By Adv. Craig Snoyman

The last time that Judge David Unterhalter was interviewed for the position of Constitutional Court judge by the Judicial Service Council (JSC), the interview process was a  free-for-all, or as the  legal fraternity might say “highly irregular”. While voices were raised, in the Jewish community at least,  about the  apparently antisemitic questions posed to him by five different commissioners, his was a “generic” attack based on his religion and affiliation. Another candidate,  Judge Dhaya Pillay, was subjected to a more vicious personal attack – mostly by Commissioner  and EFF leader Julius Malema –  based on her association with former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Judge Kathree-Setiloane was  required to address false allegations about a complaint made against her by a former clerk some years ago.

An NGO,  the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), represented by Adv Ngcukaitobi SC, took the JSC  to court  alleging the JSC exceeded the bounds of acceptable  questioning  to determine the fitness of the candidates. The confidential deliberations, which the  JSC  was obliged to disclose,  revealed that Unterhalter was regarded as a very able judge, but he had only been at the bench for three years and “he can afford to wait”.

Rough Justice. The ongoing saga of a judge’s Jewishness in South Africa being an obstacle to  promotion of higher office.

As a result of CASAC’s successful  court challenge, new interviews had to be held. The same candidates were interviewed – save for Judge Pillay, who was no doubt still traumatized by the previous verbal mauling. These proceedings were far more civilized than the previous one. Parties were asked about their judgements and their approach to the Constitutional Court. Judge Kathree-Setiloane was not asked about her clerk’s complaint.

Then it was time for the interview of Judge David Unterhalter.  Having clearly learned from the previous proceedings, he went to great lengths to correct the  misapprehensions of the previous interview. He told the panel that Adv. Ngcukaitobi SC had put forward his nomination. He emphasized how he represented South Africa and Africa and was the head of the Appeal Court of the World Trade Organisation for 11 years. He showed that he had been a judge for considerably longer than three years. He confirmed that he was presently an Acting Judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal. He referred to his experience in setting up two legal widely respected organisations which fight for the rights of the underprivileged and for human rights generally. He had a list of junior African counsel, which he had assisted. He told the panel about his continuous participation in litigation  at the Constitution Court since its inception. For anyone involved in law, his list of over 150 reported cases was also hugely impressive.

Sinking South Africa. A comment reflecting the sad situation: “Justice Unterhalter interviewed well, it’s not his time; he will get another chance when there is a next opening.”

The panel interview commenced, with each panelist limited to two questions per candidate. In the absence of the recently deceased Lutando Sigogo, the questioning was commenced by Madonsella SC. (The same Madonsela who previously asked Judge Lever whether the observing of the Sabbath would interfere with his judicial duties.) His first question didn’t differ significantly from the one raised by Sigogo.  He  raised the issue of Unterhalter’s association with the SAJBD (South African Jewish Board of Deputies) , referring to letters of the Black Lawyers Association  and BDS objecting to him:

 “because he was a member of an organization allegedly pro-Zionist.”

So after the CASAC review, where the rules of the game were set  out that one should play the ball and not the man, this little curve ball was thrown – with no objection by the (new) presiding officer. Zionism is not banned in South Africa. It remains a lawful activity and ideal in South Africa. The organization of which he was a member – the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) – is a lawful organization that assists with the needs of the South African Jewish (and other ) community members.  Our Constitution expressly allows for freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom  of religion. So why was a question like this thrown into the mix, without being called a foul?  Does Unterhalter’s association with an allegedly pro-Zionist organization affect his ability to be a Constitutional Court judge? If it doesn’t affect his ability as a High Court judge or as a judge of Appeal, what relevance does it have to his present application? Not one of his judgments was attacked –  In fact on Appeal, he wrote the judgment that overturned another (successful) candidate’s erroneous judgment. Should one even address  issues raised  by “lay” organisations when they have no relevance to his legal ability? As for the SAJBD being an allegedly pro-Zionist organization, Unterhalter had denied it at the first interview and denied it again in this interview. There are reasonable boundaries for the questioning of these candidates.  This question was a trespass on prohibited territory.  Even if Unterhalter were to admit to being Zionist (Oy, the scandal!) this should not affect his suitability, simply because our Constitution guarantees these rights! And at what stage should one question the bona fides of these organisations that submitted these objections. One organisation is presently supporting the disgraced Judge Hlope for the position of Chief Justice of South Africa, while the other is vociferously supporting  Legal Services ombud, Judge Desai in his misconduct hearing arguing that his repeatedly expressed politically anti-Zionist conduct should be viewed as freedom of expression? (The JSC is involved, or affected, by both issues).

In a previous article on this media platform,  it  was questioned whether the JSC was a racist organization. More specifically this was based on a quotation in a letter from the JSC, in a response to a letter from the  SAJBD, where the  JSC was quoted as stating:

“The questions relating to the association with the SAJBD dealt with concerns that the organisation supports Zionism which is viewed as a discriminatory form of nationalism and potentially in conflict with the values contained in the South African Constitution.” 

How Times have Changed. In December 1990, Professor Michael Katz (left), President of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBOD) meets with representatives of the African National Congress Gill Marcus and Nelson Mandela recently released from 27 years of incarceration. Today, that same Jewish communal organization, the SAJBOD that was established the same year as the ANC in 1912, is treated as a pariah organization, an obstacle to Justice Unterhalter’s advancement in South Africa’s judiciary.

This statement has never been retracted by the JSC. The JSC is not a body competent to make such a determination.  Madonsella SC’s question, which to use the legal phrase, “I submit was irregular, improper and legally irrelevant,” tends to affirm this underlying strain of antisemitism that was previously evidenced by the JSC. The  linking of the community-oriented SAJBD with the “discriminatory form of nationalism” that is Zionism, serves only to tarnish the image of, and discriminate against both Jews and Zionism. And don’t forget,  that invariably, the only time that one uses the  word “alleged” in South Africa is when it relates to a forthcoming criminal matter. In this case, the suspect is an organisation that is accused of the crime of being “allegedly pro-Zionist”.

Should one be surprised?

The JSC’s statement is on record, Madonsella SC remains unrebuked and once again, arguably the most qualified candidate has been rejected for a position on the country’s apex court.

Is it a warning to South Africa’s Jews?

The majority party in South Africa regularly expresses a similar sentiment and now even one of our highly respected legal NGO, formed to represent the poor and indigent of South Africa – The Legal Resources Centre – has ventured outside the South African sphere and  joined forces with international bigots to draft and submit a report  seeking to have Israel’s observer status at the African Union withdrawn.

So with the visible current of anti-Zionism and all of its murky undercurrents, there are another two more Constitutional Court posts up for grabs shortly. Unterhalter, unsuccessful in this encounter,  is again a candidate for these posts. Will he again,  ostensibly, be rejected on the elephant-in-the-room grounds that he is white and male? Or is there also an additional, deeper, darker reason, one that allows “alleged pro-Zionist” issues to enter into the fray when considering his legal ability? 

And for the Honourable Judge Unterhalter AJA, will the next encounter be his Constitutional Court requiem or  just another sequel?

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).

Bipartisan Support – an Iron Dome against “The Squad”?

There have been attempts by “the Squad” to stop funding for Iron Dome – but have the shots fired reached their target?

By Rolene Marks

It has been quite an eventful few weeks in US-Israel relations. Among the many oft discussed events was Prime Minister Naphtali Bennett’s maiden speech at the UN General Assembly. This event is often to Israelis what the Superbowl is to Americans, and no matter where we sit on the political spectrum, we are all glued to the television. This was an area where the Prime Minister’s predecessor Netanyahu shone. Usually armed with props and a coterie of international news channels filming his every word, this was Bibi’s “real house”. Bennett owned his first speech, striking the right balance of humility, toughness and optimism. While he did receive criticism for failing to mention the Palestinians and the seemingly never-ending conflict, he seemed to take aim at those for whom criticizing Israel has become a sport. Staring down the camera, kippah firmly perched on his head he said, “hating Israel doesn’t make you woke”.

On Target. In his first address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett takes aim with his careful wording: Hating Israel doesn’t make you woke”.  

Oh. Snap!

We all knew exactly who was included in his sharply aimed barb. They may not have been in the room; but the inference was there.

Just days before, there had been a dramatic vote in Congress where a bipartisan majority voted in favour of the $1 Billion funding allocation for the Iron Dome. Just days before, members of the “Squad” led by efforts by Congresswoman

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(AOC), had campaigned successfully to have the funding removed from the budget. It was then allocated to an independent vote and was passed with its clear majority but make no mistake, the “Squad” were able to score a significant hit.

Disabling  Defence. Trying to disable Israel from even defending herself, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Photo: EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO).

It seems incongruous that they would target the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome is purely defensive – its prime role is to intercept rockets and projectiles fired from terror entities in the Gaza strip towards Israeli civilians. During the conflagration in May this year, over 300 of these rockets fell short inside the strip, killing and maiming Palestinians as well. What the Squad and those supporting this campaign of defunding fail to realise, is that if there was no Iron Dome and rockets and projectiles were reaching their intended targets killing Israeli civilians, then the IDF would have to go in, boots on the ground, into the strip. This would mean heavy casualties on both sides as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others hide between their civilian population, using them as human shields and often booby trap buildings.

The Iron Dome saves the lives of both Israelis – and Palestinians.

The message we have received is loud and clear. While the Squad would have you believe that they want to allocate funds for domestic issues, we know that the idea of Israel defending its citizens is anathema. Why else would Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, AOC’s fellow “Squaddie” use the opportunity preceding the final vote to engage in a tirade so appalling and riddled with antisemitic tropes that it prompted a furious tirade from Congressman Ted Deutch?

Don’t underestimate the squad’s ability to read the room. They are not necessarily focused on the peers but rather the next generation. The shots fired by the Squad have landed and the effects are evident in other incidents.

Vice-President, Kamala Harris, also caused a stir recently when she addressed students at George Mason University. During her address, one student, identifying as Yemeni-Iranian used the opportunity to express her indignation at the US funding of Israeli security and said the following:

 “Israel is doing (sic) ethnic cleansing.”

The student’s words were pure sophistry but instead of correcting her or disagreeing, the Vice President answered saying that “her truth should not be suppressed.”

Was this an attempt to curry favour with an increasingly “woke” generation? Harris did not correct the student and did not say anything along the lines of “your truth may not actually be THE truth!”

Harris’s office tried to walk back her comments stating that the VP was proud of her longstanding support of Israel.

We are used to the Hollywood celebs and more “woke” rabbiting on about “their truth”. Hardly a day goes by without a celebrity woke-is-me whine-a-thon talking about “their truth” in the race to claim biggest victimhood in the oppression Olympics.

The pursuit of “our own truths” in this kind of context has dire consequences. We saw it with the “Squad” in their attempt to quash funding for life-saving technology by spinning the rhetoric to suit their anti-Israel agenda.

Intentions Unveiled. The “Squad’s” reveals true intent when they tried to sabotage in Congress US support for Israel’s exclusively defensive Iron Dome.

It has dire consequences. The San Diego chapter of the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution last month rejecting Israel’s legitimacy as a country and accusing the Israeli government of carrying out “ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes against Palestinians.”

In the resolution, AFT Guild Local 1931, which represents community college teachers in San Diego, refers to Israel as “historic Palestine” and calls on the Biden administration to “hold Israel accountable for its complete disregard of international law” and implement a “prompt reassessment of military aid to Israel”. Nowhere in this resolution is the Israeli experience of terror attacks, incitement of hatred against the Jewish state or rocket attacks mentioned. These are teachers, responsible for educating inquiring young minds.

Troubled Times. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten is “troubled” by passages of an anti-Israel resolution.

In his UNGA speech, Prime Minister Bennett made a point of thanking Congress for continued bipartisan support. Israel and the United States have long and enduring ties based on shared values and alliances but make no mistake, the shots fired by the Squad have had some impact. One of the priorities of Israel’s relatively new coalition will be to repair any cracks in the relationship with the Democratic Party. This will be the Iron Dome needed to intercept the grossly inaccurate and offensive comments made by the Squad – and their supporters.

As the PM said in his speech, “hating Israel doesn’t make you woke” and even though they weren’t present in the room, one hopes the “Squad” got the message loud and clear.

What the Squad Tried to Stop. Trying to save lives, Israel’s defensive Iron Dome interceptor missiles (left), rise to meet rockets from Gaza (right) fired towards Israel’s civilian population on May 14, 2021. (Anas Baba/AFP)

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).

Kamala Harris Disappoints

A lie left unchallenged creates the illusion of truth – shame on you Kamala

By David E. Kaplan

Wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings,” foretold the Jewish German poet and essayist, Heidrich Heine.

Who would have thought in cultured Germany of the nineteenth century to take such words of warning seriously.

Less than a century after Heine died, they were doing just that – to Jews –  in the crematoria of Europe.

Jews have learnt painfully to heed warnings and false accusations and at the first signs of Jew-bashing it cannot and should never go unchecked.

Hence no free pass to US Vice President Kamala Harris!

In a post Holocaust world with an alarming rise in antisemitism unseen since the Shoah, the US Vice President should not be surprised at the increasing criticism she is receiving not only for what she said but for more for what she did NOT say.

When Kamala stood before a Political Science class at Virginia’s George Mason University addressing the issue of voting rights, she did so not as a refreshing guest lecturer but as the country’s Vice President.

Calm before the Storm. United States Vice President Kamala Harris engages a political science class to commemorate National Voter Registration Day at George Mason University. (Pool via CNP / MEGA)

What she would say or not say “MATTERS” in the “woke” parlance of today.

And herein ‘lies’ – pun intended – the problem.

When a student, who identified herself of Yemeni and Iranian descent, stood up and slandered the Jewish state by accusing it of “ethnic genocide” that the Vice President did not refute this patent lie was unconscionable. She had no problem during the 2019 Democratic Party presidential debates to take issue with then candidate Joe Biden for his “very hurtful” comments about having worked with two segregationist senators. Recalling emotionally to a mega-million global television audience how sensitive this was to her as a black child over the issue of segregated bussing, 2-years later, the Vice President shows scant sensitivity when the Jewish state is subjected of the false accusation of “ethnic genocide”. Compounding her misconduct, this episode played out not in a vacuum but in a frightening climate of virulent and violent antisemitism in her own country.

She had only to again ‘recall’ but also reflect that in a state not too far from the Virginia campus where she failed to refute the antisemitic falsehood, in 2018, an armed man with an AR-15-style assault rifle shouting antisemitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in the state of Pennsylvania. It was on  a Saturday morning –  the Sabbath –  and 11 congregants were massacred in cold blood.

Selective Sensitivity. While Sen. Kamala Harris (right) during the 2019 Democratic presidential  debate found Joe Biden’s past position on bussing “hurtful”,  she was less so emotionally impacted in 2021 when a student falsely accused the Jewish state of “ethnic genocide”. (Drew Angerer/Getty Image)

Words matter!

If Biden’s past position was “hurtful” to the young Kamala schoolgirl, how  “hurtful” was it to American Jews to hear their VP respond not by educating the student that her facts were dead wrong, hurtful and dangerous but instead, to greenlight that student’s  toxic message by saying:

your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth should not be suppressed.”


This is the “voice”, the “perspective”, the “truth” that Kamala Harris

feels “should not be suppressed”, in other words – should be HEARD?

Of course, the fallout was quick and Harris’ office went into rapid damage control mode over the student’s Israel “ethnic genocide” comment. The Vice President’s team reached out to prominent pro-Israel groups and members of Congress to “clarify” with the expected responses of those who work with her, assuring “I can personally attest to her strong and unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

But how genuine is one’s “commitment to Israel’s security” when you permit accusations to go unanswered that falsely accuse Israel of “ethnic genocide”? If words “MATTER”, it is words like these that not only undermine the Jewish state but endanger Jews everywhere.

Is it thus surprising that Jewish congregations in the US are increasingly opting to deploy armed security personnel outside synogogues?

For Jews, America was once exceptional. Now, antisemitism is as strong here as in Europe,” writes Joshua Safran an author, attorney and advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and the wrongfully imprisoned. A board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Portland, Oregon, he continues his 2020 opinion piece in USA TODAY:

 “I was used to being harassed, abused and put in danger when I prayed in synagogues abroad. Never did I think America would become just as dangerous.”

“Is this the new normal?” he asked a rabbi friend, who nodded in response. Lamenting that “America might yet be a bastion of democracy, but for Jews, it is no longer truly exceptional.”

Taking to Twitter, David Wolpe the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles took Kamala Harris to task. Named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post, he wrote:

Madame Vice President, the idea that Israel has committed genocide against the Palestinians is not someone’s truth, it is someone’s lie, whether they know it or not. And it is pernicious, destructive and should not be elided or ignored by the highest officials in the land.”

Rabbi’s Response. Influential American rabbi,  David Wolpe takes to Twitter to lambast VP Kamala Harris for her cringe worthy response to a student’s lies about Israel.

Literally blooding Jewish history since the 12th century, has been the “Blood Libel” that falsely claimed that Jews engage in ritual murder. Leading to violent persecution and pogroms persisting through to the 20th century, the ‘blood libel’ reveals much about the way a lie becomes embedded in a society with lethal repercussions.

This is why the need to refute and never fuel a lie.

Kamala Harris should have known better. After all, when sheat George Mason University engaged that student class on voting rights, it was in the aftermath of the “Big Lie” that Trump had won the Presidential election and the dangers it could lead to.

Is it not ironic, that when the Vice President was engaging political science students – the leaders of tomorrow – to stand fast and safeguard against lies to protect democracy, she should fail so abysmally when the “Big Lie” was directed at the Jewish state.

Trail of the ‘blood Libel’. When lies are not denounced  by the highest officers of the land, they  become embedded with lethal consequences as so graphically despicted in the medieval myth of Jews killing Christian children finding popular favour in this Nazi-era ‘Der Sturmer’ Jewish ritual murder May 1934 edition. (public domain)

While her office did put out a statement that “the vice president strongly disagrees with the student’s characterization of Israel,” it was like shutting the barn door once the  horse had bolted.  If the VP so disagreed with the student’s dangerous “characterisation”, what a perfect opportunity she had  to set an example of defusing the student’s incendiary lie. Instead, with the stamp of the second highest office in the land, the Vice President gave legitimacy to the lie.

Shame on you Kamala!

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).

What Short Memories the French have!

A  taste of their own medicine and the back-stabbers are peeved at being “stabbed in the back”!

By David E. Kaplan

The French are puffing profusely!

BETRAYED” is what they say they are feeling, infuriated over Australia pulling out of their multi-billion dollar defense deal, preferring instead to attain nuclear-powered submarines through a new deal with the United States and the United Kingdom.

Facing Off. France on September 16 cancelled a Friday evening gala celebrating relations with the United States over frustration with the Australian submarine deal.

Recalling its ambassador to the US for “consultation” – marking what’s believed to be the first time the French have resorted to such a move in modern times –  high-ranking French officials referred to the decision “as a stab in the back”.

I’m very angry and bitter,” said the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about Australia’s new submarine agreement. “This isn’t done between allies…It’s really a stab in the back.”


The French should know all about “a stab in the back”.

French are Fuming. “Betrayal” is what French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after Australia scrapped a big French conventional submarine purchase in favor of nuclear subs built with U.S. technology. (Jens Schlueter/Pool Photo via AP, file)

Some years ago but still very much in “Modern Times”, France  pulled a similar stunt – but much worse – when it “stabbed”  its ally Israel “in the back”.

Why “much worse”?

Apart from its ally living in a lethal neighbourhood facing then enemies bent on its destruction and the annihilation of its people, Israel had not simply “ordered” ships to be built in France but had already paid for the built ships waiting in Cherbourg when France refused to deliver them. Then French President Charles de Gaulle decided – at the time of the Six-Say War of 1967 – that the Arab region was a better bet economically and politically than a sole Jewish state in the Middle East and switched allegiance and reneged on the deal.

The Long and the Short of It. David Ben-Gurion and Charles de Gaul in happier times. By mid-1967, France and Israel no longer saw eye-to-eye.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, was one of the many who were deeply disappointed by the swift shift of relations between de Gaulle and Israel, after all, in the 1950’s, Dayan had agreed with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion when he called de Gaulle:

 “a true friend, a true ally”.

Some “friend”; some “ally”!!!!!!!!!

De Gaulle, who had had sent Dayan a personal letter of congratulations on his book ‘The Sinai Campaign 1956’ refused to remove the embargo from the boats that had already been paid for by Israel.

And while tempting to lay all the blame on de Gaulle, he soon resigned and the French presidency passed in 1969 on to Georges Pompidou who affirmed his country’s boycott of Israel.

Before Relations Soured. French copy of Moshe Dayan’s book on the Sinai Campaign on 1956 that de Gaul had congratulated the author.

France again had turned on the Jews.

The Cherbourg boats were, in Israeli military thinking, essential for the modernization of her navy and the security of the state. However, France did what suited France and it was left to the ingenuity of the Israelis, to “steal” – hardly the right word as they had been paid for – the five remaining missile boats under the eyes of the French and sail them to Israel.

At some point on the night of December 24/25, 1969, the five missile boats clandestinely maneouvred their way out of Cherbourg harbour into the English Channel and into Israel’s proud history of striving for survival.

Solution Found. View of three of five French missile boats bought by the Israeli government arriving in the port of Haifa on the night of Jan. 1, 1970 that involved  a clandestine Israeli military action following the French arms embargo in 1969.

The ship-building contract having provided much needed employment in Cherbourg, many of the local residents, unlike their national leaders, were not unfavourably disposed towards Israel. They had grown accustomed to some “Norwegians” that had recently appeared on the local scene; even some oddities about them such as bring accomplished linguists that included Hebrew among their repertoire of languages. When the five ships suddenly disappeared that December night under darkness, in a dockside cafe, a barman was said to have remarked to customers huddled over their glasses of red wine:

 “I see the Norwegians have left for Alaska.”

His all-knowing noisy patrons roared with laughter.

Read All About It. On Christmas eve 1969, in a brazen caper, five small boats slipped out of Cherbourg harbor after midnight into a Force Nine gale. The boats, ordered by Israel from a local shipyard, had been embargoed for more than a year for political reasons by France.

Yet, it was no laughing matter that at a most perilous time in Israel’s history, when it feared annihilation by countries surrounding it, intent on fulfilling Hitler’s mission, France, its main supplier of its arms should suddenly turn on the Jewish state and impose an embargo.  With France’s history of its tragic treatment of its Jews, this was a harsh reminder of France’s understanding of the words “friend” and “betrayal”.

Sign of the Times. French President Emmanuel Macron at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, which was vandalized with Nazi symbols and other graffiti.

In recent years with the alarming rise of violent antisemitism in France from children ruthlessly gunned down at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 to the savage stabbing of an elderly Holocaust survivor in Paris in 2018; to the more traditional ‘blood libel’ variety in 2020 of widespread conspiracy theories about Jewish officials accused of spreading the coronavirus and profiting from the pandemic, there may not be too many Jews who are going to share France’s anguish at feeling “betrayed”.

Abnormal France. French Jews arriving to a new life in Israel. Asked what prompted to leave France, a young mother replied: “we understood that our lives there aren’t normal. The hardest part was to see the soldiers standing around outside of my children’s’ school every day.” (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

There are reasons why you hear more French being spoken on the streets of Israel in recent years.

France should look why they – their former citizens in Israel – feel “BETRAYED”!

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).

Durban Remembered

By Craig Snoyman

Can one have memories of something that never happened to you?  There is a phenomenon in psychology that is referred to as false memory. Basically not only can the mind be used, it can also be manipulated. Different scenarios will produce different effects.  I know that I wasn’t at the original UN Conference Against Racism, known as Durban 1 but still have clear memories of it.

Unleashing a Tsunami of Hate. Secretary-General Kofi Annan speaking at the opening of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

In 2001, I was a freshly minted advocate, but still had strong ties with labour and one particular  trade union. It was a small mining trade union and I had a very good relationship with its General Secretary.The unionists knew I was Jewish but it made no difference. On 11 September 2001, I received a surprise visit from  Vuyani, the GenSec. He was full of the joys of the world! He had just returned from Durban and was bursting with news. He and a bunch of his comrade unionists had been bussed down to Durban to attend a big conference. They hadn’t paid for anything. They were put up in a hotel and were given food and there were lots of other unions there as well. It was the first time that he had seen the sea. He saw “Coffee” (Kofi Anan) and he was sure that I would be interested to know that he saw Yasser Arafat as well. He thought that he saw lots of other famous people as well, but he couldn’t remember their names, but it was those two that were pointed out, that he remembered. There were so many people there and there was lots of shouting and protests and also some toy-toying. But everybody was busy  and there was lots of talk about “Jews” and “Israel” and “Palestine” and everyone was waving posters about Israel and Apartheid. 

‘Festival of Jew-hate’. Protestors outside the 2001 Durban conference set on fighting Jews instead of racism

And then he produced his prized possessions. He took off his jacket to show me the T-shirt that he had been given. “They were just giving them to everyone” he said but he could only get one. It was a T-shirt with an image, I can’t remember it image clearly but  I think it was a child hiding behind an adult.  The writing on the shirt is still engraved in my memory: “Mohammed al-Durra  Killed for being a Palestinian”. Vuyani told me that he was keeping the shirt,  but he had  got a special present for me because he knew that I was Jewish. He opened up his plastic packet and pulled out a book. “They were giving these away and I knew that you would want one!” Out popped a soft-cover book with large writing on the front cover “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. I was dumbfounded. I know that I must have reacted because he asked me what was wrong. I can remember telling him that the book was banned and that he must destroy it. I don’t have much recollection of the rest of our meeting.

So that’s what I remember of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held at Durban in 2001.  I can remember my wife phoning me later in the day telling me that “they’re bombing America”- which turned out to be the terror attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, but my memories of Durban are stronger than my memories of New York.

It’s really ironic; I’m sure I must have known about al-Durra before but it probably never rang any bells. Then, suddenly, it was in the forefront of my mind. I had grown up hearing about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and even as a secular Jewish boy in a government school I knew it was virulently antisemitic.  This is what what Durban I and all the other subsequent Durban conferences have been about – lies and hatred!

Demonisation in Durban. Decrying false narratives, anti-Israel protestors demonstrate outside the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The killing of Mohammad al-Durra occurred about a year before the conference  during the ongoing Intifada. Video footage taken by a freelance Palestinian television cameraman was screened by France 2. The footage  shows Mohammed being given cover by his father as they  crouched behind a concrete cylinder. Mohammed was crying and his father was waving.  They were seen to be caught in the crossfire between the Israeli military and Palestinian security forces. Then there was a burst of gunfire. Mohammed  slumped, having been mortally wounded by gunfire and died soon after. The footage gained mega-traction and was distributed worldwide. Israel, initially admitted to killing al-Durra and this was the position when the conference was held. (Israel subsequently withdrew its admission.) Israel was the self-confessed villain, the killer of innocent Palestinian children. The world didn’t want to hear anything else, they lapped it up.  It was a vindication of their previously held opinions. A year later, it was still big news. By all accounts, the T-shirts of al-Durra must have flooded the Durban conference. It was the perfect foil for the conference, which in hindsight, was a premeditated orgy of anti-Zionist and antisemitic hate.

Stage Managing Hate. The photo of 12-year old Mohammed al Dura cowering behind his father  (centre)- distributed with the storyline that he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers (later proved false) was plastered all over the UN’s racist anti-racism Durban conference in 2001.

Winston Churchill once said that a lie will fly around the world before the truth has had time to put on its pants. The al-Durra narrative flew around the world many thousands of times before the truth found its pants. Slowly but surely the story started falling apart. The  France 2 journalist admitted that he didn’t see the incident, he relied on his Palestinian cameraman. Then there were lengths of time that were missing from the video clip. After the shooting, the clip went blurred. Then the Palestinian cameraman denied what he had sworn to in his affidavit, refuting his early oath that al-Durra had been shot in cold-blood. Then discrepancies entered into the matter. – If he was shot and killed why was there no blood on the scene? Where were the bullets? Initially, the cameraman said the bullets were collected by the Israelis.  Later Mohamed’s father said the Palestinians had all the bullets.  There was a problem with the time-line of the incident; it didn’t correlate. Mohammed’s father, who claimed to have been hit in the leg by nine bullets was also shown to be a liar as the scars on his legs were pre-existing., even although his Palestinian doctor on the day confirmed there were gunshot wounds to his leg. In 2012, when the medical records of the father were finally  examined, the  wounds were found to be completely different from those previously described. No bullets were ever produced, no inquiry by the Palestinians was even done and there was no inquest. Israeli soldiers denied that the incident could have taken place in the manner described. The Palestinians refused the Israelis access to the body and any medical records. In a subsequent Israeli recreation of the incident, it was found that if al-Durra was shot on the scene then the shots would have been fired by the Palestinian security forces. Seven years after the incident, the general view was that either the Palestinians shot al-Durra or it was a Pallywood set-up.  (On Appeal, the French Court was of a similar opinion, reversing the lower court finding of defamation of France 2)  So by 2012, some twelve years after the al-Durra incident took place, it was shown to be a scam, but the damage to Israel and its reputation was irreparable. Vuyani didn’t have a clue who Mohammed al-Durra was, but he  – and no doubt thousands of others – went around wearing this shirt, proclaiming the blood libel on a daily basis.

The availability of the book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”  was equally amazing.  South Africa, with its much touted “best-in-the-world” Constitution, prohibiting hate-speech  made no attempt to prevent the distribution of the book at the Conference.  Hitler’s “Mein Kampff” was also freely available. Apparently, the only thing not freely available were the Jewish participants and Jewish protestors at the conference, “whose safety could not be guaranteed”  and had indeed withdrawn in fear of harm to life and limb, their voices having been drowned in the melee.  

Encouraged Reading at Durban. Freely distributed at the 2001 Durban Conference was the slanderous  Protocols of Zion that advocated a global Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Here  is a version published in Pakistan  depicting on its cover the global Jew as a snake out to venomously strike at the Muslim world.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I recall the Protocols  as originally being a French creation from the nineteenth century and then adapted to the Russian condition. My google sources of reference state it as being a Russian creation of the early twentieth century, and recesses of my mind seem to be far more vast than my active memory. Maybe it’s just another of my  false memories! But then my recesses have difficulty distinguishing  one antisemite from another. The import of this  locus classicus  of antisemitic poison is to record a series of meetings held in Basel, Switzerland in the late nineteenth century. Ring a bell? Herzl’s first Zionist Conference just happened to be held in Basel at that time.  The report details  24 meetings in  which the Jews plan to create a world state under their control.  If the Jew’s liberalism (then, as now a dirty word) could not subvert the world  then the  Jews would do it by socialism.  Another bell starts ringing – Jews and the Menshevik party of Russia were becoming a threat to the Tzar with their (socialist) trade union activism. It was also published at the same time as the start of another pogrom against the Jews in Russia.  The Protocols explain that the Jewish  plots would proceed but if the Jews failed in these attempts,  then all the capitals of Europe would be sabotaged. Another bell ringing? The Balkans was a tinder box at the time. The Protocols  was rapidly translated into the languages of international discourse – English, French and German –  the world had established the cause of all the problems in the world.

It was the Jews’ fault.  

Churchill’s proverbial pants again took time to get pulled up. By 1921, the Protocols had been authoritatively discredited as a fraud and a hoax. Yet despite numerous and regular proofs of its falsity, it remains a widely published book and freely available, even at  a World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, a hundred years after its publication. In Durban, as with the Protocols,  the perfect evil villain had been created and again attacked with little fear of actual consequence.  The world didn’t want to hear anything else, they lapped it up.  The Durban Conference established the cause of all evil in the world. It was Israel’s fault, and it was officially, and solely,  identified as such.  The need for  a legitimate antisemitic, anti-Zionist body also translated into world discourse – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) –  was evolved to fight the greatest evil that the galaxy (and beyond) has ever known – the evil Zionist oppressor, of course!

That, to me is what Durban I was all about. All these famous people in Mandela’s South Africa proudly and vocally heaping blame on Israel for the world’s trouble and all based on lies, fraud and hoaxes. It was only in Israel that senseless violence against innocent children took place. It was only in Israel that Nazism had resurrected its head. It was only in Israel that racism existed. It was only in Israel where Zionism had been translated into a dominating and racist ideology used for oppressing people. It was only  because of  Israel that intolerance and hate and violence in the world existed. And for that, Israel – and only Israel – deserved excoriation. Excoriated they were, lead by past and future Nobel Peace Prize luminaries such as Koffi Annan, Mary Robinson, Yasser Arafat and our own Nelson Mandela!

This disgracefully fraudulent House of Cards has not fallen.  Churchill’s pants have been pulled up but to no avail. We are on the eve of Durban IV, the rehash. Many “western” democracies have pulled out of the conference. There is only one  small voice shouting about the despicable nature  of the attack on Israel and that is from  the world’s  “oppressor” itself. Why should anyone choose to believe Israel anyway?  The West has done its part; it withdrew from  the conference. Should one expect more? Maybe just a small expression of condemnation? It doesn’t seem that the world thinks so.

Fight Hate not Promote It. The message from Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center  to UN head Antonio Guterres is that it is time for the world body “to finally bury Durban, not celebrate it” (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I sit with my false memories, transposed from a naïve trade unionist and realize that  these false memories  are what we South Africans refer to as “msmallinyana skeletons”(small skeletons). The United Nations, however, sits with  the entire stinking, rotting corpse of Durban 1 on display on the outskirts of its opening of Durban IV.  

About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.

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).

Revenge for 9/11, like the Holocaust, would be in thriving

By Alex Ryvchin

Republished with kind permission from “The Australian“.

A few weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945, a group of survivors of the Holocaust met in Bucharest to mark Passover, the Jewish festival of freedom. Among the group was Abba Kovner, who had escaped the Vilna ghetto and led a partisan campaign that struck at the Nazis and their collaborators from the forests of Lithuania.

Kovner was consumed with desire for revenge. “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness,” he told his fellow survivors at the gathering, invoking Psalm 94 and God’s promise to deliver vengeance upon the enemies of Israel.

The Jewish Avengers.  Killer of Jews in their sights, Abba Kovner (back row, center) with members of the Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye (The FPO – Eng: United Partisan Organization) in Vilna, 1940’s.

After the war, Kovner and his comrades, known as the “Avengers”, hatched a series of plots to exact retribution for the murders of their families and the near annihilation of the European Jews.

Most were aborted but the Avengers did succeed in getting their operatives into the kitchen of the Stalag 13 prisoner of war camp at Langwasser near Nuremberg, where Nazi SS, the units responsible for the implementation of the Final Solution, were being held. They planned to poison the bread of the prisoners, but the poison failed to take full effect and not a single SS man died.

The pursuit of revenge after the Holocaust proved futile. How does one even begin to avenge such a crime, really a sequence of millions of individual crimes, including the murders of one million children, carried out by hundreds of thousands of perpetrators across Europe?

It is a cliche to say success is the best revenge, but it is true. The real revenge the Jewish remnants took against those who pursued their obliteration was their survival and the re-establishment of a successful national centre for the Jews in their ancient lands that revived Jewish culture and enhanced Jewish scientific, cultural and scholarly contributions to the world. Kovner would become one of that state’s greatest poets.

Jewish Justice. Abba Kovner testifies at the trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann.  

For those of us who watched the carnage of 9/11, the desire for revenge was a difficult emotion to suppress. “Revenge is the first law of nature,” Napoleon wrote as a young man. It was certainly just and necessary to find those who masterminded the murders of 2996 people and to incapacitate terrorist organisations that would pursue further attacks. As the Babylonian Talmud teaches, “If someone comes planning to kill you, rise and kill them first.”

But the desire for revenge goes beyond justice or prevention. It aims to redeem those whose lives were taken and to restore their dignity – a noble aspiration, but one that more often than not is unattainable and the pursuit of which can corrode the soul.

The true revenge for 9/11 ought to have come in the form of global unity, comprising people of all faiths who shared a determination to drive fanaticism from our societies. Instead, the 9/11 attacks did what their mastermind had intended. Beyond killing thousands of innocent people, the attacks shook the self-confidence of the West. They divided us into doves and hawks, established fault lines that persist today and caused a collective questioning of our ideals.

Many would conclude that the pillars of our society – enlightenment, rationalism, human freedoms – were void and corrupt, as the al-Qaeda assassins had charged from their caves.

America Attacked. The World Trade Center’s South Tower burst into flames after being hit by United Airlines Flight 175.

September 11 also triggered a dangerous defect in our thinking. Instead of understanding that the terrorists were motivated by a barbarism and blood lust of which mankind had always been capable, we began to believe we had brought this on ourselves.

We assumed rational objections to policy were governing the thoughts of those for whom slaughtering morning commuters and teenage girls at pop concerts constituted success. But rationalism is not universal or innate. It occurs only in those who are raised in its traditions and teachings. And religious extremism does not breed rationalism, it crushes it.

This doomed path of inquiry produced a narrative that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and US support for Israel were the root cause of radical Islam’s desire to overthrow the West.

US academics Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer claimed US support for its democratic ally was a predominant source of anti-American terrorism and urged punitive measures against Israel.

Lobbying against Israel. In their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer (left), a political science professor at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt (right), academic dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, assert that America’s “special relationship” with Israel works against its best interests.

High school textbooks in Britain also suggested Israel’s creation was the root cause of Islamist terrorism and the motivation for 9/11. Rather than confronting radical Islam’s fanatical hatred of the Jews and Osama bin Laden’s stated mission to “punish the oppressive Jews and their allies”, such thinking in effect validated their racism and bowed to it.

From blaming the Jew to Blaming the Jewish State. Before being withdrawn, a UK  history textbook was in use by high schools in the country asking how the September 11 terrorist attacks perpetrated by al-Qaeda could be connected to the establishment of the State of Israel.

The wicked sectarianism on display in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon finally made mockery of the view that if only Israel withdrew from the West Bank, al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Jema’ah Islamiyah and the rest would promptly beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.

As we all do, I still vividly recall September 11, 2001. I came into my torts law class that morning after watching the second plane destroy the South Tower. Our lecturer announced that class was cancelled. “I’m not going to lecture you about the ‘reasonable person’ test when such unreasonable people exist in the world,” he said. Unreasonable people will continue to exist and inflict misery; the disintegration of Afghanistan and the recent ISIS-inspired stabbing spree in an Auckland supermarket attest to that.

Israel’s Message to Terror. Survive and thrive as emblazoned in modern day Tel Aviv.

But our revenge and our victory lie in the survival of free societies, our reasonable, rational thought, and our unified purpose to uphold precisely that which the terrorists sought to destroy.

About the writer:

Alex Ryvchin is co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the author of “Zionism: The Concise History“.

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)

Durban is a Downer

Major countries are boycotting this September’s UN 20th anniversary of the “Durban Conference” for its blatant antisemitism

By Rodney Mazinter

Even after Gaza firing earlier this year some 4,300 rockets at Israel’s civilian population, the false “Zionism = Apartheid” advocates are girding their loins to once again try to delegitimise Israel at the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), also known as Durban IV.

Signs of the Times. Protestors brandishing masses of signs and banners outside the Durban Conference opening session, August 31, 2001  with one thing in common – they are all against  only one country in the world – Israel. (credit: REUTERS)

If ever a misnomer, we know it by its more common parlance as the infamous Durban Conference.

Their concern shown for the plight of the Palestinians is undermined against the backdrop of the slaughter going on today in the Middle East and North and East Africa – a humanitarian tragedy that significantly escapes their attention.

Such slaughter raises little to no concern because of their preoccupation with Israel.

It is wearying to once more point out the deceitful propaganda posing as facts. Here are a few salient points starting with Israel’s “disproportionate” response against attacks on its country:

Despite Israel over the years encountering incessant attacks on its civilians and their properties from Gaza,  the Jewish state only significantly responds when the situation has so escalated that it has little alternative.

Yet how does an unsympathetic world react? It wrings its hands and cries “disproportionate”. What is disproportionate, one may ask?

When Israel does react, it does so with care and circumspection. Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan said it best:

Based on my knowledge and experience I can say that … the Israeli defense forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in combat situations than any other army in the history of warfare.” 

Safeguarding Civilians. Explaining the truth about Israel’s military, Col. Richard Kemp, a former British Army officer who served from 1977-2006 fighting terrorism and insurgency, commanding British troops on the front line of some of the world’s toughest hotspots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.

The charges against Israel reveal much more about those who make them than it does about their target.

Stopping the Slaughter

Much ink is expended in accusing Israel of being an Apartheid state, citing the checkpoints, the security fence and segregated roads. But these critics remain reticent about the forced segregation and anti-gay legislation, which does not exist in Israel but does in Israel’s neighbouring countries. Critics focus on the border between sovereign Israeli territory and the disputed territories of the West Bank, ignoring the efficacy of controls that keep civilians from being murdered. 

The much criticised security barrier for example has been hugely successful in protecting civilians. In 2000, the Palestinian leadership launched a massive wave of suicide bombers into Israel, leading to more than 1,300 civilian deaths and 10,000 injuries. Since the erection of the barrier, these staggering statistics have been reduced to almost zero. 

Death Downtown. Israel needs a security wall to prevent massacres like this suicide bombing in August 2001 that killed 15 people and wounded more than 80 others at the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The same can be explained about separate roads for Israelis of whatever culture or religion. After numerous attacks on Israeli motor vehicles, hitchhikers and civilians at bus stops, Israel responded to the incessant slaughter by creating  separate bypass roads, inspections of suspicious cars and revoking permission for family members of killers to work in Israel. This made it harder for Palestinian terrorists to treat pedestrian precincts as killing grounds. 

Rebuffing Peace

In the last 21 years alone, Palestinian Authority leaders rejected US and Israeli negotiation offers in 2000, 2001 and 2008 without proposing counter offers. The 2008 offer would have provided Palestinians with 93.7% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), a capital in eastern Jerusalem, and land swaps for the remaining 6.3% of “West Bank” territory. That offer served as the basis for US proposals to restart negotiations in 2014 and 2016 — the latter made by then Vice President and today President of the USA –  Joe Biden.

All were rejected out-of-hand, despite the fact that the Oslo Accords, which created the PA, called for outstanding issues to be resolved through bilateral negotiations. As part of Oslo, Palestinian leaders around the table agreeing to peace and stability promised to “renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence”, and to amend the Palestinian National Charter, which denied Israel’s right to exist. This still remains part of the Hamas Covenant as well.

In major and purportedly detailed articles, foreign correspondents fail to detail any of the rejected peace offers. It is as if they never happened. Instead, they indulge in false equivalency, writing that “Top Biden aides have said they can’t pursue a peace deal when neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis appear ready for serious conversations.” Yet, as noted above, Israel has made serious proposals and as a gesture, halted all construction work in disputed territories. What did Abbas deliver? For ten months during which discussions were due to commence, the Palestinians refused to turn up.

The Apartheid Libel

The false Apartheid libel becomes even more offensive in the larger context of Apartheid practices that occur in the entire Middle East including in the Palestinian territories. For example, The PA has a law invoking the death penalty for selling land to Jews. The PA has declared that no Jew will be allowed to live in a future state of Palestine. On the other hand, Arabs, Muslims, Christians and all others across religious and cultural divides live, own property and work in Israel.

Sabreen Saadi became the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to attain the rank of lieutenant in the Israel Police. Saadi comes from a traditional Muslim family in a Bedouin town in northern Israel. Since 2016, when the Israeli government established a special unit aimed at improving policing and security in the country’s Arab communities, more than 600 Arab men and 55 Arab women enlisted in the Israel Police. Eight new police stations were established in the Arab sector, with the intention of adding ten more. 

Arab countries with large Palestinian populations – notably Lebanon, Jordan and Syria  – practice statutory apartheid against Palestinians, including denying them the right to work in most professions, attaining citizenship, passports, education and freedom of movement.

Forgotten People. Unable to blame Israel, where were the cries of global anguish for the suffering of the Kurds following Turkish troops launching an attack on Kurdish northern Syria after US troops pulled out? (Photo. Ilyas Akengin)

In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are severely discriminated against by the government, yet those who accuse Israel of Apartheid seem never to complain about such official discrimination. And so it goes on. To any objective person it would be evident that many of the practices that characterized South African Apartheid while absent in Israel, are very much present in many of the Arab countries in the Middle East.

Over and above the strategy to delegitimise the only Jewish state and to hold it to different standards from the rest of the world, critics of Israel hide behind the argument that they are not antisemitic but “anti-Zionist”, all the while seeking to blur the distinction between the two concepts. They  disregard Jewish people’s right to self-determination, despite promoting their distorted definition of Zionism as an Apartheid system. Even more so, they seek to rewrite any manifestation of Jewish identity that does not fit their propaganda in which they align Jews with the South African Apartheid regime.

Hardly Apartheid. In 2020, Sergeant Sa’adi became the first Hijab wearing Muslim woman to attain the Rank of Lieutenant in the Israeli Police.

Those ostensibly supporting Palestinians, devalue their cause by quoting from propaganda and not from independent sources. One such independent source is Freedom House, which evaluates countries throughout the world and apportions a percentage score dependent on each country’s human rights performance. Israel scores 79%  despite facing constant terrorism and ranks above every country in the Middle East and North Africa, with Syria scoring a low of minus-one and Jordan a high of 37%. Israel’s record is better than South Africa’s 78% and just behind the USA at 86%.

Who Cared? With no Israel to blame, where was the UN, the international media and human rights NGOs when the Yazadis in Syria were fleeing for their lives from ISIS?

If the Palestinians were to use the billions they receive to build dams instead of attack tunnels, educational structures instead of colleges of hatred and indoctrination, water conservation infrastructure instead of rockets and other weaponry, Israel would be the first to offer a hand of friendship and cooperation. Proof of this are the 2020 Abraham Accords that is illuminating a new progressive direction in the Middle East.

New Directions. Following the 2020 Abraham Accords, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog (left), shakes hands with United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja during the opening ceremony for the new UAE Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

It is astonishing that 73 years after Ben-Gurion’s Declaration of Independence in 1948, a period that includes more than 16 wars, continuous terrorism, existential threats, refusals of neighbours to accept a Jewish State, BDS, Palestinian intransigence, global anti-Semitism, anti-Israel movements, UN bullying, media obsession, and the persistent antisemitism emanating from the recuring Durban Conferences, miniscule Israel is:

  • The 11th happiest country on Earth (beating the US, Germany, UK and of course South Africa),
  • The 4th best place on Earth to raise children.
  • Remains in 2021 the only democracy in the Middle East and a thriving place for minority groups.
  • Is a technological, water and medical superpower and has more start-up companies per capita than anywhere on earth that intricately affect our lives everywhere.

Israel has enriched the world in spite of adversity with the fruits of her innovation, and the world has thrived as a result.

There are those who say that they are “offended” by Israel’s actions. I too am “offended”, not by trumped up accusations of disrespect, but by beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public and private buildings, attacks on Westerners for the crime of drinking beer at their local pubs, suicide murders, murders of Christian priests in Middle Eastern countries, burning of Christian churches and Jewish Synagogues, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims and Muslims alike, the rape of Scandinavian girls and women and what we are witnessing tragically unfolding in Afghanistan today.

As countries gather for the UN World Conference Against Racism, one hopes that after 73 years, instead of conspiring to undermine the legitimacy of Israel  with false narratives, they instead embrace the Jewish people’s right to their ancestral homeland.

About the writer:

RODNEY MAZINTER, a Cape Town based writer, poet and author, who is involved in media activism on behalf of Israel. Past vice-chair of the South African Zionist Federation, Cape Council, he has held numerous leadership positions within a range of educational, sporting, secular and Jewish organisations. His novel “By A Mighty Hand” was favourably reviewed on Amazon. He has just finished writing the sequel called Ge’ula (Redemption).

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).

Poles Apart

Cordial, if never sweet, Polish-Israeli relations have  assuredly soured

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

The restitution of Jewish property in Eastern Europe has never been a topic of any great interest to the wider public, even in Israel, and has very rarely received serious media attention. Until now!

During the past several weeks, a bill passed initially in the Polish Sejm (Parliament) and Senate, and signed into law on August 14 by President Andrzej Duda, has sparked an extremely heated controversy which is seriously  threatening the future of Polish-Israeli relations, which had been quite cordial since Poland’s transition from Communism to Democracy. The law in question does not specifically mention Jews, or the Holocaust, or World War II, but in practical terms makes it almost impossible for Holocaust survivors to be able to reclaim their pre-World War II property or obtain commensurate compensation, even if they have already filed the appropriate claims in a Polish court.

President Duda justified the passage of the bill by pointing to the fact that there had been numerous cases of fictitious claims and that criminals had been able to unjustly obtain property that had never belonged to them, resulting in the ejection of “tens of thousands of people being thrown onto the pavement.” In his words, “re-privatization to restore justice became almost synonymous with injustice and human harm.” In that respect, it is important to mention that the bill was passed by a huge majority in both the Sejm and the Senate, and was fully supported not only by the government coalition, but by the opposition as well. Undoubtedly, part of that support stemmed from economic factors, given the large number of properties owned by Jews in prewar Poland, especially in urban centers.

True Colours Exposed. Polish President Andrzej Duda(left) who signed the law in early August  limiting claims to property seized by the Nazis and later by Poland’s communist government, and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who rebuked this decision, labeling it as “unethical and antisemitic”.(Getty)

Israeli officials were already aware of the seriously negative implications of the bill for the efforts to achieve restitution (or compensation) for Jewish-owned property before the votes in the Sejm and Senate. Israeli chargé d’affairs Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon gave an impassioned speech to the joint  Senate committees before the vote was taken, in which she emphasized Israel’s obligation to “give a voice to Holocaust survivors and their descendants…who have the right, historically, morally, and legally to present their claims and to receive the compensation they deserve for their property.” Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears, and the support for the bill was overwhelming, which prompted strong criticism from the U.S. government and international Jewish organizations, but especially from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. He not only called the bill “unethical and antisemitic”, but also instructed the new Israeli ambassador to Poland to remain in Israel in the meantime, immediately recalled our Chargé d’Affairs, in Warsaw for indefinite consultations, and suggested that the Polish ambassador to Israel remain on vacation in Poland. In his words, “This time should be used to explain to the people of Poland the meaning of the Holocaust to the citizens of Israel, and the extent to which we will refuse to tolerate any contempt for the memory of the Holocaust and its victims.”

Needless to say, Lapid’s harsh attack on the Polish government did not go unanswered. In an obvious response, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Jablonski told journalists this  on August 16 that the government was “reviewing” the trips to Poland of Israeli high school students, approximately 40,000 of whom travel annually to Poland for Holocaust study trips and visits to sites of ghettoes and death camps under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education. Jablonski called the trips “propaganda” – an unequivocal insult to the manner in which Israeli schools teach the Shoah.

No Entry. In retaliation to Israel’s opposition to the bill, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński (above) says his country is weighing the future of Holocaust education trips for Israeli youth to Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

At this point, it is not exactly clear how this crisis in Israeli-Polish relations will be resolved, but in order to understand its roots and causes, we have to return to a somewhat similar, previous dispute between the two countries over a law passed in Poland in 2018, which also aroused considerable anger and indignation in Israel. The so-called “Holocaust bill” criminalized use of the term “Polish death camps”, as well as any attempt to attribute Holocaust crimes to the Polish state. And while the first part of the bill was in fact justified, because it was the Germans who built the death camps in Poland, and the only Poles in death camps (Auschwitz and Majdanek) were inmates not collaborating perpetrators, the second clause was a brazen attempt to whitewash the widespread participation of individual Poles in Holocaust crimes. Negotiations between Polish and Israeli officials and historians led to a very bad compromise signed by former Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, which was strongly criticized by Yad Vashem, because it appeared to accept the Polish narrative of World War II and the Shoah, which promoted the canard of equivalency between Polish participation in Holocaust crimes and assistance by Poles in rescuing Jews from the Nazis, when in fact the number of Poles guilty of the former, surpassed those who rescued Jews many times over.

Death and Destruction. Whatever became of the property of this group of Polish Jews being led away by German SS soldiers during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943? Poland passes bill cancelling all claims of ownership of property if 30 years have elapsed since the confiscation. (AP Photo)

Thus the heart of the debate between Poles and Jews over Holocaust-related issues is the false narrative of the events of 1939-1945. The Polish narrative is primarily one of their own undisputed suffering under the Nazis, with little room or empathy for that of their Jewish neighbours and fellow citizens. Poland was one of the most antisemitic countries, if not THE most antisemitic country in Eastern Europe prior to World War II, and the estimated figure by reputable Polish historians, such as Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, of approximately 200,000 Jews murdered directly by Poles, or turned over by Poles to the Nazis to be killed during the Holocaust is a clear manifestation of that animus. The fact that Poland’s suffering under the Nazis has not received the same treatment as that of Jewish Holocaust victims further complicates the situation.

In Jeopardy. Will Poland stop the annual Holocaust education trips of Israeli high schoolers visiting Nazi death camps like the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau (see above)?

This situation, it must be noted, is not unique to Poland. Practically every post-Communist democracy in Eastern Europe has created a fake narrative of their Holocaust history, primarily to hide the important role played by their nationals in Holocaust crimes, and to promote the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes, which they insist constitute genocide. These measures are all being taken  in order to emphasize their suffering under Communism and deflect attention from their Holocaust crimes. While the Nazis were able to enlist helpers in every country which they occupied or with whom they had an alliance, only in Eastern Europe did collaboration with the Nazis include participation in systematic mass murder of Jews. Until now, the policy of the previous Israeli governments was to ignore these lies, in order to maintain friendly relations with the countries of Eastern Europe, although the fake narrative created by these countries was an unforgivable insult to the victims, their families and the entire Jewish people. The new policy by Foreign Minister Lapid is a welcome and necessary change, but ultimately we will have to enter into serious dialogue with our Eastern European friends to convince them that telling the truth about their role in the Holocaust will ultimately be most beneficial to them and their citizens.

About the writer:

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Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of the Center’s Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs. His most recent book, with Lithuanian author Ruta Vanagaite, is Our People; Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020) which deals with Holocaust distortion in Lithuania.

For further information on this issue  and on Holocaust distortion in Eastern Europe, please visit www.swcjerusalem.org and www.wiesenthal.com

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).

Re-Claiming the Narratives

South African Israelis must lead the Fight against the Apartheid Libel

By Rolene Marks

A recent poll published by the Times of Israel and various other publications) revealed some startling statistics. The article discussed how some 25% of American Jewry believes that Israel is an Apartheid state. This is an extremely worrying statistic and just recently, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, warned how we could lose the support of US Jewry if this continues. Over the past few years we have seen the chasm between Israel and American Jewry grow wider and the aggressive accusations of Apartheid by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and others grow louder.

Dishonouring Honest Abe. Anti-Israel demonstrators rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, May 29, 2021 projecting a false narrative that is finding traction with young US Jews who believe the worst accusations hurled at Israel. (File photo: AP)

The BDS movement exploded into the global consciousness after the UN Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The launch of BDS in South Africa was not coincidental as the country was both the birthplace of Apartheid and its defeat. In the narrative against Israel, optics are important and what could be more symbolic than this? At the very centre of the BDS delegitimisation, is the accusation, in fact the charge that Israel is guilty of practicing Apartheid. The rationale is that if Israel is labelled as a pariah, as was South Africa, then the Jewish state can no longer be part of the family of nations, until it changes its abhorrent policies.  And more than this, BDS is also unwavering about their end goal – the end of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. This has been stated by the founder of the movement, Omar Barghouti and stated on their website. The difference in the South African context however, is that during the heinous Apartheid regime, the global community wanted the racist policies of South Africa changed but never called for the country to cease to exist.

Demonisation in Durban. South African protesters at what became known as the “Conference of Hate”, accuse Israel of Apartheid and ethnic cleansing outside the Durban Conference opening session, August 31, 2001. (Photo credit: Reuters)

The Oxford dictionary defines Apartheid as “a policy of racial segregation of other groups from the white inhabitants. Adopted by the successful Afrikaner National Party as a slogan in the 1948 election, apartheid extended and institutionalized existing racial segregation. The word is recorded from the 1940s, and comes from Afrikaans, meaning literally ‘separateness’.”

These Apartheid laws governed every aspect of a black person’s life – from freedom of movement, the right to equal education, who they could marry all the way to separate amenities for colour groups.

While other countries have often implemented racist laws at some time in their history, Apartheid was unique to South Africa and the narrative to her people, because it was the only country in which these laws were legislated. South Africa is the “ground zero” of the BDS movement, and it is important that if anyone wants to counter BDS and their narrative, that they examine the South African paradigm very closely and understand it.

It is a narrative that is being appropriated by a sophisticated anti-Israel element to push an exclusionary, antisemitic agenda.

Israel is by no means perfect. Like every other country, we have our many challenges, including the scourge of racism, but it is not state policy as it was in South Africa.

I grew up in South Africa at the height of Apartheid and the years of States of Emergency. I bore witness to the daily humiliation, discrimination and appalling treatment of my black and coloured (a term used for people who were of mixed race) countrymen. Many of you reading this are probably wondering why a white woman is writing about the Apartheid experience.

My answer? As a young, proudly Zionist Jew, I learned through belonging to a youth movement that Apartheid was not compatible with my Jewish and Zionist values. It was in this Zionist youth movement that many of us were taught to question the system and subsequently become young activists, often at great risk to our safety. I remember when I was14 years old, that I marched for equal rights and was filmed and questioned by the police. But we were proud because this to us was tikkun olam (Hebrew for ‘repairing the world’). We were speaking up for our fellow citizens who had no voice and no agency under a racist regime.

Authentic Apartheid.  Every aspect of life in Apartheid South Africa required separation of the races including these stairs at a railway station

I am not the only Israeli South African with a story to tell. There are many of my countrymen in Israel and if you want to educate people against the Apartheid Israel canard, you need to talk to us. It is our lived experience, it is the narrative of the country in which we grew up.

Many of us here have “struggle credentials”.  There are those who were forced to flee, those who were arrested and even tortured, those who witnessed unbelievable cruelty, there are those who challenged the government or the legal system. And there are those who chose to leave because they could not live under a regime that persecuted another; because we understood all too clearly what this meant.

And yes, ex-pat South Africans have a duty to stand up to this abhorrent canard. We cannot be apathetic or complacent. We must remember that as olim, Israel has given us so much and now it is time for us to take the lead in the fight against the exploitation of the narratives of both South Africa and Israel.

The BDS movement and anti-Israel detractors are engaging misinformed South Africans, with little or no understanding of the complexities of the conflict, to give impetus to their agenda. Why aren’t you speaking to those of us who understand and have lived experience in both countries?

The contribution made by South African Jews to the fight against Apartheid were extraordinary and disproportionate to the size of the community. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share in the fight against the narrative that claims Israel as an Apartheid state. To be reticent about engaging and involving ourselves would be both a missed opportunity – and detrimental to the education of our diaspora communities.

Solidarity with Soweto. During the 1976 Soweto uprising, Jews are well represented in this protest on Jammie Steps at UCT calling for an end to police brutality and Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in Black schools. (Photo courtesy of UCT Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives.)

We owe South Africa so much – we were formed there and given the freedom to speak out and protest against injustice and human rights abuses.  It is therefore our duty never to demean Apartheid and the real devastating consequences it created.  To call Israel an Apartheid state is an abomination.

There is only one answer to this odious comparison is by condemning unreservedly the central charge of Apartheid through engaging its victims as well as those who fought to destroy it.

As the Jewish world gears up for the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference against Racism, you can absolutely place your bets that this charge of Apartheid is only going to gain more momentum. Remember the stated endgame.

The time to engage with us is now – before it is too late.

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).

Is Human Rights Watch Targeting Israel?

The Human Rights organisations seems to be focusing a lot of attention on Israel – at the expense of other conflicts around the world.

By Rolene Marks

Ken Roth has an obsession. Hardly a day goes by without Ken fixating on the State of Israel. Ken Roth is the Director of Human Rights Watch, an alleged (and I don’t say this lightly!) social justice orgnaisation. Human Rights Watch (HRW) mandate is to be a watchdog for human rights violations all over the world. Ken Roth has decided that the focus of his efforts should be on Israel. Israel is an imperfect country but is a democracy with the rule of law. It seems that lately, Ken Roth is fixated on Israel and this is evident in his almost obsessive tweeting about the Jewish state.

Hardly a day goes by without multiple tweets from Ken, pushing a clearly negative narrative and dare I say, agenda? A few weeks ago, he had the audacity to blame rising antisemitism on the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza during the recent conflagration between Israel and Hamas, using an article from left-leaning publication, Ha’aretz to try and bolster his claim. This resulted in a mega-pile on from organisations and individuals alike who called him out on his flagrant antisemitism.

Tablet Senior Writer Yair Rosenberg tweeted, “Here’s the director of Human Rights Watch blaming Jews for antisemitism. Antisemites, like all bigots, have used alleged acts of their targets to justify attacks on them (‘they killed Jesus! they swindle!’). Obscene for an ostensible human rights group to push their propaganda.” He added in a later tweet: “Antisemitism wasn’t caused by Jews ‘killing Jesus’ in the Middle East centuries ago. That was the bigot’s excuse. Antisemitism isn’t caused by Israeli actions in 2021. That’s the bigot’s excuse. Antisemitism is caused by the hate of the bigot, who will always find a new excuse.”

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer noted that Roth had issued his tweet during Tisha B’Av “when Jews mourn the destruction of their Temple & sovereignty in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Since then, the Jews faced burnings, expulsions and the Holocaust. Now there is Israel. We’re thrilled & proud. And we’ll never take lessons from an antisemite.”

Roth tried to walk back his Tweet, saying “Interesting how many people pretend that this tweet justifies antisemitism (it doesn’t and I don’t under any circumstances) rather than address the correlation noted in the Haaretz article between recent Israeli government conduct in Gaza and the rise of UK antisemitic incidents.”

But Sam Sokol, the author of the Haaretz article, tweeted that Roth had used “an article I wrote to try and bolster his point. And it does nothing of the sort.”

But Roth has not stopped there. It has become a daily activity amongst Israel advocates and our allies to call Roth out on his obsessive tweeting about Israel while staying silent on gross human rights violations across the world. He could tweet about the Palestinian Authority crackdown on journalists and critics or the million + Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in China, or the Biafran people in Nigeria, or the genocide of Christians in that country. There are sadly, countless other conflicts or oppressed people that could do with a smidgeon of Ken’s attention.

Instead he turns his attention to Israel, accusations of Apartheid, excoriating Israel’s leadership – all with a generous serving of Ben & Jerry’s boycott endorsements.

It is no coincidence that Roth is focusing so much attention on the overpriced ice-cream manufacturers boycott, after all it was his colleague, Omar Shakir, who advised the Ben & Jerry’s board.

Omar Shakir, the Director of HRW Israel-Palestine, was booted out of the country in 2019 for BDS activities that contravened Israel’s laws. He has now dedicated his energy and time to publishing reports accusing the Jewish State of war crimes during the May conflagration and a separate one accusing the country of practices of Apartheid – while scarcely a mention about any transgressions from Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. Shakir even went so far as to totally redefine the term Apartheid to push his agenda.

Going but not Gone. Departing at Ben Gurion Airport in 2019 after being expelled from Israel, American citizen Omar Shakir, the director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has been recently advising Ben & Gerry’s as well as publishing reports accusing Israel of war crimes and Apartheid.(Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

If it smells a lot like vendetta, it probably is.

Robert L Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights watch eventually turned against the organization that he started with noble intentions.

In an op-ed in the New York Times in October 2009, he wrote

“As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

Man of Principle. In a 2009 op-ed for The New York Times, Robert Bernstein accused Human Rights Watch – the organization he helped found in 1978 and long oversaw – of being grossly biased against Israel.  (Elisabeth Bernstein)

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world, many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens, who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighbourhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.”

(excerpt from article: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/opinion/20bernstein.html)

In 2014, Roth all but endorsed Hamas’ use of tunnels to potentially kidnap Israeli soldiers, hinting that this did not contravene international law.

Can HRW, an organization that practices such flagrant bias and whose Directors are routinely accused of antisemitism not just by Jews but by notable politicians and other high profile people, still be taken seriously or even considered a human rights organisation?

The evidence points to the contrary but with high-profile events like the 20th Anniversary of the UN Conference on Racism taking place next month, HRW is bound to enjoy some attention as they present their “findings”. At least ten countries will be boycotting this event out of concerns for a repeat of the 2001 conference that became nothing short of an antisemitic and anti-Israel festival of hatred.

Venomous Hate. At least ten countries will be boycotting the 20thanniversary of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism Conference out of concerns for a repeat (seen here) of that antisemitic and anti-Israel hatefest in Durban, South Africa. (Archives: AFP)

Many of us are concerned about what will result from this conference, especially in light of escalating global antisemitism. This is where human rights organisations should lead the fight against antisemitism but for HRW, those days are long gone.

They discredit the dignified and noble memory of their founder – and the very foundations upon which they were formed.

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).