What “Woke” Women Want?

By  Rolene Marks

In 2017 a movement was born. The Women’s March sprung to global consciousness with a host of well-coordinated marches in cities across the United State. Decked out with signs, banners and some highly questionable head gear (pussy hats anyone?), it looked like a movement that was poised to take on the important issues facing women today like gender parity, equality and sexual harassment.

You could bet your knitted pussy hat that every “woke” woman wanted to be a part of this. At last there seemed to be a collective voice and the leaders seemed so articulate, the issues were important, and all women could identify and there were celebrities! Lots of them – in questionable headgear.

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March On Washington. Decked out with banners, posters and pink ‘Pussy Hats’, women march to support rights for equality. In 2017 they marched for their first time in Washington, D.C

But then it changed.

It seemed that this noble feminist movement met hatred at the intersection of consciousness and antisemitism. ‘Intersectionality’, which is the latest buzzword in understanding how all aspects of social and political identities discrimination overlap, made its way to the March. It is not necessarily a bad thing because it is important that we examine and look for solutions where issues such as race and gender meet but in an age of rising antisemitism, it seemed that not all hatred were deemed equal.

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Not All Are Equal. Who is “her” and what does “her” support or not support particularly when it comes to Jews and Israel?

At a number of these marches and their offshoots which included the Chicago Dyke March, it became evident that Jewish women who identified as Zionist were effectively not welcome. On this occasion, rainbow flags with a Star of David on them were banned. The reason given was that it the Star of David “looked too much like the Israeli flag” and it was a symbol of “violent nationalism”.

But it was the leadership of the movement that caused the greatest controversy – and concern.

It is important to have allies that support your cause but what happens when your allies are people like Louis Farrakhan?

Three of the original leaders, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez used antisemitic language and blamed Jewish people for exploiting people of colour. They denied this charge but refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a blatantly antisemitic and anti-gay conspiracy theorist with whom Mallory and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour have considerable ties.

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Quite A TIME. Women’s Match organizers Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, and Linda Sarsour attend the TIME 100 Gala on April 25, 2017, in New York. CHARLES SYKES / INVISION / AP

Mallory referred to Farrakhan as the GOAT – Greatest Of All Time.

Accusations of in-fighting, antisemitism and mismanagement of funds, eventually led to all three stepping down as leaders of the Women’s March. However, their replacement was hardly an improvement.

Zahra Billoo – famous for statements like blaming Hamas for firing rockets at (Apartheid) Israel which was like “blaming a woman for punching her rapist”  – was their replacement. Billoo was appointed on a Monday and then quicker than you can say let’s knit a pussy hat, was booted out on the Wednesday.

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March Of Folly. This cartoon captures Zahra Billoo throwing an antisemitic fit. No sooner had Billoo, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) been appointed to replace Linda Sarsour as a board member of the Women’s March, her appointment was cancelled. The Women’s March realized there was no sense replacing an anti-Semite with an even bigger anti-Semite.

Billoo hit out after her firing claiming to have been targeted by an “Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists” as a retaliation for her “support of Palestinian human rights.” She declared that her heart was broken upon seeing the leaders of the Women’s March “casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman.” She defiantly affirmed that she stood by her words, as she had “told the truth.”

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Not all hatreds are equal? Zahra Billoo was fired for antisemitic tweets.  (CAIR).

Just when you thought that their course had been corrected, more shocking news was released early 2020.

It has now come to light that notorious anti-Israel organization, Code Pink, is listed as co-founders of the Women’s March. Code Pink are known for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which is anti-Israel as well as  supporting a nuclear Iran and Hamas. Oh the irony! If they only knew how women were treated by Iran or Hamas……

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True Colours. The Dark Side Of Code Pinker Ariel Gold

Why is this all important?  As movements like the Women’s March, #MeToo and many others that are fighting justifiably so for gender equality are gaining momentum, so too, is global antisemitism.

There is hardly a day that goes by without appalling incidents occurring all over the world, and in the USA alone, antisemitism has risen dramatically – and violently.

Having notorious antisemites on the roster does not bode well for a movement that prides itself on being “woke”.

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Code Pink support a nuclear Iran which has called for the distruction of Israel. (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS / REUTERS)

If the Women’s March wants to regain a sense of credibility when it comes to advocating not just for gender equality for social justice across the board, they need to lead by example and take a stand against antisemitism. Failure to do so is a great injustice to the women’s movement and all who claim to fight for social equality.

Perhaps it is time the “woke” wake up!

 

*Feature Picture: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

Healing Bodies to Healing Relations

Nurses From Gaza Train In Israel

By David E. Kaplan

In the first week of January 2020, five nurses from the Gaza Strip, joined eleven fellow Palestinians from the West Bank who arrived in Israel for four days of intense but innovative medical training.

It was conducted by Israeli physicians through a collaboration between Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR) and the Medical Simulation Center (MSR) at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

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Top Training. Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, the hospital training the Palestinian nurses is one of the finest hospitals in the Middle East, treating over 1,500,000 patients annually from around the world.

The training programme proved a revelation to all sixteen participants, particularly to those from Gaza.  “It’s different than I thought,”  Akram Abu Salah, a nurse from the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post. “The people are very nice. You have Jews and Palestinians working together. It minimizes the gaps between us.”

Clearly, there is no substitute for direct contact as Salah reveals.  “I could not imagine how this country would be or how it works.”

While there has been collaboration between MSR and PHR for a number of years training Palestinian physicians and ambulance drivers, this was the first time that training was extended to nurses.

The sixteen participating nurses learned new practices in the field of primary medicine, focusing on skills they might require in emergency situations such as how to  stop bleeding, intubation  – the placement of a flexible plastic tube into the trachea to maintain an open airway – and chest drains. A special session was held on advanced cardiovascular life support.

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Training To Save Lives. Palestinians, Farid Mustafa from Nablus (left) and Akram Abu Salah from Gaza train on a high-tech mannequin at Sheba Medical Center in central Israel. (photo credit: Marc Sellem)

This ‘life-saving’ training would end each day at 5.00pm whereafter in the evenings, the Palestinians engaged in social activities with their Israeli counterparts.

Four out of five of the Gazan participants had never been outside of the Gaza Strip, so the trip had been quite an experience.

All were amazed by the size of Sheba and the sophisticated training available through MSR.

The 2,400-square-meter Medical Simulation Center was founded in 2001  to lead a nationwide effort to introduce new standards and innovative approaches in health care training and patient-safety education for the benefit of the people of Israel. A press release on the center describes the facility “as a virtual hospital” that “encompasses the whole spectrum of medical simulation modalities – from role-playing actors for communication and clinical-skills training to cutting-edge, computer-driven, full-body mannequins that enable team training for challenging and high risk clinical conditions.”

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Medical Simulation Center (MSR) at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

 

It was “action stations” – close to real live situations. Teamwork is essential. One of the participants carefully placed an oxygen mask on the $100,000 blonde-haired dummy while another started to perform CPR as a third set a pulse oximeter around the dummy’s finger.

Communicating in English to each other, the Palestinian nurses continued to attempt to resuscitate the mannequin, as their Israeli instructor observed them. Minutes later, the “patient” woke up from ‘its’ cardiac arrest – ‘its’ condition stabilized.

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MSR – Simulation of Emergency Department Sheba.

Exposure to this kind of intense and innovative simulated training is invaluable.

Amitai Ziv, the founder and director of the Center for Medical Simulation, said that the courses at the facility aim to allow the health professionals to learn in a safe atmosphere.

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Visionary. Amitai Ziv, the founder and head of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation.

With a third most common cause of death worldwide being medical errors – estimates show 250,000-400,000 people die annually in American hospitals because of them – Ziv, a former pilot in the Israeli Air Force, explains:

The message embedded in the programs here is let us err and reflect on our errors in a safe environment.”

Working Together

“I am very happy for the chance to attend this advanced trauma course. In Gaza, we have plenty of problems, and there is so much we can learn from Israel,” said Abu Salah.

He was clear that the  Gazan Ministry of Healthwants to me to absorb this experience in Israel and bring it back to Gaza.”

Salah reveals that hospitals in Gaza are often understaffed and lack basic necessities and medications, including chemotherapy drugs.

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No Fuel, No Services. An employee of the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza at the Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, when it ran out of fuel. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

However, because of the fluid security situation, it is quite a complicated mission bringing the participants from Gaza into Israel. It takes persistence and perseverance.

Despite advanced application and pre-approval, the Gazan nurses were nevertheless delayed entry for a day for reasons of security.

Abu Salah only received the call at 11 p.m. from the Gazan Ministry of Health the night before he was granted entry and told, “tomorrow, you will travel to Israel.”

He was sleeping when he received the call, “but I packed my bag and prepared to go,” he told local media. “My wife knows I am here, but my extended family does not know. I can only tell them when I get back.”

While Salah said in Israel his visit was supported by the Hamas-run health ministry, he admitted to being unsure how he would be received upon his return and uncertain of the  questions he might be asked by Hamas officials.

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Heartwarming. Together with Israeli instructors, a group of Palestinian nurses from the West Bank and Gaza Strip huddle around a high-tech mannequin that for the sake of the exercise has gone into a cardiac arrest

Going To Gaza

However, its not only Palestinian medical professionals coming to Israel but Israelis professionals traveling to Gaza.

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Professor Raphael Walden. Deputy Director of the Sheba Medical Center, in charge of Risk Management, Quality Assurance and Medical Education and recipient of France’s  “Officier de la legion d’Honneur”.

Israeli president for Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Prof. Rafi Walden, reveals how nearly every month he helps arrange missions of Israeli doctors to Gaza to perform advanced surgery and provide training to Gaza physicians by Israeli experts in the realms of gastroenterology, oncology and more.

It’s appalling,” Walden said of the situation in Gaza. “Just terrible conditions. The main hospital in Gaza has empty shelves; they are missing critical medications. There was a time they did not have the liquid needed to clean the skin before surgery. Everything is missing. It is a real humanitarian disaster there.”

Walden believes that despite the challenges, PHR is creating “a microcosm of goodwill and understanding in this crazy situation of conflict. Beside the medical aspect of the work, another aspect no less important is the opportunity to meet with people and establish common ground. It’s a peace building activity – and a little light and the end of the tunnel.” 

Physicians for Human Rights Israel covered the costs of the programme as well as the attendees’ expenses including hotel rooms, transportation and meals. Ran Goldstein, the executive director of the organization, said the total cost was approximately NIS 90,000 ($26,000).

Ziv explains that while the courses for the Palestinian health participants aims to substantially upgrade their standards of professionalism, there is also the invaluable benefit of building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.

Since Israelis and Palestinians often meet on the killing and battle front, we strongly believe it is important that they meet on the health and education front,” he said, adding that he holds that “professional relationships among human beings can bring about trust and friendliness.”

One 42-year-old nurse from Nablus, Farid Mustafa, said that medicine is a field that transcends political and national divides.

It does not matter who you are — an Israeli or Palestinian, Jew or Muslim, local or foreigner,” he said. “In health, we see and treat everyone as a human being. We take this approach in our interactions with sick persons and our colleagues here and elsewhere.”

Supporting his sentiment, Farid recounted an incident when he had personally provided first aid to Israelis involved in a car crash near Ramallah in the West Bank two years earlier.

I saw that two vehicles had collided. I pulled over to the side of the road and helped them,” he said. “When I did that, the identity of the injured persons made no difference to me. All I saw were people in need of aid.”

So too for Ayman Ibrahaim Amaya, a 43-year-old nurse from Qalqilya , who said he hoped he would be able to return to the Center for Medical Simulation in the future.

This is my first time doing a training in Israel and it has been very beneficial,” he said. “So I wish that it will not be the last.”

Future lives depend that “it will not be the last.”

With the goodwill of people on either side of the divide, it will not be.

לבריאות  and  صحة جيدة (“To health!” in Hebrew and Arabic)

 

A Burning Issue, Doused

Israel ingenuity proves  ‘Light’ Years” ahead with its ‘Light Blade’ laser, ready to counter Gaza’s burning kites and fire balloons

By David E. Kaplan

Having repeatedly tried to devise life-saving responses to counter existential threats from Gaza – most notably the ‘Iron Dome’ that intercepts missiles and sophisticated technology to thwart terror tunnels – next up for Israel inventiveness was a solution to deal with the threat of kites and balloons.

Kites and balloons?

While kites and balloons would conjure up in most parts of the world images of ‘kid’s stuff’, not so in Israel’s Western Negev where for local residents, they are associated with death, devastation and destruction.

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Play With Fire. A battery of young Gazans directing their lethal kites to Israel.

These balloons and kites have caused over eight thousand acres of Israel farmland, forests and nature reserves being reduced to burnt-black swaths across a once verdant landscape.

However, what a difference a year makes in the “Start-up Nation”!

In October 2018, a writer in Ynetnews penned an article titled ‘Kite, Balloon Terrorism Continues Scorching Israel’s Land’.  Lamenting that despite the IDF’s efforts following 100 days of kites and balloons terrorism, which caused massive damage to agricultural produce and destroying Israeli land, the writer noted that “the threat was only increasing.”

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Field Of Fire. An IDF soldier runs in a field near Kibbutz Mefalsim, which was set on fire by balloons from in Gaza. In 2018, the Mefalsim was the first location set ablaze by a fire balloon. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The article further noted that while the IDF was operating a system able to detect and track the balloons and kites, they were however, still “not being intercepted while in the air.”

Rising to the challenge, Israel has come up with an answer.

It was revealed in The Jerusalem Post this past 2019 Christmas Day that  “Israeli security forces have unveiled a new laser-beam system designed to take down incendiary aerial devices which have burned countless acres of land over the past two years as well as drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace.”

Dubbed the ‘Light Blade’, the system was developed by engineers in the private sector along with researchers from Ben Gurion University  of the Negev (BGU) and technological departments within the Israel Police and IDF.

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Blade Runner. Eagle eye ‘Light Blade’ ready to laser any income incendiary balloons or kites.

Trial ‘Balloon’

Successfully tested by the police, it is believed the Light Blade system is the world’s first system to destroy deadly “fire kites and arson balloons”. Not only is this a game-changer to counter the balloon and kite threat from Gaza, trials optimistically further  indicate that the Light Blade would also neutralize armed drones – a threat mostly emanating from Iranian-sponsored terrorists in the north.

The Light Blade is a laser system that looks much like a miniature Iron Dome – the more familiar anti-missile defense system that protects Israel from short-range rocket attack. The Light Blade tracks the suspicious airborne object, locks onto it, and blasts it with a unique laser beam. If the incoming projectile is a balloon loaded with flammable material, it will explode in the air. If it is a drone, its motor will be ZAPPED forcing it to crash.

The result – another major threat to Israel neutralized.

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Taking On Terror. Israel’s new Light Blade laser-defense system set to neutralize the balloon and kite threat from Gaza. (Credit: Israel Police)

The Charge Of The Light Blade

The Light Blade can work night and day and has a two-kilometer (1.2 miles) range. It is also relatively inexpensive to produce which will enable the security forces to equip themselves quickly with a large supply.

The system was developed over the past year by three experts in electro-optics and lasers: Prof. Ami Yeshaya, Dr. Rami Aharoni and Dr. Udi Ben Ami. They established a company called OptiDefense to create the technology, signing a cooperative agreement with the police led by Border Police chief, Yaakov Shabtai.

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Leading Light. Leading the ‘Light Blade’ project, Border Police chief, Yaakov Shabtai.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 News that witnessed a string of tests, the Light Blade passed with flying colors.

The system provides an almost complete response to the threat of balloons and kites and provides an effective and safe solution to the drone threat,” a beaming Shabtai proudly told the network.

Hopefully this will  mean the end of the arson balloon and kite threat that have caused millions of dollars of ecological damage in the south, burning thousands of acres of cropland and forests.

Who knows what new threats may emerge that will forever require Israeli ingenuity to neutralize!

C’est la vie

 

Standing Strong

By Gina Raphael

Almost daily, we receive news of anti-Semitic activity in the United States; whether it is Jews attacked, houses of worship damaged or other forms of hatred. Last week, I came across a company called Offensive Crayons, with a colour they market called Auschwitz Ash. To add further insult, the Company also manufactures an adult colouring book, Little Dictators, featuring Adolf Hitler in a comedic form.

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Being Offensive Has No Bounds. A grey crayon called Auschwitz Ash.

At a time when anti-Semitic activity is at an all-time high, these types of products ignite the flame that encourages hatred by dehumanizing and minimizing the lives of those brutally murdered. This product is not alone. There have been Christmas ornaments and beach towels featuring Auschwitz on them as well. There have been campaigns to have these items removed from Amazon and other retailers.

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Trivializing The Holocaust. A page in in colouring book of Hitler’s mountaintop retreat – Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.

We must be committed to “Standing Strong” against hatred. In a letter to the Company, I explained to them that during the Holocaust, 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. At, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Jews were sent to gas chambers and their bodies cremated in ovens to ASH. More than one million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz alone.

I explained that “Hitler compared Jews to germs. He stated that diseases cannot be controlled unless you destroy their causes.”  Hitler set out to exterminate the Jews across the world and eliminated 2/3 of the Jews in Europe. Featuring Adolph Hitler in a coloring book trivializes the horrors he committed.”

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Sick Society. Draw Hitler using a crayon named ‘Auschwitz Ash’.

 

I was moved by a quote that had relevancy on the topic from Rabbi David Saperstein. “the Holocaust is used as the ultimate benchmark for our generation of the worst atrocity ever committed against one group of people.”

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The book that contains the word JEW 6,000,000 times.

When my husband and I were honored by the Anti-Defamation League several years ago as Humanitarians of the Year, Abe Foxman, the former National Director of the ADL,  gave me a book that I keep in my office to remind me every day of the atrocities committed by the Nazis. It is powerful and incredibly moving.  The book has the word JEW written on each page with 40 columns per page and 120 lines per page. The word JEW is written 4800 times per page and there are 1250 pages in the book. The book contains the word JEW 6,000,000 times, conveying the magnitude of the tragedy. I used this book to explain to the creators of the Company the magnitude of the horrors at hand.

We must stand strong against these types of products. Holocaust distortion is a form of antisemitism, prejudice against or hatred of Jews. Holocaust distorters generally perpetuate long-standing anti-Semitic stereotypes, hateful beliefs that helped lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. Holocaust distortion & misuse undermine the truth and our understanding of history.

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Shaming The Shoah. The damaging impact of these commercial ‘fun’ products have on kids.

 

 

 

About the writer:

Gina RaphaelGina Raphael is as an entrepreneur and business owner in Beverly Hills, CA. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Gina is Chair of  WIZO Los Angeles (Women’s International Zionist Organization), and  Chair Israel Bonds Western Region. She is the mother of three daughters – Danielle Gross (21), Sydney Gross (19) and Mia Gross (10).

Remembering the Forgotten

Former Miss Iraq speaks out at UN about Jewish

refugees

By David E. Kaplan

While focus on the Palestinian refugees of 1948 has remained steadfast, there has been scant global interest of the massive plight of Jewish refugees. There were over 850,000 Jews living in Arab countries and Iran at the time of Israel’s independence. Some scholars even think the number is closer to one million and yet few in the Arab world talk about why Jews suddenly left lands  they had lived in for over  2500 years.

One Muslim Arab who talking about it, is Sarah Idan (Arabic: سارة عيدان‎), an Iraqi beauty queen who represented her country at the Miss Universe pageant in 2017. A self-described “secular Muslim”, Idan received death threats after she posted a selfie with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, and then had her citizenship revoked.

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Peace and Love. Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman (left) and Miss Iraq Sarah Idan pose for a picture at the Miss Universe pageant in 2017. Idan fled Iraq with her family following the fallout after taking a selfie with Miss Gandelsman during the Miss Universe competition which she captioned ‘peace and love’.

On the 4th December 2019, the former Miss Iraq  spoke at the United Nations headquarters in New York City about Jewish refugees from the Middle East “being largely forgotten”, and that there needs to be more awareness of their plight. The UN event was held in coordination with JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), and was attended by ambassadors from around the world and UN officials.

It’s about time,” Idan  told JNS. “That decision should have happened many, many years ago. We always talk about Palestinian refugees and other countries, but we never talk about the Jewish refugees.”

Idan’s native Iraq once boasted a large community of Jews having lived there for over 2600 years.  That came to a tragic and traumatic end with  the exile of 135,000 Jews during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Few outside the Jewish community recall the violent riots known as the Farhud that erupted in June 1941 – mainly in Bagdad – targeting the Jewish population. Dejected soldiers of a failed coup took advantage of a power vacuum and swarmed into Jewish communities together with a bloodthirsty mob, murdering 179 Jews, injuring more than 2,100, and leaving 242 children as orphans. This act of violence was celebrated across the Arab world and in Nazi Germany.

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Revelations About Refugees. Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan speaking in support of Jewish refugees at a Dec. 4, 2019 event at U.N. headquarters in New York. (Photo: Israeli Mission to the United Nations)

Similar tragedies unfolded across Muslim lands over the same period , which Idan was bold enough to speak about  and at the very forum that perennially attacks Israel – the UN.

While familiar with the plight of the Palestinians, it is doubtful that the esteemed diplomatic representatives to the world body are as familiar that in the North African region:

– 259,000 Jews fled from Morocco

– 140,000 from Algeria

-100,000 from Tunisia

– 75,000 from Egypt

– 38,000 from Libya

Or that in the Middle East, apart from the 135,000 Jews exiled from Sarah Idan’s Iraq:

– 55,000 fled from Yemen

– 34,000 from Turkey

– 20,000 from Lebanon

-18,000 from Syria

– 25,000 from Iran

In most of these country there were pogroms resulting in the mass murder of Jews.

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In her speech, Idan, spoke about the history of Iraqi Jewish refugees, the kinship she has always felt for them, and how she could personally relate to the struggles they faced by being expelled from Iraq.

She also spoke about her trip to Israel in 2018, where she met Iraqi Jewish refugees in Jerusalem and connected with them. She said they welcomed her “with open arms and with so much love, even though my country treated them unfairly.”

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The Beauty And The Peace. The two former beauty queens, Sarah Idan (left) and Adar Gandelsman toured Jerusalem together and uploaded a video of themselves in the Holy City. They added the caption “Salam and Shalom” – the Arabic and Hebrew words for “peace”.

When I saw Iraqi government stamps on their passports saying, ‘one-way exit—not allowed to return,’ I started crying,” she said.

“I told them I was utterly ashamed. Not because of dirty politics, which led to the ethnic cleaning of 135,000 Jews from Iraq, but by my own people, who watched this happen and didn’t have the courage nor sympathy to stand with the Jewish community.”

She also stated how antisemitism paved the way for the expulsion of Jews from Iraq.

As an Iraqi, I learned so much from parents and grandparents about how the Jews played a pivotal role in the development of our country. What I always heard from my family was that they had such good hearts, were well educated, respected and loved. Sadly, a 3,000-year chapter of Jewish life in Iraq, along with the larger Middle East and North Africa, came to an abrupt and traumatic end — and much of this is the result of antisemitism.”

The Baghdad-born model and human-rights activist concluded by saying:

 “It is only by recognizing and facing the historical injustice endured by the 1 million Jewish refugees from North Africa and the Middle East that we can move forward to a better place of humility and healing.”

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Food For Thought. Miss Idan went for a tour of Jerusalem before dining at an Iraqi-Jewish restaurant in the city, saying: “I do not believe Iraq and Israel are enemies.”

Correcting The historic Injustice

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon announced that Israel will submit a resolution to formally recognize Jewish refugees from Arab countries. He aims to “put Jewish refugees in the right place in history and change the narrative so in the future, one day, when the issue of the Palestinian refugees will be brought up, we will be able to bring our issues as well.”

The ambassador is all too familiar with the history  as his late father, Joseph Danon had been a Jewish refugee from Egypt who moved to Israel shortly after the establishment of the Jewish state.

During the 1948 War of Independence, thousands of Egyptian Jews were put into internment camps, forced from their jobs, and arrested. Jewish synagogues, homes, and businesses were bombed, and many Jews were killed and wounded. Between 1948 and 1958, more than 35,000 Jews fled Egypt. Danny Danon’s father arrived in 1950.

Like the Iraqis that Idan met in Jerusalem, Joseph Danon was among the 850,000 Jews who were expelled or fled from their homes in Muslim lands during the mid-20th century.

Recognising that Jewish communities existed in Arab countries for more than 2,500 years, Ambassador Danon lamented  that “Every time the U.N. talks about the refugees of Israel’s war of Independence, they speak only of the Palestinian refugees!”

What about the Jewish refugees?

The ambassador emphasized that Jewish refugees should not be forgotten; denying the rights of Jewish refugees and attempting to erase them from the narrative is an antisemitic historic injustice. “We must work to correct the historic injustice that has left the Jewish refugees out of the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

From Iraq With Love

Kudos to Sara Idan in speaking out at the UN despite the threats to her life and those of her family who today live in the USA. She remains undaunted.

When snapping and posting online the first photo with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman at the 2017 pageant in Las Vegas, Idan added the caption:

Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel“.

But some people in Iraq did not see it that way and sent her death threats.

“When I posted the picture, I didn’t think for a second there would be blowback,” she told CNN at the time. “I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary.”

The intimidation did not stop the beauty queen reuniting with   Gandelsman the following year in Israel, when she again posted fresh pictures online. Idan posted a photograph and a video on her Instagram page, with the caption: “Sisters reunion

Despite the pressure from the Miss Iraq organisation, a defiant Idan refused to remove the selfie, and added a follow up post saying:

I would like to apologise to anyone who considered the photo to be offensive to the Palestinian cause as this was not the aim behind the post, it was merely a call to peace and hope for a solution to the crisis.”

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Shuk’ing Experience. Iraq’s representative at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant, Sarah Idan, (left), animatedly engaging with Israelis at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, June 2018. (photo: Hadashot)

Like most visitors to Israel, Idan toured Jerusalem’s famed Mahane Yehuda Market where she was warmly received.

 “It actually felt weird,” she wrote. “The people look like my people. And the city looks like Damascus, like Syria, and I’ve been there, so everything seems familiar to me.”

She believed that “there are a lot of Iraqi people who don’t have a problem with Israel or with the Jewish people. There are a lot of Iraqi people on my side, and I believe they are happy I am here.”

If only the sisterhood developed between the former Miss Israel and Miss Iraq could evolve into  a brotherhood  of their respective countries.

 

 

*Feature Picture: Miss Iraq Sarah Idan—recently designated as an Ambassador for Peace by UN Watch, which invited her to the United Nations—took the floor at the United Nations to support peace with Israel. Following two speeches to the UN’s highest human rights body, the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee reportedly called for her Iraqi citizenship to be revoked, labeling her advocacy a “crime.”

Selling Genocide

By Rolene Marks

Genocide seems to have become a hot commodity these days. For those with discerning but appalling taste, images of Auschwitz can decorate your closet or your home. Fancy an “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will set you free, the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz Death Camp) scatter cushion or even more disgusting, a gas chamber print shower curtain? You can purchase on a variety of e-commerce sites.

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FOR SALE ONLINE. A beach towel

For some reason, companies like Pixel.com, Amazon and Red Bubble, all of whom have featured Auschwitz-themed products, think it is okay to commercialise and commoditize the world’s most notorious death camp which saw amongst others, the wholesale extermination of the Jewish people, including the elderly and children. Over a million people were slaughtered, tortured, had medical experiments inflicted on them and endured hell on earth at this place. Jews were the only group targeted for mass murder.

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Outrageous. Birkenau Death Camp Greeting Cards and Beach Towels

Auschwitz is a monument to the darkest, most traumatic time in our history – not a desirable print for your fall fashion line or the perfect way to accessorise your couch.  Fashion website, Red Bubble thought a pencil skirt or scatter cushions was a fetching way to make a buck. They faced a barrage of outrage and were eventually forced to take it down.

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Where’s The Shame And Sensitivity? Red Bubble faced a barrage of complaints for selling Nazi death camp skirts and cushions online

In the last week, e-commerce giant Amazon was taken to task for selling Christmas ornaments with images of Auschwitz on them. Because nothing says festive season and peace and goodwill to all men like genocide?  You could also order the matching bottle opener.

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FOR SALE ONLINE. A mini-skirt has an image of the chimneys from the Auschwitz Death camp (Picture: AP)

The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland weighed in on the sale of Christmas ornaments and bottle openers calling it disturbing, inappropriate and disrespectful and eventually, Amazon took the offensive products off their site.

With the avalanche of complaints from Jews and people of common sense around the world, one would think that other merchants would have learnt. Is it an act of deliberate provocation, ignorance or just plain bad taste?

When did it become okay to treat the worst genocide in history as a saleable commodity, to be exploited on clothing and home accessories?

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FOR SALE ONLINE. The train lines to death feature on a cushion. (Picture: Twitter)

This week, Pixels.com, a site that facilities the selling of artist’s prints and photographs also jumped in on the profiting off mass murder bandwagon when they advertised the opportunity to but beach towels, phone cases, yoga mats, duvet covers, tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, portable battery chargers and other items on their site.  There was even an image of the gas chambers on a shower curtain. There are barely enough words to express how hurtful and offensive this is.

There is nothing remotely “beachie” about a towel with a death camp on it. There is nothing zen about prisoner barracks on a yoga mat. Only an avalanche of outraged complaints seemed to wake up these pornographers of death.  Inundated with complaints, they eventually removed the offensive articles from their website; but this has not been the first time this site has published these products. It probably won’t be the last.

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FOR SALE ONLINE. A bag features the words ‘Risk of Death’ on it (Picture: Twitter)

A recent study in the USA found that two thirds of millennials can’t identify Auschwitz. It is an absolute imperative that we educate our youth – and these sites. Education first –  before the grossest genocide in human history becomes nothing but an item for sale. Sadly, some experts say that as these e-commerce sites become more automated, this horrible trend may only grow.

We cannot be complacent. I can only imagine the pain of Holocaust survivors when they see that their grief, their pain, their torture is for sale and we need to speak up for them. We need to act for those who perished who have no voice. Our message has to be clear.

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Contrary To Christmas. For sale on Amazon was this Christmas ornament featuring Auschwitz. A list of Christmas ornaments, including bottle openers, were later removed following complaints.(Amazon/via JTA)

Our pain, our loss is not for sale. Our trauma, our lost loved ones are not for your profit margins.

Genocide is not a profitable commodity – no matter how you accessorise it.

 

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Selling Shame. Auschwitz museum shames fashion website selling Nazi death camp skirts

The new Normal?

By Rolene Marks

There is barely a day that goes by without some iteration of antisemitism rearing its ugly head, somewhere around the world. In every guise you can image – the desecration of graves in Jewish cemeteries, shootings in synagogues, the alt-right, the ultra-left, campus activism, venomous slurs directed at children, rabbis beaten in the street, the new phenomenon of political antisemitism – you name it, this hatred has manifested.

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Antisemitism is at a record high and it seems that no corner of the globe is immune. The message seems to be clear – it is open season on attacking Jews – verbally and sometimes physically.

Antisemitism is often referred to as the “oldest hatred” and it metastasizes quickly and in various forms. This ancient hatred has the uncanny ability to adapt to changing times and political climates. It seems that in this age of global uncertainty; where identity politics is becoming more and more prevalent; if you have a divergent opinion you could be “cancelled”, Jews once again, are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine.

In parts of the world where it was taken for granted that the vile tentacles of antisemitism would not reach, this is no longer the reality. It used to be taken for granted that countries like the United States or Australia were immune to this hatred or that Germany and Poland had learnt from their history less than a century ago but sadly, this isn’t the case.

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Synagogue Again On The Hit List. Rescued congregants of the Jewish community and police forces near the scene of a shooting in Halle, Germany, in October 2019.(Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

According to recent surveys conducted by organisations like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the AJC (American Joint Committee) who conducted their research on growing antisemitism recently, they both reported an alarming rise in statistics.

The ADL findings reported that these countries had the highest percentages of antisemitism: Poland, South Africa (although the SA Jewish Board of Deputies disputes these findings), Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Belgium and Austria.

Australia reported a 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year that included verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation. This is according to the country’s annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.

The new Normal3.JPGThe United States has seen antisemitism spread like a plague across university campuses, Orthodox Jews harassed and beaten up in New York City, and violence has escalated to the point where the community has endured two deadly synagogue shootings and the site of members of the alt-right marching with their tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Like Britain with controversy surrounding antisemitism in the Labour party and the reluctance or stubborn refusal of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to tackle this scourge which leaves many of England’s Jews feeling politically stateless, the United States has seen the same phenomenon rears its ugly head in US politics. 2019 has been the year of the “Squad” – rookie congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and to a lesser account, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has used their newly minted status and platforms like Twitter to excoriate the Jewish state. This has filtered out into the ultra-left and is evident on university campuses and in movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March.

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Targeting Jews. Mourners visit the memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 31, 2018. Eleven people were killed in a mass shooting just days earlier. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The irony is that the two seemingly divergent left and right meet in the middle when it comes to opinions on Jews and the nation state of the Jewish people – Israel.

It is social media that is perhaps becoming the most alarming platform for hate. Mediums like Facebook and Twitter have created a space where like-minded haters can band together to create community. In this instance, these communities empower each other to prey upon their targets.

As an outspoken supporter of Israel, I have received my fair share of nasty messages and have summarily reported them to Twitter and Facebook. Apparently wishing me dead does not violate their “community standards”.  Pop superstar, Lady Gaga, once commented that social media was “the toilet of the internet” and she could not have been more right.

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“Enough”. Thousands of people have joined protests across France against a spate of anti-Semitic attacks.

Actor and comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, famous for playing some of the most controversial and sometimes tasteless characters in his movies (albeit to prove a point) recently took Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to task for among many things, not effectively regulating his platform. Cohen rightly stated that should platforms like Twitter and Facebook been around during Hitler’s time, the dictator and his murderous henchman would have used it to full effect to propagate hate. Cohen called these platforms “the greatest propaganda machines in history. “

He went on to take shots at Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust deniers to go unregulated because of the “freedom of speech”.

“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach,” Cohen asserted. “I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.”

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Sign Of The Times. A Holocaust denier holds a sign on the campus quad of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, September 10, 2019. (Courtesy AMCHA)

Social media is not the only battlefield for rising antisemitism. The battlefield has moved to the streets, the schools, the corridors of power, the graveyards, university campus, and the holy sanctuaries. It has become pervasive.

The only way to fight this scourge is to speak up. Stand Up – it is important to remember that we have a voice. Social media platforms used for propagating hate can also be used to educate against it. It is important that intolerance is not allowed an environment to flourish. Antisemitism gives a tailwind to those who wish to discriminate against any minority.  Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor in his famous poem first they came said the following,

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—     because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—   because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—         because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 Speak up. Do not let hatred go unchecked. Don’t let this become the new “normal”.

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Labour Of Hate. Demonstrators stage a protest against anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour Party in April.

 

Bravo To Academic Freedom

South Africa’s Premier University – UCT-  Rejects Call To Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions

By David E. Kaplan

Common sense prevailed.

Deciding in its own best interest, the University of Cape Town (UCT) decisively rejected this November; the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions and how does the pro-Palestinian lobby in South Africa react?

They blame “wealthy donors” and “Zionists

With this predictable antisemitic response to a solid, sound and sensible campaign at preserving UCT’s academic stature as the premier university in Africa, is it not time for South Africans to ditch BDS and its cohorts who are undermining the future of South Africa and many of its esteemed institutions in pursuit of its narrow nefarious agenda?

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Advocating Boycott. South African BDS advocate Prof. Farid Esack is among those supporting the academic boycott call against Israel. (Photo: File)

This was born out by revelations on the dirty tricks employed by BDS against Jewish students in South Africa by Wendy Kahn, National Director of the SAJBOD. Warning in a 21 November article of the disastrous ramifications to UCT of a boycott of Israel, she reveals that “The BDS on campus have impersonated SAUJS students to fool people into thinking that they represent an official Jewish body.”

Thankfully, at the 11th hour – after three years of wrangling – disaster was averted  not so much for Israel academic intuitions that enjoy enriching collaborative partnerships with the world’s most prestigious universities; but more so for the reputation and sustainability of UCT. May the decision further herald a warning to the would-be-hijackers of South Africa’s future – “beat it”.

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Moment Of Decision. The anti-Israel lobby tried to isolate Israel, but UCT realised the danger of internationally isolating itself instead. Result  – the UCT senate members voted against the resolution. (Tracey Adams/African News Agency)

Most endearing and might prove enduring was how alumni from across the globe came out of the woodwork and energized for a common cause – to defeat the resolution that would have in the words again of Kahn, “trampled the bedrock values of academic freedom upon which every credible institution of higher learning is necessarily founded.”

Galvanized From Around The Globe

It is not too often, apart from the infrequent class reunions, alumni from around the world really connect with each other or their Alma Mater.

This was different.

The proposed resolution was a trigger that awakened generations of UCT students from homes across all the continents.

No sooner had the South African Zionist Federation and the SAJBOD appealed for alumni to petition against the proposed UCT academic boycott, former students, reminded of their activism against Apartheid, got into action signing petitions, encouraging others to do so, writing articles and sharing their open letters to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Senate and Governing Council.

One of the multitude of letters written is this one from a 1969 science student living in Israel.

As a proud graduate of UCT (1969 B.Sc. Geology), a diligent member of the UCT Students Representative Council (1963), a committed member of the UCT Academic Freedom Committee and a former leader in the UCT Students Jewish Association, it is with a deep sense of outrage, shame and disgust to know that my former alma mater is planning to implement an academic boycott of Israel.

I have lived, studied and worked in the State of Israel since 1970 and, while no country can objectively claim to be perfect, I know that this embattled nation to be a true light of democracy, tolerance and freedom to the hostile world around it. The conflict with the Palestinians is a sad reality and one can only hope that the leaders on both sides will find the boldness and resources to reach a political solution which will provide security, economic prosperity and hope for better times to both people.

However, I fail to understand what makes Israel the unique target of UCT’s animus and imprecations to the extent that an academic boycott is being seriously contemplated. Has the distorted incitement of the Palestine Solidarity Forum on the campus become so influential that UCT concedes in bending the knee and implementing this extreme and abhorrent act of boycotting the distinguished centers of Israeli academia?

Has the UCT leadership attained such a moral utopia that it can conclude that only Israel deserves to be punished with an academic boycott for its inability to resolve the two sided conflict with the Palestinians? That this isolated issue is the most ominous in a world of numerous wars, hostilities and enmities that have claimed untold casualties and refugees and caused devastation and ruin is  beyond belief?   

It appears to me that in recent times UCT has lost its moral mettle in determining what truly constitute academic issues; that it has become prone to acceding to the demands of political groups on the campus whose outlooks and policies are duplicitous and mendacious.

I have no doubt that should UCT decide to impose an academic boycott on Israel, it will be UCT that will be the loser!

This ineffectual and puerile act will diminish the reputation of one of Africa’s leading universities in the eyes of western academia – after all, caving in under pressure is not considered a valiant deed. Israeli universities and colleges will continue to produce potential Nobel Prize winners and leaders in science, technology, IT, agriculture, medicine, aero-space and you-name-it!

Unfortunately the government of South Africa has decided to reduce its diplomatic representation in Israel. To all practical purposes this does not affect Israel in the least.

It is with no pleasure that I can attribute this same remark to the dynamic academia of Israel, should UCT implement an academic boycott of Israel.

For what it is worth, my pride and esteem that I feel to my alma mater, will sadly dissolve.

In my student days, I was in the front ranks of those struggling for the independence and autonomy of UCT as an academic institution, whose portals were to be opened to all students based on academic ability, not on their colour. I never believed that this same university would now implement an academic boycott against a country that struggled against unbelievable odds in achieving its independence and creating edifices of learning which enjoy universal admiration.

I can only hope that rationality and spirit will infuse the declining vitality and strength of UCT’s leaders and that they will treat this attempt for imposing an academic boycott on a brave and successful country, with the contempt it deserves!

I respectfully request that this letter be circulated amongst UCT’s management, lecturers and students.

Your kind acknowledgement is thanked in advance.

Sincerely,

Lennie Lurie

Israel

 It was hard-hitting letters like these that won the day.

The word was out that UCT would find it impossible to defend itself from retaliatory moves that a boycott would likely produce.

As expressed by Prof. David Bernstein of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University:

Once you endorse an academic boycott yourself, you don’t have any standing when it comes to opposing people who then engage in a boycott of your institution.”

At the vote on Friday 25 November, 68% of the 363 members of the senate opposed the resolution that pro-boycott activists had been pushing since 2017.

“We thank the Senate for standing up to this campaign of hate and asserting the importance of academic freedom over narrow political agendas,” said Rowan Polovin, the National Chairman of the SAZF (South African Zionist Federation). “The academic boycott campaign against Israel was driven by the antisemitic BDS movement and loomed over the University for almost three years. Its goal was to single out and isolate the one and only Jewish state for unfair sanction and discrimination. The campaign consumed a disproportionate amount of airtime at the Academic Freedom Committee, Senate and Council at the expense of more relevant and important issues for UCT. Its repudiation sends a strong message that freedom of academic enquiry without limitation is essential for academic freedom to thrive. Academics, students and faculty at UCT are free to engage with Israeli academia, or that of any country they so choose, without restriction.”

Thankful that UCT can now move forward “with its reputation intact,” Polovin concluded by thanking “all the efforts of those who played a role in this pivotal fight for academic freedom at UCT.”

Director of Public Policy at the SAZF, Benji Shulman expressed that he believed that “this was an important win for the community and its allies. UCT’s repudiation of this resolution shows that South Africans are interested in peace in the Middle East and a positive future of South Africa. It is now time to push on forward and increase constructive engagement between South Africans and Israelis such as our new initiative to promote cooperation between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, whereby two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, a 3-month research scholarship.  This will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.”

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Sock It To Israel. The logo fist of the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT. This ‘round’, they felt the counter punch from the alumni.

As expected, the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT and BDS are furious. The former spewed “It is a clear indication of the persisting conservatism of UCT and the fact that UCT, and the vice-chancellor in particular, is beholden to its donors and the Zionist lobby,” while BDS spokesman, Bram Hanekom, said his campaign “would continue to call for South African academic institutions to cut ties with the apartheid Israeli state.”

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Bram The “Breeker”. BDS spokesman Bram Hanekom persists in breaking academic ties with Israel.

The majority of the UCT Senate view the future differently.

In rejecting the proposal to boycott Israeli academic institutions, the Senate also encouraged faculty “to establish positive academic links with Palestinian academic institutions and individuals, with financial and logistical assistance from the UCT.”

One bad resolution nixed, now its time to be resolute in pursuing constructive academic engagement for a better  South Africa, Israel and the Palestinian people.

That’s the way to go. Build bridges; not break them down.

 

*Feature Picture: A pro-Israel march in Cape Town in 2018. Photo: SAFI.

Cooling Relations To Hot Realisations

By David E. Kaplan

When Israelis woke up to the day’s news earlier this month that “NASA is set to send a prototype of an Israeli-developed miniaturized solar-power generator to the International Space Station (ISS) in its first launch of 2020,” it hardly raised an eyebrow!

Nor would they have been astounded to read lower down the same article that “Future prototypes are being planned for private space initiatives as well as space agencies pursuing new missions that require high power for electric propulsion and for operation in deep space such as missions to Jupiter and Saturn.”

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Far Out. NASA to send Israeli solar-power generator to International Space Station. View of the full installation at which testing will be performed within the framework of NASA’s Materials International Space Station Experiment. (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)

Such news today in Israel maybe “news” but hardly surprising revelations!

Israel is in the vanguard of preparing for tomorrow and more and more countries and international companies and agencies are realising the value of partnering with Israel – collaborating on projects for the benefit of all mankind.

However, what did raise eyebrows as reported in the international media, was when earlier this month, Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa, expressed in public that South Africa can learn from Israel that was “leading by leaps and bounds” – notably in the hi-tech sector.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa makes his State of the Nation address in parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 7, 2019. (Rodger Bosch, Pool via AP

And why the surprise?

Well, it was only a month earlier that South Africa confirmed its intention to downgrade its Tel Aviv embassy to a liaison office.

This was like a cart or carriage being pulled by horses hitched in the front and the back!

In which direction, if any, was South Africa’s foreign policy headed?

The diplomatic downgrade had been due to the nefarious influence of BDS on ANC policy at the ruling party’s December 2017 biannual conference. As warned at the time and shown over events since, the fateful short-sighted resolution was set neither to help the Palestinians nor to materially harm Israelis. In fact, the only harm inflicted was on  the majority of citizens of South Africa.

With Ramaphosa’s public address, are fresh winds of change blowing in South Africa?

Speaking at a Women in Business Conference in Johannesburg, the State President said that: “There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

In Israeli parlance, Ramaphosa was talking “tachlis”. In plain English – “Let’s get down to brass tacks.”

Ramaphosa was telling the conference and by extension the people of South Africa how the country could economically benefit from engagement with Israel.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the BWASA Presidential dialogue 2019, 29 October 2019 (Photo: Nigel Sibanda)

Right On Ramaphosa

It was the right time for the South African president to deliver this message as the conference was the launching pad of his country’s three-day investment drive led by the State President, where the country hoped to commit trillions of dollars to economic investments; even before the conference ended.

Most revealing was that Ramaposa recognised Israel’s “challenge funds” as a role model for South Africa to fuel enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in its hi-tech sector.

If it works in Israel, why not South Africa?

Addressing the conference, Ramaphosa said:

The Israeli hi-tech sector funds enterprises in tech, in the technology space, and you call it a ‘Challenge Fund’. To me this is a very interesting nomenclature to say it is a ‘Challenge Fund’, because it challenges the private sector, but it can also challenge the entrepreneurs themselves, who come out of the woodwork. There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

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On a roll, the President continued:

“In many ways, that is what has gotten Israel to lead in the technology space. They are leading by leaps and bounds, and they are actually innovative in a number of sectors of the economy, in agriculture, in maritime and in a number of other areas. They have shown that they can lead. And we can learn a lot from what they do.”

This is a far cry from South Africa cutting off its nose to spite itself when in 2016, a Johannesburg conference dealing with the water crisis in South Africa was canceled due to the inclusion of Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa.

The then Ambassador, Arthur Lenk, was to be part of a panel at the conference organised by the Mail and Guardian newspaper on “equitable and sustainable water management for poverty alleviation.” It is globally recognised that Israel is the world’s expert in water management.

After Ramaphosa’s recent conference address, Israel’s present Ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan, took to Twitter to welcome the State President’s statement:

“We are delighted to see #Israeli tech discussed by President @CyrilRamaphosa . Israel has become a world leader in #innovation and #entrepreneurship and will continue to encourage avenues of cooperation between Israel and South Africa.

???????????????? https://t.co/FeKq793XyC 

???????? Lior Keinan (@LiorKeinan) November 7, 2019

Has Ramaphosa pressed a reset button that common sense may prevail over ignorance? During the worst of the water crises in Cape Town in 2018; and with Israel offering help, typical of the WhatsApp messages was this one received by Darren Bergman, a Jewish member of parliament in South Africa which read:

 “There is NO water crisis! Day zero is a Zionist plot planned by the DA Zionists…. They have been using scaremongering and by laws [sic] to create a water ‘crisis.’ The ‘created’ drought is a Zionist plot to control Cape Town’s water supply and profit from it.”

Rise To The Challenge

Times may be A ‘Changin’ when Ramaphosa says of Israel:

 “We can learn a lot more of what they do with regard to Challenge Funds, and I would like to learn more.”

Most encouraging words from the State President, but part of the process of learning about “Challenge Funds” is also accepting the challenge of rejecting the attitudes of the likes of BDS whose vocabulary when it comes to Israel is less about finding  a solution but more in advocating the country’s dissolution.

South Africa is currently facing Challenging times. In rugby, the World Champions need no counsel but there are many areas that Israel can assist and wants to assist.

Ramaphosa’s recent words are a good beginning!

 

 

*Feature picture: ewn.co.za – President Cyril Ramaphosa addesses a dialogue, convened under the theme ‘The Economy is Woman’, which is organised by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) on 29 October 2019. Picture: GCIS.

Heroes of Israel

By Andi Saitowitz

Life coach, Andi Saitowitz, shares her thoughts and feeling about what life is like under bombardment of rockets and how ordinary people are the heroes of Israel.

Heroes of Israel1.jpgToday I gave an intensive workshop and presentation to a team in a nearby city. Just before I left, Code Red alarms were still blaring on the app on my phone as our brothers and sisters in the south continued to be bombarded with rockets. As I picked up my phone to check the address I was going to, I suddenly realized that I was going to street called גיבורי ישראל  (“Giborei Israel”) – translated into the “Heroes of Israel”.

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Seeing Red. The Red Color (Hebrew: (Tzeva Adom) is an early-warning radar system installed by the Israel Defense Forces in towns surrounding the Gaza Strip to warn civilians of imminent attack by rockets. Outside of areas serviced by the Red Color system, standard air raid sirens are used to warn of rocket attacks.

 

I couldn’t help but pause and think about all those families who are living within such a close radius to the line of fire. I couldn’t help but think about our armed forces, who risk their lives daily to protect our nation and homeland. I couldn’t help but think about the heroes who have fallen – and the injured and the hurt and the scared. I couldn’t help but think of the past heroes who in their merit and honor, we have a state and a home. I couldn’t help but think about the first-responders and the defenders of Israel around the world who with such pride, courage and resilience, stand for Israel against all odds. I couldn’t help but think of all the people who choose to make Israel their home. I couldn’t help but think of all the people who pray for Israel, from near and far. I couldn’t help but think of the friends of Israel who want to see her grow and blossom. I couldn’t help but think of the unity we manage to hold together, even when everything around us seems to be falling apart.

So as I drove to The Heroes of Israel Street for a jam-packed day of personal development, growth, team building, training and leadership – I thought of the real heroes of Israel:

Every person who prays for peace.

Every person who fights for peace.

Every person who finds the resilience to keep the faith when times are tough.

Every person who holds Hatikva in their heart when all hope sometimes seems lost.

Every person who lives the values and ideals that we hold so dear.

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Heroes In Uniform. Protecting the people, Israeli police sappers remove a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in farmland near the Israel Gaza border, November 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Every parent who has a few seconds to run for shelter with small children.

If you are already here, you are a Hero of Israel.

If you love and protect us, you are a Hero of Israel.

If you dream of being here; you are a Hero of Israel.

If you pray for us wherever you are, you are a Hero of Israel.

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Sirens In Sderot. People take cover during a rocket warning siren in Sderot, southern Israel November 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

If you represent us with integrity, you are a Hero of Israel.

If you spread truth about us, you are a Hero of Israel.

If you want us to thrive, you are a Hero of Israel.

If you stand with us, you are a Hero of Israel.

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Anguish In Ashqelon. Adults assist children running for cover as rocket alarms sound in the Israeli city of Ashqelon, on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.(Ilan Assayag)

If you want to live with us and beside us and close to us and in peace with us: you are a Hero of Israel.

And it doesn’t matter who you are.

 

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Resilience Under Rockets. A woman in the southern city of Ashkelon injured by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip is treated by paramedics on November 13, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

 

Heroes of Israel4

Andi Saitowitz, a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, published author and lover of inspiration. Also a Personal Development Strategist, Life Coach, Mentor and Transformation Leader.