In Every Generation

By Rolene Marks

Jews know too well the dangers of antisemitism as it changes from generation to generation.

We have been raising the alarm for years. Antisemitism has a way of mutating into a different form every couple of decades or so but its roots and bones are always the same – a seething, venomous, irrational hatred of Jews and anything that is seen to be representative of us. Today that alarm is ringing out louder than we have heard for decades.

Over the centuries, this has manifested in accusations of deicide, blood libels and refusal to conform to idolatry or other religious doctrines. Jews have endured exile, auto-da-fé , Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust and the latest iteration – any and all attempts to demonise our nation state, Israel, while applying gross double standards and attempts to call into question its legal, internationally recognized sovereignty.

Every Passover, we Jews gather at our Seder tables and read the ancient passages that have sustained us through generations. One of those passages we read, speaks of how in every generation there are those who rise up to try and destroy us.

We have survived them all.

We are no strangers to manifestations of antisemitism, be they the genteel murmurings of the champagne socialist elite or the outright and sometimes violent actions of the anti-Israel activists. Following the recent flare up between Israel and Hamas that has come to be known as “Operation Guardians of the Wall”, antisemitism seems to have taken on a more insidious iteration.

Unveiling Her Insights! Among the pop stars who waded into the conflict between Israel and Hamas was Singer Halsey who wrote on Twitter: “It is not ‘too complicated to understand’ that brown children are being murdered.”

For many of us, the world seems to have tilted on its axis. The rise of “woke” culture that is centred on identity politics is creating more division than tolerance. While we are having very important and long overdue conversations about race, it seems that this dialogue excludes antisemitism and the results of this exclusion has never been more evident than in the wake of Operation Guardians of the Wall.

Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is seen through the prism of identity politics. Jews and in this case Israelis are seen as white, Ashkenazi of European descent, engaged in a war against the Palestinians who are people of colour. Singer Halsey, evidenced this in the following Tweet.

This seems to be this generation’s manifestation and not only does it display great ignorance of the facts and history but negates the narrative and experience of the many Jews who were expelled from Arab countries, including North Africa and not forgetting the story of Ethiopian Jewry. It excluded the Jews of India and the African continent and the fact that the majority of Israelis are in fact, to use the parlance of the trendy, “people of colour”. Today’s generation is very attracted to social justice issues and this is admirable but the problem lies in their lack of understanding of history and facts. When it comes to understanding the conflict, context is king and facts and nuance matter. One does not become an expert on the Middle East by looking at memes on Instagram or Tweets from celebrities, models, pornstars (I am not joking!) late night talk show hosts and social media influencers desperate to prove their blue-tick social justice credentials.

Israel’s detractors know this too well and realise that placing the conflict against a background of identity politics, while relying on the ignorance of many, is a formula that unfortunately seems to be working well. They use words like “Apartheid” or “colonialists” which are highly emotive as their central accusation against Israel and as a result of this, Hamas with their genocidal intentions are now seen as resistance fighters and the Israeli Defense Forces as the aggressors. A moral equivalence has been drawn and Israel is the only country that has to defend its right to defend itself against attacks on its sovereign territory. History be damned!

I told you the world was topsy turvy and off its axis!

This is also compounded by politics. While Israel enjoys strong bi-partisan support in the United States, the increasingly vocal and acrimonious “Squad” whose trio of vociferous Israel-bashers, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Rashida Tlaib, have displayed an incredible ability to read the room. In other words they understand the power of the language that they use and platforms that their constituents flock to which is social media. These Queens of Identity Politics have a clear agenda and are not afraid to push it and dismiss them as a small but loud minority at your peril. Today’s leaders may not pay as much heed as they should but they are extremely influential amongst the movers, shakers and opinion makers of tomorrow.

Young Israelis Today.  If those anti-Israel celebrities and pop stars visited Israel they would know its Jewish population is a kaleidoscope of complexions, a far cry from the lies and distortions about Israelis they tweet to their millions of adoring followers.
 

Global institutions and mainstream media have also joined the milieu. Hardly a day goes by without the United Nations and its agencies condemning Israel for something and the once venerated global institute is more synonymous these days for institutionalized antisemitism. Where are the resolutions condemning antisemitism that is rife in the streets of cities around the world? Where was the emergency session when convoys of hate rolled through London screaming “Fuck the Jews, rape their women” or when diners were beaten up in Los Angeles and other cities? Silence. Raping Jewish women is not going to “Free Palestine”.

Deafening Silence. Where were those celebrities and pop stars on social media following a convoy of cars on May 16, 2021 adorned with Palestinian flags driving through North London whose occupants were
shouting: ‘F**k the Jews,’ ‘Rape their daughters’ and ‘Free Palestine’. (Photo: Screenshot)

The mainstream media are just as if not more guilty. Fueled by competition for ratings, the “David vs Goliath” narrative with its inference that Israel is the giant to the oppressed Palestinian is contributing to the growing hate on the streets. In fact, we can almost draw a direct line between the narrative portrayed on TV and the rise in vicious antisemitism. I have lost count how many times I have been called a “baby killer” as the result of people being fed a steady media diet of very partisan reporting. Most of the media have skipped over the facts that Hamas awarded Al Jazeera for their coverage of the recent flare up, choosing instead to focus on the razing of the media building that housed Associated Press and Al Jazeera and a fair shake of terrorists hell bent on finding ways to destroy Israel’s Iron Dome system. But of course they didn’t know they were sharing office space with Hamas!

It takes a brave news channel to challenge the narrative these days and thank goodness there are those like Sky News Australia or the newly launched GB News in the UK who are not afraid to go head to head with the wokeratti!

And it doesn’t get more “woke” than the Hollywood elites. Desperate to be seen as committed social justice warriors, everyone from Ellen Barkin (is she still relevant?) to John Oliver and supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid have A LOT to say about Israel. None of it correct. From their sanctimonious perch amongst the mansions and estates of Malibu to Beverly Hills, these faux experts have used their social media platforms to spread dangerously inflammatory rhetoric. Now before we roll our eyes so far back in our heads that we detach our corneas, these schlebs have millions of followers that far outnumber the total amount of Jews on the planet. I do find it vaguely amusing that the Hadid sisters who grew up in the absolute lap of luxury and earn a living wearing next to nothing are suddenly getting in touch with their Palestinian roots. I doubt Hamas take too kindly to Victoria’s Secret models but I could be wrong.

Model Behavior! Male model Anwar Hadid (left), the brother of Palestinian model Bella Hadid, who recently published a host of inciting anti-Israel posts was allegedly caught in a text message exchange, proclaiming he wants Israelis to be “erased from the planet”. Anwar, is seen here with his girlfriend, British pop star Dua Lipa (right), who during the recent Israel Hamas war, posted on Instagram: “The big bad tough guys of the #IDF thoroughly enjoy beating and shooting children”.

So what is the solution? It is quite simple. We have to show up wherever and whenever we can. We have to challenge the hypocrisy and false narrative by sharing the stories of our diverse people and remember our indigenous rights. This is our identity politics. It is sad that we have to politicize our identity but in the narrative war this has become an imperative. In every generation they rise up to try and defeat us. In this generation it is an attack on our very identity and diversity all represented in the existence of our nation state. Israel is a physical manifestation of the ethnic diversity of the Jewish people. We will survive this as we have all the others by being present and proud. One blue tick at a time.



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

A Rabbi and a Self-Hating Jew walk into court with a Newspaper

By Adv. Craig Snoyman

South African Jewry is resilient. They know that their government is vociferously anti-Israel and that when an incident flares up in the Middle East between the Israel and its neighbours, they know to keep their heads down and try and weather the storm.  This time, the captain of the ship was on the starboard, plotting a course to safety and became a target.

Two weeks ago, a three-quarter page article appeared in South Africa’s most widely read national newspaper, the Sunday Times. The headlines blazed:

 “A chief rabbi who is a disgrace to his faith and to human decency.

This prominently placed article was written by a former politician, who is now well past his sell-by date. Once a cabinet minister in the Thabo Mbeki cabinet, his star has faded, but he tries his best to appear news-worthy whenever he can. His sure-safe recipe is knocking Israel or the Jews.  He can do this because he was born a Jew and it’s therefore “acceptable”. It always makes for great conversation when a Jew publicly attacks another Jew, even if the first “Jew” has not an iota of Jewishness, save for the accident of his birth.  This was the situation with our self-hating “Jew”, Ronnie Kasrils. His target was the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, and he could hardly fail!

The Rabbi vs the Rebel. Ronnie Kasrils’ article in the Sunday Times attacking South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein.

Kasrils, who has very publicly renounced his Jewishness, has pooh-poohed the idea that the Jews were chosen by God. He has declared that Jewishness is merely a charade for Jews to hide their racism and their Zionist exclusivity. His article, which he called an open letter to the President, was much of the same.  Many didn’t read past the headline.  It was a sickening headline. In fact it is exceedingly difficult to find a more disturbing headline than this, in any mainstream newspaper anywhere in the free world. It was incredible that a newspaper was prepared to print it. How does one react to big, bold in-your- face print that says – “A chief rabbi who is a disgrace to his faith and to human decency”.

The article itself was filled with the normal vitriol about Israel and the Jews, but it also made an unjustified and unheard-of attack on Rabbi Goldstein. In fact, the last time that I can remember a chief rabbi of South Africa being so viciously attacked was when Rabbi Rabinowitz attacked the Nationalist government for its policy of Apartheid.  It was an uncalled for, ad-hominem attack on the Chief Rabbi  and a rant against many things Israeli or Zionist.  It was an article that had no place in any respectable publication. Kasrils started off his letter by referring to “the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian land” which was “the greatest moral issue of our time”. It only got worse from there.  He referred to the anger at the pain and humiliation inflicted on the Palestinian people, to which was an offence South Africa’s core values of equality, justice and human rights. Clearly, Rabbi Goldstein had no justice or compassion of the hundreds of innocent Palestinians who perished in Israel’s “so-called precision bombing” The Chief Rabbi’s version of “the truth” about Sheikh Jarrah was the same as Apartheid’s eviction policy. Similarly the Chief’s statement that there had been many attempts to create a Palestinian state, was “sheer sophistry”. This was because Israel had colonised Palestine in 1948 and had thereafter engaged in expansion, land theft and ethnic cleansing.  It was the Israeli government that had refused to be a partner for peace, while the Palestinians, even Hamas, “had gone out of their way to consider a two-state solution”. It was the Israelis that had rejected proposals, instead insisting on a Bantustan solution. The Chief Rabbi was “obfuscating” if he suggested otherwise. As for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ rockets, “Goldstein [had] callously ignored the rain of death poured into the world’s most densely populated concentration camp where two million inhabitants have no place to hide.” How can he support a “people that smash a small densely populated territory to smithereens because they sustained 12 deaths?” Kasrils did not forget to refer to the dubious quote of Richard Falk that “Palestinian resistance to occupation is a legally protected right” and that Israel was violating international law. He also scoffed at the Chief Rabbi’s reliance on “a property-dealing God who presented another peoples land to the so-called chosen” which was in stark contrast to the belief of Palestinian Christians and Muslims. He concluded by holding that “numerous devout Jews interpret the Hebrew bible very differently to Goldstein and his ilk. His views are not representative of Jews in general” and that “Goldstein’s utterances contradict the golden rule of all religions to treat others as you wish them to treat you”.

Up to his Neck. No, Ronnie Kasrils is not wearring a tallit (prayer shawl worn by Jews) but a Palestinian keffiyeh.

With the Jewish community in shell-shock, the response came in last week’s Sunday Times. Entitled “Kasrils breached acceptable boundaries of civilised discourse” virtually every leading organisation within the Jewish establishment attached its name to this public rebuke.  A small photo-replica of the original article with the offensive heading was attached to the Jewish establishment’s response (just in case it could have been forgotten).  In defending the Chief, Kasrils was accused of breaching acceptable boundaries, demonising and defaming the state of Israel and vilifying and crassly impugning “the integrity of the chief rabbi, Dr Warren Goldstein, the public face of the Jewish faith community in South Africa” and inflaming race relations in South Africa. Notably, the Chief Rabbi was not a signatory to the article.

Like any Jew, I know some things and I have an opinion on some things. They don’t always overlap. I have an opinion on Kasrils’ conduct (which might not be fit to publish) and I know something about the law of defamation in South Africa. My opinion based on my knowledge of defamation is that he has opened himself up to a massive lawsuit. Kasrils, who has been on the winning side of a defamation case previously, must also be acutely aware of this as well.

The law of defamation in South Africa balances the existence of various conflicting constitutional rights such as the right to privacy and dignity against the right to freedom of expression and political rights. In principle, to succeed in a defamation case one needs to prove the following: 

(1) there is a statement

(2) it has been published 

(3) it concerns that person

(4) it is defamatory

(5) it has injured that person in his reputation.

The test to be applied to decide whether a statement is defamatory is whether the words complained of, are reasonably capable of conveying to the reasonable reader a meaning defamatory of that person. One does not need to prove falsity. The quantification of damages is dependent on reputation and character, standing in the community and the extent of the publication.

The party being sued has a variety of defences at his disposal. The most common defence is that while the statement appears on the face of it (prima facie) defamatory, the words were used in a non-defamatory sense and special circumstances are set out.  Other defences might include (a) the absence of intention to cause harm (this defence is not available to the media) or (b) that it was made in jest or (c) that the words were spoken in sudden anger as a result of provocation (referred to as “Rixa”) or (d) lack of knowledge of wrongfulness or (e) denial of wrongfulness i.e., that the defamation was not wrongful. 

There are also defences that would apply where the statement was made in the discharge of an official duty such as (f) qualified privilege or where it was made in parliament being (g) absolute privilege. For statements appearing in the media, there are two   defences that are invariably raised, viz. (h) truth and public interest and (i) fair comment. 

When one looks at the requirements that the Chief Rabbi would have to prove, then elements (1)-(3) are self-evident. The crux of the case would be – the reasonable person test.  If this is successful then element (5) falls into place. I regard myself as a reasonable person. On a simple reading of the article, I find it to be unacceptably egregious. On a deeper reading of the article, I find it to be irredeemably and grievously reprehensible and having no redeeming merit. Thus, on the Chief Rabbi’s version, I believe that he cannot but succeed.  As the Chief Rabbi is the pre-eminent Jew in South Africa, I believe that he should qualify for the largest sum of damages ever awarded for defamation in South Africa.

Heading to Court. The man Kasrils has accused of as “a disgrace to human decency”, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein speaking at Nelson Mandela’s memorial ceremony on December 10, 2013. (Sky News, YouTube)

Strategically and tactically the response was brilliant. Whether intentionally or by chance (or should I say by fate, as Rabbis don’t believe in chance), with the stroke of a pen, the people of the book  vindicated the Chief Rabbi. The entire upper echelons of the Jewish Community, unquestionably comprising of reasonable people, found the article to be, not only defamatory, but as exceeding the bounds of civil discourse and both vilifying and crassly impugning the chief rabbi’s integrity.  One can’t get a much stronger condemnation of Kasrils’ statement than that. No doubt the Chief has a superior legal team advising him. His father, Ezra Goldstein was one of the sharpest judges on the South African bench and certainly one of the most compassionate.  But the Chief Rabbi, no doubt, has a Greater Hand guiding him. I think the whole Jewish community would derive immense satisfaction in seeing him nail this ###%##   BIG TIME, through the agency of this Greater Hand.

Kasrils, on the other is not without his defences. He has revelled in his article, has not denied a single word of it and his only complaint is that it was not published in its totality. Various defences are immediately ruled out. Having called the Chief Rabbi an obfuscating sophist whose views, and that of his ilk, are not representative of Jews in general, he can hardly be seen to raise a defence of absence of intention to cause insult, or that they were not intended to defame the Chief Rabbi.  The defence of lack of knowledge of unlawfulness is moot. Many of our jurists hold that it is an element of intention. Whether unlawful forms part of intention or not, Kasril’s   statement falls within this larger category.  So Kasrils is left with a choice of two defences: truth and public interest or fair comment. To succeed in the defence of truth and public interest requires proof that both (1) the statement was true and (2) that its publication was to the benefit of the public. Just on a summary of his statement as set out, it is unlikely that he can prove either. Which leaves Kasrils with one defence, that of fair comment. The elements required to be proven for this defence are (1) that it was a comment and not a statement of fact; and (2) that the comment was “fair” (in that it does not exceed certain limits); and (3) the facts commented on were truly stated and (4) the matter was in the public interest. With several facts indisputably incorrect as well as a response from the entire Jewish establishment that Kasrils’ comment breached acceptable boundaries of civilised discourse, it will be difficult for a judge to hold that this defence has any merit either.

Last but not least, the law also provides the Chief Rabbi with a further useful line of attack. Even if Kasrils were able to show circumstances providing a justification for his statement, such a defence should fail, if it can be shown that he intended to injure the Chief Rabbi in his reputation. As my maths teacher used to say: Quod Erat Demonstratum! (Roughly translated: this which has been proved)

In defamation cases like this, not only is the writer of the article sued, but the publisher is as well. There have been cases where even the distributor and the printer of the newspaper have been sued as well. In this case, it would probably be adequate to sue Kasrils and the owners/ publishers of the Sunday Times.

Like all juicy court cases, there is invariably a twist in the tale.  This one is no different. Following this notorious article, Kasrils was interviewed on a Muslim television channel.  He went on record as stating that he was not responsible for the headlines that appeared above his article, that was done by the newspaper itself. It is almost inconceivable that the largest national newspaper, with top-class legal advisors on tap, could have created such a stupefyingly defamatory headline. Our Supreme Court of Appeal has made it abundantly clear that the public media cannot rely on the absence of animus injuriandi to escape liability, (although it may rely on absence of negligence.) If Kasrils is to be believed, not only would it appear that the Sunday Times had been negligent, but it would seem that a case might be made for malevolent premeditation and malice in choosing the headline.  That the Sunday Times first published and then republished the headlines a week later, when the response was published, places it in a very invidious position. Not only has the headline been published twice in hard copy, but these headlines appear around the world in soft copy and remain on record.

No place to hide!

The newspaper’s legal team are going to have their work cut out for them, in the event of defamation litigation being instituted.

I am one of those South Africans who keeps my head down. I am not part of the Jewish establishment. I don’t know what the Chief Rabbi will do. In response to the article, I have bought a Jewish National Fund Certificate so that a tree will be planted in Israel in the name of Ronnie Kasrils.  I really hope that the Chief Rabbi will sue and get the biggest defamation award ever issued in South Africa and then donates it to a Zionist cause in the name of Kasrils. ….and it all has to published in the Sunday Times!



About the author:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO) .

Enough is Enough

For antisemites, enough is never ever enough as the last 2000 years of history attests

By David. E. Kaplan

Puzzled, people frequently ask of the Holocaust:

 “How could Jews allow themselves to walk in their millions to their slaughter?”

So why not puzzled when Jews collectively band together, restore sovereignty in their ancestral homeland after 2000 years of insufferable exile and incessant persecution and finally – DEFEND themselves?

Then the global community reframes the narrative:

Hold it; how can you behave this way?”

In other words – “How dare Jews defend themselves?”

The world is okay with Jews as victim never as victor!

Always lawyered-up to the teeth to ensure compliance with the international rules of war, Israel’s army is also expected to run a constant audit of casualties to comply with an antisemitic prerequisite of “proportionality”.

If even Sartre was baffled when asked in conversation to explain antisemitism, suggesting it defies rational explanation, then one hardly needs to be a philosopher to deduce:

It is less a matter of WHAT JEWS DO and more a matter of WHO JEWS ARE!

Never to be Repeated. Rejected by the world and later to be murdered, Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. St. Louis arriving in Antwerp, Belgium after over a month at sea, during which they were denied entry to Cuba, USA and Canada. (Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Image)

If the world showed scant regard to the over 4000 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel’s civilian population, then a stark reminder of the world’s apathy towards the plight of Jews in times of crisis was brought home this week when reading of the passing of 94-year-old Herbert Karliner in Florida, USA.  He was one of the last survivors of the ill-fated SS St. Louis, which was forced to return to Europe in 1939 after being turned away from Cuba, the United States and Canada with more than 900 Jewish refugees trying to flee Nazi Germany. When the ship returned to Europe, about 250 of the passengers were murdered in the Holocaust, including Karliner’s parents and his two sisters.

We were so close to Miami Beach, I could see it,” Karliner once recalled.

So close!

Voyage of the Dammed. Herbert Karliner (right) with his father on  the ill-fated SS St. Louis, which was forced to return to Europe in 1939 after being turned away from the United States, Cuba and Canada with more than 900 Jewish refugees.

If the fleeing Jews in their desperate crying appeals from the ship’s railings fell on deaf ears of the governments of the USA and Canada – bastions of Western democracy – condemning them to certain death, who can Jews EVER depend on?

The transparently antisemitic attitude towards the plight of the Jew during WWII was chillingly articulated by a senior Canadian immigration official when asked how many Jews should be considered for entry into Canada.

His reply:

None is too many.”

Less publicly blunt but ad idem in sentiment was FDR, for under his wartime presidency, the American door to Jews remained closed. Apart from setting up a “committee” to strike the right pose, suggesting an open door policy – it was just a veneer.

He had hoped – “Let others open their doors’. 

Few did.

At the Évian  Conference convened in July  in 1938 to address the problem of Jewish refugees wishing to flee persecution by Nazi Germany, only ONE nation out of 32 countries represented, the Dominican Republic, agreed to accept 100,000 refugees. Reflecting the opinion of many of the delegations, the Australian representative, T. W. White, offered this explanation:

As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”

“No” To Jewish Rescue. In July 1938, Thomas Walter White, representing Australia at the inter-governmental conference on Jewish refugees held at Évian, France, to discuss the growing numbers of Jewish emigrants seeking to leave Germany and occupied territories said: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of large-scale foreign migration.”

In other words, European Jewry would be a toxic import into the racial purity of Australians.

What has changed today in global attitudes?

The venomous verbal assault on Israel during the latest Gaza war ranging from acting “worse than the Nazis”, “ethnic cleansing”  and “genocide” – all cunningly usurping Holocaust terminology to reframe Israelis as today’s Nazis – to the more nuanced of  acting “disproportionately”, reveal a revival of Jew hatred until recently thought in decline.

Wrong!

If once herded to their deaths like cattle to the slaughter, today the world expects Israel – the home to the largest Jewish population in the world – should let rockets rain upon their civilian populations and NOT respond.

This thinking is insane but this insanity has a name – antisemitism

The antisemitism that gave rise to the industrial ‘death factory’ of Auschwitz did not start with bricks but words, and the words today whether from the Left, the Right and everywhere in-between are what’s giving rise to the alarming rise of antisemitism across the world. It is why the Simon Wiesenthal Center opens its latest weekly newsletter with an alarming” “NEVER AGAIN has become AGAIN and AGAIN…..”  before listing antisemitic attacks around the world. Its hunting season and Jews are once again the prey…..

Auschwitz Album. Look, stare, cry and ask – how and why? Last Moments before the gas chambers.

If Jews through the millennia faced false accusations preceding persecutions and massacres, today it’s Israel facing these false accusations, even from totalitarian dictatorships like the world’s worst human rights abuser North Korea whose Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang released a statement that read:

It is no exaggeration to say that the whole Gaza Strip has turned into a huge human slaughterhouse and a place of massacring children.” Hyping up the hate against the Jewish state with outrageous falsehoods, the statement continues to allege that Israel’s actions are “a crime against humanity” that challenges the future of humankind and is engaged in “state-sponsored terrorism and [the] act of obliterating other nations.”

June 1, 2021
From headlines around the world: Anti-Semitic attacks spread like wildfire in the US… Officials Say Hate Crimes Against Jews Are Growing… Who’s out protecting us?: Spate of anti-Jewish attacks… A Dangerous and Drastic Surge: Rise in Antisemitic Attacks… Germany sees spike in antisemitic crime. Shades of the Shoah. Headline news compiled by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of widespread rampant antisemitism.

Shades of the Shoah. Headline news compiled by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of widespread rampant antisemitism.

Pathetically and predictably climbing onto the proverbial bandwagon, the South African government condemned Israel’s “unjust attacks on civilians in Gaza….” and said the atrocities should be investigated and referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as possible crimes against humanity. 

Israel defends itself against rockets fired at its civilian population from Gaza – a war crime  in international law –  and the world chastises Israel about “proportionality” and “the toxic optics coming out of Gaza”. The problem was that there was “no optics” coming out from  Israel because the global media hardly covered it.
All we see,” says my family and friends in the UK, USA and South Africa, “is what is happening in Gaza.”

Lives Shattered. The “optics” in Israel that rarely appear in the overseas media. An infant’s swing outside the home of the Wolf family in the central Israeli village of Mishmeret, which was destroyed in the early morning hours of March 25, 2019 by a rocket fired from Gaza. (Jack Guez/AFP)

What’s “toxic” is the  media manipulation of the coverage so much so that North Korea and South Africa can be ‘moral’ bedpartners in ganging up against Israel.  Their only partnering is their shared antisemitism!

If one thing is loud and clear from the rampant rise of global antisemitism and revealing reactions to the recent war between Israel and Hamas is that Israel has to do what it has to do to defend Jews – whether in Israel or abroad. Whatever their disparate perspectives on Israel, Jews today throughout the world can walk tall and feel far more secure than their predecessors in the knowledge there is a national homeland with a powerful army. Because of Israel – NEVER AGAIN will Jews be herded onto trains before walking towards their slaughter – NEVER!

The majority of the world’s Jewish population today lives in Israel and its people are not going anywhere come rockets or rebuke!








While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Ghastly in Gaza

That’s life under Hamas

By David E. Kaplan

I no longer feel safe in Gaza,” she sadly lamented and who can blame 26-year-old Rewaa Mershid, who further revealed:

 “I’m looking for ANY opportunity OUTSIDE Gaza.”

If you are thinking the reason for Rewaa’s appeal for ‘wanting out’ is to do with Israel it is quite the opposite  – HAMAS!

Rewaa Mershid is a journalist and one can be excused for thinking

she is in the right place with so much to report on but she says:

I’m a journalist and love journalism, but Gaza isn’t the place for me to continue.”

Hot Seat has become too Hot. Palestinian journalist Rewaa Mershid works at the studio of ZMN FM radio station in Gaza City (Photo: AP)

A reporter for a local radio station in Gaza, Rewaa was filming with a crew near the security fence some two weeks before the 11-day war broke out in May 2021, when a Hamas border patrol arrived on the scene. The ‘offence’ that was playing out to the Hamas officer of the border patrol was not a matter concerning security but that Rewaa NOT wearing a hijab – the religious headscarf worn by religious Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family. Words were exchanged, and the next thing the Hamas patrol officer took the matter into his own hands – literally –  by cutting a branch off a nearby lemon tree and then beat the female reporter three times.

This is Hamas ‘justice’.

Sharing later a medical report of her condition with the public, Rewaa revealed she had “bruises in the lower back and the lower part.”

Rewaa Merchid’s bruising was more than physical.

It was an indictment of life under the ruthless rule of Hamas and Rewaa’s treatment was another example of how women’s rights have so deteriorated since Hamas’ rise to power in 2007. While Hamas is quick to blame Israel  – and Egypt  –  for restricting movement in and out of the territory – refusing to acknowledge the justifiable security concerns – it has no problem itself restricting the movement of its women by enforcing that they require the permission of a male guardian to travel. Although women make up 50% of the population in Gaza, their influence in most fields is generally restricted, and their basic rights are often systematically denied. According to Hamas’ 1988 Charter, the role of women in society was explicitly laid out stating that Muslim women are important in that they “manufacture men….”

In the Field. Physically abused by Hamas, Gazan journalist, Rewaa Mershid, now wants out.

A most enlightening insight and ‘respectful’ recognition, it might explain how a Hamas border patrol office whose duty it is to enforce the law feels entitled to strike three times using a branch of a lemon tree on a woman journalist doing her job. No wonder Rewaa Mershid wants to leave; that is if she receives the permission of a male relative.

And if women have it bad in Gaza under Hamas, the children have it even worse.

No kidding!

Brainwashing and manipulating its people for years, Hamas starts on the young – the very young. What chance do they have? While kids around the world make friends and learn to expand their horizons, the children of Gaza are subjected to Hamas’ oppressive authoritarian rule that deprives them of a childhood and teaches them violence and hatred of Jews and Israel. The ones firing the rockets in 2021 are likely to have attended Hamas’ ‘train-to-kill’ summer camps as kids.

Killer Kids. A young Palestinian girl attacks ‘Israeli soldiers’ with a knife in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

Every year during the summer vacation,  camps for the young children are held throughout the Gaza Strip. They are mostly organized by Hamas. While social activities, sports and entertainment feature at these summer camps, more significantly  the young participants are subjected to radical Islamic Hamas ideological indoctrination and semi-military training, which includes instruction in firing rockets and abducting IDF soldiers.

Training for Tomorrow. Aiming at Jews and Israelis, Hamas summer camps preparing the Palestinian killers of tomorrow.

Looking back at 2016, when  Gaza kids acted in a play in the Strip’s southern city of Khan-Younis about stabbing and killing Israelis, you see young children brandishing toy knives and guns acting out violent scenes. All part of a ‘festival” in the Gaza Strip, these Palestinian youngsters wore military fatigues as they brandished their toy knives and machine guns simulating violence against Israelis.

Gunning for Israel. Young Palestinian boys hold toy guns in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

The event was broadcast on a Hamas television channel dedicated to “culture” (sic).

When Palestinians send their kids to act in these school plays, is it surprising  their kids commit attacks when they mature into adults?

Death to Israel. Undercover and masked, Hamas members prepare incendiary balloons to be launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, May 8, 2021 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Were these the same kids that have been sending over incendiary balloons in recent years destroying thousands of acres of agricultural fields and woodlands as well as death to wildlife and in May 2021, fired over 4000 rockets at Israel’s civilian population?

Probably.

Under Fire. A field burns near Sderot in southern Israel on May 9, 2021 caused by Incendiary balloons from Gaza. (Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council)

The world can make a difference by not pointing blame in the same direction that Hamas is aiming their deadly rockets – at Israel!




Gaza kids put on play about stabbing, killing Israelis





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Sheikh Jarrah – On a wing and a missile

By Craig Snoyman

So why did Hamas fire over 4000 rockets at Israeli cities? 

At the start of the hostilities, the reason was quite confusing. It was because of the Israeli police attacking the people coming from their Ramadan prayers, it was because the Israeli police violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, it was because of the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah, it was because the right-wing Israelis were clashing with Muslims at the Damascus gate, it was because Smotrich had inflamed the situation by visiting Sheikh Jarrah and/or all of the above. Slowly but surely, now that the hostilities are over the scribes are deciding to assign the reason. Sheikh Jarrah wins.

The allegations that police attack innocent prayer-goers is as common as the allegation that dog bites man.  The allegation that Al-Aqsa is being attacked is old hat as is the allegations of Jews attacking Arabs. These are raised periodically and invariably over Ramadan. Smotrich’s conduct is too similar to the debunked Arik Sharon-violence version.  But Sheikh Jarrah remains a live issue! It seems inevitable that there will be more violence over the issue, and it fits very nicely into the “Israel is ethnic- cleansing the Palestinians” mould.

Tension in the Capital. Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood with the city center of Jerusalem in the background.

The Sheikh Jarrah story was not widely known until the start of the hostilities. It revolves around a case that has slowly been wending its way through the Israeli courts for the last forty years and not yet concluded. In 1876, a group of Jews bought the tomb of Simon the Just, the Second Temple High Priest, and the surrounding land. By 1948, there were several hundred Jews living in the area.  This area was captured by the Jordanians in the 1948 War of Independence and taken over by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property.  The Custodian leased the property to various Arab occupiers who paid rent for the property. After the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967, Sheikh Jarrah came under the control of the Israeli Custodian. The Jewish owners put forward their claim of ownership in court and in 1973 were finally successful.  Further litigation followed in the civil domestic courts. (The government was not involved) In 1982, in the magistrates’ court, both parties agreed the Arab occupiers would pay rent to the Jewish owners.  At that stage it was not disputed that the property was owned by Jews.  The Arab occupiers then reneged and failed to pay rent. In 1992, litigation followed seeking payment of rent and prevention of alteration of structures. In February 2021, the Jerusalem District Court, upholding previous decisions, held that the tenants must pay rent or be evicted.  The decision was appealed and is now in the Supreme Court.

Jerusalem under Attack. What began as protests over a matter of residency following failed rental payments and resting with Israel’s Supreme Court, was falsely presented as the  entire Sheikn Jarrah neighnouthood under threat, leading to Hamas in Gaza to fire rockets at Jerusalem beginning the 11-day war. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

In South Africa, and other Western countries, illegal occupiers of property are evicted. I was counsel in the first land invasion case in South Africa. One of the defences that we raised was that some of the occupiers were protected as they had Security of Tenure. They could remain on the property as they had occupied the property for a long duration of time. This same defence was raised in the Sheikh Jarrah case and the occupants were also granted what the Israeli court termed “Protected Tenant Status”. While we were successful on behalf of some of the occupiers, hundreds of other occupiers were evicted. Eviction is never an easy process. In South African cities, difficult evictions are usually farmed out to eviction specialists, known as the “Red Ants” (due to the colour of their overalls).  However, due the volatility of the situation, in our invasion case, the whole area was sealed off by tons of armed policemen and armoured vehicles, to ensure that the eviction process could take place. Considering the political volatility that exists, if the Protected Tenants continue to refuse to pay their rent, they will be evicted. The Israeli equivalent of the “Red Ants” (should something like that exists) would be totally inadequate. Like the South African government, the Israeli government will have to intervene and use organs of state to secure the area to ensure the eviction takes place.

And judging by recent history, the dogs of war are quickly unleashed!

The Sheikh Jarrah case is very clearly a civil case with no national players officially having skin in the game. It also has still not been concluded. It can be easily resolved if payment of rental is made. It may be in the interests of certain players to ensure that it is not and seek to force the eviction on political grounds.  This said, whether the matter is regarded as a civil case or a political one, the Sheikh Jarrah case is not the sort of claim that can rationally justify a war or provide a  reason for an attempted genocide of Israelis.  So, the ex post facto reasoning for Hamas to start firing rockets, is completely fake. However, the consequences were very real and extended across the world.

The extent of violence and pure Jew-hatred (anti-Semitism is not a strong enough word, the original German word of “Judenfresser”- Jew Eater- is far more expressive) that erupted as Hamas was lobbing its missiles at civilian occupied areas, was absolutely astounding.  This, unfortunately, was Hamas’ greatest success.

Many people were shocked that Israeli Arabs came out in violent support of Hamas’ action.  Starting in the mixed city of Lod, a rage of violence flared resulting in at least five synagogues being torched and a school and various shops vandalised. This violent rioting by Israeli Arabs soon spread to other mixed cities such as Jaffa, Ramle and Acre. Should one be surprised? 

In 2000, during the “al-Aqsa intifada”, Arab Israelis marched in the streets chanting, “With our souls and our blood we will redeem Palestine.” Jaffa and Haifa, the showcases of Arab-Jewish coexistence, were rocked by violence and vandalism. Twenty years after the Al Aqsa Intifada, Arab Israelis, with full rights as citizens, and without the concomitant obligations, again chose to support terrorists, rather than their own country. The fears of the right-wing Israeli politicians gave voice to a fifth column in their midst. 

More surprising was the response of the international community. President Biden made it quite clear that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. What exactly does this mean?  That under other circumstances, it doesn’t have that right? That it should normally just lay down and die? Other American politicians were urging sanctions on Israel and the suspension of arm sales. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans joined some of the largest rallies seen in recent years But these rallies were not in support of America’s greatest ally in the Middle East.  They were protesting against Israel, accusing it of war crimes and bombing innocent women and children. The intellectual philosophers of mass media indulged in mortality porn, judging the fairness of the conflict by the number of deaths on each side, calling it proportionality, while having no idea of the concept. These were also the talking-heads screaming that Israel was committing genocide. Israel lost the battle in America hands down! But in front of the eyes of America, the war was transformed from an anti-Israel war to a war against the Jews. There were over 17000 social media messages claiming, “Hitler was right”.  The signs and messages equating Jews with Nazis filled the newspapers and the TV screens, day after day. The virtually illiterate “social influencers” told their millions of followers on social media that “Israelis are child-killers” and “from the river to the sea Palestine shall be free” collectively reaching millions more people than the POTUS has supporters.

The would-be Picassos daubed swastikas and messages of hate on Jewish institutions and synagogues. It also got physical – people eating in restaurants were assaulted because they were Jewish. Gangs of thugs roamed the streets looking to beat up people who looked Jewish. Those who wore outer symbols of their Jewishness, such as ‘kippas’, were hospital cases waiting to happen. Anti-Semitic incidents, not anti-Zionist incidents, rose a staggering 70%. Collective guilt was enforced, with all Jews held liable for the actions of Israel. All of this happened while Israel was defending itself against and degrading the capacity of a terrorist organisation which had fired over four thousand war crimes against it. All of this happened in the Land of the Free – the USA – Israel’s greatest ally!

What went on in Europe may have been surprising but wasn’t unexpected. Europe is widely perceived to have a latent anti-Semitism which is supine, until some sort of incident ignites it. The incident that ignited it this time was the Israel – Hamas conflict. There were one or two pleasant surprises like the Israeli flag flying over the Austrian Chancellery and Chancellor Kurtz’ tweet that “we stand by Israel’s side” together with heart-warming visits by the foreign ministers of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But generally, the position was only slightly worse than what played out in the US. The influx of Muslims into Europe has not resulted in a reduction of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The trending flavour of the week was to re-post anti-Semitic and anti- Zionist messages. It was also open season on “criminals” who had the audacity to walk on the street while Jewish. There was a special bounty on the heads of anyone who looked like a rabbi, with a reward of as many kicks to the designated head, as felt necessary. The Chinese, who hypocritically commented that the USA has no sympathy for the suffering of Muslims, must have been smiling from ear to bank, as every one of the many pro-Hamas rallies abounded with its “Made in China” Palestinian flags. Not for the first time in history, was Europe a dangerous place for Jews. But then, both the Austrian Chancellor and the German Foreign Minister also did utter that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Little was said about the Jews in Europe who were unable to do the same. (Never.!….. Again?)

The response of the openly anti-Israel countries was not unexpected. The calls for war-crimes trials against Israel were all recited from the proverbial hymn book.  South Africa, which also called for war crimes prosecutions, went as far as suggesting that Israel was going to invade Africa! A special Human Rights Council session has called for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” to monitor and report on rights violations in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.  This will no doubt form a permanent addition to its notorious annual agenda Item 7. “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”.  Once again, Israel, objectively rated as democratic and free – and with a better human rights record that 13 of the 15 members on the Council – stands   convicted  by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers.  The charges will follow. The existence of a permanent “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories” remains part of the lynching party.  And then one realises why inane comments like “Israel has the right to defend itself” are so important.

Shoe on the other Foot. In 2016, it was ‘strickly a legal issue in the courts’ when residents at Naruna Estates outside of Cape Town, South Africa say they were being forced out of their homes, reminiscent of the apartheid era. The government said not at all — “they’re just not paying their rent.” (photo:Wendy Almacin)

The most horrifying consequence of the hostilities has been the justification and minimising of Hamas’ war crimes and the renewed de-legitimisation of Israel. As South Africa’s widely respected commentator on the middle east, Naeem Jeena said “So they fired a measly seven missile at Jerusalem” to show their support. So what – that’s OK now? Are seven “little” war crimes now de minimus, too small to concern civilised countries? Other commentators that have issued blanket denials that missiles have been fired from civilian areas (probably because Al-Jazeera and AP never knew this was happening) This, while Hamas issued a declaration that they are exempt from war-crimes, because they are “obliged” to fire from civilian areas. Millions of people have no objection to Human Shields as justifiable weapons of war and vocalise any of their deaths especially of “innocent women and children”. The mendacious excuse that Hamas says that it has to fire rockets at Israel because “it’s the only way that the Palestinians can protect their citizens” has gained currency and is virtually acceptable in the media. Time to remember that not firing rockets helps, too! But look how many people are prepared to accept that the end is shown to justify the means, when neither is justifiable. Rather accept the inanities, than these absurdities.

Responding with Rockets. Latching on to protests in Jerusalem, Hamas unleashes rockets from a civilian area in Gaza aimed at civilian areas in Israel.

The slogan “From the river to the sea” is also in vogue, used by both by politicians and ordinary people. This has translated into any Jew is seen to support Israel and every Jew around the world has become a target. The current homicidal mobs are not interested in which sea is being referred to, so long as they can beat up a Jew. When a convoy of cars can travel unimpeded through the heart of London, with someone shouting though a loud hailer “Kill the Jews, rape their daughters” it is difficult to believe that there is a distinction be anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It was Martin Luther King, in the days before Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, who said “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.” He also said that “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.” Sixty years after his words, in a world full of irrational hate, the recognition of Israel is still being questioned!

The growing verbal and physical harassment of Jews in New York, Miami and Los Angeles by young Muslims is now no different from that seen in Europe.  The license given to them by elected leaders like Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib and Corbin and McDonnell allows them to act with impunity. The genocidal Hamas tunnel rats have performed to loud vocal applause, have lost only a bunch of Gazans, whose deaths have been blamed on the Israelis, and the international community has already stepped up to fund the rebuilding of Gaza.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that they have no reason to change their modus operandi. These morally bankrupt international institutions continue to blame Israel.

But back to Sheikh Jarrah. Even to the most politically naïve, it must be obvious that the Sheikh Jarrah case is subject to political undercurrents and the litigants are being utilised at political pawns.  It would be reasonable to assume that the Arab tenants would far rather have paid the rent, as they initially agreed to do, rather than find themselves in this current situation. There has clearly been political pressure placed on them not to pay.  It is probable that the Palestinian Authority had a hand in ensuring the was no payment in order to embarrass the Israeli government and to allow festering resentment amongst the Palestinians. This manoeuvre was exploited by Hamas claiming that they launched their missile attack against Israel to protect the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. From finding emotional resonance, it morphed quickly into a festering sore then turned into a huge septic wound! Hamas’ claim of ethnic cleansing trumps the PA’s claim of “Judaising Jerusalem”. The PA has been outplayed, but its’ hands are tied. It would desperately like a solution to this impasse that gives no credit to Hamas.

The flag-wavers of the world are no doubt supporting the Hamas version!

Nasty Narrative. A protestor against the evictions in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, raises his placard to the world branding Israel  for “ethnic cleansing”.  [File: Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]

On the other hand, it would be reasonable to assume sure that the owners of the property would far rather have the rent paid, than evict the tenants.  They cannot relish the fact that they will become the face of the picture-posters of Israeli oppression. One cannot be oblivious to the fact that there are Jewish groups who would like nothing more than to have Jews reclaiming property and living in the recaptured and united Jerusalem. The Israeli government, which would probably have liked nothing more than this matter to fade into the background, is obviously being forced into taking a stand. Its hands are also tied.  But the real sympathy and concern must go to the judges of Israel’s Supreme Court, who have to hand down a decision. On the facts, it can logically only come to one conclusion- occupants who have previously agreed that they are lessees and who have admitted that they have not paid rent must be evicted. But the political pressure must be immense, no matter what is said about giving judgement without fear or favour.

The Supreme Court of Israel has given the Attorney General until 8 June to decide whether it wished to become involved in the Sheikh Jarrah case. However, the political pressure, both domestic and international, to prevent the eviction continues to grow. Secretary of State Blinken, on his trip to Israel, warned Israel that America was opposed to the eviction. Heavyweight commentators who should (and probably do) know better, are inflaming the situation by maliciously referring to the evictions as ethnic cleansing (Case in point South Africa’s pre-eminent Muslim political commentator Naeem Jeenah in a debate against Lay Of The Land’s Rolene Marks).  May God protect and guide the judges!

The decision is no longer about Sheikh Jarrah. It’s about irrational Judenfressen in its most ugly, vicious form. Sheikh Jarrah is an excuse to find a socially acceptable way to publicly express Jew-hatred while pretending that the obsessive hatred is justifiable.

As a lawyer, one is taught to look for the win-win scenario and that it is usually better to settle out of court than to run a costly trial that you risk losing. Sheikh Jarrah is one of those cases. While the players may be politically boxed in, everyone else attempting to interfere is not. While I don’t profess to have all the answers, I do see a way forward. The Palestinian Authority can’t be seen to be conceding on the issue. The Israeli government can’t be seen to be dictating to the Court. BUT there are still two options:  eviction or payment.  There is nothing that prevents a third party from paying the outstanding amounts of a debtor.  Surely, one of the international players such as the one which take millions of dollars to Gaza in a suitcase every month, or one of other the countries that have pledged billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza can find some way of paying the owners the money that is due to them and prevent the evictions, which may again set the world on fire.  One knows that there are finer details that would need to be worked out, but if there are negotiators that managed to broker a cease-fire between two implacable enemies, this dispute resolution should be child’s play. If the world sees it necessary to meddle in an Israeli domestic court case, then why not resolve it instead of pouring fuel on the fire?  Are we talking – a million dollars? Two million dollars? Five million dollars? Whatever it is, it’s cheap at the price! 

It used to be said that that there were five degrees of separation between everybody in the world. With the internet, it’s less. So lobby your congress-person, your parliamentarian, your elected representative, the NGO’s and all those other people and organisations that have interfered in the matter, but have not contributed to a solution.

Someone must know somebody who can do something constructive. Get the message out! Let the big-shots get an out of court settlement. These things happen every day.  Get the problem solved before the Supreme Court is obliged to hand down an irrevocable order. This message I send to you on the wings of my prayer.

The alternative is the winged fins of missiles again being launched!





About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

“A Fiery Debate”

From Rockets to Rolene, the war continues in the media as Israel remains under attack

Rolene Marks vs Naeem Jeenah – The showdown on Islam TV.

Lay of the Land co-founder, Rolene Marks was invited on the 27th May 2021 to debate Afro-Middle East Centre head, Naeem Jeenah in a panel discussion ‘AQSA is Calling’ on South Africa’s Islam TV (ITV), a programme featured in South Africa. The decades old adversaries engaged in a discussion that is certain to raise one’s blood pressure.

Following her friendly introduction from Modiin in Israel, where she resides, she was immediately jumped upon by her adversary, Naeem Jeenah, Executive Director Afro-Middle East Centre who said that where Rolene lives is “in violation of international law” and that she: “is talking rubbish”.

That set the tone but what followed soon revealed who really was “talking rubbish”.

Dismissing the over 4000 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel’s civilian populations – a war crime in International Law – Jeenah opened up with the usual lies making the rounds of anti-Semites the world over of falsely and maliciously accusing Jews of behaving like the Nazis, thus suggesting that Jews are perpetrating a “Holocaust” on the Palestinians:

“What Israel is doing in Gaza is what they are doing in Jerusalem – ethic cleansing of the Palestinian people. They want to make it so uncomfortable so they will leave so they can take over entire Palestine. So please don’t come with this nonsense how great humanitarians Israelis are wanting to see development in Gaza. If that was the case, stop  bombing and killing the children of Gaza.” He then went on to promote the only “way forward” was for a binational state – meaning the dismantling of the State of Israel.

With a world gung-ho for 2000 years of exterminating Jews and now set on exterminating its hard-fought for national homeland, Rolene would have none of this.

Watch Rolene Marks vs Naeem Jeenah The showdown on Islam TV:






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Shape of Things to Come

South Africa could help reshape and redefine the Middle East

By  Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Egypt, Washington, the UN and other stakeholders played an important part in bringing about the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a conflict that lasted for 11 days. The truce that was welcomed last Friday was as a result of hardworking advocates for peace from around the world that regrettably did not include from South Africa.

Despite our impressive credentials at reconciliation, my country South Africa continues to miss opportunity after opportunity for helping to bring about peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict and much of the embattled Middle East region.

The Jewish state is frequently labelled “apartheid Israel” by Its detractors who are intentionally spreading disinformation. First and foremost, apartheid was a statutory system of segregation and discrimination on grounds of race used in South Africa before 1994, where our black majority were discriminated against on every level – social, economic and political.

The New Kingmakers? Members of the Arab Joint list seen during a vote on a bill to dissolve the parliament, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on December 12, 2019. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

I am one of few fortunate young South Africans who has visited Israel in the quest for searching for the truth. I visited its parliament, where Arabs sit as members representing their community or Arab constituency. They have the right to fight for the needs of their people and they do.  This was never the case in apartheid South Africa and whatever form of racism there might be in Israel, it is not what we had in South Africa – it is not apartheid and is an afront to those who suffered under apartheid to suggest  any similarity.

It’s a lie that needs to be exposed!

While visiting the city of Ramallah – the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority – I engaged with Palestinians and heard their complaint relating to the land and its allocation and how this adversely affect livelihoods. While this is a serious issue, and needs to be addressed seriously, the BDS movement in South Africa presents such a skewered narrative of the situation to fit with its agenda which is:

not to establish a Palestinian a state but to do away with the Jewish state. Read their statements – it’s there in black and white clear as daylight.

March of Madness. A march against Israel down St Georges Street Cape Town some yeas ago. Note the wording on the banner: “For the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem), machine guns based upon FAITH and ISLAM must be used “ Imam Khomeini. (Photo D.E. Kaplan)

Those understanding the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been calling for a “Two-state solution” – the most practical solution. However attractive it might be in some circles, annihilating Israel is not an option and even for the more nuanced antisemites, Israel cannot be airbrushed away into oblivion. It has a total population today of some 9 million, nearly double the population of Ireland and nearly 2/3 the population of our neighbour, Zimbabwe.

Despite the unrelenting onslaught against Israel through rockets like last week and on the other hand, open-ended vitriol from the UN, NGOs, diplomats, and a biased international media, Israel has not only survived against the odds but outreached to the Arab and Muslim worlds finding acceptance in a region that was once implacably hostile to its very existance.

Apart from Egypt and Jordan that entered into peace agreements with Israel many years ago,  we now see Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco normalizing their relations with the Jewish state, much of it under the aegis of Washington.

South Africa, with its political history could also contribute  to helping reshape, reimagine and redefine the politics in the Middle East especially with regard to the recent tensions that violently erupted between Hamas and Israel. South Africa once proved to the world its talent in conflict resolution and reconciliation and showed an alternative to violence.

Last week was tense as the world was glued to their televisions and media platforms. While there were those calling for a ceasefire, too many were ready to trip over each other to brand Israel as the aggressor. They showed scant regard for the facts that Hamas began be firing rockets at Israel’s capital followed by thousands over the next 11 days all aimed at Israel’s civilian population. However displeased some may be with a court order relating to an eviction notice in east Jerusalem does not give the right to a foreign political entity – Gaza – the right to express its opinion on the issue by launching rockets at Israel’s civilian population across the country!

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Rockets. Rockets launched from Gaza land near communities in the hills outside Jerusalem, hitting a home and knocking out electricity. 

There was no need for this divisive issue to be ‘arbitrated’ through violence which s exactly what Hamas wanted and which South Africa – who should know better – supported. In so doing, South Africa failed to play the necessary role of an “honest broker”, which it could have done with its proven credentials.

South Africa is truly out of step here with US President Joe Biden publicly acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself and affirming Hamas as a terrorist organsation. Hamas is hell-bent in word and deed on the total removal of Israel and its Jewish population. You only have to read the frightening wording in the Hamas’ charter!

The US is joined by the European Union, and others who have identified Hamas as a terror group. It is only South Africa that heaps praise on this organisation and supports its murderous actions.

Clear Understanding. Noting the clear aggressor and who was threatening Israel’s’ civilian population, US president Joe Biden said that the Jewish state had a right to defend itself. (File Photo / REUTERS)

South Africa’s position constrains it from it  effectively tackling the issue.  There has been an occupation of the West Bank including east Jerusalem which many Israelis are not comfortable with. In his book titled Drawing Fire, internationally respected South African journalist, now living in Israel, Benjamin Pogrund wrote: “The settlers have transformed Israel; they have influence in the inner core of government, and they shape profound policy decisions for the future. Many, many millions of Shekels are devoted to them in budgets, both openly and secretly. Their existence has been made possible by military occupation”.

This issue could be pursued through dialogue but with the political divisions between Ramallah and Gaza – between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it is difficult for the Palestinians to have legitimate representatives to effectively pursue their cause. There needs to be one, not multiple leaderships to engage with Israel. This needs to be internally resolved within the Palestinian polity, an issue that South Africa could so easy have offered advice from its own experience of overcoming multi-ethnic diversity.

South Africa Quo Vadis? Has the restorative justice work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shown here circa 1996 and which served as an inspiration been lost forever?

The world needs to support pragmatic policies that acknowledges Israel has a right to exist alongside an independent Palestine. To this end, South Africa could take a more active role in trying to resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict through constructive counsel rather than undermining its potential role as a “peacemaker” by being patently one-sided by issuing government statements solely critical of Israel.

Nothing is achieved by this except devaluing South Africa’s judgement, its image and  undermining its potential for conflict resolution and reconciliation.

South Africa has failed the test so far; will it change course?





About the writer:

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is an independent writer and political critic.

From Zeerust, North West Province, South Africa.

078 9754 182




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

I am a Jew

By Rolene Marks

I am a Jew. I am the daughter of Israel. I am the descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca and Leah.

I am the descendant of the great Kings David, Solomon and Saul.

I am the descendant of the wise Judges, the esteemed prophets.

I am Yael, the warrior. I hope by my actions to live up to Yael, the namesake of the heroine whose Hebrew name I bear.

My language is Hebrew. I may get my grammar wrong but it is the language of my soul. My soul and spirit belong to the land and now the State of Israel.

I am created from this land. I am its fruits. I am its covenant. I am its promise. I am the daughter of Zion, of Jerusalem.

I am bound by the chain of generations to the great sages, the learned Rabbis, the Nobel prize winners. I am the 12 tribes and the 1 tribe.

I carry the dreams of the scattered and the exiled because I am home.

I carry the hopes and the dreams of those who perished in inquisitions, in pogroms, in the Holocaust. I am the living dream of those who wandered the desert, marched through hostile lands to return to Zion.

I am a modern liberation movement, I determine my future. I have Jerusalem in my bones. Today I am hunted, I am vilified and I am abused. But I am not going anywhere for what was in my ancestors is in me.

I too, will survive. I too will be proud. I too will shout my name loud. The bitter words may wound me but will not defeat me. The violence may cut me but will not break me.

I stand strong. I stand proud. I will wear the symbols of my faith and identity with pride and strength. I will pursue peace with all my might but defend myself with all I am. I am a Jew. 






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Israel – The Front Line of Defense

By Rolene Marks

Enough. Forgive me if I sound angry this morning but I am. I have watched these last two weeks as a moral equivalence has been drawn between a democratic, sovereign state and an entity recognised internationally as terrorists. I have watched accusations of genocide being leveled at our army who has embarked on a military campaign with pinpoint precision, where warnings are given to civilians to head to safety instead of Hamas who glory in the death of their civilians because it gets YOUR sympathy.

This same Hamas in whose charter (https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp) is ingrained the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jews and then the Christians. Yes, Christians as well. Israel is your front line of defense! What is happening to the civilians of Gaza is a humanitarian tragedy but it is not a genocide. Harsh as these words may be, genocide is what happened in Syria, including to thousands of Palestinians who were gassed by Assad. And the world remained silent. Genocide is what is happening to Uighur Muslims in concentration camps in China. And the world remains silent. There are no swimsuit models, instagram stars and celebrities racking up social justice credentials for them. The conflict between Israel and her neighbours is decades long and very complex. Understand it before you opine! If you don’t understand, ask us who work in the fields of analysis and politics who do.

In the wake of this current escalation, the conflicts have been imported into the streets of London, Los Angeles, Johannesburg and everywhere in between. 11-year-old accuse Jewish kids of “genocide”, Jewish women are threatened with rape, Jewish men beaten in the streets. We asked ourselves how could the Holocaust have happened? Why did educated, cultured people commit genocide? The fuel that fans the flames of hatred we are witnessing in real time. In the streets. On social media. And by silence. If this offends you, you are welcome to de-friend me. I am a proud Jew, a proud Israeli and a proud Zionist. I wish nothing but peace and dignity for my Palestinian neighbours but they will not attain that under Hamas. My heart hurts for the many displaced. The civilians killed including those when rockets have fallen short of our borders and into Gaza. As reported yesterday a family of 8 was wiped out by Hamas’s rocket. Hamas fired mortars at aid convoys. Ask yourself, is this who you want to support in the name of freeing Palestine? Truth is a casualty of this conflict. The facts themselves are under siege. Israel’s fight is disproportionate – because it is not a fight just for us, it is a fight for anyone who values freedom, democracy and humanity. It is a fight for YOU! You don’t have to choose between supporting Israelis or Palestinians. If you are going to choose sides, choose humanity.



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Dodging Death and Delusion

Israelis dodge rockets while the world media dodges the truth

By David E. Kaplan

Fun-loving, free-thinking, tolerant and vibrant, globally popular Tel Aviv  is known as the “City that never sleeps”.

These days Tel Aviv retains that moniker but for a different reason.

Its citizens, like so much all around Israel, lie awake at night waiting for the shriek of the siren to pierce the air and get them scurrying off to their bomb shelters.

It’s a few minutes after midnight, and following the threat of Hamas to rain terror over Tel Aviv, they follow through on their promise and extend their range to the entire Dan region and so we are in our stairwell in Kfar Saba as there is no time to get to a bomb shelter – six floors below!

No Kidding! Israeli children take shelter in in stairwell of their apartment complex.(photo credit: MAARIV)

You can’t chance a lift and you can’t run down six flights. It’s a death defying dilemma!

We hear the inevitable, and a few minutes after the deafening “Boom-Booms” as Israel’s Iron Domes intercept Hamas’ rockets, I say, “I’m going back inside”, to which I’m wisely-wifely counseled:

No, wait. There may be falling debris.”

Dead right!

The rockets from Gaza may be taken out by the Iron Dome but there remains the danger from falling debris that causes havoc on the ground.

Attesting to this, I then receive a text message from my son in Tel Aviv: “Massive debris just fallen on Florintin, near our apartment.”

Florintin, with its bohemian cafes, laid-back bars with craft beer and live bands and its vendors selling bureka filo pastries and falafel at the famed Levinsky Market, is none of that these days.

What Has Changed? Residents look in shock, after a rocket directly hits a house in Ashkelon, southern Israel, early morning on August 26, 2014. (Flash90/File)

People are playing the Lottery of Life at home!

Further south and five kilometres east of Gaza lies kibbutz Kfar Aza, perennially on the frontlines in the wars with those calling the ‘shots’ in Gaza.

Located only one mile or 1.6 kilometers from the Gaza border, the residents of this farming and industrial community are typically bleary-eyed from waking up to air raid sirens, sending them RUNNING to bomb shelters. The meaning of ‘running’ was made clear when I turned on i24NEWS, and heard a young woman in her early twenties being interviewed.  She said:

 “For the last six days, all I’ve eaten is cereal.”

How come?” asked the interviewer surprised.

Because I don’t want to be caught cooking a meal when the siren goes and have to remember to turn off the gas.”

The interviewer, believing she has grasped the terrifying reality, replies:

“Yes, I understand you only have 15 seconds.”

NO!” corrects the young kibbutz resident:

 “We, at Kfar Aza have only 5 seconds!”

That is 5 seconds to reach safety. Not everyone on Kibbutz Aza over the years has made it in time and sadly rest today in the local cemetery!

Even more deadly than rockets over the short range are the mortars. Firing explosive shells, mortars are aimed at targets which are close thus evading radar detection. No threat to the Israel’s big cities because of their greater distances from Gaza, mortars are a menace to the communities within an 8-10 kilometer range of Gaza.

This Tuesday was just such a horrifying day!

Assault on Ashkelon. A medic carries 8-years-old Eitan Vhnstok at the scene where an apartment building was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on May 11, 2021. (Edi Israel/ Flash90

The Menace of Mortars

With mortars, there is no warning, only death and injury if they strike a target. This happened this Tuesday afternoon, May 18,  when a barrage of 50 mortars were fired from Gaza at the Eshkol Regional Council scoring a direct hit on a packing plant at Moshav Ohad resulted in the killing of two Thai workers and wounding ten others.  That’s how indiscriminate these attacks are – their aim is to kill Jews and ends up killing Thais!

It can just as easily kill Arabs as it did a week earlier when it struck a moving vehicle outside of Lod killing Halil Awad, 52, and his 16-year-old daughter, Nadine.

Another of Tuesday’s mortgage barrage hit the Erez Crossing where it wounded a 19-year-old Israel soldier with shrapnel wounds to his upper body.

However, beyond the twisted remains of the mortar’s casting found on the killing ground was also revealed some twisted irony!

Gaza Strikes Muslims. “Hamas missiles do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” said the mayor of Lod following Arab resident Nadine  Awad (above) being killed in the car with her father Halil Awad from a rocket from Gaza.

The injured Israeli soldier was part of a military unit assisting in transferring humanitarian aid in convoys into the Gaza Strip! Israel had earlier in the day, temporarily reopened both the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza, allowing many truckloads of fuel, medical equipment and animal feed into the enclave, and it was while the crossings were opened – HELPING THE PEOPLE OF GAZA –  that Hamas launched the large mortar barrage across the border, killing the two Thai workers, injuring eight and injuring the Israeli soldier helping the residents of Gaza.

And what should be most noted, especially the selective eyesight of the ICC (International Criminal Court) watchdog was that the Hamas terror cell firing these mortars, were doing so from inside a school in Gaza – a violation of the Rules of Armed Conflict and hence a War Crime.

There is an unspoken military policy in Israel “that quiet would be answered with quiet”, so if the world genuinely wants to help support bringing “quiet” to this war-torn region, stop equating Israel with the genocidal terrorists who ruin more than rule Gaza.  Hamas, which is responsible for the nearly 4000 rockets fired so far, publicly and officially calls for the “extermination of Jews and Christians to the last” and teaches these destructive worldviews as early at kindergarten.

Comforting the Kids. Israeli soldiers from Home Front Command visit families inside a bomb shelter in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on May 18, 2021 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Hardly a calling to engender “quiet”.

In 2017, Yahya Sinwar – Hamas’ present leader in Gaza – reiterated once again that “Hamas will never recognize Israel”.  He declared the terror organization will never disarm, adding:

Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel.”

Could he not be clearer as he was in word  in 2017 as he is in deed in 2021?

Following this war, all future financial support to help Gaza recover, should not be spent underground for Hamas but above ground for the people.

The message is clear and it should be to the world and the United Nations:

Support the Gazan people by not supporting Hamas

Border Crossings. A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck as it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)