hostages are more than 60 years old. After 55 days, we don’t know who’s alive and who’s no longer with us.

We’ve gone full circle.

Israel is, once again, perceived to be the aggressor. Hamas and Gaza are perceived to be the victims and the underdogs. As expected, the international community has made a conscious decision to forget the events of October 7. These have now been relegated to obscure footnotes in the history books in order to cast the Palestinian narrative in concrete.

But the Israeli people will not forget the events of October 7. We will not move on and wait for yet another round of violence.

Last week a friend sent me a mail with a self-filmed clip of a gang rape by Hamas militants on October 7. He asked for my opinion as to whether he should distribute the clip to his mailing list.

I deliberately refrained from watching the clip. I don’t have the stomach for such animalistic behavior. I can only imagine that the images in the clip are so horrific that they are literally unbelievable.

I suggested to my friend that, out of respect for the victim and her family, he shouldn’t distribute the clip. I will, however, share with you the caption to the clip.

Eyewitness accounts: Palestinian terrorists gang rape Israeli girl, cut off her breasts while she’s still alive, then shoot her in the head and continue to rape her.

My apologies for having violated your sensitivities so invasively by sharing this. Its depravity shocked me to the core. These are the monsters Israel has to deal with. These are the sadists whose crimes are being sanitized by the UN, some Western leaders and much of the media.

My parents and teachers of blessed memory taught me to differentiate between good and evil. They taught me that truth was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Shame was the painful feeling of humiliation.

Fast forward over my life span.

Good is no longer good. What we deemed good is now considered feeble. It reflects weakness. Evil is much worse than it ever was. As for the truth, it’s no longer relevant. There’s no more shame. Anything can be rationalized. Everything is excusable.

Meaningless words like “decolonization” and “apartheid” have been created or rebranded to whitewash and justify the most heinous acts of terror.

Friends, there’s no colonization and no apartheid in Israel. I know that. You know that. We all know that. So, let’s drop all the buzz-words with their negative connotations. Demonizing Israel and rationalizing anti-Semitism won’t advance peace.

Back Home. After 50 days in frightening captivity, 9-year-old hostage, Emily Hand  reunites with her father Tom in Israel following her release.

International leaders, empowered by the media, hear the arguments. They refuse to listen. They see the terror. They choose not to register. They want to move on. They don’t give a damn about Israel’s well-being, her right to security and her government’s duty to protect her citizens.

Irish Premier, Leo Varadkar, gleefully announced that Israeli-Irish national, Emily Hand, was “found after having been lost.” He made a conscious decision to ignore the fact that 9-year-old Emily was brutally kidnapped and held hostage in a Hamas prison for 50 days. He deliberately made this gross misrepresentation of the facts to provide credibility for a false narrative.

Ire against Ireland. “Maybe you have lost your moral compass” was Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen’s furious response to Ireland PM Leo Varadkar who he  accused of ‘legitimising and normalising terror’ after saying freed child hostage Emily Hand was “lost” and “has now been found” without any reference to her kidnapping and by whom.

In a carefully orchestrated act, the Prime Ministers of Spain and Belgium called for the prisoner release cease-fire to be made permanent. This would achieve stalling Israel’s military offensive, saving the genocidal Hamas leadership and get us back to square one. These guys should stick to football. Conflict resolution and making the Middle East a safer place in which to live are clearly not their forte.

Spain announced its intention to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. That’s quite a reward for the Hamas October 7 massacre and the public hanging by Hamas militants of two Palestinians suspected of “collaborating with Israel”. It’s so easy for the PMs of Spain and Belgium to propose suicidal scenarios that don’t affect their own security. Does anybody believe such a scenario in the Middle East is a viable option to end the conflict?

Bodies of Evidence. A volunteer with Israel’s military rabbinate who helped prepare remains of women murdered on Oct. 7 stands near refrigerated containers that hold bodies, body parts and ashes at a makeshift morgue for soldiers on the Shura military base near Ramla on Oct. 29. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)

What does this say about those who elected these clowns to their positions? We will not allow these people to determine our future.

Kay Burley, Sky television anchor, claims Israel’s agreeing to release 150 Hamas prisoners in exchange for 50 Israeli hostages proves Israel cares less about the value of Palestinian lives than Israeli lives. What gives her the right to draw a moral comparison between normative Israeli citizens and convicted Hamas terrorists? If the numbers bother her so much, why doesn’t Ms. Burley criticize the Hamas leadership for demanding this outrageous rate of exchange?

Israel continues to receive lectures from biased television personalities regarding its obligations under International Law. Yet, these same self-styled “champions of human rights” haven’t got what it takes to read the riot act to the Hamas leadership. BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowen sounds like a shyster lawyer trying to negotiate a plea bargain with an alcoholic judge on behalf of a small-time pimp cum drug dealer in a one-horse town.

BBC BIAS.  Constantly a culprit is BBC’s Middle East chief correspondent Jeremy Bowen in failing to tell the story of the Israel-Palestine conflict accurately.

I can go on and on and on, but, like me, by now, you must be experiencing motion sickness.

In spite of it all, Israel will prevail. We have no choice. We are home and we aren’t going anywhere. We’re between the river and the sea and we are free.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes to the injured for a complete and speedy recovery. May God protect our brave soldiers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green

About the writer:

Harris Zvi Green, born in Cape Town / South-Africa. Graduated from the University of Cape Town with a B. Com. degree and immigrated to Israel 53 years ago. He served as the Chief Financial Officer at a number of Israeli hi-tech companies. He is now retired. Married with 3 married children and is the proud grandfather of 13 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

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 war against Hamas must achieve its goals

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

(Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post where first appeared)

When a dramatic, highly significant, totally unexpected, and especially tragic event takes place, it is only natural for people to look for precedents from their own history. That is exactly what happened in the wake of the October 7 terror rampage launched by Hamas, in southern Israel. Numerous comparisons from Jewish history, some more recent, others more distant, were made.

Merchants of Death. They came to murder, rape, mutilate, burn and kidnap. A scene at kibbutz Be’eri following the Hamas attack on 7 October.

 And since the Holocaust is by far the most horrific of them, the number of Jewish victims on October 7 the highest since 1945, and the extreme cruelty of the Hamas perpetrators which was utterly barbaric, there were several attempts to describe the crimes using Shoah terminology. 

Thus, for example, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan came to a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the events wearing a yellow star, reminiscent of the identifying patches Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear during the Holocaust. Erdan’s yellow star said “Never Again”, but was not the appropriate vehicle to convey that message. 

After all, how can the murder of 1,200 people in a sovereign Jewish state be compared to the annihilation of six million practically defenseless Jews over the course of four years, in all of Europe (except Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland)? 

Country Road. In tranquil rural Israel – the setting for the Re’im Peace Music Festival – Gazan killer squads on trucks and motorbikes descended on unsuspecting civilians killing all in their path.

Others chose to compare the Hamas massacre to the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, that shocked the Jewish world by its cruelty and whose victims numbered 50 Jews, an act of brutality that today almost pales by comparison.

Another issue was the goal of the attack, and what it achieved. Besides murdering (mainly) Israeli/Jewish men, women, and children of all ages with the most unimaginable, inhuman savagery, and sowing destruction in numerous local communities, there did not seem to be a practical goal to this rampage, other than terrorizing the inhabitants of the border areas adjacent to Gaza. The leaders of Hamas, however, thought differently. Those interviewed in the aftermath of the rampage, were ecstatic about the results, since in their words, it focused worldwide attention on the plight of the Palestinians.

This kind of thinking reminds me of two other examples of terror attacks, one military and another religious/political, which began with great success from the vantage point of the perpetrators, but ultimately proved to be the beginning of their total destruction and downfall. In both cases, the attacks were launched against the United States, which was immediately prompted to embark on a worldwide campaign to destroy the perpetrators, and did so with little concern for humanitarian considerations.

Lesson in History. Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor shocked the American people, defining the day as one “of infamy” and led to the complete unconditional surrender  of Japan. Israel should accept nothing less from Hamas.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

The first case was the Japanese sneak attack early Sunday morning on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Japanese fighter planes succeeded in destroying or damaging 20 American naval ships, including eight battleships, and over 300 planes. 2,304 American personnel and civilians were killed, and 1,178 were wounded. In the wake of that attack, which was considered a great success in Japan, the United States declared war on Japan the next day, and three days later, Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, which joined the war in Europe against the Nazis and their allies, more than two years after the beginning of World War II. 

Who knows how that war would have ended without the highly significant participation of the Americans? The Japanese were forced into submission by two nuclear bombs, thus marking the end of the regime that attacked Pearl Harbor and facilitating the transition to democracy, which exists in Japan to this day.

Fates sealed. The attack on Twin Towers, Al-Qaeda though it might break the “paper tiger” weaking its global influence but instead unleashed US power and the ultimate killing by American forces in Pakistan of the Al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden.  Hamas should expect no less for its leadership.

The second example is the attack launched on September 11, 2001, by the Islamist extremist group al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden. Four commercial airplanes were hijacked by Islamic terrorists, two of which crashed their planes into the World Trade Center in New York, while another attempted to crash his plane into the Pentagon in Washington, and a fourth plane crash-landed in the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers attempted to overpower the militants in the cockpit. Nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed as a result, about 2,750 in New York, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania. Bin Laden’s motivation for the attack was that he believed that the United States was weak, a “paper tiger”, (based on its retreats from Vietnam in the 1970s, Lebanon in 1983, and Somalia in 1993), and that attacking America in a dramatic way would help bring about a regime change in the Middle East.

No Compromising with Terrorism. Following the surprise multiple attacks on the USA on 9/11 as seen here on the southwest corner of the Pentagon resulting in the deaths of 184 souls,  America mobilized global support as it responded with uncompromising force.

Of course, that was not what happened. Just the opposite occurred, as the “paper tiger” mounted a serious campaign to destroy al-Qaeda and execute Bin Laden, both goals of which were achieved.

Those are the historical precedents that Israel should study carefully, and which we should compare to the Hamas operation of October 7. Not every Jewish tragedy should be compared to the Holocaust, or even to other calamities in our history. There are a lot of important lessons to learn from the tragedies of others, and hopefully, we will achieve the same successful results.

About the writer:

The writer, Dr. Efraim Zuroff is director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel office and Eastern European affairs, and coordinator of the center’s Nazi war crimes research worldwide.

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 track record of the International Red Cross and the UN in Gaza shows both are part of the problem rather than the solution

By Harris Zvi Green

November 24, 2023

My dearest friends,

Another week has passed. The fighting continues to intensify. The casualties continue to rise. The tension is relentless. Our sleep is restless. The missiles continue to rain down on our cities. So much for the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza.

Gaza may capture the headlines but Israel’s other fronts are far from quiet.

Hezbollah continues to shell Israeli towns and villages along Israel’s northern border. Around 100,000 Israelis from 28 separate communities have been evacuated from their homes along Israel’s border with Lebanon. This is an untenable situation. How long can it continue?

The Houthis, Iran’s regional proxy in Yemen, seized a cargo ship owned by an international consortium including an Israeli businessman. This act of piracy constitutes a gross violation of International Law. Let’s see what the international community does about it. Don’t hold your breath.

A Pensive Moment. The writer’s grandson Omer as he engages with a bird in Gaza.

On the family front, we were able to speak briefly with Omer. He sounds in good spirits. We had so much to say to him but found ourselves at a loss for words. Just hearing his voice was music to our ears. I can’t wait to hug him and tell him how much we love him and how proud we are of him and our other serving grandchildren.

Following achievement of Israel’s military objectives and the release of all the hostages, the Israeli government will certainly set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the military, intelligence and civilian failures connected to the October 7 massacre. Given the indescribable atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, I’m reluctant to use the term, “many heads will roll”. This commission of inquiry is essential to ensure the necessary lessons are learnt by the authorities and that those responsible for gross negligence be removed from their positions of leadership.

It seems to me the international community should follow suit and set up similar commissions of inquiry to ensure it doesn’t repeat the mistakes it has made over the years and that the incompetent officials representing their organizations, be removed from their positions.

Both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency are organizations desperately in need of independent commissions of inquiry.

Established in 1863, the ICRC operates in battle zones around the world. Its stated aim is to help people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote laws that protect victims of war. The ICRC is an independent and neutral organization. Its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Protesting ICRC’s ‘inaction’. Despite numerous social media posts on Palestinians suffering from the war with Hamas, the Red Cross failed to make a single mention of Israeli civilians suffering on October 7 or thereafter. (Photo: ‘Le’Ma’anam’ foundation)

During 2022, ICRC officials made 555 visits to Palestinian detainees and enabled regular family visits to more than 5,000 detainees held in Israeli detention facilities. Of course, none of this could have occurred without the full cooperation of the Israel Prison Services and the Israel Defense Forces.

Hamas currently holds the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014 and refuses to repatriate them for burial in Israel. In addition, Hamas has, for the past nine years, held two Israeli civilians – one of them, a former inmate at an Israeli mental hospital. Needless to say, the ICRC has done nothing to secure their release. No representative of the ICRC has ever visited them.

Since October 7, Hamas has been holding 236 Israeli hostages including octogenarians, women, children, toddlers and even pre-toddlers. Once again, the ICRC has done nothing to secure their release, let alone visit them. In fact, the ICRC hasn’t even provided the Israeli government with a list of the hostages and their state of health as required under the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC has failed dismally. Yet the ICRC has been awarded three Nobel Prizes for its humanitarian work.

The annual budget of the ICRC is US$2.7 billion. 82% of this amount is provided by “governments”, otherwise known as innocent taxpayers. Yes folks. You and I are paying for these discriminatory practices, not to mention the gross incompetence.

Cross with the Red Cross. Israeli doctors protest against Red Cross demanding the organization visits hostages in Gaza.

The United Nations coordinates regular funding to Gaza under the guise of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA’s aim is to provide essential services including health, education and social services.

UNRWA’s annual budget is US$1.6 billion. It is funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from “government donors”. UNRWA is also supported by the EU, regional governments and other UN Agencies.

The UN administration and the contributing countries are aware their funds are being diverted to building sophisticated military and indoctrination infrastructures to attack Israel.

They know Hamas uses UNRWA installations to launch missiles targeted at Israel.

They know their hospitals and schools serve as control centers and safe-havens for Hamas terror operatives.

They know UNRWA schools are Jihadi recruitment centers.

There’s plenty of evidence to support these charges but yet the UN and the contributing countries continue coughing up. UNRWA is not the solution. UNRWA is the problem.

Indeed, UNRWA is in desperate need of a judicial commission of inquiry.

Nice Neighbours. This UN building is located directly across from a Hamas rocket launch site.

Sadly, the media continues to fail us. They don’t ask the questions that need to be asked. Not only do they have a serious problem but so do we when we rely on their credibility to provide us with reliable reporting of what’s really happening on the ground. If journalism has ethics and professional standards, they are not in evidence.

After 49 days, 236 hostages remain in captivity. A deal for the release of 50 women and children in return for the release of 150 terrorists and a four-day cessation of hostilities, is currently in the works. Let’s hope the deal is consummated and that all the hostages will be released soon. Once again, I appeal to you to spare a thought for the hostages and to pray for their safety.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes to the injured for a complete and speedy recovery. May God protect our brave soldiers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green.

About the writer:

Harris Zvi Green, born in Cape Town / South-Africa. Graduated from the University of Cape Town with a B. Com. degree and immigrated to Israel 53 years ago. He served as the Chief Financial Officer at a number of Israeli hi-tech companies. He is now retired. Married with 3 married children and is the proud grandfather of 13 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

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)


Failure to see the ethical differences between the two clashing cultures in conflict is like losing sight of the Grand Canyon when you are standing right on its edge

By Sam Harris, PhD

I’d like to say something brief about the recent events in Israel that some may find useful as we watch the initial expressions of support for Israel begin to decay as it wages war in Gaza and perhaps beyond. As many of you know, I’ve spent many years talking about the conflict, as I see it, between Western civilization and Islam. I’ve spoken and written about the connection between the doctrines of Islam and jihadist violence. Of course, this violence has fallen out of the news in recent years, especially since the collapse of the Islamic State. But I’ve never been under any illusion that the problem has gone away.

Hamas spokesman encourages the use of human shield as policy

Those of you who have been following me know that I’ve said everything I have to say on this topic ad nauseum. I’m sure I’ll repeat myself for the rest of my life, because eruptions of jihadist violence and the attendant secular moral confusion about it will be with us for generations. However, I don’t want to offer criticism of Islam here. I’ll just briefly remind you of what I believe, which is that there is no possibility of living in peace with jihadists. So, whether we want to admit it or not, Israel will remain perpetually at war with them. As such, we must win a wider war of ideas with everyone both within the Muslim world and outside it who is confused about that. And there are legions of the confused. And there’s no place on earth where the truth about jihadism is more obvious or excruciating, and the moral confusion about it more reprehensible than Israel today.

But leaving all of that to one side, for the moment I’d like to make a very simple point that really shouldn’t be at all controversial, because it doesn’t prejudge any of the questions that people might disagree about. The point I’m making now says nothing about the causes of the recent violence in Israel. And yet it cuts through all the arguments and pseudo-arguments that attempt to paint some moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies, or to justify the actions of Hamas as though they were a response to Israeli provocations, to the growth of settlements, or the daily humiliation of living under occupation. Incidentally, there was no occupation in Gaza. There hasn’t been an occupation there since 2005, when Israel withdrew from the territory unilaterally, forcibly removing 9,000 of its own citizens, and literally digging up Jewish graves. The Israelis have been out of Gaza for nearly 20 years, and yet they have been attacked from Gaza ever since. But even a statement like that wades too far into controversy.

I want us to step back. Whatever you think about the origins of this conflict, whatever you believe about the role that religion plays here, or doesn’t play, whatever you think about colonialism, or globalism, or any other ism, whether you’re a fan of Noam Chomsky or Samuel Huntington, you should be able to acknowledge the following claims to be both descriptively true and ethically important. At this moment in history, there are people and cultures that harbor very different attitudes about violence and the value of human life. There are people and cultures that rejoice, positively rejoice, dancing in the streets rejoicing over the massacre of innocent civilians.

Conversely, there are people and cultures that seek to avoid killing innocent civilians and deeply regret it when they do, and they occasionally prosecute and imprison their own soldiers when they violate this modern norm of combat. There are people and cultures who revel in the anguish of hostages and prisoners of war, who will parade them before cheering mobs, and often allow them to be assaulted, or raped, or even murdered. They will desecrate their bodies in public and all of this carnage is a cause for jubilation. Conversely, there are people and cultures who find such barbarism revolting, and again, would be inclined to prosecute anyone on their own side who took part in it. In short, there are people and cultures who revel in war crimes, and who do not hide these crimes or their celebration of them, but rather proudly broadcast these horrors for all the world to see.

Conversely, there are people and cultures who have given us the very concept of a war crime as a sacred prohibition, and as a safeguard in the ongoing project of maintaining the moral progress of civilization. At one point to concede, and this will absorb all the nuance and nonsense that may be percolating in the brains of many readers, it is of course true that we in the West have been on the wrong side of these dichotomies in the past. Most Western armies, including Israel’s, have at one time or another been guilty of war crimes. And if you go back far enough, all of human conflict was just a litany of war crimes. And you don’t have to go back all that far, in fact, to find large pockets of Western culture that were morally indistinguishable from what we now see in much of the Muslim world. If you have any doubt about this, study the photos of white mobs celebrating the lynchings that occurred in the American South in the first half of the 20th century, where seemingly whole towns, thousands of men, women, and children turned out as though for a carnival to watch some young man or woman be tortured to death and then strung up on a tree or lamppost for all to see.

Hamas Mindset. This photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on December 14, 2022 shows a school in Gaza City, outside of which the Hamas terror group set up a rocket launcher. (IDF Spokesperson)

Seeing the pictures of these people in their Sunday best, having arranged themselves for a postcard photo under a dangling and lacerated and often partially cremated person, that’s one thing. But realize that these genteel barbarians, who consider themselves good Christians, often took souvenirs of the body home to show their friends. Teeth, ears, fingers, kneecaps, internal organs, and sometimes displayed them in their places of business. So, I’m not claiming that there are permanent differences between groups of people. I’m talking about the power of ideas that happen to be ascendant at any given time and place. I’m talking about beliefs and whole world views that come into being in one culture and have yet to come into being in others.

The point, of course, is that if we recognize the monstrosities of the past, we should recognize the monstrosities of the present and acknowledge that at this moment in human history, not every group has the same ethical norms governing its use of violence. For whatever reason, perhaps religion has nothing to do with it. Consider just one of these norms. Whenever an armed conflict breaks out, some groups will use human shields and others will be deterred to one degree or another by their use.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the taking of hostages from the opposing side for the purpose of using them as human shields. This is appalling and it is now happening in Gaza, but it’s a separate crime. I’m talking about something far more inscrutable. It’s astounding, really, that it happens at all. I’m talking about people who will strategically put their own non-combatants, their own women and children, into the line of fire so that they can inflict further violence upon their enemies, knowing that their enemies have a more civilised moral code that will render them reluctant to shoot back for fear of killing or maiming innocent non-combatants. If anywhere in this universe, cynicism and nihilism can be found together in their most perfect forms, it is here.

Hiding behind Kids. Israel Defense Forces officials reveal in this photo a Hamas rocket launch site located in a diplomatic building near a U.N. school in Gaza. (Photo IDF)

Jihadists use their own people as human shields routinely. Hamas fires rockets from hospitals and mosques and schools and other sites calculated to create carnage if the Israelis return fire. There were cases in the war in Iraq where jihadists literally rested the barrels of their guns on the shoulders of children. They blew up crowds of their own children in order to kill U.S. soldiers who were passing out candy to them.

Conversely, the Israeli army routinely warns people to evacuate buildings before it bombs them. Of course, during times of war, it is common to dehumanise one’s enemy, to describe them as barbarous and evil, and it’s natural for ethical and educated people to distrust such politically charged language. But pay attention. I’m describing concrete behaviours, behaviours that occur on only one side of this conflict. Just consider how absurd it would be to reverse the logic of human shields in this case. Imagine the Israelis using their own women and children as human shields against Hamas. Recognize how unthinkable this would be, not just for the Israelis to treat their own civilians in this way, but for them to expect that their enemies could be deterred by such a tactic, given who their enemies actually are.

It’s easy to lose sight of the moral distance here, which is strange. It’s like losing sight of the Grand Canyon when you are standing right on its edge. Take a moment to actually do the cognitive work. Imagine the Jews of Israel using their own women and children as human shields, and then imagine how Hamas or Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda or ISIS or any other jihadist group would respond. The image you should now have in your mind is a masterpiece of moral surrealism. It is preposterous. It is a Monty Python sketch where all the Jews die. Do you see what this asymmetry means? Can you see how deep it runs? Do you see what it tells you about the ethical difference between these two cultures?

There are not many bright lines that divide good and evil in our world, but this is one of them. Of course, there’s much more to talk about when considering the ethics of war and violence, and there’s much more to be confused about. For instance, as this war proceeds, many people will consider the deaths of non-combatants on the Palestinian side to be morally equivalent to the kids who were tortured and murdered at the peace concert by Hamas, or to the hostages who may yet be murdered and their murders broadcast on social media. But they’re not.

There is a difference between collateral damage, which is of course a euphemism for innocent people killed in war, and the intentional massacre of civilians for the purpose of maximising horror. Simply counting the number of dead bodies is not a way of judging the moral balance here. Intentions matter. It matters what kind of world people are attempting to build. If Israel wanted to perpetrate a genocide of the Palestinians, it could do that easily, tomorrow. But that isn’t what it wants. And the truth is, the Jews of Israel would live in peace with their neighbours if their neighbours weren’t in thrall to genocidal fanatics.

In the West, we have advanced to the point where the killing of non-combatants, however unavoidable it becomes once wars start, is inadvertent and unwanted and regrettable and even scandalous. Yes, there are still war crimes, and I won’t be surprised if some Israelis commit war crimes in Gaza now. But if they do, these will be exceptions that prove the rule, which is that Israel remains a lonely outpost of civilised ethics in the absolute moral wasteland that is the Middle East.

To deny that the government of Israel, with all of its flaws, is better than Hamas, to deny that Israeli culture, with all of its flaws, is better than the Palestinian culture in its attitude toward violence, is to deny that moral progress itself is possible. If most Americans are better than their slave-holding ancestors, if most Germans today are better than the people who herded Jews into gas chambers, if the students protesting this war on your college campus, who are so conscientious that they lose sleep over crimes like cultural appropriation and using the wrong pronouns, if they are better than the racists and the religious lunatics that inevitably lurk somewhere in their family trees, then we have to recognize that there is no moral equivalence now between Israel and her enemies.

About the writer:
Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times best sellers. His work has been published in more than 20 languages and he has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, among others. Sam received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.


A visit to south-western Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas massacre revealed a devastated landscape of burnt relics eerily crying for their stories to be told

By Rolene Marks, photos Ilan Ossendryver


It has been several days since I took a trip to the south of Israel to the areas targeted by Hamas terrorists on 7 October. Traveling down south with me was renowned photo journalist, Ilan Ossendryver and in the 45-minute drive from Tel Aviv to Sderot, our first destination, we discussed how as journalists, we have an imperative to suspend emotions for the time being and cover the story at hand – especially the murder, torture, rapes and kidnapping of our citizens. We said we focus on our work and deal with the emotions later.

Military vehicles in Sderot

We whooped and hooted every time we saw our brave soldiers of the IDF passing by in military vehicles, some bearing the flags of Golani or the Druze flag displayed proudly alongside the Israeli blue and white. One nation, one heart, one goal – eliminate Hamas and establish quiet on our southern border. Oh, how we want to hear the sounds of our children laughing in play on the kibbutzim and devastated towns again! We were in high spirits.

Military vehicles at the ready in Sderot

Until we reached Sderot.

Sderot is a town very close to my heart. I visit there often, meeting delegations and briefing them about how the town is the most bunkered in the world, having endured rocket attacks from terror entities in the Gaza strip for decades. I take them to our WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) daycare centres that are completely rocket proof. In what world do daycare centres need to be rocket proof?! Israel’s.

All that remains of the Sderot Police Station – a flag and a yahrtzeit candle

Sderot is a veritable ghost town, the remaining residents evacuated as the IDF and first responders, station themselves in and around the town. In my mind’s eye, I pictured the events of the 7th of October, the terrorists storming around the traffic circle in the entrance to the town, murdering people in the street. I thought of those on their way to synagogue and the tour of elderly people, headed to the Dead Sea before we saw the images of their slaughtered bodies. People going about their business – only to be slaughtered without mercy. The evidence is everywhere. The buildings are pockmarked from bullets, shattered glass on the floor. Next to a synagogue the terrorists were aiming for, a rocket has caused damage to a roof.

Bullet holes from where Hamas terrorists sprayed private homes

The sukkot (festive booths) still stand, a heartbreaking reminder that this massacre took place on the last day of this joyous festival. Cars are full of bullet holes, windscreens shattered. We got to what remains of the Sderot Police station. I have been to the police station often to show delegations what used to be the “Museum of Rockets” – a bank displaying the different kind of rockets that were relentlessly fired towards Sderot.

The Sukkot still stand – a sad reminder of the joy that filled the town on the 6th of October

No matter when I went, a gracious, friendly officer was more than happy to speak to the groups. On October 7, Hamas terrorists commandeered the police station, murdering the officers inside. The station was detonated to eliminate the terrorists. When I saw what remained of the police station, I fell apart. A lone Israeli flag and yahrtzeit candle stand there in mournful tribute. Several police officers arrived to pay tribute; the sadness etched in their eyes.

Impact from rocket next to a synagogue

The air was punctuated every now and then by the whooshing sound of an Iron Dome interception and the loud bangs of tank artillery being fired onto Hamas targets in the Gaza strip.

Sderot has rocket shelters dotted around the town. When the red alert is sounded, residents have a matter of seconds to seek shelter. These shelters are small, designed to hold about 10-12 people. I thought of the revelers from the Nova peace festival, seeking shelter of that black Sabbath from the rockets and the terror, 20-40 cramming inside. Grenades were lobbed in and AK47’s opened fire on these defenseless, terrified people by brutal barbarians. It was like a punch to the gut to realise just how vulnerable everyone was.

We drove further south towards Netivot. I looked at the road, the bomb shelters dotted around and I thought of how it looked on that horrific day when bodies and burnt cars lined the roads in a testament to the carnage of the day. 

We could see one the decimated kibbutzim in the distance. Where picturesque houses once spoke of a vibrant community, all that is left is a burnt-out husk that bore witness to the atrocities of the day.

We could see the plumes of smoke where the IDF were striking Hamas targets in the Gaza strip, hear the roar of the fighter jets above and the loud whirr of the helicopter blades high up in the air.

Standing outside a shelter in Sderot

We were driving to a place that I was dreading seeing but knew we had to. The importance of bearing witness has never been more crucial as the horrific trend of massacre denial grows. Then we saw it. The “car graveyard”, the place where all the burnt out remains of cars that belonged to the Nova festival revelers or from the kibbutzim.

I looked at these decimated vehicles and each one told me a story about who owned them. The young, vibrant festival goers, dancing for peace until the break of dawn – the metaphor was not lost on me, the peaceniks who lived on the kibbutzim – each one a story. My heart shattered. There were four young, soldiers who we spoke to and one told me that the faint stench I could smell was not burnt metal – but flesh. Some of the owners of these cars were burnt alive in them or shot to death. I reeled. The cars screamed at me – tell our stories, tell the world what happened here. One young soldier told me his car is also there. He was from Nahal Oz. he told me it was so important that the world understood the legitimacy of Israel’s military operations in Gaza. “We were all peaceniks,” he says, “Now, they must live their lives and we must live ours but never again can they come in to Israel. I want peace but we cannot live with these people, not anymore,” he continued. ZAKA, the organization who recover remains after attacks or accidents announced that all the cars will be buried because they still contain the remains of victims.

The remains of cars tell the devastating story of the murders of their owners on 7 October

I noticed something quite striking when I was at the police station in Sderot and at the graveyard of cars. I noticed lots of white butterflies – but only at these two sites. I know that there is a spiritual message in their sighting. A rebirth. Israel is in the depths of deep pain and what will be rebirthed will be a lot different to who we were on the 6th of October. Perhaps the butterflies were departed souls reminding me to tell their stories. I vow I always will.

On the drive home, accompanied by alerts of rockets fired on nearby Ashkelon I tried to make sense of what I had seen in a place I know so well. Days later, I am still struggling to process it all. I do not think I ever will.


The marrying of Muslim worship of massacring Jews with the overall repression of women is a marriage made in hell

By Jonathan Feldstein

Misogyny and cultural “norms” subjugating women are widespread in much of the Islamic world.  These include female genital mutilation, forced marriages, persecuting women for not dressing according to strict Islamic standards, “honor killings”, and much more. 

It’s no surprise then, but shocking and horrific nonetheless, that one “weapon” in Hamas’ inhuman massacre of over 1200 people in Israel on October 7, brutalizing thousands, and kidnapping more than 240, including young children and elderly women held hostage in Gaza, was the raping of Israeli women in the process.  Underscoring that these are not individual criminal acts but part of something that was widespread and deliberate, it has been described as a sexual pogrom.

Beauty and the Beasts. In a most jarring video emerging from the current Israel-Hamas war is 22-year-old Shani Louk, who following her capture by terrorists on the 7 October from the Supernova music festival, is seen partially naked as she is paraded in the streets of Gaza City by Hamas terrorists in the back of a pickup truck before being murdered. Her long, black tresses are covered in blood from a head injury she presumably sustained, while trying to flee from her captors.  

Adding insult to the injury, groups and people that should be advocating for women’s rights and under any other circumstance would be calling out such criminal behavior, have turned a blind eye to the forensic evidence, eyewitness accounts, and confessions of Hamas terrorists as if the victims and sexual crimes didn’t matter just because they are Jews. The evidence is clear. Medical examiners have reported that some of the rapes were so violent that the women’s pelvises were crushed.

A growing chorus have condemned ignoring of these crimes -some even denying that they happened, using the hashtag, #Metoo_unless_UR_A_Jew.

If the crimes happened to anyone else in the world, women’s groups, human rights organizations, the UN, and others would be decrying it. But the silence to these crimes that depict a depraved pattern of sexual violence used by the terrorists against their victims, is criminal in of itself.

If Hamas’ goal was to murder as many as possible, how did the terrorists allow themselves to stop for a gang rape?

How is rape in any way part of any “resistance” that Hamas claims and the Islamic world celebrates?

How did those fighting for the “resistance” ever think this was acceptable?

How could anyone of the Islamic terrorists be aroused when inflicting such horrors, much less multiple gangs of them?

The answer is simple. It was premeditated. It is inhuman evil Islam at its worst.  It’s the marrying of worship of massacring Jews with the overall repression of women.  It’s a marriage made in hell.

This inhuman behavior does not stop at the borders of Gaza.  It is at the core of how the Iranian Islamic regime treats women, and which trickles down to other adherents of the “religion of peace”. This is documented widely, including in the book “A Love Journey With God” by my friend Marziyeh Amirizadeh. If not for public outcry after her arrest and death sentence for converting to Christianity in Iran, she’d likely have experienced much more of the suffering that many Iranian women who she knew in prison did, including the raping of virgins before they are executed as executing virgins goes against “Islamic values”.

The threat of raping Jewish women in support of Hamas’ inhuman behaviors also made it to the celebrated halls of Ivy League colleges. Last month, Patrick Dai, a junior studying engineering at Cornell, was arrested on federal charges of posting threats to kill Jews. It was the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents in the United States amid the Israel-Hamas war. Dai threatened to “shoot up” a campus building targeting Jews, said he would “stab” or “slit the throat” of Jewish men, and rape or throw off a cliff, Jewish women on campus. The incident followed the Ivy League campus being on edge following a spate of antisemitic graffiti that emerged after a professor said he found Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack “exhilarating.”

Jews were murdered, raped, mutilated and kidnapped and a professor at New York state’s Ivy League Cornell University says to cheering student supporters, he feels, “exhilarated”.

Other than the threatening remarks being horrific enough, it’s beyond comprehension to imagine how anyone could allegedly advocate for the Palestinians in upstate New York by threatening to rape Jewish women! It’s obscene.

The ‘raping’ of truth also comes from women who are charged with protecting women from sexual violence. The University of Alberta fired Samantha Pearson, the head of the campus sexual assault center who signed an open letter denying Hamas terrorists raped women during the October 7 massacre. The letter censured Israel for repeating “the unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence.”

Naturally, antisemites around the world, including women who would never question the allegations of rape by anyone else, are challenging the facts specifically because Israel is sharing these. Fortunately, non-Israelis have witnessed and reported on this reality. After witnessing the gruesome evidence of rape, filmed and broadcast by the terrorists themselves, journalist Jotam Confino wrote he saw:

 “Two dead women lying on the grass at musical festival – both with no pants on. One has her panties taken half off. The other doesn’t appear to have any on at all.”

Continuing, he saw an:

 “Eyewitness describing how she saw a woman being raped by several Hamas terrorists, pulling her hair as they raped her and took turns. One of them cut her breasts off – the others played with them like a toy. The last terrorist to rape her shot her in the head and continued to rape her until he finished.”

Most of the most horrific documentation has not been widely released out of respect for the victims, and because this is part of ongoing investigations and likely additional criminal charges. But the terrorists’ confessions alone provide copious factual authenticity.

One terrorist was asked during his interrogation:

And why take the kids and babies?”

He replied:

To rape them.”

Another terrorist also confirmed that babies were abducted and raped.

These captured terrorists were not acting as “freelancers”. There’s documented evidence of Hamas commanders issuing specific orders to the terrorists who perpetrated the massacres not only to kill and kidnap as many Jews as possible, but to rape and sexually mutilate Israeli women.

In any other circumstances, where women ranging from babies to the elderly had been the victim of such ferocious, repeated sexual attacks, the #MeToo masses would have swung into full action. Yet that’s not happening. UN Women which published numerous articles decrying the situation of women of Gaza, have ignored crimes against Israeli women. There has not been any recognition of Israeli women who were burned alive, beheaded, raped, had their breasts cut off, had their babies cut out of their stomach, or been violently kidnapped.

The silence of those who purport to fight sexual violence on behalf of all women everywhere, has been deafening. It’s especially problematic in light of November 25 being United Nations-designated International Day for the Prevention of Violence against Women.

Rape and sexual assault as a tactic in the context of terrorism and war is a war crime. The Geneva Convention requires “women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape or any form of indecent assault.”  The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that “rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, or any other form of sexual violence” is a crime against humanity.

In numerous previous wars, crimes against women were a cornerstone of international criminal indictments and prosecution of men responsible for orchestrating and participating in rape. Based on the silence of the world about these heinous Hamas crimes against women and girls, it is unimaginable that any special prosecutor will be enlisted to protect Israeli and Jewish women. The International Criminal Court has historically been so biased against Israel, as happens in many rape cases, it’s not impossible to see the ICC even blaming the victims. Maybe for dressing too provocatively.

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 a group of over 600 South African Jews sign an Israel-critical petition that begins with the wording “We are a diverse group of South African Jews who are dismayed…” (see below) the writer responds with her dismay at Jewish betrayal.

By Lesley Sacks

I am almost speechless. I am furious, even a bit bewildered. Probably more than anything else though, I am completely heartbroken.
Today I read a list of “Jews” who have signed a petition for a ceasefire in Gaza. In effect, signed a petition AGAINST Israel and FOR terror. And yes, it actually is as simple as that.
The opening line of the petition reads:
We are a diverse group of South African Jews who are dismayed by the situation that is unfolding in Israel and Palestine.”
In calling for a ceasefire they write:
“We insist, however, that one heinous crime does not justify another. The experience of persecution and genocide is woven into our collective memory. We are therefore called upon to prevent it from happening again, anywhere, to anyone. Moreover, we have a particular obligation to oppose such atrocities when perpetrated in our name.”
These concerned “in our name” Jews describe  Israel’s legitimate defense of its people, of trying to retrieve some 240 hostages that include children and babies and to prevent a repeat of the heinous 7 October massacre as a “heinous crime”, as “persecution” and a “genocide”.

What Jews are these?

One would assume that this list would be made up of a bunch of uneducated, social misfits but unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth.
This list includes people I have considered friends. My siblings’ friends. A former Herzlian head boy. My cousin’s wife. People I have watched grow up. People who have converted out of Judaism yet still say “I am Jewish” on this list as it somehow gives it more credibility. Gay men and women and a transgender teen who, in the Gaza they believe they are protecting, would simply be beheaded for their sexuality. An ex-boyfriend. Doctors, accountants, psychologists, entrepreneurs and other professionals. People I was at school with. A former mayor’s children. People I have taught. People who may be Jewish in name only but who would still be murdered with the same zeal by those who would not care of their political affiliation. Someone called Imran and another called Tariq.
This list makes me, literally, sick to my stomach.
I also have a list. My list includes a little boy who has not yet celebrated his first birthday. Many, way too many, beautiful, innocent, little Jewish kids. Mothers. Fathers. Grandparents. Workers from Thailand and Nepal who came to this country in order to support their families. A baby born in captivity. Women and girls who have been raped and abused. Children who have watched in horror as their parents were SLAUGHTERED. Children who watched their sisters being raped and their mothers being mutilated. People who saw their elderly parents being shot. People who watched in horror as their homes and neighbourhoods went up in flames. Old ladies who were shot in their beds. Toddlers who were brutally murdered in their cots. Teenage girls who were raped in their own bedrooms before being shot in the head. People who saw their beloved dogs being shot. Beheaded babies and children. People who lay under corpses for hours pretending to be dead just so that they could live. Children who were bound together in groups of 10 and burnt alive. A baby who was cooked alive in an oven. A baby who was cut out of his mother and beheaded while still attached to her. Holocaust survivors who had already lived through the worst of humanity only to find that they are now amongst a group who are even worse than those Nazis. People who were so mutilated and burned that even now, 42 days later, have still not been identified. Jews. Druze. Foreign workers and even Arabs. It is a very gruesome list indeed.

If it’s lists you like I have two more.

KID’napped. Far removed from the 500 Jewish petitioners for a ceasefire, activists from the BringThemHomeNow campaign held Israeli flags and prams with the pictures of hostages held by the Palestinian militant group Hamas as they demonstrate in front of the South African parliament in Cape Town on Friday. (Photo: AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

This list has, some might say “only” 63 names on it. This list is made up of mostly young adults in the prime of their lives. Young people who have sacrificed their young lives in order that all the rest of us might live freely as Jews. In Israel as well as the rest of the world. Young people who did not choose to be “shahid” like others do but stepped up to DEFEND all of us. Young mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters. Grandsons and granddaughters. Brothers. Sisters. Our own family. Family who will never be coming back home again.

The next list is made up of terrible grief and anguish. Parents who have buried their children. Small children who have buried their parents. People who have buried their entire families. Their ENTIRE families. A woman I grew up with who has no clue where her son might be. Parents who don’t know if their children are dead or alive. Parents who wish they knew that their children were dead as the thought of the excruciating suffering they must be experiencing is far too much to bear. An entire nation with potential PTSD. An entire nation who will never forget the fear, the terror, the terrible images, the pain, the worry, the mourning. ZAKA (Israel’s leading non-governmental rescue and recovery organization) workers who have experienced mental breakdowns. ZAKA workers who can never rid themselves of the terrible smells of burnt flesh and horrific images that still haunt their dreams. Children and adults who huddle in corners of bomb shelters crying and shaking as they relive the trauma each time they hear a siren. (This I witnessed first-hand this evening in a shopping centre in Tel Aviv)

And you? How dare you sit in your comfortable homes in South Africa and London and who knows where else and demand a ceasefire. How dare you have the audacity to expect us to sit on our hands while the murderers are still rampant and STILL FIRING AT US DAILY. While stabbings and murderous, terrorist pogroms are still being perpetuated within Israel itself. How dare you use the overworked phrase of “proportionality” and “fundamental asymmetry” when you know full well that the IDF has no intentions of rape, mutilation and general wholesale murder. How dare you when you have no idea of what it is like in Israel right now, and when your voices were quiet while massive human suffering was inflicted on people in Ukraine, Sudan and other African cities.

Blood in the Bedroom. A reminder to those South African Jews calling for a ‘ceasefire, Israel wants to make sure it first ceases Hamas’ ability to ever again repeat like what happened in this children’s bedroom on kibbutz Be’eri. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Yes, people have died. Those same people that have been offered a two-state solution no less than five times and have refused to even make a counter offer. People have died, yes, even though every effort has been taken to warn civilians, by means of flyers, WhatsApps, phone calls and even “knocks on the roof” – the practice of dropping non-explosive or low-yield devices on the roofs of targeted terrorist civilian homes as a prior warning of imminent bombing attacks to give innocent inhabitants time to leave. Yes, people have died; even innocent people, though not nearly as many as the producers of Pallywood would have you believe. But to call it “genocide” is utterly preposterous and an insult to those who have actually experienced genocide. Even more preposterous because of how the population has increased exponentially since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

There is so much I am feeling right now. Incredible pride at being a Jew and an Israeli citizen. Joy and pride when I watch Israeli soldiers going about their day. Joy and heartbreak at seeing children of all ages embrace their parents who have returned from miluim (reserve duty). Pride and happiness at seeing every building lit up in blue and white. Flags flying from every balcony. Yellow ribbons tied to trees and cars and lampposts. Honour at being a part of something so much greater than myself. And along with all of this, an overwhelming feeling of being ashamed of all of you.

*List of signatories to the open letter (as of 4pm SAST on 15 November 2023, regularly updated online):

About the writer:

Lesley Sacks is a South African, living in Johannesburg but is a “proud holder of an Israeli passport.” Working with children of different ages for over 30 years, she is currently a teacher at  at a local Jewish school. 


South Africa’s diplomatic posturing is reminiscent of an amateur actor auditioning for a lead role – with ‘real life’ deadly consequences.

By Tim Flack

In the grand theatre of international relations, South Africa performs with the drama and unpredictability of a Shakespearean character lost in a modern Netflix series. The government, resembling a team of scriptwriters, crafts each episode of its diplomatic saga with more twists and turns than a soap opera, keeping the global audience both amused and bemused.
Let’s glide into the narrative of South Africa’s tango with the International Criminal Court (ICC) – a dance that’s less ballroom elegance and more a freestyle of indecisive chaos. Imagine a teenager on social media, constantly updating their relationship status – that’s South Africa with the ICC. One minute they’re in a committed relationship, and the next, it’s “it’s complicated”, with Parliament frenetically jigging in the background, trying to keep up with the rhythm.
Enter on stage, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the man of mixed signals. One moment, he’s announcing a split from the ICC, and the next, he’s retracting with a casual “just kidding” message, reminiscent of a rom-com [romantic comedy] where the protagonist can’t decide between two suitors – except here, the choice is between global justice and domestic convenience.
Remember the Omar al-Bashir saga when South Africa erred in its decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – wanted for crimes against humanity – during his controversial visit to the country in 2015 to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg? When a Rome Statute member like South Africa fails to comply, it prevents the ICC from carrying out its functions.

Shielding a Sudanese Criminal to Supporting Hamas Terrorists. Indicted by the ICC for allegedly directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir (2nd from right), stands with other African leaders during a photo op in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015.

The farce played out akin to hosting a party where the guest of honour was adorned with arrest warrants rather than the inflated attire of office.
Fast forward to the present and the plot thickens – as well as sickens – with Hamas, the bad boys of global politics, who Ramaphosa is fine to have South Africa support. While okay in the past for South Africa to split from the ICC, Ramaposa is now happy to refer Israel to the same ICC for alleged war crimes. This erratic conduct in South African foreign policy is the diplomatic equivalent of pointing a finger hysterically at someone jaywalking while you yourself are committing a heinous crime!
Al said, Ramaphosa’s silence on Hamas’ perpetration of a massacre against unsuspecting Israeli civilians resonated loudly. While the president plays lead character in this ‘thriller’ where the script is seemingly improvised, the audience, notably the South African Jewish community, watches with apprehension. Each diplomatic move, each controversial call or charge at the ICC, sends ripples of concern through the community, turning political theater into a personal reality show.

Child Killers. South Africa’s leadership totally unmoved by photos like these of a children’s bedroom following a visit from Hamas killer squads from Gaza. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

For the Jewish community, this story is more than political satire; it’s a narrative that resonates profoundly, sending chilling signals. The rise of BDS activities and an increase in antisemitism add layers of unease. I may characterise this as akin to watching a thriller; however, the plot twists could result in dire real-world consequences.
Amidst this diplomatic dance, the South African Jewish community is not merely an audience but an integral part of the narrative; their concerns and fears magnified by each new development. It’s a stark reminder that behind the scenes of international relations, real lives are affected, and the repercussions of these decisions are far from fictional.
Yet, there’s another layer to this drama. Picture the South African government as the self-proclaimed ‘cool kid’ on the global playground, strutting around with misplaced confidence while its peers subtly roll their eyes. This image captures South Africa’s sense of self-importance on the world stage, a stark contrast to its actual international reputation.
This irony is not lost on observers. Here’s a government portraying itself as a skilled player in the high-stakes game of global diplomacy and human rights, yet back home, the reality tells a different story. It’s a country battling basic governance issues – from schools lacking essential facilities to rampant crime and a faltering power grid.
This disconnect between self-perception and reality is striking. The South African government steps onto the international stage with bold proclamations about human rights and global diplomacy, but these words ring hollow against the backdrop of unmet basic human rights at home.
To the international community, South Africa’s diplomatic posturing often appears as an overreach, reminiscent of an amateur actor auditioning for a lead role. The ambition is laudable, but the execution falls short. The country’s attempts to assert itself in global matters, especially human rights, seem out of touch with its domestic struggles.
This dichotomy is not just a matter of image but of substance. For a nation to be respected on the global stage, it must first address its internal challenges. Preaching about human rights and justice abroad loses its gravitas when its own citizens suffer at home due to governmental criminality and incompetence.

Confusing who are the Criminals. Ignoring that Palestinians from Gaza perpetrated a massacre in Israel even killing and kidnaping babies, President Ramaposa said South Africa believes Israel is committing “war crimes” and “genocide” and referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

South Africa’s international aspirations, while noble in intent, risk being perceived as a facade, overshadowing the more pressing issues within its borders.
Until the government can effectively tackle the myriad issues plaguing its own backyard, its attempts to position itself as a global leader in human rights will likely continue to be met with scepticism and muted mockery from the rest of the world.
If you’re going to point fingers Mr. President, Hamas threw the first rocket. It also perpetrated a massacre which was the bloodiest in Israel’s history.
This Mr. President you saw fit to ignore.
Which begs the question – Are you morally fit to remain in office?

About the writer:

Tim Flack is the CEO and Head of Comms and Public Relations and founder of Flack Partners PR, a boutique public relations firm in Cape Town, South Africa. Tim specialises in providing tailored communication strategies for businesses in the political, safety and security, and small business fields.

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)