The Holocaust is NOT Entertainment

“Trauma Porn” is the sickening new trend surfacing on social media

By  Rolene Marks

Social media once the place of vacuous status updates and shameless selfies has fast morphed into something more insidious. While social media can be a very powerful tool for sharing information and educating people, it is often used by many to push a more nefarious agenda and the competition for “likes” and “follows” often prompts some to share some really questionable content.

An example of antisemitic content spread through TikTok.(photo credit: screenshot)

Social media platform giants, Facebook and Twitter have faced increased criticism over their perceived leniency on antisemitic posts.  Facebook is currently targeted in a campaign from several organisations and well known personalities that calls on CEO’s to suspend their advertising because of online hate and several weeks ago, Jews and their allies embarked on a Twitter “walkout”. For 48 hours, a silent protest was held in objection to twitter’s failure to block or remove anti-Semitic posts. Since then, there has been a lot more attention – and action paid to posts that may be offensive.

But social media is like the proverbial head of Medusa. Do away with one serpent; another one takes its place. The most recent iteration is Tik Tok. Most famous for being a platform for Quarantine dance offs, TikTok has become the platform for something truly appalling – “trauma porn”.

According to experts, TikTok users may be exploiting some of history’s biggest atrocities in videos due to a morbid fascination with traumatic events.

A far-right TikTok user account. (Photo credit: Screenshot)

“It’s easier to go viral on TikTok than it is any other platform,” explains leading social media expert Unsah Malik, author of Slashed It. “Users are clearly attempting just about anything, no matter how offensive the subject matter, to end up on the ‘For You’ page and get a higher engagement rate.”

One of these subjects of “morbid fascination” is the Holocaust. The genocide of over 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis as well as the Roma, Sinti, LGBTQ and any others, the murderous regime deemed undesirable, has become fodder for “likes” on this social media platform.

Young people are taking to TikTok to “reenact” scenes of videos of themselves with fake injuries or the appearance of suffering the effects of starvation – and then talk about being murdered in the Holocaust, claiming that they are now in heaven. Some are even re-enactments of scenes inside gas chambers. This profoundly offensive trauma porn is unfortunately, garnering views and likes in the hundreds of thousands. They are even accompanied by a soundtrack.

While the videos do not appear to be comedic, they are often accompanied by the song “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars.

TikTok is swamped with shocking antisemitic content.

The Auschwitz Museum has also weighed in on this saying:

“The trend visible on TikTok can be indeed hurtful and even considered offensive,” the museum said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Some of the examples online are dangerously close or are already beyond the border of trivialisation of history and being disrespectful to the victims.”

Some of the videos were created not to commemorate anyone, but to become part of an online trend. This is very painful,” the museum added.    The ‘victims’ trend on TikTok can be hurtful and offensive. Some videos are dangerously close or already beyond the border of trivialisation of history.

 But we should discuss this not to shame & attack young people whose motivation seem very diverse. It’s an educational challenge.

And a challenge it is.

There is an important distinction to be made between movies and documentaries that exist for the preservation of memory and education – not videos for likes and shares. Although it is not just the Holocaust that is the subject of these TikTok videos (some have “reenacted” what they would imagine being a victim of serial killer, Ted Bundy, or killed in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York must have been like), the Holocaust has become trivialised by many seeking to either compare Coronavirus restrictions to the singling out of Jews for persecution or used to justify flouting mask rules. No; wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a potentially deadly virus and save lives is NOT akin to having to wear a yellow star that labels you as an inferior race!

TikTok is rife with racist, antisemitic content. (Photo credit: Screenshot)

It is more than evident that Holocaust awareness and education is sorely needed. The lessons that we should be learning from one of the grossest examples of man’s inhumanity to man and genocide of the Holocaust is how important it is to educate future generations. As time marches on, so we lose our precious survivors – and firsthand eyewitness accounts.

The onus is on us to ensure that we continue to bear witness by educating responsibly to ensure that genocide is widely understood and that perhaps the worst example of it in human history  – the Holocaust –  is neither trivialised or ever happens again.









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

Remembering Munich

Survivors recall the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

By Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

“They’re all gone”.

They were the words that reverberated around the world. Television viewers across the globe were glued to Jim McKay, who anchored ABC’s coverage of the unfolding terrorist attack in Munich during the 1972 Olympics. The words are seared into our conscience. We can never forget that moment when we heard that 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team had been murdered by Black September terrorists. Germany, once emblematic of painful memories for the Jewish people, had become a place where Jews were targeted for murder yet again.

Proud Presence. The Israeli delegation at the opening ceremony in Munich. (Credit: Agence France-Presse-Getty Images)

On the 5th of September, we will remember how these terrorists first killed two members of the Israeli delegation and held another 9 hostage, until they too, were slaughtered.  Israelis are far too familiar with terrorism, having endured attacks from terror groups since the birth of the modern state; but for it to happen like this on foreign soil, at the Olympic Games, the very essence and symbol of brotherhood and the human spirit, made the pain that much more acute.

Several weeks ago, history was made when the Israeli Airforce entered German airspace for the first time to train with the country’s Luftwaffe.  Apart from practicing complex maneuvers, the premise of the joint exercise was to strengthen ties – and pay tribute to the past. Sharing the commitment to fight antisemitism and declaring “Never Again” the two allied forces flew over the Dachau Concentration Camp in tribute to victims and survivors of the Holocaust as well as those who were murdered on that tragic day in September, 1972.

Yehuda Weinstain has often been called the “Flying Fencer”.  Weinstain was just 17 when he participated in the Olympics as a Fencer.  He recalls the excitement of being in the Olympic Village, sharing the camaraderie with his team, being a bit star struck at seeing the famous athletes and practicing with intense focus. It was the Olympics after all! The Olympics symbolise the best of the sporting world and the very spirit of international goodwill, devoid of the partisan politics that plague global discourse. This was shattered with the attack on the Israeli team.

“Flying Fencer”. Future Israeli pilot, Yehuda Weinstain  was just 17 when he participated in the 1972 Munich Olympics as a Fencer. 

Yehuda Weinstain recalls how it was a twist of fate that saved his life. Having visited the city to acclimate so that when it came to choosing his accommodation, he chose the same room that was in between that of the coaches and other team members. This decision would prove lifesaving.

The sportsmen were assigned a room in a complex with three bedrooms, with two in each room.

Touché. Israeli fencer Yehuda Weinstain (right) scores a hit in a fencing bout in the 1972 Munich Olympics before the massacre.

When the terrorists started their deadly attack, they went to the rooms on either side of Weinstain and roommate, Dan Alon; but not theirs. They heard the shots that killed wrestling coach, Moshe Weinberg. They knew that something horrific had occurred. Weinstain remembers seeing a blood puddle at the place where Weinberg’s body lay as he peered through the window.

“It could’ve been me,” he says, “Because the terrorists, passed by my window twice and didn’t come in. Later on we believed that the terrorists’ omission on our door was a deliberate act by Moshe Weinberg who wanted that the people who will face the terrorists are those, he thought, could resist stronger. So it was my luck”.

Desperate Situation. Held hostage, fencing coach Andre Spitzer (right) and marksmanship coach Kehat Shorr (left) negotiating with the German police.

He recalls making the decision to run to safety. “I ran about seven metres around the corner. It felt longer. I had the feeling that someone could shoot me in the small of my back”, he says. It was Alon’s turn, then some of the others to make the run for safety and he, Weinstain and the remaining survivors were taken to safety by German police and isolated before being sent home to their worried families in Israel.

40 years later (2012) – “The 11th Day” – Munich ’72 massacre survivors.

Yehuda Weinstain, Olympic athlete for Fencing enlisted in the army as is required of Israeli citizens and became Lt Col Weinstain, a combat pilot in the IAF, flying many important missions for the Jewish state.

 His latest mission was addressing the delegation from the IAF that participated in the training exercise in Germany – a poignant and important moment.

As Young fencerAvishay Jakobovich at the Munich Olympic village
Dr Avishay Jakobovich

Dr Avishay Jakobovich was also at those fateful games – albeit in a different role. Host country Germany, wanted to show the world that it had moved forward from its Nazi past and invited all participating countries to send separate delegations  of youth under 21 that would serve as cultural and social Ambassadors. In retrospect, many would criticize the lack of police presence and security. Jakobovich, delighted to be part of the Israeli delegation, remembers the incredible happy and inclusive vibe, with dancing and singing amongst the different global representatives and enjoying the games as a spectator.

Israel’s Young Ambassadors. Avishay Jakobovich (left) as a member of the Israeli youth social ambassador’s delegation to the Munich Olympics.

This was until the massacre of the Israeli coaches and athletes. “We were quickly removed from where we were staying and isolated. I called my parents to let them know I was okay. The hardest parts were when we represented the State of Israel at the main memorial held by the Olympic committee the day after the massacre and accompanying the coffins of the victims and the flight was difficult and emotional, knowing the bodies of those murdered were underneath us, in the belly of the plane. I sat next to Ankie Spitzer, now the widow of Andre Spitzer the Fencing coach. Very hard,” he recalls.

Dr Jakobovich served as Chief Gynaecologist for the IDF and is a leader in his field today.

This and every September, we remember them – the 11 coaches and athletes, slaughtered in their prime in one of the most nefarious and infamous terror attacks in recent history. The recent IAF-Luftwaffe flyover may have been history in the making and a great tribute to remember and heal wounds but it is the message of that auspicious occasion that we take heed of – NEVER AGAIN!

Munich Olympics Opening Ceremony. Israeli Delegation enters the Olympic stadium onr the 26/08/1972 (left). The ceremony (centre). Ending the opening ceremony by freeing pigeons of peace (right).

Murdered in Munich. The 11 Israeli sportsmen killed at the Munich Olympics on the 05/09/1972

Right handed fencer. Co-writer Rolene Marks (L) with the “Flying Fencer” Yehuda Weinstain (R), Sept. 2020


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

An Open Letter to Seth Rogen

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Seth,

I must apologize if I have never heard of you before, but neither being a reader of the tabloids nor a follower of all the fashionable internet podcasts, I had never come across your name until now.

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Relishing in Reviling. Beginning as a lighthearted conversation between two Jewish comedians, Rogen (right) and Marc Maron (left), the talk turned to Israel where Rogen’s disparaging comments sparked an uproar.

Nevertheless, while appearing in the podcast of Marc Maron to plug your latest film, promote yourself and widen your fan base, you held forth and bared your soul to all and sundry on the subject of Judaism and Israel. After reading reports of your words, myself, both being a citizen of and living in this country, I feel that your words are in dire need of an emendatory reply.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process. If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is truly for the preservation of the Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you are trying to preserve all in one place – especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? I am trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that’s the best place…..that’ll do it. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Your message is clear:

You have negated Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people, seeing its purpose as illogical, senseless and useless. Furthermore, in your opinion, since all religion is a baseless mumbo jumbo; Israel has no religious justification for existence at all. Sweeping statements indeed!

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Senseless Seth. Seth Rogen says Israel ‘doesn’t make sense’.

Seth, your ignorance is abysmal, appalling and frightening. You are 38 years old. Have you never read any books? Have you never attempted to broaden your knowledge?  Have you never progressed beyond that of a muddled pre-adolescent?  For a person of your age, I find your mental vacuity simply breathtaking.

Israel has had a Jewish presence for millennia. Towards the end of the 19th century, many young pioneers, identifying themselves primarily as secular and socialists but aware of their heritage, fired with ideals of social justice came to then Palestine from exile; to rebuild a homeland for the Jewish people. With the passing of time, amongst other social organizations, the Histadrut (the Labour Federation) that saw to the rights of the workers and Kupat Cholim (the sick fund or NHS) were founded for the benefit of all the occupants of Palestine irrespective of background or religion. Was all this done for the sake of religion?

Return to Zion has always been a central tenet of Judaism and the Land of Israel features prominently in our prayers. Jerusalem and the Land of Israel is not only part of Jewish history; it plays an integral role in the Hebrew Bible and is an inseparable part of our faith. You choose to view this as antiquated and valueless.

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Voyage of the Damned. Refugees aboard the M.S. St. Louis arriving in Antwerp, Belgium after over a month at sea, during which they were denied entry to Cuba, the USA and Canada. Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Throughout our history (and yours too!), there have been pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, massacres and persecutions of our nation in Christian and Muslim lands. When so many Jews were desperately trying to escape the clutches of Nazism, where were the countries of the world offering them a safe haven? In 1939, the steamship St. Louis with close to a thousand Jewish refugees on board seeking refuge was denied docking rights in many countries and it returned to Germany with its passengers ultimately dying in the concentration camps. Amongst the countries denying them entry was Canada – your birthplace – where a member of parliament stood up to say that letting in one Jew was one Jew too many! Yet, these same countries that denied Jews entry, after the war opened their gates to let in many Nazi collaborators. Canada, your Canada, in the post WW II period, opened its arms to and turned a blind eye to the influx of these criminals. Today Canada boasts the dubious record of having the largest number of memorials to Nazi collaborators.

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“None is Too Many”. The title of this book about Canada’s restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees during the Holocaust is based on an immigration official in 1939 when asked how many Jews would be allowed in Canada after the war replied, “None is too many”. A monument – referred to in the media as the “none is too many” memorial – was displayed in Halifax’s Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to commemorate the liner M.S. St. Louis carrying Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany being blocked from entering Canada. The ship was forced to return to Europe and 254 of the refugees later died in Nazi concentration camps.

With the termination of WW II, there were many Jews who had survived the Holocaust scattered in DP (Displaced Persons) camps throughout Europe, my late parents-in-law being amongst them. Why in these camps? Why didn’t they return to their former homes? The answer is very simple. They had been taken over by others and to assert their property rights was tantamount to asking to be murdered. When my father-in-law returned to Bialystok, his former neighbours made this very clear to him and his example was one of many. Where was the one place they wanted to go to that would be free of post war pogroms and anti-Semitism? You guessed it:  Palestine – shortly to become Israel.

You clearly don’t know it but prior to and after the declaration of the State of Israel, the 850,000 Jews living in the Arab countries were persecuted, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled thus bringing to an end of Jewish presence that had existed for over a thousand years. The Arab countries are now ‘Judenrein‘ – an accomplishment the Nazis would have applauded! The great majority of the refugees found their home and rebuilt their lives in Israel – the country whose existence you find senseless!

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Many peoples have their own ancestral homelands. Do the Jewish people not have the same right, or have you conveniently ignored that fact? Just ponder this:  Had there existed a Jewish state prior to the Second World War, countless lives could have been saved!

Yes, Israel is located in a ‘volatile’ region. It is indeed so, not of our own volition but due to the fact that our neighbours refuse to accept our right to exist. Peace has been signed with Jordan and Egypt albeit a cold one with calls within these countries for our destruction. A Hezbollah controlled Lebanon with its huge arsenal of rockets sends daily threats while Hamas in the Gaza Strip sends incendiary balloons to torch our land. Dear Seth, you with your wisdom and perspicacity, what do you suggest we do? Close shop and move en mass to Canada?

‘And I also think that as a Jewish person, I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that – oh, by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there, oh like the f***g doors open!…. They forgot to include the fact to every young Jewish person.’

Dear Seth, in your settling of accounts, is this all that you can remember about your Jewish education? Have you never progressed beyond that? Any thinking person is inclined to disbelieve that Palestine simply comprised one big vacuum beckoning to be filled by Jewish settlements! It wasn’t the moon! A perfunctory perusal of history books would inform you that there was an Arab presence there too. In 1917 the Jewish population of Jaffa/Tel Aviv was forcefully exiled to some parts that today are in the West Bank,  in 1929 the Jewish population of Hebron was slaughtered,  and in 1936 there were riots in which many Jews were killed. Who carried them out? It wasn’t pixies!

Open Letter to Seth Rogen4
Turbulent Times. US newspapers headline the massacre of Jews during the Arab riots of 1929 when more than 130 Jews were killed in Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere.

Once again, your reasons for Jews supporting Israel: ‘They want to make you feel frightened enough about your own survival to the point that when you are old enough, you will make sure money goes to Israel, and that trees are planted and that you will always speak highly of Israel and Israel will survive no matter what.’

Dear Seth, when Israel comes to your mind, is your sole connotation that of trees? Possibly you can’t see the wood for all the trees? For your elucidation, Israel is a thriving country of 9,000,000 people that in spite of being surrounded by enemies is prospering. Amongst other achievements, it boasts a stable economy, a booming hi-tech industry and is a world leader in agricultural technology. It is the only true democracy in the Middle East; and guarantees religious freedom to all faiths in it. There is a large LGTB community that openly asserts its rights; and members of it serve in our Knesset (Parliament).

Diaspora Jewry openly identifies with the state and supports it. There is an awareness of our security problems – with Iran and its proxies openly preaching genocide against us – and they take pride in the strength and ability of the Israel Defense Forces in protecting its citizens and borders.

I have yet to encounter a Diaspora Jew who has been so brainwashed that his/her knees are perpetually knocking in terror and his/her trembling hands continually writing out cheques for the state! Methinks you are getting carried away by one of your film scenarios!

‘As I get older, I appreciate that religion you know……….it puts you to work and it forces you to do stuff.’

Dear Seth, kindly make up your mind and be consistent. On one hand you say that religion is claptrap and on the other hand praise it for helping you during a period of mourning. Your paucity of vocabulary attests to the shallowness of your thoughts.

‘I remember my dad frankly telling me, People hate Jews. Just be aware of that. They just do.’

Your dad knew what he was talking about. Institutionalized antisemitism was part of life in Canada. There was a quota on Jews entering higher institutes of learning and many clubs and societies restricted their membership. Unfortunately, today in this turbulent time of fear and uncertainty, antisemitism has grown and become a multi headed monster assuming many shapes and forms, the old tropes have taken on different guises and conspiracy theories abound. A Canadian Polish newspaper has printed stories unequivocally stating that Jews have devised and spread the Covid-19 virus in order to profit from it – a modern twist to the medieval accusation of Jews poisoning the wells.

Open Letter to Seth Rogan2
Blame the Jews. The Polish-Canadian newspaper Glos Polski publishes an anti-Semitic tirade suggesting COVID-19 is a creation of “organized Jewry”.

And you Seth, at this heightened period of antisemitism, with your appearance on the podcast, with your self importance, eagerness to self publicize and ingratiate yourself and with your ‘progressive,’ ideas have made yourself the darling of the BDS camp, providing grist to the mill for the detractors and deniers of legitimacy of Israel. Even with your mother twisting your arm, you simply ‘clarified’ your ideas and said some remarks were made in jest. Some jest! Your lack of sensitivity is shocking.

Seth, it appears that as a standup comedian, you spent some lean years before producing your cinematic tour de force: ‘The Pickle Barrel.’  I wish you every success with it. Just do yourself and us all a favour: Before making your next public appearance, buy some books, do some much needed reading, consult with those more learned than you and then think before you open your mouth.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon

Israel

 

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

 

Feature Picture: Sarah Snook and Seth Rogen are husband and wife in the new comedy “An American Pickle.” (Credit –

 

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

 

The Crisis of Zionism

By Alex Ryvchin

When the French playwright Edmond Fleg attended Theodore Herzl’s Third Zionist Congress in Basel he marvelled at the scene. “I looked about me. What Jewish contrasts! A pale-faced Pole with high cheekbones, a German in spectacles, a Russian looking like an angel, a bearded Persian, a clean-shaven American, an Egyptian in a fez, and over there, that black phantom, towering up in his immense caftan, with his fur cap and pale curls falling from his temples.” Fleg saw the sum of Jewish exile in that room. Jews of east and west, religious and secular, wealthy and poor, radical and conservative. A people dispersed to every corner of the globe, just melting a little into their surrounds, adopting local language, custom, dress, before being rudely plucked out and sent onward by Kings and Empresses, warlords and clerics, to new lands and new privations.

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Time to Act. First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The staging of a Zionist assembly in Europe, which unified Jews under the banner of a single idea, had been achieved through a combination of grandeur and old-fashioned community organising. At the First Zionist Congress, also held in Basel, in 1897, Herzl entered the Stadtcasino in black trousers, tails and a white tie, more befitting a matinee of La Traviata than a Jewish communal event. But in the days before, Herzl sat up with students addressing envelopes long into the night.

At that First Congress, the aim of Zionism was expressed as to establish a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel secured under public law. Within this simple declaration stood an almighty mission. The Jews had not had a national home for two millennia. The Land of Israel had since 135 CE been known by another name, had seen multiple empires befall it, and had a meagre Jewish population of 25,000. Moreover, the mass physical return of a scattered and acculturated people to long vanquished lands was something that had never been achieved in human history.

It was this dreamy idealism that gave Zionism a magnetic quality. It animated Jewish youths to throw themselves into community activism and intellectual rumbles out of which organised Zionism grew. It led to the founding of grass-roots Zionist groups like Bilu (House of Jacob, come ye and let us go), whose members travelled from Russia to Palestine and established agricultural settlements. It compelled the likes of Chaim Weizmann to spend his student days in Germany as a member of another Zionist group, the Verein, throwing his humble stipend into sausages and beer while raucously debating Zionism, socialism, nationalism and internationalism in cafes until the wee hours.

And it prompted the writer Israel Zangwill to lambast the Jewish establishment for holding back the progress of Zionism to the detriment of the suffering Jewish masses. Zangwill thundered to the Jewish poor in London’s East End, “we are supposed to pray three times a day for the return of Jerusalem, but, as soon as we say we want to go back, we are accused of blasphemy!”

When this generation of Jewish activists encountered the pamphlets of thinkers like Leon Pinsker and Herzl their minds were instantly seared and permanently changed. How could a vigorous young Jew coming of age in a time of unsparing brutality towards Jews, be unmoved by Pinsker’s illustration of their stateless people wandering the earth as “a ghost-like apparition of a living corpse … living everywhere but nowhere in the correct place?” Or Herzl’s functional oratory that promised, “the Jews who wish for a state will have it. We shall live at last as free people on our own soil and die peacefully in our own homes.”

Not only was Zionism exciting and radical, world events conspired to make it a matter of life and death. Jews were looted, raped and slaughtered across Russia in 1881 and 1905, in Fez in 1912 and in Shiraz in 1910. This turned Zionism from a rising ideal into an urgent humanitarian mission.

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Poetic Warnings. Although Hayim Nachman Bialik’s later writings became more universal in outlook, it was his “In the City of Slaughter” written in response to the Kishinev pogrom that proved such a powerful statement of anguish at the situation of the Jews of Europe.

The Kishinev pogrom of 1903, while comparatively less bloody than some of the others of the time, was chronicled so graphically it caused deep shame in the Jewish world. The poet Hayim Nachman Bialik wrote:

in the dark corners of Kishinev, crouching husbands, bridegrooms and brothers peering through the cracks of their shelters, watching their wives, sisters, daughters writhing beneath their bestial defilers, suffocating in their own blood, their flesh portioned out as booty.”

The New York Times reported:

 “the scenes of horror were beyond description … the streets were piled with corpses and wounded.”

After Kishinev, an editorial of The American Hebrew noted that “American Zionism had come of age,” while a Christian speaker at a Zionist meeting at Cooper Union declared, “all efforts must be made to establish a Jewish commonwealth.” Zionism offered Jews an escape from Kishinev, both physically and psychologically.

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Hunting Season. Jews were the prey as seen in this photograph taken following the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, when 49 Jews were murdered following a ‘blood libel’ against the Jewish community. Here, the victims are laid out wrapped in prayer shawls prior to burial (public domain)

Any doubt about the necessity of Zionism dissipated as the Holocaust descended onto Europe. As David Ben-Gurion noted, “what Zionist propaganda could not do,” being to fully reveal Jewish self-delusion and vulnerability, “disaster has done overnight.”  The surviving Jews, absurdly warehoused in displaced persons camps in Europe several years after the defeat of Nazism, yearned to locate the ruins of their families and rebuild lives away from European antisemitism. “Palestine is definitely and pre-eminently the first choice” for resettlement, Earl Harrison, President Truman’s envoy for refugees, reported.

The creation of Israel in May 1948 did nothing to dim Jewish interest in Zionism. The establishment of the state may have been the practical fulfilment of the Basel vision, but much work remained. There was the immediate defence of the state against invasion, rescue missions for imperilled Jews, the upbuilding of a society, and the pursuit of peace with Arab neighbours once war subsided. In a sense, Zionism became more important as the Jewish world unified behind creating a society worthy of the two millennia intermission.

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Rebirth of a Nation. David Ben-Gurion declaring on the 14 May 1948 the state of Israel with the portrait of Hertzl above.

For diaspora communities, there were governments to be lobbied to achieve recognition of Israel, public opinion to shape, humanitarian aid to raise. Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund and Women’s International Zionist Organization and a kaleidoscope of others weren’t simply folded into the Jewish State in 1948, they redoubled their efforts.

There were trees to plant to cultivate the land, university faculties to endow, lone soldiers to support, victims of terror to assist, millions of Soviet, African and Middle Eastern Jews to rescue and absorb. All of this deepened the investment of diaspora Jews in the Zionist project. No one wanted to miss out on history in the making and if Aliyah was impracticable, membership of Zionist organisations, political activism and fundraising enabled diaspora Jews to be active players in the extraordinary story of Jewish rehabilitation and national rebirth.

For Jews who had either lapsed in their religious observance or, like the vast majority of Soviet emigres, were never religious to begin with, Zionism offered the Jewish communal pride, feelings of belonging, and opportunities for learning and debate, previously only to be found in religion.

A senior Israeli diplomat once told me that Zionism was his religion. It is the sort of comment that would instantly be misconstrued as amounting to worship of settlements or prayers at the altar of Bibi. But I immediately understood what he meant. He was immersed in the story of Zionism, believed with perfect conviction in its justness and necessity, was inspired by it, and compelled to act civically and humanely by its teachings. He wished to convey the wondrous stories of Zionism to his children – Weizmann’s experiments with acetone, Herzl’s awakening at the Dreyfus Trial, the magical moment on 29 November 1947 when Jews worldwide realised they would get their state. This diplomat wanted his children to imbibe these stories as he had, so that they too would grow up connected to their Jewishness, know who they are, remain strong in the face of aggressors, and proud in the knowledge that they belong to a people of vision and fortitude.

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French Injustice. The Dreyfus trial in 1894 known in France as “L’Affaire”, come to symbolise modern injustice and remains a prime example of a conspired miscarriage of justice and antisemitism.

Yet the price of Israel’s incredible success is that the very imperatives that drew Jews to Zionism – state-building, rescue of Jewish communities, urgent defence, are now seemingly gone, meaning there is much less to connect a young Jew of Johannesburg, Sydney or Toronto to a national project playing out on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, currently lacking towering figures and spellbinding moments.

The solution is a deeper understanding of what Zionism means and what it truly represents. Zionism, at its core, has always been about rights. Yes, Zionism sought a national home for the Jewish people. But why? To protect the most fundamental right of all, the right to live. Zionism remains, through its support for a strong Jewish state and its ethos of Jewish self-help, the greatest bulwark against antisemitism. And it was Zionism that attained recognition that the Jews are a people and thus possess the right to self-determination. As Churchill observed, “the Jewish people should know they are in Palestine as of right and not of sufferance.”

History shows that the most basic rights extended to other peoples have to be hard won and vigilantly defended when it comes to the Jews. Zionism represents that bundle of rights that the Jews have secured and will never relinquish. The right to a place of refuge from murderous hatred. The right to a national centre for the preservation and enlargement of Jewish cultural, scholarly and scientific contributions. The right for Jews, like all other nations, to freely determine their own political status.

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The Knesset. After 2000 years of exile and persecution, the Jewish parliament stands proudly in Jerusalem as a functional symbol of Jewish nationhood.

When expressed as the embodiment of Jewish rights, Zionism soars above party politics and the acrimony of policymaking in modern Israel, and it correctly presents anti-Zionism as a campaign to strip Jews of their rights. But if Zionism loses a clear purpose, it will be swept away by more emotionally gratifying offerings, which have the capacity to deliver absolute ruin.

 

 

 

About the writer:

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

No Safe Space for Jew Hate!

By Rolene Marks

It would appear Twitter has an antisemitism problem – and also a penchant for double standards. The social media platform has become a cesspit of antisemitic hatred. In just 280 characters, users are able to communicate some of the most vile invective, conspiracy theories and caricatures. Many of the “twits” who tweet, invariably hide behind avatars or their twitter handles, failing to provide proper profile pictures and names. Cowards.

Over the last few weeks, Twitter has given a tailwind to a new breed of hater – the celebrity. Not content to sit in their mansions and virtue signal on issues ranging from the environment to social justice, it seems that quite a few have decided to parlay their “talent” to Twitter and other social media. Rapper Ice Cube, comedienne Chelsea Handler, football player Desaun Jackson, former America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, and even Madonna (is she still relevant?) have espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric. Some like Nick Cannon, Desaun Jackson and more recently, Ice Cube, have apologized and offered to engage and learn about Judaism. But there are others who have not.

Enter British rapper, Wiley. Born Richard Kylea Cowie Jr, the rapper went on a tirade against Jews that included accusations that would not have been out of place had Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels written them himself. In a rant lasting nearly 24 hours, the hate included comments like “Israel is ours,” you cannot “challenge the Jewish community” without losing your job, the Jews were equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan, and that he was “not antisemitic, I am anti-slippery people.”

“I don’t care about Hitler, I care about black people,” he commented, adding of Jews, “Do you know what these people do to the world?”

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This raised the ire of many, not just the Jewish community. It also brought to light the horrific abuse that Jews are facing online. In the last two weeks, Twitter has faced a barrage of criticism – first for allowing white supremacists to persist with the hashtag  #JewishPrivilege and the second, controversy over the symbol of the Jewish people, the Star of David. The extraordinary activist, Hen Mazzig, led a campaign to take back the hashtag and soon Jews were sharing their agonizing stories of experiencing antisemitism. We then turned it on its head and started celebrating the things we feel makes us proud to be Jewish. This was followed in quick succession by the banning of the Star of David as a “hateful image”. After a massive outcry, Twitter apologized and rectified but the Wiley tweets were just the straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back.

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“Antisemitic? Are u stupid? Do you know what these people do to the world?” British rapper Wiley wrote.

After Wiley’s tirade, Twitter was inundated with complaints and calls to shut his account down. Wiley was banned from Twitter (as well as Instagram and Facebook) for a week. This was not suitable punishment – just a mere slap on the wrist.

This prompted Jewish organisations that were joined of prominent figures and organisations in the United Kingdom and around the world to boycott Twitter and Instagram for 48 hours starting on Monday morning in response to antisemitism on the social media platforms.

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Those taking part in the 48-hour Twitter boycott include MPs David Lammy and Rosena Allin-Khan, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, actor Jason Isaacs, broadcasters Rachel Riley and Maajid Nawaz, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and entrepreneur Lord Sugar. (REUTERS/GETTY IMAGES/BBC)

The boycott was promoted under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate, which participants shared on their social media pages along with an image that called out Twitter’s “inaction on anti-Jewish racism”. Israelis, Americans, Australians and many others took a stand against online hate. What was particularly heartening was to see allies from the Muslim and black communities joining their Jewish brothers and sisters. Lawmakers, celebrities and more also went Twitter radio silent.

The expectation was not to shut down Twitter but to raise awareness and the alarm against growing online Jew hatred. And so far it has succeeded with that mission – and also sent a clear message that when it comes to antisemitism, Jews will no longer be passive. We will shout as loud as we can or sometimes resort to silence – which can be deafening. Sometimes the silent protests achieve the loudest results. Wiley has now been permanently banned from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Jews should not have to resort to protests to raise the alarm against antisemitism. One hopes that Twitter will wake up and realise that they cannot have a double standard either.

The social media platform announced yesterday they had withdrawn a video retweeted by US President Donald Trump in which doctors made allegedly false claims about the coronavirus pandemic, after Facebook took similar action.

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“Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy,” a Twitter spokesperson says, declining to give details on how many people had watched the video.

Like or loathe President Trump, it appears that when the US President tweets, he is sanctioned almost immediately but arch antisemites like Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan and the Iranian Ayatollah Al Khamenei who have tweeted appalling hatred that has included calls for Israel to be eradicated or referred to Jews as “cancers” are allowed.

Words have meaning and consequences. Over the last few years, Jews have been the victims of violence and in a number of cases; hate crime murders. The message was clear – there can be no safe space for Jew hate, no matter how famous you are. We hope that Twitter received the message. Loud and clear.

 

 

 

Feature picture: The Twitter logo superimposed on antisemitic tweets (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/JTA)

 

 

 

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.

 

Hidden Holocaust

 – Journey with the Enemy –

A descendant of victims of the Holocaust and a descendent of its perpetrators team up to unravel the truth of who murdered the Jews of Lithuania

By David. E. Kaplan

Consider the following:

Of the 220,000 Jews that lived in Lithuania when the Nazis invaded on June 22, 1941, 90% would be killed over the ensuing three years  – not in gas chambers – but by “personal murder” – by shooting. And yet, there were less than 1000 Germans in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation!

So who did so much of the killing or more specifically:

What was the extent of Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust?

It is this much avoided and deflected question that set off two intrepid investigators – Dr. Efraim Zuroff,  the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) Chief Nazi Hunter and Director of the SWC’s Israel office and one of Lithuania’s most influential and popular writers and a descendent of Lithuanian persecutors of Jews, Rūta Vanagaité, on a journey of discovery.

The result is their groundbreaking publication:

OUR PEOPLE

Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust

This compelling ‘book of revelations’ traces the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania focusing on the role played by ordinary Lithuanians and exposes the efforts of past and current governments to hide crimes of murder perpetrated by Lithuanians on their fellow citizens. It is the first documented history of Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust based solely on Lithuanian sources.

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Our People. This compelling book traces the quest for the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania.

It focuses on a number of contentious issues, notably:

  • What was the extent of Lithuanian collaboration? Just how many Lithuanians participated in the execution of Jews?
  • Were there murderous attacks against Jews before the Nazis arrived?
  • The efforts by Lithuanians to create a false symmetry between communist and Nazi crimes. There are constantly attempts to glorify those who fought against the Soviets after 1944, despite the fact that these people had participated in the genocide of the Jews

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Tellers of the Truth. Shunned by many in her family and ostracized in her country where the book has been withdrawn from Lithuanian bookstores, Rūta Vanagaitė (right) with co-author, Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff at a public address of their book – ‘Our People – Discovering Lithuanian’s Hidden Holocaust’.

The urgent need to unveil this dark past was all too evident earlier this year in January 2020, when over 200 Israelis, mostly of Lithuanian descent including this writer, braved the freezing cold and rain to protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. The reason for the protest –  to register opposition to a proposed parliamentary resolution declaring:

Lithuania has no responsibility for the murders and extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War because it was occupied by Soviets and then by Nazi Germany.”

The proposed resolution was to absolve Lithuania and Lithuanians of involvement in the Holocaust for the murder of 95% of Jewish citizens because it was occupied successively by Russia and Germany. Should not a nation’s law be there to reveal the truth, not hide it?

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Truth be Told. Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff (left) with Lay Of The land’s David Kaplan (third left) and fellow protestors outside the Lithuanian Embassy on January 24 2020. The banner is addressed to Lithuanian parliament member Gumuliauskas and reads: “No law will wipe away the blood of Jews”

With the message of this protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy being “No One Saved Their Lives, Lets Save The Truth”, the book by  Rūta Vanagaité and Efraim Zuroff – one of the speakers at the Tel Aviv protest – could not come soon enough!

Frustrated with the passage of time of “fewer suspects to bring to justice, the focus,” says Zuroff, “is shifting from prosecution to education.” In other words from the courtroom to the classroom. The monumental material presented by these two brave Holocaust detectives will hopefully impact – if too late for a court of law, at least in the court of public opinion.

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Banning the Truth. Credited with breaking taboos in Lithuanian society about collaboration during World War II, Rūta Vanagaité presents the book ‘Our People’ with co-author top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, February 17, 2016. The Lithuanian publisher has since recalled books. (AFP/Petras Malukas)_

Holocaust Travelogue

The book is unusual in many respects. Firstly, it is the product of a ‘partnership’ rather than a “collaboration – a word that does not contextually resonate well with me,” quipped Zuroff – between the descendants of victims and collaborators. The two investigative writers visited over a period of 40 intense days, dozens of mass murder sites in Lithuania and Belarus, where they interviewed witnesses still living “right next these sites.”

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Murder on their Mind. A group of Jews facing execution in the forests of Siauliai, Lithuania, 26-29.06.1941.  Even before the Germans arrived at the major Jewish settlements, murderous riots perpetrated by the Lithuanians broke out against the Jews and at the encouragement of the Germans, the riots continued and thousands of Jews were murdered.

Exchanges between the cowriters interspersed throughout the book reveal the depth of their motivation in embarking on their journey. In one, Zuroff says, “You can cry from today till doomsday, but it does not change the facts… You know why everyone in Lithuania hates me? Because they know that I am right,” to which Vanagaite responds, “So let me see if you are right or not. Let me face this truth. Let us face it together.”

In this way, the descendant of victims and the descendant of victimizers undertake a joint “journey with the enemy,” in a quest to unearth the unvarnished truth about Lithuania’s Holocaust.

It is also the first book to bring verbatim quotes from those who participated in the shootings – those who actually pulled the triggers!  Having personally visited many of these sites in Lithuania, I recall at the time, noting the close proximity of the mass grave pits to the villages, what the residents must have thought as they watched their neighbours marched out of town followed shortly by the thunderous sounds of gunfire?

As Zuroff notes:

 “There were killing sites where there had been only Lithuanians; other sites where the only Germans present were those photographing the shooting, and then there were locations  where Nazis from Germany and Austria together with Lithuanians carried out the mass executions.”

To understand the mindset of these “ordinary” Lithuanians who pulled the triggers, this 1998 interview of a 28-year-old volunteer to the Lithuanian 12th Battalion that was transported to Belarus in a unit assigned to kill Jews is most revealing. His participation in the slaughter of at least 15,424 in 15 different locations around the country, mostly occurred before the notorious 1942 Wannsee Conference called to coordinate the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

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Killings in Kovno. Crowds gather to view the aftermath of a massacre at Lietukis Garage, where pro-German Lithuanian nationalists killed more than 50 Jewish men. The victims were beaten, hosed, and then murdered with iron bars. Kovno, Lithuania, June 27, 1941.(Dokumentationsarchiv des Oesterreichischen Widerstande)

He describes the procedure:

The local police went through apartments and collected Jews, then herded them onto the square.” The Germans kept back anyone likely to be useful to them, and the rest were marched by the Lithuanian unit, in a column four people wide, to pits already dug beyond the city limits.

They were herded into the pit, laid on the ground, and then we shot them.”

Having slaughtered one batch, they forced the next group to lie down on top of the corpses before firing on them, then the next.

The small children were carried; the others were led. We murdered them all.”

As to the question of the role of the  Germans, this soldier replied:

 “The Germans shot rarely; mostly they used to shoot photographs.”

This type of testimony reinforced by photographs, reveal that in most cases the massacres were carried out by Lithuanians. At times, no Germans were even present!

Equally fascinating was the soldiers reply to the question whether he ever asked himself why these Jews were being shot?

I don’t blame anyone anymore, only God…… for allowing the murder of innocent people. And that’s how I thought about it then as well.”

In other words, God was responsible!

What made this book all the more compelling and authentic was that Zuroff’s partner was a descendant of “the very people we were investigating.”

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Cruel Complicity. A Lithuanian militia in 1941 leads a group of Jews to the site of their execution, at Ponary, near present-day Vilnius, Lithuania.

It is important to understand how this unusual partnership arose:

“The first time I met Rūta Vanagaité,” says Zuroff, “was in 2015. She had a grant to teach non-Jewish Lithuanian students about Judaism and Jewish history. What had motivated her was the discovery shortly before that two of her relatives had been complicit in the Holocaust and she was looking for a way to shed light on her own families dark past – in a way to atone for their sins.”

Growing up in Lithuania, she told Zuroff that she knew nothing about Jews, which prompted her to start a program called “Being a Jew”.  She received a grant from the EU (European Union), to run the programme and to expand it beyond Lithuania to include Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic. As part of the grant, the EU obligated her to run a conference on Holocaust education.  “However, she had no idea who to invite as she had never dealt with the subject before, so she approached some people in Lithuania  who had been dealing with this issue and they said you can invite anyone except two people.”

One of those they all warned her against – was the Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff!

“All Rūta had to hear was whom NOT to invite and she, of course, invited us both.”

A month before the conference, which Zuroff was unable to attend, he needed to visit Lithuania and curious to meet Rūta, he communicated with her and she invited him to speak. This came as a huge surprise. “I had not been invited to speak in Lithuania for 25 years where I am persona non grata there  – not officially but in effect. Anyway, we met, and she told me about her relatives that had participated in persecuting Jews. I was in shock. I had visited Lithuania dozens of times over the years in my efforts to prosecute Nazi Lithuanian collaborators and no-one had ever told me that their families had been involved. Given the huge number of  Lithuanian collaborators,  I’m sure I must have met people who families were involved but they never said a word.”

Here for the first time, Zuroff met someone who not only admitted; but felt the need to do something about it.

Realizing what they were up against, literally a wall resisting the truth, “we realised that it may be better if the message came rather from Rūta than me.  After all, she was Lithuanian, not Jewish with no axe to grind. Me on the other hand, I am a Jew from Jerusalem; with a Brooklyn accent; and a very hated figure in Lithuania. It was a no-brainer, and this is why our book now published in six languages, on the Lithuanian edition  – my name does NOT appear.”

Not that made any difference. While Our People became a best-seller in Lithuania, it has now been removed from its bookstores.

Future Impact

To the question whether other descendants of perpetrators would be encouraged by the book to follow the example of Rūta, Zuroff replies thatIt’s not only what the descendants of perpetrators will do but more a question of what Lithuanian society will do! We hope that the book will create a veritable revolution  in terms of Lithuanians understanding what happened  and coming to terms with the truth.”

And there has been some encouraging signs. “Soon after the book was published, a dedication ceremony to the martyrs of the Holocaust in Moletai in north eastern Lithuania where in the past 50 people would attend, over 3000 people showed up to march from at the site of  the former synagogue destroyed by the Nazis to the site of the mass murder outside the town.”

On the other hand, Lithuania’s most popular writer is paying a price.

Rūta Vanagaité has been harshly treated. During her research,  she questioned an initiative in 2018 to honour one of Lithuanian’s post-WWII anti-Soviet fighters. “She had read his file in the KGB archives and knew his past during the Nazi occupation was questionable.”

The response was swift and vengeful.

Her publisher severed relations with her, removed all her books from bookstores, and they are now stored in a garage in Vilna,” relates Zuroff.

“Originally they said they were going to turn her books into toilet paper,  but she sued to get the books back,  but no bookstore in Lithuania is prepared to stock them.” Clearly, this harassment has backing from above. “The father of Lithuanian independence, Vytautas Landsbergis wrote an op-ed in the country’s most influential and popular website,  basically telling Rūta that now that she has betrayed her country, why does she not go commit suicide.  That was sufficient to convince her  that it was time to leave Lithuania  and today lives much of her time in Israel.”

Holocaust Distortion

Why this book is so important for the future is articulated best by the writers themselves:

“If there is anything that has been learned from the events of the past almost three decades….. when it comes to facing the Holocaust in post-Communist Eastern Europe, lip service is the dominant currency. In that respect, Lithuania is not only an excellent example, but is in fact, the leader of the efforts to elude an honest confrontation with Holocaust history, and in the process rob the Shoah of its justified status as a unique case of genocide. This process is known as Holocaust distortion, not to be confused with the far-better known phenomenon of Holocaust denial. Yet it is those efforts, which have intensified over the past fifteen years; especially since the Baltics were accepted as full members in both the European Union and NATO, which currently pose a particularly dangerous threat to the future of Shoah memory and education, and make this book of unique significance, way beyond Lithuania’s borders.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

The Jewish Double Standard in Action

Evil of One Kind is Denounced, Evil of Another is Given a Pass

By Jake Donnelly

The Jewish double standard was on display this past week in the wake of DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson’s social media posts promoting Louis Farrakhan and erroneously quoting Adolf Hitler. While it appears many people were rightfully taken aback by such blatant antisemitism, the resulting outcry – or lack thereof -was the perfect microcosm to highlight the double standard many Jews, and specifically, American Jews, live with on a daily basis. The Jewish double standard is quite simple:

When Jews see something bad, racist, or evil, they join in the fury and call it out, but when something antisemitic occurs, there is little by way of resulting uproar.

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Posting Online Hate. The Philadelphia Eagles condemned social media posts by DeSean Jackson, the team’s star wide receiver, saying they were “absolutely appalling”.

In the most basic terms – because of the history of Jews – they will almost always call out evil, but they are naive if they expect a reciprocal response.

The “Jackson and Jackson” saga following the almost cultural revolution of the George Floyd murder is the most obvious example of this. When George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, almost everybody agreed that this was a despicable act that needed to be condemned. It was such a heinous act that most people from every walk of life came out and admonished Chauvin and anybody that took part in the incident. And I mean everybody: black, white, Asian, Jews, and even cops said:

This is beyond the pale and something needs to be done.” Something was done  – Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder.

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No Defence For Antisemitism. Initially defending DeSean Jackson posting of antisemitic messages, Stephen Jackson (above) later apologizes – following the furor – for using ‘wrong words’ in his defense.

 

While Floyd’s death is an absolute tragedy, the coming together of all types of Americans was – ironically – something beautiful that emerged out of the ashes. Politicians, corporations, sports teams, schools and athletes all came out with strongly worded messages denouncing the murder. It appeared that everyone agreed – for one of the few times in recent American history – that something evil had occurred, and that this injustice needed to be seriously addressed. Everybody sent out messages and missives because it was so obviously evil.

In the midst of all this, I worried that this communal consensus would only last so long as the victim was black. Once something terrible happened to Jews or an antisemitic incident occurred, this thought of “everybody is on the same page” would disappear. I was too soon proven right!

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Monsey Machete Murderer. Grafton Thomas, the suspect in a stabbing at a Hannukah celebration, leaves Ramapo Town Hall in Airmont, New York, after his arrest in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.Kena Betancur / AFP – Getty Image

In the ‘Jackson and Jackson’ saga, there were some brave voices that spoke out like Steelers lineman Zach Banner, and retired football players Emmanual Acho and Geoff Schwartz. Banner and Acho should be lauded for doing so (I expected it of Schwartz because, well… Schwartz). However, where were all the other voices? What DeSean Jackson wrote and posted and what Stephen Jackson said and doubled down on, were also so beyond the pale it should have appalled everybody. But it did not because there is a Jewish double standard. All those politicians, corporations, teams, schools, athletes and owners, were as silent as an unmarked graveyard on a moonless night.

What is making matters worse is the excuse that so many are readily giving both the Jacksons; mainly, that they were simply “ignorant.” People like Stephen A. Smith are jumping to their defense and claiming they were ignorant and did not know any better. Both DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson are both claiming ignorance and that their words and intentions are being misconstrued. But that is what is so telling; what they both posted and said is so antisemitic it is the equivalent of calling Jews “K—s.” If anybody sad something similar about any other race or religion, nobody would be excusing them of ignorance, especially because these tropes have been around for eons! But this is why the utter lack of response is so disappointingly not surprising; the Jewish double standard is simply a fact of life.

Even such noted and powerful Jews in sports like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft did not say a word even though the Kraft Foundation pledged $1,000,000 to fight “systemic racism a month ago”.  In his defense, Kraft is a mensch who does great for Jews and Israel.

What of the famed NFL McCourty twins,  Devin and Jason, who are also community leaders and speak up on issues and stress to do the right thing? Not a word from them even though their teammate, Julian Edelman, is one of the most outspoken Jews in the NFL.

And what of all those cadre of players – both active and retired – that Robert Kraft takes to Israel every year to inspire Israel football players? Not a word!

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Field of Dreams. New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft (center, blue blazer) with most of the 18 NFL ‘Gold Jackets’ in Israel and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in June, 2017 for Israel’s first full-size American football field, part of the new Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Nor is this some mundane gripe. Jews die over posts and messages like the ones distributed by DeSean and Stephen Jackson. The 2019 Monsey murderer, who stabbed five people at a rabbi’s house in New York state, was a devotee of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement and enjoyed listening to Louis Farrakhan and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. If you care about White Supremacy (and you should), you should also care about Black Supremacist groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Hebrew Israelites. Both White Supremacists and Black Supremacists are as evil as the other and the only thing they agree upon is that Jews are evil.

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Man of his Word. Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan really misses the opportunity in his speeches to include incendiary antisemitic comments and tropes.

If you actually care about ridding evil you are correct to denounce President Trump’s weak response to Charlottesville, but you are also allowing it to prosper if you remain silent to the Jackson posts.

You need to care about evil no matter its source. If you call out heinous crimes and messages because it attacks one race, but then zipper your mouth shut when a different race is attacked, you are revealing to the world your own prejudices and hate. In the words of Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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Hardly Generating Mass Support. A small protest following New York city police’s hate crimes unit saying it was investigating eight antisemitic incidents reported in December, 2019

When evil is directed at the black community, we rightfully speak out. However, when that same evil is directed at the Jewish community, there is silence and that evil spreads, the same way it has spread for millennia.

That is the Jewish double standard and that is why we are seeing an increase in antisemitism yet again.

 

 

 

About the writer:

jake_smiling_teeth copy.jpgJake Donnelly is a broadcast journalist specializing in articles and content about Judaism and Jews in America as well as United States politics, history, and culture. Jake is a graduate of Trinity College (Hartford, CT), where he B.A. in Jewish Studies, and Syracuse University (Newhouse School), where he received his M.S. in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He is a professional play-by-play sports broadcaster specializing in hockey, baseball, basketball. You can find all of his work on his website, JakeDonnelly.com, and reach him on Twitter @JacobDonnelly31.”

 

 

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

Poison Pen

When a cartoon is beyond the pale

A letter to Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) concerning his caricature of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng published in The Daily Maverick on Thursday, 2nd July 2020.

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Jonathan Shapiro,

I have long admired your artistic talents in caricaturing even though I have at times disagreed with their contents and message. Still, we live in an age of democracy and freedom of expression and you and I, like others, have the right to express their views. I now wish to exercise that right and take issue with your scurrilous caricature of the Chief Justice of your country South Africa.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a devout Christian and a respected personage with a long history of fighting for human rights, had actually dared to express his personal beliefs that were anathema to and ran counter to the official oft trumpeted biased anti -Israel mantra of the ANC leadership and you included:  simply calling for a more even handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognizing the validity of the existence of the State of Israel. Had he adopted the well worn official line of vilifying and demonizing the Jewish state, encomiums would have been showered upon him, but with his thoughtful and measured words he had actually rocked the boat and gravy train and in so doing had incurred the opprobrium of and brought the full wrath of the political establishment, its faithful followers and sycophants down on his head.

The age old adage states: “A picture is worth a thousand words!” In your caricature of this august gentleman, you have pulled out all the stops, using all your talent to besmirch and humiliate him.  Firstly, you have resorted to the well-worn sordid trick of mocking and distorting his name with the pejorative “Moegoe Moegoe“ –  making him sound like some bothersome insect while knowing only too well that Moegoe is South African slang for  “a stupid person, coward, or weakling”. Shame on you Jonathan Shapiro!

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Jokes Aside. From Chief Justice to Chief Zionist, Shapiro belittles South Africa’s top legal official.

For his sins of calling for a non-lopsided approach to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, you chose to label the Chief Justice the “Chief Zionist” – a venomous assault on his credibility and objectivity.  Furthermore, he now has the Jerusalem dividing wall like a vise on his head, squeezing his cranium, addling his brain and distorting his vision. If you, Jonathan Shapiro, see Zionism as synonymous with this wall, allow me to enlighten you. Prior to its construction, there was a wave of bombings and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Many innocent men, women and children whose sole crime was being Jewish and living in Israel, were murdered, maimed, disfigured and blinded by terrorists and many families destroyed – many of them by suicide bombers –   coming from the Palestinian Authority that consequently rewarded them for their nefarious deeds by granting the families of theses murderers and “martyrs” a generous monthly pension – the official ‘pay for slay’ policy! The suicide bombers, as promised by their Muslim religious leaders, would get their own special reward by ascending to the great celestial brothel where seventy-two non- menstruating virgins (Did they work in shifts?) were waiting for each one.

Was the wall – a necessary evil – effective?

The answer is a resoundingly positive one as since its construction, the number of terrorist attacks has plummeted and many lives have been saved and much suffering averted. The logic is quite clear: Had there been no terror attacks on Jews, condoned and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, then the dividing wall would not have been necessary.

Now, Jonathan Shapiro, I ask you in the name of moral consistency, why do you not condemn other walls that have been erected? To name a few: Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus and built a wall dividing the island and in its construction caused much suffering to Greek Cypriots who were forcibly evicted from their homes, losing their livelihoods. Egypt built a wall to separate the Gaza Strip from its territory at the cost of destroying many homes of Gaza residents. Have you used your pen to voice your indignation or have you with double standards conveniently ignored them?

In your caricature, you labeled the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) a myth. A myth can be defined as a narrative of fictitious events without any foundation explaining certain phenomenon and that is sometimes used to propagate certain ideologies. You have therefore decided to place the Hebrew Bible in the same category as the Greek myths – entertaining but devoid of any value or truth whatsoever. In other words, you have negated the bedrock of the Jewish faith, its deep connection to the land of Israel and made a mockery of the religion. Many of your cartoons have reinforced this point.

Nevertheless, whilst publicly besmirching the religion you were born into, you have not been averse to using the Jewish community of Cape Town and shamelessly exploiting its services. I believe you chose to send your children to Herzlia, a Jewish Day School and had no qualms in requesting your mother to be placed in Highlands House, a Jewish home for the aged. In saying one thing and doing another, it is pretty clear that moral consistency is not your strong point. That, Jonathan Shapiro, in simple English is called: moral hypocrisy.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat HaSharon

Israel

 

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Happy Days. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (left) with State President Cyril Ramaphosa before South Africa’s governing political party (ANC) called on the speaker of the parliament to censure Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng over him lamenting his country’s lopsided attitude toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

 

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

Hands off our Chief Justice!

A Christian perspective over the furor in South Africa following the Chief Justice expressing understanding and advocating a balance approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict

By Rev Reuben Chapasuka

Following the participation of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein and the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng in a webinar on June 23, moderated by Israel’s English daily, Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief, Yaakov Katz, I was asked in my capacity as a pastor and Executive President of the Cape to Cairo Israel Mission to answer a number of written questions submitted to me by Cape Town’s daily, the Cape Argus for an article. I answered them fully. Clearly the paper was not happy with my answers as it declined to publish.

My concern is that South Africa’s ruling ANC government may move to remove the Chief Justice from his office over his expression of his personal and Christian views of support for both Israel and the Palestinians. I feel that it is important that my voice as a Christian be heard. Believing that all sides should be heard, Lay of the Land has agreed to my request to publish the Cape Argus questions and my answers, appearing hereunder.

Why do you feel Chief Justice Mogoeng was justified in his remarks and why have you have chosen to support it?

“I fully endorse his views because he spoke not from the bench but as a devout South African Christian. There is nothing controversial in what the Chief Justice said. He expressed that South Africa would have greater influence if it adopted a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is a fair comment. I too believe that South Africa can play a meaningful and possibly unique role in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians closer to the table. Some members of the judiciary have also spoken out about their personal convictions concerning the same issue, but they were not subjected to this same condemnation. The problem centers on who is advising the ANC on its diplomatic relations with Israel which by the way, our country still maintains, albeit at a recently downgraded level.

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Poignant Moment. President Cyril Ramaphosa receives the Bible from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng after his inauguration at the Union Buildings in May 2019.

It is ironic that the Chief Justice would have received tremendous praise from these very same vocal critics had he instead chosen to denounce Israel. Clearly his ‘offense’ was not that he was expressing on issues areas outside his legal purview; but that his views upset the #Africa4Palestine crowd and their following in the ANC.

The Chief Justice is not denying Palestinian rights. I am a Christian, a pastor, a husband, a father, a marriage counsellor and also a leader of an organization whose mandate in the continent and beyond the borders of Africa is to proclaim Africa’s biblical connection to the Holy Land. I am familiar with the suffering of people not only in Africa but in countries beyond African borders that have rejected the biblical mandate about the land of Israel in their respective countries.  As it is written in Genesis 12:3, and which the Chief Justice espoused: “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” Therefore, I fully endorse the views of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because he spoke not from his Judicial bench but as a South African Christian, a pastor, a father figure who is passionate to see God blessing this country. Today, some of our children who were born in 1994 did not finish high school. Some of those who finished cannot even read and write. Is that not a curse? And some of those who finished their studies from Universities are not employed to date. Is that not a curse?

Here is a man praying for South Africa, to see South African youth walking with God and enjoying the fruit of the land of their forefathers. What they must do is simple; pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). Hardly a week after the president called for a NationalDay of Prayer for May 31, what where they expecting? Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and South Africa will prosper.

Thus, from my perspective as a clergyman, bound by the biblical mandate, the Chief Justice is entitled to have expressed what he did as a Christian of conscience and in a country that today proudly proclaims the freedom of speech.

As a practicing Christian, Judge Mogoeng’s praying for peace in the Holy Land was not a political statement. It does not mean that he is choosing one side over the other. It means that he hopes for peace in the region. As he said in the past: “I can only love. I love Israel. I love the Jews.  I love the Palestinians. I love everybody. I don’t hate anybody… How can you condemn me for asking God for peace?”

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Standing his Ground. Following several organisations wanting him to withdraw his remarks on Israel and apologise, Chief Justice Mogoeng says “There will be no retraction” and refuses to apologise “for being a Christian”.

What is your response to #Africa4Palestine calling the Chief Justice’s remarks an indictment and disservice to the many Christians in South Africa?

 “Firstly let us note on some of the statements of  Africa4Palestine on the issue:

  • “The Chief Justice conflates the modern political entity, the racist State of Israel that was created in 1948 with the Biblical Land of Israel. In the process he does a disservice to the Palestinian Christians who are descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ.
  • He insults the Christians of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and those who live in Jerusalem, who are currently living under a brutal Israeli occupation – deemed unlawful by South Africa together with most other countries and the UN.”

 Africa4Palestine is a radical anti-Israel lobby that throughout its existence has resorted to every possible distortion of fact in order to demonize and defame the Jewish state and incite hatred against it. This is evident in their latest outrageous claims that today’s Palestinians are descendants of the original Jews, and that Jesus himself was a Palestinian. As such, it is just another racist label against the Jewish people by this self-styled “human rights” group, which in its previous incarnation as BDS-SA was guilty of provoking numerous ugly anti-Semitic incidents.

Africa4Palestine’s views on the State of Israel are devoid of truth, biblically, historically, and also with regard to present reality.

The formation of the modern State of Israel came after the passing on 29 November 1947 of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 with 33 votes in favour and 13 against. Clearly, the nations of the world deemed this action just and there was no hint of racism perceived.

The Chief Justice is absolutely correct as the Biblical Land of Israel and the modern State of Israel are one and the same geographical piece of land, albeit now smaller, parts of which we all know as Judea and Samaria. The name Palestine is fairly new and was only introduced by the Romans when they suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt, a rebellion of the Jews in the Roman province of Judea. This was a third Jewish-Roman war and occurred around 135 CE, a full century after the death of Christ; and further evidence is that the name Palestine does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Through instruments such as the Balfour Declaration and the UN, the Jewish people have been restored to their ancestral land from which they were expelled during Rome’s conquest and occupation. Why is it so difficult for some people who also lost their land through colonial conquests in Africa to empathize with the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral land? We draw strength from this restoration because it is both morally justified and the fulfilment of biblical prophecies as detailed by our prophets including Isaiah and Ezekiel. The presence of Jews in Israel can never be termed an occupation unless we, as Africans, are willing to concede that our historical struggles for self-determination and reclaiming our ancestral land also amount to an occupation.”

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Unmasking Evil. With a PLO keffiyeh covering the entire continent of Africa, this nefarious organisation (formally BDS South Africa) pressurizes governments to take action against Israel.

An Inconvenient Truth

In conclusion, while Israel, like all other countries is not perfect, it does not practice institutionalized racism.

The Bible records that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ were His fellow Jews living in Judea and Samaria; and Gentiles who lived predominantly in the Ancient Near East and as far as modern day Greece, Turkey and Ethiopia. An inconvenient truth is the fact that there are very few Christians left in Jericho and Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus – as they are an oppressed minority in these areas which are administered by the Palestinian Authority. Their populations are rapidly declining. On the other hand, Christians living in Israel are thriving and growing. This contrast of the experiences and destinies of the Christian communities living in the territories administered by the PA with those living in Israel, should speak volumes!

Anyone who wants to witness true democracy and see the true colours of Africa4Palestine you may come with me to Jerusalem after the lockdown. I will be your tour guide.

For the sake of salvation and the social and spiritual emancipation of the youth in Africa, I must state that any and all Bible believing Christians have a duty to speak out against Replacement Theology and the revision of Jewish history in Israel because it seeks to destroy the very foundations of our Christian faith. Perhaps we should not be surprised as Psalm 83:4 foretold that there would come a day when some people would say:

Come, let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With God as our father, we will not allow it.

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Mission not Impossible. Advertising The Jerusalem Post webinar where two religiously devout South Africans, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (left) and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (right) articulated their ‘mission’ of supporting a peaceful Middle East where South Africa could contribute its expertise in conflict resolution.

About the writer

image006 (100).jpgRev Reuben Chapasuka MA.Th (UP) –  Executive President of Cape to Cairo Israel Mission. He is the Rector of Cape to Cairo Christian Academy which is currently in operation in Africa and Madagascar (online Platform) and is a  Senior Pastor at Liberty Christian Fellowship Ministries. 291 Louis Trichardt Street Mayville Pretoria 0084

Email: rchapasuka@gmail.com

 

 

* Title picture: Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein and Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng (photo credit: COURTESY / REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS).

 

 

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

 

 

 

South Africa Hangs in the ‘Balance’

South Africa’s Chief Justice under fire for acting like a judge!

By David E. Kaplan

Should not a country’s Justices – even more notably its Chief Justice – be imbued with the qualities of “open-mindedness”; of willing to hear and consider the views of all sides of a case?

In other words, possessing a mindset that is  “balanced”.

 Law students, long before they ever enter a courtroom are only too familiar with the Latin phrase Audi alteram partem meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing and in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. It is a fundamental principle of legal systems the world over and most certainly in South Africa where I studied and practiced Criminal Law. I quoted it regularly, not so much in court where it was self-evident but in social situations whenever I was ‘accused’ of defending clients who “were obviously guilty”.

I would reply:

Audi alteram partem”.

Everyone deserves a fair hearing.

That same principle to people should apply no less to nations  – and in this case – the State of Israel. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng understands; his ruling ANC government clearly does not.

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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Picture: Puxley Makgatho)

The ANC viciously turned on its Chief Justice following Mogoeng’s recent participation in a webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post where he lamented his government’s “lopsided attitude” toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, adding that “it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.” Mogoeng took part in the webinar along with South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

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The Three Chiefs. (Press on the picture to watch the discussion) South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein with Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz moderating the discussion on Zoom. (Photo credit: screenshot)

The response was quick. The ANC’s National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, said Mogoeng had entered the arena of “political commentary”, which could make him vulnerable to adjudicating on human rights matters in the future.

How so? By exhibiting understanding and exercising balance?

Is this not what one would expect from a judge, particularly from a Chief Justice?

The ANC spokesperson added:

 “It was rather unfortunate for the Chief Justice to state that the ‘South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it’, but then clearly and openly opposes it as a citizen.”

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ANC spokesman Pule Mabe. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Denvor de Wee)

The expectations of a judge relate to law, not to a political party’s policies not yet embodied in law. There is no law in South Africa – not yet at any rate –  that says a person, or a judge cannot express a viewpoint advocating open-mindedness and balance.

Yes, South Africa has “downgraded” its diplomatic relations with Israel, but it was an executive not a legislative “decision” to recall its ambassador. South Africa still runs an office in Tel Aviv that is staffed dealing with bilateral issues between the two countries. It is hoped that full diplomatic relations be resumed sooner rather than later.

Rather than criticize Mogoeng, the honourable Chief Justice should be praised for exercising the characteristics for which he was most likely first appointed.

South African citizens are cognisant that their country has uniquely three capitals – Pretoria the administrative capital, Cape Town the legislative and Bloemfontein the judicial. It is not so much the separation – geographically – of the three cities across the country that is significant but more the metaphor of the ‘separation of powers’ between the three branches of government. Chief Justice Mogoeng was not acting contrary to any law; he was questioning a prevailing controversial policy motivated by the BDS movement that is committed to Israel’s destruction, that he felt was not in his country’s best interests. The Chief Justice’s position is supported by South Africa’s own intent as seen over the years from the days when Nelson Mandela was president.

– How often has South Africa expressed that it would like to be a player in trying to resolve the intractable Israel-Palestine conflict?

– Have I not personally heard each South African ambassador to Israel remark every year on South Africa’s Freedom Day celebrations in Tel Aviv, how South Africa can, with its expertise in conflict resolution, help bring the parties together to try reconciling their differences?

– How often have I heard the response of Israeli politicians welcoming and thanking  South Africa’s offer with the words: “We have so much to learn from your experiences and expertise in conflict resolution.”

Well, you cannot be a player, or expect to be a player, if you are openly one-sided, only criticize one party to the conflict and display little or no understanding of the concerns of the other party to the dispute. This is something a judge would be keenly aware of and this is what Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was expressing when he added at the webinar:

As a citizen of our great country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.”

South Africans should be proud of their Chief Justice for acting like a judge instead of him now being targeted by his government!

Following the webinar, the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has had many an insult hurled at him. According to some, he should “shut up and focus on judgements”, that he “is a disgrace”, “ignorant”, and “should step down”.

On the contrary. Born to a father who was a miner and a mother who was a domestic worker, young Mogoeng became politically active at high school and was briefly suspended for organising a memorial to the victims of the Soweto uprising. Senior Mogoeng knows all about the struggle and the issues involved.

No; he should not “step down”. On the contrary, the people of South Africa should “step up” to support him.

 

 

 

 

 

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