Anti-Semitism and the African landscape

  By Rolene Marks

The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism.

In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.

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Theodor Herzl

It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s first Prime Minister, Golda Meir, recognized that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.

They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.

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Israeli PM Golda Meir (while serving as FM) and Kenya President Jomo Kenyatta laying cornerstone of Israeli Embassy in Nairobi (December 1963)

From the north to the south

Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.

The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.

Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.

The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.

The South African story

In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.

Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:

“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”

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Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and former President Nelson Mandela (Credit: Afrika Tikkun)

I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.

Good Jew, Bad Jew

Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.

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Wits University Johanneburg

There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.

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Anti-Semitism and the African landscape9
Pretoria University 29/08/2017

Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.

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Pretoria University 29/08/2017

The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.

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Mr Bongani Masuku found guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community in South Africa, 2017

South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?

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BDS Activist: Israelis as Inhuman Nazis

Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.

 

 

 

 

The intersection of Zionism and Feminism

 By Rolene Marks

It is often said that the “future is women”.

With movements like Times Up which advocates for gender parity and #MeToo which has sent a resounding message to the masses that women will no longer be silent about sexual abuse and harassment and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, it would appear that the time for women is now!

This International Women’s Day, as we focus on the importance of these issues, we have to consider whether or not ALL women are included in the conversation about these decisions that affect them.

With the rise of global phenomenon’s like the Women’s March and #MeToo that continue to gain momentum, so it seems that there are significant groups of women who are excluded.

In the case of the Women’s March, it was made abundantly clear to Jewish women who are proudly Zionist, that they were not welcome.

In fact, one of the founders, Linda Sarsour, had this to say:

It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

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BDS Supporter. Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour at SiriusXM event ‘Muslim in America’ in New York City, October 26, 2015. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM/via

It begs the question – are Zionism and feminism on a collision course?

Comments like this are fast alienating Jewish, Zionist women from participating in tthe growing feminist movement in the USA.

During the Dyke March in Chicago in 2017, Jewish marchers who displayed the Star of David of their rainbow flag were asked to leave. Organizers defended their decisions saying that they did not want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” and that it made other marchers feel “unsafe”.  This was not a display of the flag of Israel in all its blue and white glory but a rainbow flag with a Magen David (Star of David). So it was LGBTQ women’s rights for everyone – save for Jewish lesbians?

The Women’s March has fast become a growing cesspit of anti-Semitism, disguised in its new, trendy form anti-Zionism.

Three of the leaders of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are rising media sensations. They are articulate, camera-friendly and are very busy appearing to do good. They are “woke” and a draw card for young women who care about the growing importance of gender equality.

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Power Pin-Ups. The new faces of intersectionality, (l-r)Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez at the Women’s March at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, January 21, 2018. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images via JTA)

They organise rallies, clean up cemeteries, and protests at every conceivable opportunity. They are veritable pin-ups for girl power. They are also sadly, the new faces of ‘intersectionality’.

Intersectionality can be described as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Fraternisers Of Farrakhan

All suffering and discrimination are equal – except for that of Jews.

Unfortunately, these feminist poster girls have chosen to align themselves with some of the most vociferous anti-Semites.

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America’s No. 1 Anti-Semite. Louis Farrakhan calls Jews “Satanic” and compares Jews to “termites”.

While rallying against the “patriarchy” – they feel no compunction in cozying up to misogynist and arch anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who features at number 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of top Jew haters. Number one was the Pittsburgh Massacre. Farrakhan is known for his trafficking in gross anti-Semitic tropes like these:

I’m not mad at you because you’re so stupid. So, when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you do what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I’m anti-Termite.”

It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks.  Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks…  We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11

Tamika Mallory referred to him as GOAT – Greatest Of All Time. Greatest hater perhaps, but certainly not someone to whom women fighting for equal rights should embrace like these leaders have.

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As a result of this, many chapters of the Women’s March are divesting themselves from the greater movement and have joined well know celebrities like Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano in condemning the anti-Semitism that is spreading.

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Feminist Without Fear. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano said she won’t speak at the next Women’s March if it is organized by two current leaders who will not condemn anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Exposing Hypocrisy

Feminism is very much a part of the fabric of Zionism and the story of the modern state of Israel and as a Zionist feminist woman, I am free to pretty much say what I want – unlike my Palestinian sisters!

Feminism predates the modern state of Israel and weaves through Jewish history with feminist heroines like Yael and Devorah and they have continued the tradition of strong, outspoken women in modern times. Zionists wrote the book on feminism. Literally! Have you read the bible? Some pretty strong women in there!

Zionist women are the ultimate feminist rebels, pioneers and trailblazers.  Before the formal establishment of Israel, women were establishing the systems and institutions that would improve life for her citizens.  Organisations like WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) were at the forefront of the suffragette movement that took place in Europe at the time.  The struggle for political suffrage for women is regarded as first wave of feminism.

Women’s rights in Israel are amongst the most progressive in the world and it would be remiss of me to not mention the iconic Golda Meir, one of the first female Prime Ministers in the world.

A powerful leader and orator, Meir was one of the first to recognise how Israel can help impoverished countries in Africa, and this was very much in line with the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl’s, vision that he wrote in his manifesto.

Zionist women are free to criticise any policy that we may disagree with because an Israel that stands up to the tenets of Zionism is what we strive for.

Israel is a vibrant and flawed democracy just like any other country and women are very much a part of the fabric that has and continues to build the country every day.

We are pioneers in many fields. We are trailblazers in business, politics, volunteer organisations, the arts and sciences and so much more.

We are religious and secular and everything in between. We are warriors and defenders of our country on land, sea, air and airwaves and we are homemakers, entrepreneurs and creative genii.  We are changing the political landscape and we represent over 80 different ethnicities. We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.

The hypocrisy of the Women’s March that while castigating and excluding Zionist feminists, they are not advocating properly for their Palestinian sisters. If they were concerned about the rights of Palestinian women, they would be holding the leadership accountable at every possible turn. They would be demonstrating outrage about domestic violence and honour killings, gender Apartheid which prohibits women from owning property or businesses, driving, voting and pursuing careers of their choice. They would march against underage brides forced to marry men before they reach puberty. They would be outraged about genital mutilation; genocide of Christian women and the unspeakable torture women are enduring in the Middle East under ISIS.

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It is important that when it comes to discussing women’s issues, that the table is inclusive and that Jewish, Zionist women are included. Exclusion is not just discriminatory, it is hypocrisy.

Zionist women are happy to meet these organisations and movements at any intersection. Standing up for the rights of women regardless of religion or political leanings is what feminism is all about.

 

 

Gaslighting Gaza: Initial Analysis of UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza Riots

By Shaun Sacks

Senior Researcher at NGO Monitor – the globally recognized research institute promoting democratic values and good governance.

On February 28, 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border, which began in March 2018, alleged that “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law… and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The COI created a “confidential file” of “which is recommended be given to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” and to be used by governments to “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze.”

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Israel Under Fire. A devastating rocket fired from Gaza – which the UN categorizes as “peaceful protests” – lands on a bus in Israel near the kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev region. Fortunately all passengers had alighted from the bus minutes begore the anti-tank missile struck the bus injuring the driver. (Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Methodological Failures

  • In contrast to professional fact-finding standards, the COI clearly established pre-determined legal and factual conclusions and merely gathered “evidence” to fit its desired outcome.
  • In preparing its report, the COI relied heavily on Palestinian sources, including Hamas and terror-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Notably, the COI uncritically adopts the NGOs’ application of a domestic law enforcement paradigm – erasing the context of the armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups – to analyze cross-border violence.
  • The COI used anonymous and unverifiable “testimonies.” When asked during a press conference to provide details about how many of the 325 the interviews it conducted itself or how it selected the 325 individuals reportedly interviewed, the Chairperson of the COI was unable to answer the question and stated he would have to provide that information “at a later date”.
  • The information provided in the published summary is a near copy-paste from NGO submissions to the COI. For example, all names of Palestinian children killed were provided by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), an NGO with ties to the Popular of Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, i.e. one of the parties to the conflict in Gaza. (DCI-P’s submission was prepared in partnership with the CUNY School of Law Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic.)
  • Reflecting the COI’s lack of expertise and muddled analysis, throughout the report, the COI mixes up the concepts of “international human rights” and “humanitarian law” and applicable rules and standards. For example, according to the Commission, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border was not a “military” or “combat” situation and therefore human rights law was the appropriate standard. Therefore, its conclusion that “human rights violations” may also constitute “war crimes” is baseless, since war crimes can only occur where the laws of war are applicable.
  • The UN’s shoddy researching and reporting led them to write identical paragraphs about the same fatality, Mo’min Hams, on different pages of the “protected groups” section of the report.
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Israelis Take Cover. Ignored by the UN, Israeli motorists flee their vehicles and dive for cover in the town of Sderot as rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip on November 2018. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Minimizing Palestinian Violence, Erasing Palestinian Terror

  • The COI largely erases the dimension of Palestinian violence along the Gaza border, as well as Hamas’ leading role in orchestrating the attacks. NGO Monitor’s two submissions to the COI provided significant detail regarding the presence of violence – including use of guns, Molotov cocktails, stones, burning tires, incendiary kites, etc. as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts – along the Gaza border. These and other evidence of violence are freely available from open sources. The COI ignored and minimized these armed attacks and reconstituted the riots as “peaceful protests.”
  • According to a statement made at a press conference, the COI deliberately focused on five main riot locations during the specific times of protests. This means that the COI ignored essential context including that the riots were used as diversions to attacks occurring elsewhere at the same time as well as military attacks, shootings and other violence that occurred at other times, particularly at night.
  • Although the COI acknowledges the involvement of terrorist organizations in planning the events along the border, it absurdly insists that “the armed wings of these parties were not represented on the [planning] committee.” In Gaza in particular, the distinction between “armed wings” of terror groups and other branches of these groups is meaningless.
  • The COI whitewashes statements made by Hamas officials that demonstrate Hamas’ role in organizing and directing the violence along the Gaza.  On May 17, 2018, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
  • On May 16, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil claimed “I am giving you an official figure. Fifty of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas,” referring to clashes that took place on May 14.
  • According to analysis conducted by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, dozens of fatalities named by the CoI were members of or were tied to terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).  Among these was 16 year-old Islamic Jihad member Ahmad al-Shaer, indicating the recruitment of children into terrorist organizations.
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Israeli Families Live In Fear. Miraculously no one was killed as this house in Netivot in southern Israel that took a direct hit from a missile fired from Gaza, November 2018. (Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Baseless Conclusions

  • The COI claims that Israel “intentionally shot” children, health workers, journalists, and those with disabilities, “knowing” that these people were “recognizable as such when they were shot.”
  • It is unclear how the COI could determine intent of or the information known to IDF soldiers at the time of a given incident.
  • One such disabled individual is identified as deaf. Obviously, an Israeli soldier, at a distance of 150m away, could not possibly know of this person’s condition.
  • In its press conference, COI members admitted that “maybe some of them weren’t visibly children.”
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From Gaza With Hate. Security personnel inspect a destroyed house in the Israeli city of Ashkelon following a rocket attack from Gaza, November 12, 2018. Over 370 rockets were launched from Gaza, which the UN invariably describes as “peaceful protests”. (Photo by Ilan Assayag)

Illegitimacy of the COI

  • None of the COI members has any expertise in international humanitarian law or military operations. Not surprising then, the report ignores the applicable legal framework and instead lazily refers solely to human rights law, making the absurd claim that “the demonstrations were civilian in nature… and despite some acts of significant violence, did not constitute combat or a military campaign.”
  • The COI was marred by a lack of transparency and accountability. It was allocated the massive sum of $1.5million to complete this report yet kept secret how this money was spent. The identities of the staffers and any consultants employed are not disclosed, making it impossible to independently verify their professional qualifications.
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Sderot Ablaze. Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (Photo by AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The COI was established by the notorious UN Human Rights Council – a body controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias. Therefore, it is not a true “inquiry,” but rather a rigged effort to recycle the claims of partisan NGOs and to grant them the legitimacy of the UN. This is another round to target Israel via such pseudo-investigations, including the notorious and subsequently discredited 2009 Goldstone report.

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UN Still Not Learning The Lessons of Goldstone. South African Judge Richard Goldstone expresses regrets about his report into the 2008-09 Gaza war writing recanting his findings. He later wrote that “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” He acknowledged that the report that bears his name “was wrong to allege that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.”

 

About the writer:

gazline in gaza1.JPGShaun Sacks immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1998. He received his BA from Bar Ilan University. Before joining NGO Monitor as a Senior Researcher, Shaun was the Senior Project Manager for NETSOURCE, an Israeli firm that specializes in providing technology employment opportunities to Ultra-Orthodox communities, and emerging market manager for McAfee Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 25-28 February 2019

The Israel Brief – 25 February 2019 – UK blacklists Hizbollah. Islamic Jihad threaten Tel Aviv. Bibi draws criticism and Abbas demands EU states recognise a Palestinian state.

 

The Israel Brief – 26 February 2019 – Chief Rabbi of Argentina attacked. Iranian Foreign Minister resigns. EU Presidential hopeful call for pact against anti-Semitism.

 

The Israel Brief – 27 February 2019 – Terrorist captured! Bibi visits Putin. African American law enforcement nixes BDS!

 

The Israel Brief – 28 February 2019 – UNHRC accusations against Israel. Bibi to be indicted? Trump peace plan titbits

 

 

Blame by the Numbers

 Israel’s paltry trade with South Africa during Apartheid era

By Rolene Marks

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Israel Apartheid Week will wind its hate filled way across the world in March and April – one of the main accusations is Israel’s support of South Africa during Apartheid. Lay of the land sets the record straight.

 

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This Is Apartheid. A 1956 sign common in Johannesburg. IMAGE: THREE LIONS/GETTY IMAGES

Israel’s detractors love to compare the Jewish state to Apartheid South Africa. This is not a comparison based on facts but rather part of a greater campaign to paint Israel as a pariah state and deal out the same sort of isolation through boycotts and sanctions as was done to South Africa during the height of Apartheid.

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This Is Apartheid. Separate stairs for “Europeans “ and “non-Europeans”.

Many try to single out Israel as the only country during those years to have had any dealings with South Africa but on closer inspection, trade and co-operation between the two countries was so minute to that of other countries whose trade with the Apartheid government registered in the billions of dollars.

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This Is Apartheid. Separate toilet facilities for “Whites”.

While Israel’s cooperation with the Apartheid regime is a cause of much embarrassment to me as both a South African and an Israeli, Israel’s role in not standing up to Apartheid is insignificant in comparison to other countries.

Focus on the Facts  

Israel’s total amount of trade with the then Apartheid government was a mere $200m dollars per annum compared to:

– U.S.A                – $3.4 billion

– Japan               – $2.9 billion

– Germany          – $2.8 billion

– U.K.                   -$2.6 billion

– Arab countries   – $3 billion

The Arab countries could have brought the Apartheid regime to its knees – if it wanted to! It didn’t.

It was the oil tankers from Iran and Saudi Arabia which kept the wheels of Apartheid oiled. Arab oil exports to South Africa totaled more than $3 billion per year and, if that supply had been cut off, would have ended apartheid in the 1960’s!

Double Standards

The Saudi and Iranian human rights records are abysmal and constitute some of the worst human rights violators in the world today. Nonetheless South African government officials frequently visit both countries. The singling out of Israel for opprobrium smacks of a horrendous double standards when one considers that in Iran, homosexuals are hung from cranes, and the ruling government has no compunction in denying the Holocaust or calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

This occurs all the while parading their ballistic missiles through the streets of the capital, Teheran!

France supplied Apartheid South Africa with weapons, nuclear material and financial aid, Switzerland the USA and Britain funded the Apartheid regime, Germany supported the racist regime in extensive trade. I include a few of the thousands of examples that can be sited:

Royal Dutch/Shell’s subsidiary, Shell South Africa, was involved in extensive operations in the petroleum, mining and chemical industries of South Africa and Namibia, with an estimated turnover of more than US$2 billion in South Africa in 1989.

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Business Buddies. In released reports, Margaret Thatcher made no mention of Nelson Mandela during the only formal talks she held with South Africa’s Apartheid president, P.W. Botha.
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Select Memories. Why does BDS SA ignore the real culprits who cooperated with Apartheid? A poster produced in 1971 by the British Anti-Apartheid Movement protesting British Arms to South Africa, Source: African Activist Archive

In 1962 Britain’s ICI and South Africa’s De Beers each put £5 million into AECI (African Explosives and Chemicals Industries) to set up three new plants producing tear gas, ammunition for small arms, anti-tank and aircraft rockets.

British Leyland’s South African subsidiary supplied Land Rovers that were used by the South African police against students in the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Selective Morality

The human rights records in Iraq, Libya, Syria have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Once again, South African government officials have no problem visiting these human rights violators, and those that purport to be human rights activists, like the BDS movement, remain silent and raise no issues of concern?

One must ask if a special standard is applied to the Jewish State and why?

It appears that perspective has little to do with the assumptions made about the historical relationship between Israel and South Africa. It also looks as if human rights are not a factor when dealing with bilateral relations between South Africa and other countries. When South African leaders visit Russia, perpetrator of some of the greatest crimes against humanity in modern times in places like Syria and Chechnya, and which in 2014, invaded and then occupied the Crimea in the independent Ukraine, they never raised any issues of concern.

Why does South Africa – that maintains that its “legacy” obliges it to take issue wherever and whenever human rights are grossly violated – remain silent against gross violations by Russia?

When the ANC hosted internationally criticised Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in South Africa – a man responsible for attempted genocide against the Jewish people – there were photo ops and soundbites instead of condemnation.

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Time For South Africa Apartheid week. (SAAW). Service delivery protests in the Western Cape where people were protesting for basic rights such as housing, electricity and greater infrastructure (Source: Henk Kruger)

And therein lies the rub!

When a special standard is applied to Jews and the Jewish state, it leads people to ask some very troubling questions.

Israel is a free, vibrant albeit flawed democracy. Is the Jewish state culpable as its detractors try make out?

The facts speak otherwise.

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Apartheid SA Today. Sprawling urban minority separated from the nearby squalor of the shanty town. This sight is typical throughout present apartheid South Africa where the “have nots” – predominantly Black – are separated from the “haves” in shanty satellite communities outside cities and towns throughout the country.

When it comes to historical trade relations between the two countries, Israel’s opponents are intentionally defaming the Jewish state ‘making mountains out of molehills’ by way of lies and deception.

 

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Unveiling The Truth. South African apartheid government needed weapons and the French arms industry needed money – thus started a long term alliance. In the Open Secrets’ series, ‘Declassified: Apartheid Profits’, we see how a secret office in Paris was brokering weapons deals in order to bust the apartheid arms embargo. While Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, France and its major corporations were among the most loyal supporters of Pretoria’s racist regime, to which they sold arms, nuclear and industrial technologies, in total disregard of UN sanctions. At the time, there was little protest. In this report (above), we learn of PW. Botha, then Minister of Defence visit to France in 1969 to discuss secret arms deals..

Israel Apartheid Week A Disservice to Palestinians and South Africans

By Sharon Salomon

Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international annual series of events held all over the world around February, March and April with the stated purpose of spreading information regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and rallying support for their cause. The 2019 series of events takes place from 16th March until 14th April. On April 1st 2019, the South African IAW shall commence.

There will be rallies, speeches, protests, presentations, workshops, even concerts, poetry readings and films, a huge festival of sorts, all designed, according to their website, to ‘raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies’ and ‘gain support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign’.

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The Writing Is On The Wall. This graffiti was spray-painted on wall of South Africa’s Wits University two weeks after kippah-wearing student was verbally assaulted on campus in October 2016. [Photos: SAUJS Countrywide.]

This movement has much support especially in South Africa where it is known what the racist apartheid regime was and so it is easy to attract local support to an ‘anti-apartheid’ cause. People in South Africa and throughout the world jump onto the BDS bandwagon genuinely wanting to support the apparent underdog. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?

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Ugly UCT. In an attempt to intimidate Jewish students, a bloodied Israeli flag with anti-Semitic graffiti hangs on the main building at the University of Cape Town at the start of Israel-Apartheid Week in March 2018. (photo credit: SAUJS/FACEBOOK)

The problem with this mission statement and movement as a whole is that, simply, there is no apartheid in Israel. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’i and other religious groups of all races and creeds, live and work together, vote, serve in government, have gay pride parades and do whatever they please in whichever way they please. I too support the Palestinian people to have freedom, real education, clean water, healthcare and full human rights. In other words I support the Palestinian people to be free from their corrupt, abusive, violence-inciting, terror-rewarding leadership.

If you are reading this and happen to be one of the very passionate people fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people, I implore you, as free-thinking and passionate individuals who care for the well-being of others, to consider the below responses to the arguments generally put forward:

  • “Palestinian people live in terrible conditions”

How is it possible for so many Palestinians to live in squalor while millions of dollars in aid are funnelled to the Palestinian Authority? Consider with this how it is possible for so many Palestinians to live in luxury at the same time. Who is supposed to be managing these funds and take care of the people? Why is so much money going into the destruction of the Jewish State instead of civil engineering and education?

  • “Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people”

How is it possible for the Palestinian population to have grown from around 650,000 in 1948 to over 4.6 million now if Israel is engaged in constant ethnic cleansing? And if there is this ethnic cleansing going on, how is it that Israeli society is made up of millions of Muslim Arab and Christian citizens? It does not make sense.

  • “The Palestinian people are denied having a Palestinian State”

Why does the Palestinian Authority not say ‘yes’ to having a Palestinian State when offered? They can have a State at any time they like.

  • “Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”

Why is there a push to support the Palestinian people to be such ethno-fascists that it is somehow deemed ‘understandable’ if someone ‘loses all sense’ and murders people (including stabbing children to death) because of not wanting Jews to live among them or even build a shed on their own properties, for example? Should we not be more concerned that non-Muslims are, to put it euphemistically, not welcome in Palestinian areas? If those areas become a Palestinian State, then those Jews who live there should have the option of deciding whether to move in order to remain citizens of Israel, or become citizens of Palestine. Much like what should happen in the formation of any state.

  • “Israel can end the conflict by giving land over to the Palestinian Authority

Israel has given land in the past, but nothing has changed with regards to the Jihad waged against Israel and the stream of rockets being fired into Israel. Why is this not questioned by those wholeheartedly standing against Israel by default of standing for the Palestinian people?

IAW20191.JPG(Courtesy of MEMRI)

Be a courageous game-changer and question this. Supporting any boycott of Israel without investigating for oneself whether or not these allegations against Israel are true, not only puts supporters of Israel (or Jewish people in general as has been seen in many incidences around the world) in danger, but also prevents growth, learning, understanding and dialogue. It prevents the ingredients needed in the first place for peaceful resolutions.

  • Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa does a gross disservice to those who suffered through apartheid.

Learn some facts from South Africans about what it means to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. Listen to the honourable Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party and a South African who lived in apartheid South Africa. Consider other points of view. Note that ironically the BDS movement harms the Palestinian people as we saw in the BDS “victory” when the Soda Stream factory was forced to shut down and move out of the West Bank and so hundreds of Palestinian people lost their jobs.

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Don’t simply jump on the IAW and BDS band-wagons. Be for the Palestinian people by questioning their leadership, not by being against countries which help them, including Israel. Supporting BDS ironically hurts the Palestinian people by putting the blame on others for their leaders’ crimes.

 

Courtesy of Israel Collective

 

 

Bio Pic 2.JPG“Sharon Salomon is a South African, Israeli living in Johannesburg.  She is the granddaughter of Auschwitz survivors, and of those who were smuggled from Iraq to Israel in the 1950’s. She remembers little bits of Apartheid as a young child and her parents being fiercely against. She is passionate about being a voice for truth and dialogue believing it to literally save lives. She is the director and founding member of Race Against Extinction supporting tiger conservation. She holds a BSc in Mathematical Sciences and consults as a Business Analyst.”

 

The Arab Voice

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

To enable readers across the world to freely make up their minds based on accurate and broad-based coverage on the Middle East, LOTL provides a platform to what Arab journalists – in their own words – are writing about the region.

 

 The Mullahs’ Disillusionment Will Lead To Their Downfall

Al-Anbaa1Al-Anba, Kuwait, February 1, 2019

Has Iran entered a deadly cycle of both internal and external chaos, which may result in the demise of mullah state? Observers of Iranian politics will all agree that the Iranian leadership is in deep state of turmoil that requires it to balance the demands of a disgruntled public at home with those of the international community abroad. Consider, for example, the recent speech delivered by Iranian President Hassan Rohani who spoke recently about the economic difficulties that Iran has faced for the last four decades, ever since the 1979 revolution. Rohani claimed that the main

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Under Pressure. Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 on Iran facing economic difficulty amid U.S. pressure. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

 driver behind this problem is the United States, not the Iranian government, and that the Americans have lost their political and legal war against Iran, so they resorted to economic war. Rohani simply ignores reality and creates imaginary narratives about the dire state of his country’s economy. Iran, for all its wealth of natural resources, which could have fueled its economy, is home to one of the world’s most impoverished populations. Instead of spending money on education and welfare, the Iranian government is funding militias and terrorists. This is why the Iranian public has long realized that it is a victim of the ayatollahs. The demonstrations we’ve witnessed in the streets of Tehran are targeting a regime that humiliates its own people. It is beyond clear to the Iranian public that the so-called causes created by the mullahs, such as the liberation of Palestine, are no more than shallow attempts to deflect attention away from the regime. In late December, speaking to France’s Le Pen magazine, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied Iran’s existential threats to Israel. It is perfectly clear to all of us that Zarif’s statements contradict the truth. The Iranian regime is committed to wiping Israel off the map, and it has gone to lengths to do so. Sadly, the mullahs continue to insist on exporting their radical ideological revolutionary model not only to their neighbors in the Gulf, or the Middle East, but also to the rest of the world. Have you heard the statement of Hassan Abbasi, one of the most prominent theoreticians of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, about his country’s plans to turn the White House, Versailles Palace and Buckingham Palace into Shiite forts? The regime in Tehran is disillusioned and we can only hope that it is entering its last downward spiral before its ultimate crash. – Amil Amin

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Irate Iranians. Times are changing as riots in Iran against the regime’s failures in policies are become more frequent.

 

 

 

HEZBOLLAH AS A MARKER OF ARAB DISILLUSIONMENT
image006 (1).pngAl-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, November 5,2018

[Launched in 1960, Okaz is an Arabic Saudi Arabian daily newspaper located in Jeddah with offices all over Saudi Arabia.]

“Arab youth are growing increasingly disillusioned with their regimes. Political ideas that once galvanized the masses are now subject to mockery and ridicule. This is certainly the case in Lebanon where Hezbollah, previously a popular party led by a charismatic leader, is viewed by growing swaths of the public as a pariah.

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Sieg Heil. Inspired by Hitler’s aims, Hezbollah fighters take an oath with the same Nazi salute during a parade to continue the path of resistance against Israel. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

 “2006 marked a pivotal year for Hezbollah, as the Shi’ite organization went to war against Israel and managed to convince Lebanese citizens that it stood for the defense of Lebanon and the protection of the Palestinian people. Since then, however, the Shi’ite organization’s true motive has been exposed: it is loyal to Iran. Its popularity has plunged in parallel with this growing understanding in Lebanon and, more broadly, across the region. Even young Shi’ites today refrain from openly supporting the party, believing that doing so will further damage Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“While Shi’ite and Sunni extremism are both equally dangerous, they are also quite different as the former is promoted by a state – the Islamic Republic of Iran – that seeks to spread its toxic ideology throughout the Middle East. Make no mistake: This is the only reason for Hezbollah’s existence and the Arab public is well aware of this. As Arab societies finally begin to recover from the massive political upheavals that swept through their capitals in 2011, men and women are no longer enchanted by empty promises of rogue regimes.

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“As a result, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah seems like nothing more than a messianic zealot overseeing a marginal group of followers who seek to destroy Lebanon by turning it into an Iranian proxy. The Arab people have had enough of this and wish instead to build a better future for themselves. It is only a matter of time until the likes of Hezbollah and Islamic State lose every last drop of the credibility they once enjoyed and finally disappear from the face of the earth.” Yehiyha al-Amer 

 

 

Will Iran Fall Together With Venezuela?

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 8

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Al Riyadh Newspaper. Al Riyadh is the first daily newspaper published in Arabic in the capital of Saudi Arabia. It was launched in 1965.

On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile, becoming the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ten days after Khomeini’s arrival, the Shah’s government collapsed. On April 1, Iran was officially declared a republic. But the hundreds of thousands who received Khomeini at the airport were not aware that he was planning to establish an authoritarian religious regime. At that time, they wanted to get rid of the Shah without knowing what Khomeini was carrying in his bag. According to Shiite tradition, there are only 12 imams. Khomeini became the imam of the revolution and the imam of the Islamic Republic, and immediately eliminated anyone whom he knew from his past, even his closest confidants, chief of which was Sadiq Qutbzadeh, Khomeini’s so-called “spiritual son,” who helped spread Khomeini’s sermons on audio cassettes. Iranians, even those who dislike the regime he created, still venerate Khomeini because of his strong personality. Their veneration is similar to that of the Chinese Communists who remember Mao Zedong. To mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, claimed that Hamas and Hizbullah are ready to open the gates of hell for the Jewish state. “Hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been dug under Israeli feet. The resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have high precision rockets and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior,” he recently said in a televised address. Shamkhani did not mention Syria, where Iranian forces and bases are subjected to Israeli destructive strikes on a weekly basis. Nor did he mention the Hizbullah tunnels destroyed by Israel in a sudden attack. What is ironic is that as the Iranians seek freedom, they observe the people of Venezuela risk their lives for freedom. One cannot help but be reminded of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010, aimed at building a joint Iranian-Venezuelan

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Iran-Venezuela Relations. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Saadabad Palace on November 23,2015.

missile base in South America to target the United States – just like the Soviets were planning to do in Cuba during the early 1960s. Iran paid the initial costs for this program, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, in cash. According to Iranian officials, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also established cover companies in Venezuela, meant to help Tehran get a hold of enriched uranium. The leaders of Iran and Venezuela have long praised the strong strategic relationship between the two countries. However, Iran, once again, played some bad cards. It hedged its bets on an oppressive regime that is now coming under fierce fire both domestically and internationally. I can’t help but wonder if this Iranian-Venezuelan love affair, which has spanned several decades, is coming to an end. More importantly, will the regime in Tehran soon end up like the one in Venezuela? Will the two regimes, which rely on each other deeply, find their end together? –Hada al-Husseini

 

Why is ‘The Rainbow Nation’ Falling for Darkness and Deception?

No surprise when it has ‘academics’ like Oscar van Heerden peddling lies and falsehoods against Jews.

By David E. Kaplan

Where does one even begin in responding to University of Johannesburg academic, Oscar Van Heerden’s scurrilous diatribe posing as an article in the Daily Maverick (24th January 2019) that opens with inflammatory lies:

Oscar Van Heerden
‘Author’ Of His Own Misfortune. Dr. Oscar Van Heerden’s stature as an ‘academic” has severely been tarnished following his exposure in the Daily Maverick plagiarizing the words of academic and frequent commentator Marc Lamont Hill, fired from CNN for his antisemitic statements accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

The Palestinians are being decimated. Bombs are being dropped on them, rockets are deployed to kill them, and snipers are at the ready to finish the job where the other methods failed.”

This is classic antisemitism when you resort to antisemitic rhetoric blaming the Jews of Israel with such transparent falsehoods.

Even the words “finish the job” is a term taken straight from the intentions of the Nazi’s “Final Solution” and referencing it to Palestinians.

He intentionally neglects to mention Israel’s attempts at negotiation since the 1967 war being rejected. On September 1, 1967, the Arab League summit delivered the “Three No’s” – ‘no to peace with Israel’, ‘no recognition of Israel’, and ‘no negotiations with Israel’.”

Van Heerden does not mention this nor does he write of the constant terrorism, rockets fired at Israeli civilian populations and tunnels built for terrorists to enter Israel and murder civilians.

And how does this South African armchair academic portray this murder and attempted mass murder of Israelis:

After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

It bothers not that this “academic” resorts to propaganda joining an infamous company that goes back 2000 years using hatred of Jews to deflect confronting the truth of societal problems. In the first century, the Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus; the 7th century Jews were persecuted by the Muslims for denial of the prophethood of Mohammad; in the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of the Black Death, the plague that decimated half of Europe; in 1881, Jews were accused of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II; from 1933-1945, Nazi propagandist referred to Jews as rodents and sub-humans (untermenschen) paving the way for factory-style mass extermination. Since 1948 and the Declaration of the State of Israel, the “Jewish enterprise” of Israel is a colonial blot on a Muslim landscape that requires being expunged.

At no stage does van Heerden address Palestinian intransigence – only blaming Israel.  But the reason is clear, for Van Heerden is not seeking a solution for the Palestinian people but the dissolution of Israel’s Jewish people. He reveals his true agenda when not even supporting the official South African position of a “Two-State Solution” when he quotes:

“…So as we stand here on the 70th anniversary …of the Nakba, we have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us ….. a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

In other words – no Israel.

And who is he trying to fool when he writes: “Palestinians are routinely punished for their political views rather than any actual threat of violence.”

Threats of violence?

How would he describe the firing of 500 missiles at Israel in November 2018? Lobbing over marshmallows?

South Africa that same November welcomed a delegation of Hamas from Gaza.  Does South Africa want to play a role and support the ‘Two-State Solution’ or does it prefer to subscribe to the dark agenda of Hamas and Van Heerden of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

Hamas has long proved its terror bona fides in line with its 1987 covenant expressing its religious duty to destroy the Jewish people and its nation state. Since 1993, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in mass-casualty suicide attacks throughout Israel. Hamas’ current terror crusade in Gaza has been engineered by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Europe and by Yahiya Sinwar, Hamas’ president, a former commander in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’s military wing.

Sinwar is widely considered to be Hamas’ most ruthless leader since the organisation’s founding in 1987.

Is Pretoria aware that the Iranian regime has put Gaza “in play” as a chess piece as part of its regional strategy to destroy Israel and subvert countries across the Middle East?

Accordingly, Tehran’s $100-million funding of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2018 stands behind the terror campaign as the Islamic Republic’s southern front to destroy Israel. Simultaneously, the regime has placed some 175,000 Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, pointed at the Jewish state, while tens of thousands of Iranian military operatives are ready to attack from Syria.

Iranian operatives under the command of Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, together with Sinwar and the Hamas leadership, have been planning, financing, inciting and compensating tens of thousands of supporters, many of them young teenagers, to storm the internationally recognised border fence with Israel even at the risk of death.  This is a far cry from how van Heerden describes the situation in the opening of his article!

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, referring to the Jews living in southern Israel near the border with Gaza:

We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts.” Hamas operatives, camouflaged in civilian clothing to appear like innocent civilians, reportedly receive $1,000 to commit cross-border attacks. Hamas pledged $3,000 to the families of those killed by Israeli fire.

Palestinians injured by Israeli troops in the clashes receive $200-$500 in compensation, depending on the level of injury, while the Palestinian Authority pays thousands of dollars monthly for life if they are captured or killed, in line with PA legislation.

This is not a popular protest; it is part of Iran and Hamas’s grand strategy in its war of attrition to destroy the Jewish state.

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Truth Be Known. Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar admits ‘we are deceiving the public’ about peaceful protests. It would appear that the Hamas leader is more honest than Oscar van Heerden.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar – who visited South Africa in November 2018 – confirmed Hamas’ strategy in a May 13 interview on Qatar’s’ Al Jazeera network with:

The Gaza protests are not peaceful resistance… It is supported by our weapons.”

Iran is using Gaza’s civilians to execute a new “popular warfare” strategy. According to a senior Palestinian Authority security official in Ramallah, Iranian elite Quds Force officers are entrenched in Gaza tunnels, assisting in the overall strategy and execution of the fence-storming terror campaign.

What van Heerden’s article also fails to address is that the fault lines of the Middle East have little to do with Israel. As Matti Friedman wrote last week in The New York Times:

They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If Israel’s small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.”

Rather than subscribe to the propagandist writings of van Heerden, far better for South Africa to use its diplomatic influence to convince the Palestinians to stop incentivizing its youth to commit terror attacks and instead create a secure and stable and flourishing society based on human rights and equality – values South Africa has struggled for.

To this promising future, Israel is waiting to assist its neighbours to achieve those dreams.

Breaking The Veil Of Silence

Recollections, Revelations and Remorse from the Descendants of the Perpetrators of the Holocaust

The United Nations designated January 27 – the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau – as a day for member states to honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.

With the alarming rise today in Holocaust denial and antisemitism – even in the very lands where the Holocaust happened – LOTL explores the hatred of the Shoah (Holocaust) by interviewing Pastor Jobst Bittner, who heads the movement of the descendants of Nazi perpetrators to openly confront the hatred of the past that it will foster  a genuine healing, and hopefully – “Never Again”.

 

By Rolene  Marks and Lindy Hoffman

Author’s note:

This was a profoundly emotional and moving experience. It takes an enormous amount of courage to delve into the past, especially that of your family and navigate a painful past. To explore this can also bring about great healing.  After Apartheid in South Africa came to an end in 1994, there were many attempts through the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to try bring healing and understanding between victims and perpetrators but too few sat down with each other on a one-to-one basis and shared the experience of the other. Perhaps March of Life sets an example that the traumas of the past, when spoken about and addressed openly, fosters great healing.

Jobst Bittner greets you with a warm smile and twinkling blue eyes. He immediately puts you at ease when he shakes your hand and his presence is reassuring. Bittner, apart from being a Pastor, is the Founder and President of March of Life – a movement of the descendants of the German Wehrmacht, the SS and the police forces of the Third Reich, and who organise memorial and reconciliation marches at sites across Europe where atrocities were committed.

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Tübingen Today. A colourful façade hides a dark past.

How did it all begin?

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Turbulence in Tübingen. A march by of the Sturmabteilung (SA) in Tübingen.

Sounds of Silence

The German city of Tübingen was a hotbed of training for the Nazi party. A university town, many of the intellectual elite of the Nazi party would gather in Tubingen where they later created an institute known as the Institute for Racial Hygiene. This “institute” would in time decide who was an “Aryan” and who was an “untermensch” (subhuman); who was a “superior” and who was an “inferior”; and was responsible for the ‘selection process’, which saw millions of Jews and other “undesirables” sent to their deaths.

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Enveloping Evil. With uniform and swastika flags, the square in front of the New Aula in Langemarckplatz in Tübingen was renamed in May 1938 to be followed in November with the burning of the Tübingen Synagogue during Kristallnacht.

The March of Life was born is 2007 when Pastor Jobst Bittner and his wife Charlotte decided that something had to be done about the history of the city. Growing up in the post-war generation, Bittner and his wife realised that their parents and grandparents never spoke about the war or their experiences.  The past was related by sticking to just the historical facts; never a mention of the experiences of those persecuted by the Nazi regime.

My parents”, says Bittner, “never spoke of the deaths of six million Jews and this was the same for all of Germany. People pushed aside or repressed their guilt or played it down.”

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Pastor Jobst Bittner and wife, Charlotte

Up Close And Personal

“But once we realised we needed to take responsibility, at least in our own city, we had to engage with our own family histories – to make it personal.  We started training members of our church to take a careful look at their own family history which in Germany is simple because Germans are so thorough and everything was recorded. So we started training our members to ask their families “What happened?” and “What did you do?” I found a term for it – ‘Breaking the Veil of Silence’. It is now a recognized term in Germany because the two decades after the war are known as the decades of silence,” says Bittner. “Most families don’t talk about what really happened, preferring instead to say that “nobody was involved”.  But this was not the case. The perpetrators of the Nazi genocide against the Jews were still able to resume normal lives and careers after the war. Many returned to their careers, resumed positions as judges, in government, in the civil service and academia – they simply returned to their normal lives and professions in society.”

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From Erudition To Evil. A town that housed the famous University of Tübingen associated with eleven Nobel laureates notably in the fields of medicine and chemistry, also housed the infamous Institute for Racial Hygiene responsible for the ‘selection process’, which saw millions of Jews and other “undesirables” sent to their deaths.

The members of Bittner’s church started to research their family backgrounds and each one of them discovered terrible details about the involvement of their own families. One member discovered that his father had been in the Wehrmacht in Poland and active in genocide there. Others were involved in the Ukraine, and in general, it was expressed that “Nazis were somebody else”. The Bittners believe that in some way, every single German was involved. Nobody could say: “I was not involved.”

Someone learned that their grandfather had been a guard at Dachau – but the family made the excuse that he was “just a book keeper” or “just sitting around”. On closer investigation, it was discovered that the system at Dachau ensured that all duties rotated and everyone had the chance to do each “duty”.

Face to Face

Pastor Bittner feels an incredible sense of duty and responsibility to face the pain of the past so that the trauma that affects both descendants and victims of the perpetrators can be healed.

“Traditionally, Germans have played down the magnitude of of the atrocities. We teach them to speak the truth and own up to the past. Yes, my father was involved in the genocide. My parents remained silent and were just as guilty. The vast majority remained silent. It takes something to say my parents were silent as our Jewish neighbours were taken away, dispossessed, sent to concentration camps and killed. They were as much an accessory to the Holocaust as pulling the trigger on a gun. And so a movement was birthed. I wrote a book on the veil of silence. The same silence we saw from perpetrators, we saw from the descendants of the victims. The tragedy is passed down through the generations. The silence of the fathers became the silence of the sons,” says Bittner. “We can understand the silence of the generations of victims; the pain would be too much and the silence was passed down as pain. We realized that as long as the pain was still there through the generations, we have a responsibility to the victims to do something about it. In our experience, when we speak to survivors, we needed to find ways to ask the forgiveness our fathers and grandfathers would not ask. Only then can we start to heal the pain.”

As one could well understand, the eventual meetings between survivors and descendants were extremely emotional. Both parties were extremely touched and opened up their hearts to each other. This created the space for healing.

During the war, “Tübingen had been surrounded by concentration camps,” says Bittner.  “Not large but terrifying; and towards the end of the war they were razed to the ground and the surviving prisoners forced on death marches. Over 250 000 people perished in plain sight on the streets of Germany. They were either shot or died from sheer exhaustion. Nobody could say, “I didn’t know”. So what we started to do was to trace the route of one of those death marches from Tubingen to Dachau. This is why we called it ‘March of Life’ – to reaffirm life that the death marches could become a march to sanctify life.”

 

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Breaking The Silence. A public ‘March of Life’ event in Tübingen in 2016, confronts people with their country’s dark past.

March of Life is connected to the annual educational programme called March of the Living “which invited me to address 25 000 participants in Budapest. While March of the Living is connected to the survivors, what we say is that we are so closely connected to them because we are the descendants of the perpetrators. “

Before participating in their first march, “we had not met with any survivors and during that march, we received a call from a survivor who asked to walk with us. Rose was a survivor of six concentration camps and liberated from Dachau at the age of sixteen. We considered it an honour, and then Rose asked to bring thirteen more survivors. For some it was their first trip to Germany and many were fearful to hear German, the language of the persecutor. We were at a loss what to do. We knelt and we washed the feet of survivors and at first they did not know how to react but after a while were so deeply moved at the healing taking place at the moment. We started to embrace each other. We thought this is what we can do to bring healing.”

A Movement Is Born

This was one of the most pivotal moments of Bittner’s life and from these deep, emotional roots, a movement was born. Healing for descendants who carry guilt and shame as their heritage is just as important as that of the survivors. As we lose more and more survivors, so the responsibility to teach the next generations becomes ours. While there are many who say we must move on, the importance of memory and bearing witness is so important, especially as antisemitism rises around the world.

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March of Life advocates that we cannot be silent in the face of antisemitism and hatred. Delving into the past is painful. But the results are evident. The media started to pick up on this extraordinary story in The Jerusalem Post, and The New York Times and the message started to spread.  It grew organically, gaining momentum.

“We were invited to Poland and the Ukraine. By telling our story it encouraged others to do the same. In Poland and Lithuania where they had previously denied involvement, they began to talk. Our message as Germans was if we could face this, so can you. Now we educate – we are in a university town. So historians are considering how the culture of commemorating is done. Memorial events or historic remembering of facts is important but antisemitism is exploding. It has become disproportionate in the last five years. History can only come alive if we make it personal. If not us, then who? In the recent issue of Der Spiegel, we were the main cover story with personal stories but there is so much more to do with people still reluctant to talk about it,” laments Bittner.

Many people are resistant to the descendants telling their personal stories, feeling it dishonours the memory of their parents. Nevertheless, the descendants took a conscious decision to press on and the grandparents started to talk. “They found it easier to talk to their grandchildren than their children,” says Bittner.

Silence Is Not Golden

One could call March of Life a truly pioneering movement. While the government of Germany feels that working through the past is a high priority and share a sense of responsibility for the state of Israel, many ministers resist revealing their family history. March of Life has exhibited true courage to go where many dread – the past; and work closely with Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial museum and education centre. And this has found a welcome response from Germany’s Jewish community, and in 2017, the Jewish Community of Halle in Germany, awarded the March of Life with the Emil L. Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance.

Marches take place all over the world from Germany to Switzerland, Poland, South America and Jerusalem.

The impact is massive, reaching to millions of people.

Pastor Bittner says that despite the fact that they march proudly with Israeli flags and in cities like Paris where security is vital, they have faced no aggression, something “ We don’t take it for granted.” In Austria, they marched at the Mauthausen Death camp and taught seminars. “People revealed symbolic Nazi paraphernalia that had been in their family’s possession for years and some were shocked to discover what they meant. We even had reformed neo-Nazis in our congregation. Bittner believes that “antisemitism will cease to exist once it leaves the church.”  They are also present in schools teaching about the Holocaust. “I take some experts from Israel to schools and we are invited on a regular basis and we take survivors. Hearing from a survivor has a profound impact. We have seen this with Muslim students who have never been exposed to this. One story from a survivor is more important than fifty lessons.”

March of Life is a living memorial to history and a testament to the power of dialogue, no matter how painful it is. Silence and indifference propagate hatred. After the Holocaust, Jews took the vow “NEVER AGAIN”. Never again would we allow hatred to rise to the levels that it results in genocide. Never Again would we be silent. Never Again would we allow the wholesale slaughter of our people.

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Illuminating Darkness. At Israel’s March of Life office in Caesarea are (left to right), Pastor Jobst Bittner, the article’s co-writers Rolene Marks & Lindy Hoffman, the director of March of Life in Israel, Yigal Even-Ziv and clinical psychologist, Carolin Hohnecke, who is a 3rd generation descendent of a perpetrator.

Our gratitude to Pastor Bittner and March of Life – they have given wings to our vow and a tailwind to our voices.

They have broken the Veil of Silence.

 

 

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Zionism and the Civil Right movement?

By  Rolene Marks

In honour of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lay of the Land pays tribute to this great civil rights leader and his tremendous support for the State of Israel and Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. At a time when Zionism is being maligned by many, we pay tribute to his support by examining who is a Zionist and historical ties to the civil rights movement in the article below.

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The King’s Message Is Alive. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has been a national holiday for 34 years.

 There has been a lot of debate, discussion and social media brouhaha lately over who is or what defines a Zionist.

In simple terms Zionism is nothing more that the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland. The great civil rights leader, Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, was rumoured to have coined this definition of Zionism and I reckon he knew quite a bit about human rights. And he was a Zionist! And he wasn’t Jewish!!

The reason that I am writing about this is important.

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

Zionism is also the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is a guarantee of our rights to organize ourselves politically and assign it a name that hearkens back to our ancient roots and love for Zion. Many thought that with the realization of the modern state of Israel, antisemitism would disappear but instead it has reared its head in a new form – anti-Zionism.

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To say that Jews have no right to organise themselves politically, and calling it Zionism, is racism. And many agree – that is why we have a phenomenal support base that includes many Christians who work tirelessly in support of the Jewish state and Muslims, some of whom put their lives at risk to support Israel.

The Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. identified strongly with Jews and proudly marched alongside us as we mutually supported each other’s activism for civil rights. Today, many have forgotten the noble history and historical relationship between Jews and African Americans and have tried to hijack this to serve a different agenda. Christians in America are and remain some of Israel’s most ardent supporters.

Sadly, there are many that denigrate this relationship and demonise those of us who proudly identify as Zionist –  Jews and non-Jews alike.

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Comrades-in Arms. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., other civil rights leaders and clergy, including Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, during a civil rights march (Getty Images).

I am a card carrying, loud spoken, flag carrying, Hatikvah singing Zionist. I don’t care much for labels or wings but take exceptional pride in the fact that our beautiful flawed democracy – the State of Israel – is brilliantly multicultural, and allows for divergent opinions. Robust discussion and debate is a point of pride in a neighbourhood where you can be killed for disagreeing with the leaders or following a different religion.

Are we all not heartbroken by the visuals coming out of Syria or news of Christians being slaughtered in our region?

Is Israel perfect? No – sometimes we are guilty of an epic fail or many, but I believe part of being a Zionist is being able to criticize and self-correct. I believe that Zionism means you want to see an exemplary Israel. 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 – Christian, Muslim, left and right.

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.”

I am proud of the many Arab, Druze, Christian and other minority groups who proudly serve in our diplomatic corps and IDF, laying their lives on the line every day for our safety. The rights of minorities, while not always respected (and this must be corrected), are enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

The Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recognised this.

His support was not contingent on perfection but rather the shared values of what both Zionism and the civil rights movement represent.

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Marching Together. (From left) Martin Luther King Jr., Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel march in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

The world is becoming a hostile place for Zionists. Ask the students on campus that 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 and BDS supporters in Europe or South America and South Africa has many Jews feeling afraid and isolated.

It is a fear shared by many who worked hard and fought for equality for all.

It was the dream of another great Zionist who while addressing civil rights in America in the 1960’s, voiced a sentiment that is universal and as relevant today as it was then when he said:

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. The time is long overdue to make it come true.