South African Government Boycotts Miss South Africa

The South African Ministry of Culture boycott the country’s representative to Miss Universe pageant because host country is Israel

By Rolene Marks

The stage is set, the sequins extra shiny, the sashes ironed and the tiara polished – Eilat is getting ready to host the Miss Universe 2021 pageant to be held on the December 12 and are looking forward to welcoming representatives from around the world to compete for the coveted title. For the first time, there will be representatives from the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. This is historic and fitting with the flourishing peace afforded by the signing of the Abraham Accords normalization and peace treaties. The symbolism of the two beauty queens competing for the first time on the international stage in Israel is highly symbolic of the seeds of peace bearing real fruits.

The Way Forward. Israel’s premier coastal resort, Eilat on the Red Sea, which will host the 2021 Miss Universe pageant is sandwiched between Egypt and Jordan, both countries which the Jewish state is at peace  with – a shining example to South Africa of the way forward.

While talking about beauty pageants is not my normal beat (having failed to place anywhere in Junior Miss Pears at the age of four, much to my mother’s chagrin), I find myself for the second time in a matter of weeks commenting on the Miss Universe pageant. Several weeks ago, Lay of the Land published an article explaining how Chief Mandla Mandela was calling for not just Miss South Africa; but other countries to boycott the Miss Universe pageant because it is being held in Israel.

With peacemaking clearly skipping Mandla in the Mandela gene pool, the former poster child for scandal, now turned BDS front man is going full throttle on his campaign and has roped in his cohorts-in-hate from the BDS movement to pressurize the new Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane to pull out. The beautiful and accomplished Miss South Africa, graduated with a degree in law and deserves every opportunity to not only achieve her dream but also the chance to proudly represent South Africa on the world stage, make lifelong friends and draw focus on the humanitarian causes that she champions.

With the pressure from hate groups like BDS mounting, the Miss South Africa on behalf of Lalela, released a statement that stated not only would she compete but Mswane has spoken out openly about being bullied as a child and she will not be bullied as an adult against fulfilling her ambition.

Dashed Hopes. The crowning of an excited Miss SA 2021 Lalela Mswane whose dreams of competing at the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel were subsequently crushed by the misguided bullying of her own government.

Miss SA CEO, Stephanie Weil said a “very, very small, but extremely vocal, group” had attempted, and failed, to derail Mswane’s chances at the prestigious international pageant.

Bullying is what BDS do best and artists like Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney and many others can attest to that – including having the lives of themselves and their bands threatened by BDS activists.

Joining the BDS is the African National Congress (ANC) and this is an excerpt from their statement they released:

“Following unsuccessful consultations initiated by the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, it has proven difficult to persuade the Miss SA pageant organisers to reconsider their decision to partake in the Miss Universe event scheduled to be held in Israel during the month of December 2021. What during initial consultations appeared like engaging, constructive and progressive discussions, was later met with an unpleasant demeanour that is intransigent and lacking appreciation of the potential negative impact of such a decision on the reputation and future of a young black woman.

 The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented, and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such. In an attempt to demonstrate what partaking in Miss Universe means for South Africans and many others across the world, the Miss SA pageant organisers were referred to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s views following his visit to the area. Indicating that Israel was guilty of the apartheid treatment of Palestinians, he said, “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

The South African Zionist Federation  (SAZF) as well as the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) have taken a strong position in support of Mswana.

The SAJBD said in a statement:

 “It is quite clear that Minister Mthethwa’s view is a minority one.  A poll conducted by Newzroom Afrika on Thursday night as to whether Miss SA should withdraw from the Miss Universe event in Israel showed a plurality of nearly 2:1 in favour of her competing. The PSA protest attracted a bare handful of activists.  This is despite the barrage of intimidation by groups such as Africa4Palestine and SA BDS in the media have resulted in comments calling for them to stop bullying Lalela and for her to participate in the event.

South Africa has diplomatic ties and extensive commercial trade relations with Israel.  It engages in events such as this one, such as hosting the Israeli Davis Cup team in 2018. The way we influence situations is to engage, not to withdraw.  The SAJBD believes that closing doors merely isolates us from contributing and any contribution we can make to finding peace in this country.  What better opportunity for a South African to be part of an event where she can connect with 70 countries around the world, including many Arab countries, in sharing our story of dialogue and peace-building?”

The SAZF added to that saying:

 “The SAZF is appalled that the South African government is self-sabotaging our country’s hopes and chances of participating and shining in an international event just because it happens to take place in Israel. Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa may think that South Africa is making a grand moral statement because the ruling party has been misled by a perversion of facts about Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, but in fact, our country is simply signalling its isolationism and irrelevance on the world stage. The government has been silent on actual and serious human rights abuses occurring in many other countries where we participate in sports and contests, but self-righteously reserves its opprobrium for the world’s only Jewish State.”

Perhaps South Africa is doing this to draw focus away from the myriad of problems plaguing the country. Extremely high levels of unemployment, government corruption, rolling electricity blackouts and many more issues are confronted by South Africans on a daily basis. Surely this is more important than sash-and-tiara wielding beauty queens? The ANC and BDS would have you believe that it is all about human rights but they remain resolutely silent on the genocide of the Uyghurs in China, the hanging of members of the LGBTQ community in Iran or the decimation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Nothing like cosying up to some tin pot dictators to bring out the hypocrite in some folk!

It is interesting that another man has weighed on the Miss Universe pageant and the opportunity it brings to showcase young empowered, humanitarian driven women. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a strong advocate for BDS last visited Israel in 1989 and at Yad Vashem called on Jews around the world to “forgive the Nazis”.

I wonder if “The Arch” would pull this same stunt if the pageant was to be held in Venezuela, Cuba, China or any other country responsible for gross human rights violations? Probably not but this just exposes the hypocrisy and yes, antisemitism of BDS and its supporters.

It is a pity that the Miss Universe pageant which is non-political in nature but serves as a chance for women from different cultures and countries to build bridges has become the cause that  the ANC who fought so hard for equal rights for all, now chooses to boycott its country’s women.





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).

Shades of Shylock

Attack on Israel’s Ambassador at London university exposes imbedded British antisemitism

By Fionn Grunspan

It says something about the UK today, that the Israeli Ambassador to the Court of St. James  cannot speak freely at one of the country’s most prestigious universities without coming under physical attack.

Trying to “tell Israel’s story” on the 9th November 2001 at the London School of Economic (LSE),  Tzipi Hotovely had to literally be “evacuated” by her security detail who were forced to defend her from students who assaulted her verbally at a speaking engagement.

In case there was any doubt the protestors were serious in their nefarious intent to intimidate, an Instagram account called “LSE Class War” posted ahead of the event with Hotovely the following:

Whoever smashes the Ambassador [sic] car window… gets pints. Let’s f***in frighten her.”

As it turned out, while the security guards were leading Ambassador Hotovely past the protesters, a man rushed at her and they had  to hurriedly push her into her car.

So, while freedom of speech is a fundamental right under UK law, it would appear not always the case when it comes to Jews!

Antisemitic violence has a history of periodically pouring out onto British streets from the Blackshirts (British fascists) in the Battle of Cable Street on October 4, 1936 to the cavalcade of cars on the 19 May 2021 where pro-Palestinian demonstrators were heard screaming antisemitic abuse such as “F*** their mothers, rape their daughters”, while driving through Jewish areas of north London.

Antisemitic Intimidation. Israeli Ambassador  to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely was subjected, in the words of Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to “unacceptable intimidation. This is not disagreement or free speech – it is harassment and it will have deeply shaken Jewish students both at LSE and across the country”.

Hotovely is hardly the first Israeli diplomat to the UK who antisemites have tried to silence.

On June 3, 1982, Israel’s then Ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov was getting into his car after a banquet at the Dorchester hotel in Park lane when three gunmen from the Abu Nidal group appeared from nowhere and one of them, Hussein Ghassan Said, fired a single bullet straight through his head. The Ambassador fell into a three-month coma but somehow survived. He however was paralysed and required constant medical attention for the rest of his life.

Even during periods of intense peace-making, such  as on the 26 July 1994, one day after King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin met in Washington D.C. to discuss a Jordan-Israel peace treaty, a car bomb went off outside the London Israeli Embassy injuring 20 civilians. A second bomb exploded outside another Jewish institution, Balfour House, premises occupied by the UJIA in Finchley.  

The history of violence against high-profile Jews in the UK reveals its intent to harass them into silence.  Hotovely however would have none of it. “I had a great time at LSE and I will not be intimidated,” the Ambassador said on Twitter, saying she “would continue to share Israeli history and have an open dialogue with all parties of British society.”

Calm before the Storm. Ambassador Hotovely speaking at the LSE event before protesters surrounded her car. (photo: Israeli Embassy)

Nevertheless, the attack on Ambassador Hotovely, is an ominous message to British Jews, who are already beleaguered by antisemitism that took root to the highest echelons within the Labour Party, the reappearance of antisemitic violence on London’s streets and social-activism morphing against Jews. The result is that the Jewish community is feeling increasingly and deeply isolated, emphatically affirmed after Labour was found guilty of discriminating against British Jews by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

If social-activism continues to radicalise and manifest in violence against Jews, it could herald a damning situation for British-Jews, with about half of whom had revealed they were prepared to leave Britain if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minster in 2019.

Earlier this month,  the curtain  was literally  raised at the Royal Court Theatre exposing a cultural –  if albeit  – “unconscious bias”, when the main character – a power-hungry Silicon Valley billionaire – in the play, ‘Rare Earth Mettle’ by Al Smith had a Jewish surname, even though there was no Jewish context in the production. Following accusations from members of the Jewish community of promoting a negative Jewish stereotype., the Royal Court Theatre apologised and changed the script. Apparently, it was never realised that “Hershel Fink” was a Jewish name!

Chaos on Campus. Barricaded by student mob, Israeli envoy, Tzipy Hotovely, remains defiant.

There is something about the British love affair for the antisemitic stereotype of Shylock, of the ‘bad Jew, made acceptable’ – the one who can be told where to talk, how to speak and when to be heard. British Jews and Israelis can plead for their humanity just like in Shakespeare’s Shylock character in ‘The Merchant of Venice’, but to antisemites, Jews need to be demonised and then reformed. The repeated attempts to demonise Jews as money-grabbing, murderous, genocidal and world-domineering are common tropes and antisemites will always persist in trying to silence Jews.

Stirring Hatred. Imitating the Nazis, British politician Sir Oswald Mosley inspects members of his British Union of Fascists in Royal Mint Street, London sparking the riot known as the Battle of Cable Street. (PhotoCentral Press/Getty Images)

This threat to British Jews and British Israelis to silence their voices, should be a warning call to the threats to free-speech and political freedom. The British Government must intervene and mandate all universities and organisations to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and use effective sanctions against antisemites. Once the venomous hate against Israel can be exposed for what it really is – antisemitism – it will impact on reducing the spiralling antisemitism imbedded within British society – but only if the British Government acts.

Savagery on London Street. A convoy of cars filmed on London’s Finchley Road, with passengers yelling antisemitic obscenities abuse such as “F*** their mothers, rape their daughters”, on May 16, 2021. (Screenshot)

In conclusion, whether you agree or disagree with the Israeli Ambassador Hotovely’s views, her message  was exemplary when she said:

The State of Israel will send its representatives to every platform. We will not give in to bullying and violence.





About the writer:


Fionn Grunspan is a sign language translator previously working for a number of charities. Since being a community teacher and activist within his Jewish community from his mid-twenties, Grunspan today, through  his “Clubhouse Page”, promotes news and information about the Jewish world, focusing on Israel. For reasons of personal safety and security, the writer declined to  have his photograph appear.





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 Close Shave

The Corbyn crisis that was, remains a warning to world Jewry

By Fionn Grunspan

In less than 5 years (2015-2020), Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour Party leader had come close to driving Jews from the UK. Corbyn’s remoulding of the Labour Party energised antisemitism, that echoed the attempted march of the Black-Shirts (British-Nazis) through Jewish area of London (The Battle of Cable Street, 1936). Labour would later be found guilty of illegally harassing British-Jews by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) more specifically, “serious failings in the Labour party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”. While disaster for Jews was averted, the fight against Labour’s antisemitism, left deep scars among British Jews.

So who was this unsettling menace to British Jewry who could so easily have been Britain’s Prime Minister?

Known for his antisemitic extremism since his introduction into political life, Phillip Kleinman, in his 1982 ‘Tearing the heart from a Labour man’ reveals Corbyn proudly asserted his support for the destruction of Israel. When it comes to the perception of Jews, the aspiring British PM could  just as easily have shared the proverbial stage with the likes of the National Front. As Corbyn over time gained in popularity among the far-left, he was also gaining attention for his wide-ranging support for terror groups.

Corbyn had no problem describing Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends” during a Parliamentary meeting in 2009 and was later described by former British Prime Minster David Cameron in 2015 as “security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising and Britain-hating.”

Corbyn championed for the release of two Palestinian terrorists who in 1994, had carried out car bombings  against the London Israeli Embassy and the United Jewish Appeal Charity  in Finchley. The terrorists were linked to the terror-group Hezbollah and had injured 20 in the attack. Corbyn would not only support their cases for appeal but raise their appeals during debates in the British Parliament. He frequently denounced Zionism  – the belief in the right of Israel to exist – over his political career.

Corbyn caused a stir when it was revealed that he had in a 2013  speech – caught on video – claiming that Zionists in Britain “don’t understand English irony”.  

He appeared to be portraying Jews as an alien culture.

Following Jeremy Corbyn emerging as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, the antisemitism within the Labour Party that had been largely confined to the fringes, suddenly came to the fore. The militant political organisation ‘Momentum’, founded to campaign for Corbyn to become Labour Leader, would become one of the most successful organisations within British Politics. It could rally and deploy thousands of activists at great speed, sending activists to campaign in marginal political areas.

Mounting Momentum. ‘Momentum’ activists and a group called Labour Against The Witchhunt protested outside the hearing, leading to complaints of an “intimidating” atmosphere. One Labour activist said the antisemitism row was “largely fabricated”

A catastrophe had befallen British-Jewry with the question being asked:

“Was the political-battle for Labour lost?”

Love’s Labour’s Lost

With Labour under Corbyn, Jewish activists within the party, soon began to experience antisemitism. They would be manoeuvred out of the party as they came under repeated threats and attacks. The situation worsened with the approach of the 2017 national election, causing concern bordering on panic among British Jewry with repeated condemnation from Jewish leaders.

This was exacerbated when the 2017 General Election resulted in a hung Parliament, with no party winning an overall majority but Labour gaining seats. Panic in British-Jewry turned into deep fear of a serious existential threat.

Labour would experience a significant further radicalism and militancy, as Jews within the party  received death threats. Luciana Berger, a Jewish Labour MP, would receive threats against her life and would have to attend the 2018 Labour Party Conference with police protection!

Online Abuse. Amid the ongoing row over antisemitism in Britain’s Labour Party, Jewish British Labour MP, Luciana Berger, made  public the insults sent to her via Twitter, including images of lawmaker with enlarged nose and threats of rape and murder.

Apart from Luciana Berger, Jewish politicians that came under most of the intense harassment were prominent female Jewish politicians such as Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge, and Louise Ellman. As Jews were forced to leave the Labour Party under threats and harassment, walkouts and condemnation began from Jewish allies.

Under Escort. For reasons of security, Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth (second left) had to be escorted by her Labour colleagues to Marc Wadsworth’s antisemitism hearing.

Fear sets In

When the 2019 election was called in October 2019 for the 12th of December, a deep sense of foreboding was felt within British Jewry. In September 2019,polling showed that 47% of Jews were seriously considering leaving the UK, if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minster. High-profile Jewish personalities spoke of fleeing the UK, such as celebrity doctor, Dr. Ellie Cannon on social media.

Leaving Labour. Quitting the Labour Party (which she rejoined under the new leadership), Louise Ellman cited antisemitism saying she could not “advocate voting Labour when it risks Corbyn becoming PM”.

The Jewish Chronicle on the 8th of November 2019, published an appeal on its front page not addressed to its usual readership of Jews but “To all our fellow British citizens” to vote against Labour’s antisemitism.

Front Page Fear. The Jewish Chronicle on the 8th of November 2019, published an appeal on its front page addressed to ALL British citizens  to vote against Labour’s antisemitism.

On the 8th of December 2019, a rally in Parliament Square against Labour antisemitism led by British-Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, produced an unexpected result. Among the speakers was Satish Sharma, of the National Council of Hindu Temples, who condemned Labour’s antisemitism. Only 12 days earlier, the Hindu Council of Britain had quietly condemned antisemitism and Hindu-phobia within Labour.

The British-Hindu community broke the political boycott imposed on British Jews to stand in solidarity against Labour’s antisemitism. Described as a political ‘blow’ for Labour, the British Hindu community of over one million, turned its back on Labour and stood with the Jewish community. When the results came out on Friday the 13th of December 2019, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour suffered one of its worst general election defeats in living memory with dozens of seats that the party had held on to for decades falling to the Conservatives.

Doctor in Distress. “The suitcase is packed,” says Jewish TV doctor Ellie Cannon revealing that she and her friends were discussing how to flee the UK if Jeremy Corbyn became PM amid the antisemitism row.

Fiends & Friends

While Jeremy Corbyn’s War against British Jewry had failed, concerns over antisemitism nevertheless remained. The antipathies towards Jews were deeply imbedded. The tragedy was that a party that had once prided itself on its numerically strong Jewish membership, had forced their ‘expulsion’. The disturbing legacy of Corbyn was its revelation and warning how AGAIN anti-Semites can grab control of power. This is even more concerning as antisemitism continues to find increasing traction across Europe.

Countering Corbyn. Supporters of Britain’s opposition Labor Party attend a demonstration on the 26th March 26, 2018 in London’s Parliament Square organized by the British Board of Jewish Deputies against antisemitism. (/Reuters)
 

During our recent dark days, we learned who are our friends and who will stand with us against hatred. British Jews found an unknown ally in the  Hindu community who had likely saved British Jews from feeling forced to leave the UK had Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minster.

It was a close save!


Alone No More. Four days before the UK General Election, over 3,000 people gathered in Parliament Square holding signs that said “together against antisemitism” and “solidarity with British Jews”. (Photo: Nathan Lilienfeld/Campaign Against Antisemitism)



About the writer:
Fionn Grunspan is a sign language translator previously working for a number of charities. Since being a community teacher and activist within his Jewish community from his mid-twenties, Grunspan today, through  his “Clubhouse Page”, promotes news and information about the Jewish world, focusing on Israel. For reasons of personal safety and security, the writer declined to  have his photograph appear.




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).

Antisemitism – the Fightback!

Australia and the IHRA definition as part of a global battle

By Judy Maynard and Naomi Levin

On October 13, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Australian “Government”, “people” and “nation” would join 32 other countries and “embrace” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Australia Acts. “Antisemitism has no place in Australia. It has no place anywhere in the world,” says Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison affirming that his country will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci Australian)

Appearing by video link at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism before a distinguished international audience, Prime Minister Morrison said, “In the history of humanity the Holocaust serves as a perpetual and brutal reminder of exclusion, of racism, of systematic political hatred and evil itself.”

He emphasised that “Antisemitism has no place in Australia. It has no place anywhere in the world. And we must work together, resolutely and as a global community, to reject any word or any act that supports antisemitism towards individuals, towards communities or religious facilities.”

That stance has received strong bipartisan support in Australia. In July, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had committed a future Labour government to endorsing the definition, while Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong told a Zionist Federation of Australia conference in November 2020 that “Labor fully supports the IHRA definition of antisemitism – a position reaffirmed in 2016, 2019, and [which] I again reaffirm today.”

The announcement came following repeated calls from the leaders of Australia’s Jewish community for the Working Definition’s adoption following a global uptick in antisemitic incidents in the past year due to the proliferation of online conspiracy theories falsely linking Jews to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Israel’s response to indiscriminate rocket attacks against its civilians by terrorists in Gaza in May also led to a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents around the world.

On Board. Australia’s Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had committed a future Labour government to endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

But for the pandemic, the forum in Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, would have taken place in 2020, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, and the 20th anniversary of the first Stockholm Forum on the Holocaust. The fact that it was held at this time, despite the ongoing global healthcare emergency, demonstrates widespread recognition among both governments and experts that the problem has not receded and a strong collaborative effort is required.

That the forum was held in Malmö is itself significant, indicating the willingness of Swedish authorities to confront some difficult truths. Jews had fled there from the Nazis in 1943, and after the war the city received survivors from concentration camps, many of whom stayed on and made new lives there.

But in recent times, due to both verbal and physical antisemitic attacks, the city has developed a reputation as a place unsafe for Jews.

The Jewish population has dwindled.

Origins of IHRA

It was in 2000 at the first of four Stockholm International Forums on the Holocaust, in which AIJAC’s (Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council) Jeremy Jones participated on behalf of the Australian Government, that the IHRA’s founding document was agreed on.

The Stockholm Declaration gave expression to the sense of horror perpetuated by the Holocaust, and the international community’s shared responsibility to never again allow such evil, by promoting remembrance, education and research. Bringing governments together in this work is the IHRA’s mission.

The IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism is the fruit of a collaborative international effort that spanned almost two decades. A valuable tool in helping to educate about, and to eradicate, antisemitism, it is not intended to be legally implemented in and of itself. Its usefulness lies in providing a means of identifying examples of antisemitism, and thus enabling the design and employment of strategies designed to counter such behaviour.

The Malmö Forum was conceived to achieve practical outcomes, as well as verbal ones. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven insisted that participants to the forum – named “Remember-ReAct” – move from words to action: “The basis for remembrance efforts and combating antisemitism is already established, in part in the Stockholm Declaration from 2000”, he said. “What we need now is not fine words and lofty phrases, we must ensure that more concrete action is taken… to jointly make real progress in this important work.”

Remember & React. Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven delivers the opening speech at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism – REACT. The one-day conference will focus on the receding memory of the Holocaust as Sweden marks the 20th anniversary of a conference on remembering the genocide. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)

New EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism

Attended by the King and Queen of Sweden, heads of state and other dignitaries, the Forum heard presentations from various governments regarding their respective strategies.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented a summary of the comprehensive “EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life” that had been launched the previous week.

The policy is intended to be implemented over the period 2021 to 2030, and seems to demonstrate a serious commitment to protecting Jews and Jewish life in Europe.

It has generally been warmly welcomed by Jewish groups. The European Jewish Congress (EJC), for example, called it “an unprecedented and vital document.”

War & Remembrance. Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf (right), and Queen Silvia meet with Holocaust survivors at an exhibition showing the “White Buses”, used in a Red Cross rescue action in 1945, during the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, in Malmö, Sweden, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. ( Jonas Ekströmer/TT via AP)

Its goals are to strengthen the fight against antisemitism, to foster European Jewish life and to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. It acknowledges that previous efforts to prevent a rise in antisemitism have failed.

The strategy recommits the EU to the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, and notes that the most common form of antisemitism found online today is Israel-related antisemitism.

Financial commitments include a €1.55 billion (A$2.41 billion) fund to promote fundamental rights. The strategy also pledges to halt funding to any programme being run in a European member-state that discriminates against Jewish people or breaches any EU anti-discrimination rules. The strategy commits to strengthening legal mechanisms pertaining to hate crimes and hate speech, and urges member states to provide more support to victims of antisemitic crimes. It notes the need for better training for police in handling these victims and improved reporting of antisemitic incidents.

Pointing to the level of antisemitism online, the strategy outlines a range of measures being undertaken currently, or in the planning stages, to reduce antisemitism in cyberspace, such as working with organisations to develop counter-narratives against rapidly spreading online conspiracy theories, and supporting a “hackathon” to find innovative ways to address antisemitism online.

With respect to physical safety and security, the European Commission committed to organising a high-level conference to discuss the protection of Jewish communities across Europe. Funding of €24 million (A$37 million) will also be provided to protect synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions.

A Call to Combat. Stressing that online platforms must take greater responsibility to address hatred and harmful content, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said that “Anti-Semitism is a threat to Jewish people, but it is also a poison for our democracies, our values and our open societies. We have to fight it offline and online.”

The strategy also contains a pledge to support training for journalists to recognise all forms of antisemitism, including any unconscious antisemitic bias in reporting; and it plans to address antisemitism in sport, including via social media campaigns.

It even proposes to connect the Jewish festival of Tu b’Shvat, the “new year for trees,” to the EU’s pledge to plant three billion trees by 2030.

Finally, the strategy recognises the importance of educating young people about antisemitism, including the Holocaust, and “reflects Europe’s commitment to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, even after the last Holocaust survivors have passed away.”

It finds “currently one European in 20 has never heard of the Holocaust, and less than half of Europeans think it is sufficiently taught in schools”. To correct these deficiencies, the European Commission wants to create a network of sites it calls “where the Holocaust happened”, as well as continuing to support public Holocaust memorials and commemorations.

This ambitious strategy appears to set the benchmark for other countries in terms of seriousness in combatting contemporary antisemitism.

National Efforts

Pledges by the host Swedish Government at Malmö included promoting what it calls “education for active citizenship” to prevent antisemitism and other forms of racism, and the strengthening of Holocaust research.

Stockholm pledged it would present an action programme in 2022, whose elements include enhancing efforts by police to counter antisemitism, racism and hate crime, and the continuous monitoring of these activities in digital environments. The Swedish Government also plans to criminalise organised racism, and will establish a parliamentary committee to, as it puts it, “unbiasedly consider whether Holocaust denial should be more clearly criminalised.”

Sweden has also flagged the establishment in 2022 of a museum to preserve and pass on the memory of the Holocaust, and a Yiddish language centre to promote Jewish life. The funding of security measures will be significantly enhanced.  All in all, the Government expects the implementation of the proposed measures to cost some €9.3 million (A$14.4 million) per annum.

French President Emmanuel Macron was another national leader who appeared virtually at Malmö to voice support and to outline his country’s commitments to fighting antisemitism. These include the release by year’s end of a new national strategy combating racism and antisemitism by the country’s Inter-Ministerial Delegation for Combating Racism, Antisemitism and anti-LGBT Hate (DILCRAH – Délégation Interministérielle à la Lutte Contre le Racisme, l’Antisémitisme et la Haine anti-LGBT). Additionally, substantially increased budgets are promised for memorial institutions and associations working to combat hatred.

Global Effort. France’s President Emmanuel Macron appears on a screen at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, in Malmö, Sweden, October 13, 2021.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the Forum, pledging that the previously unfunded office of Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Fighting Antisemitism, held by international human rights lawyer and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, would be upgraded to a permanent post supported by dedicated funding and staff.

Trudeau also highlighted previous actions taken by his Government, such as convening a national summit on antisemitism in July, and his Government’s adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin told the forum that his country’s proposed Hate Crime Bill would introduce new legislation outlawing both online and offline incitement to hatred against another person or group due to characteristics such as race, religion, or ethnic or national origin. It would also create a new offence of denying, or grossly trivialising, crimes of genocide, including Holocaust denial. A new National Action Plan on Racism will be published, including measures to combat antisemitism, antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination and other forms of racism.

Commitments outlined to the forum by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis include the establishment of an award for those who contribute to Holocaust education, research and commemoration, as well as to the prevention of antisemitism. In May, Romania adopted its first national strategy for preventing and combating antisemitism, xenophobia, radicalisation and hate speech. In addition, it developed an action plan containing 36 concrete projects designed to protect vulnerable groups, and encourage cultural and educational programs, including the promotion of Jewish life. Efforts are being made to inaugurate a National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Forum that the US was allocating $1 million (A$1.33 million) to counter online antisemitic hate speech in the Mideast and North Africa, and has commenced a series of international visitor leadership programmes designed to confront Holocaust distortion and antisemitism in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.

Affirmative Action. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  affirmed in a letter that “The Biden administration enthusiastically embraces the 2016 International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.”
 

The Social Media Front

With heavy criticism directed at social media and other online sites for enabling antisemitism, officials from Facebook and YouTube pledged to take their responsibilities seriously.

Pedro Pina, YouTube chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa, committed to tackling hate speech online through policies, tools and programmes, and pledged €5 million (A$7.75 million) from Google to be directed towards governments and non-profits engaged in the fight.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg described the way her company had worked with the World Jewish Congress to provide accurate information about the Holocaust to those searching for information on its platform. She said the company was removing 15 times more hate speech now than it was five years ago, and this work would not stop.

The Way Forward

Sweden assumes the presidency of the IHRA from March 2022 until February 2023. Having required the participants in the Malmö Forum to deliver concrete pledges and not mere words, Sweden has set itself the further task of following up on these pledges during its forthcoming term.

Menace in Malmö. The Jewish community of Malmö  – where the International Forum was held – is declining amid frequent threats and attacks. The Rabbi of the Malmö synagogue (above) says he has been spat upon, cursed, and was nearly hit by a bottle thrown from a passing car. (Karin Wells/CBC)

Australia, for its part, a member of IHRA since 2019, did more than simply pledge to adopt the widely used definition of antisemitism at Malmö, welcome and important as this is. On a bipartisan basis, it demonstrated it was a core member of a global community committed to both Holocaust remembrance and fighting a battle against the growing global scourge of antisemitism, in all its manifestations. Malmö, and the examples of positive action put forward by the various other democracies there, would have provided ample ideas and potential initiatives to consider as Canberra now contemplates what more it can do to participate in those global efforts.




About the writers:

Judy Maynard is a Policy Analyst and Naomi Levin is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)






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).

Beauties and the Boycott

Chief Mandla Mandela calls for Israel to be boycotted for hosting the Miss Universe pageant

By Rolene Marks

Ask any beauty queen worth her sash and tiara what she wants for her reign and the answer is always delivered in firmly and resolutely, with a beatific smile, “I want world peace”. 

Now I know that there are many reading this who are contemplating whether or not we actually need beauty pageants in this day and age; and perhaps find the swimsuit section more than a little antiquated and demeaning. The truth is, these pageants provide a global stage for contestants to represent their countries, express their hopes and carry out important humanitarian work.

This year, Israel will play host to the annual pageant and we are delighted that the city of Eilat will be visited by beauties from around the world. Hosting international spectaculars is not new to Israel. It was only two years ago the Jewish state played host to the great bastion of cheesy tunes – the Eurovision song contest. We brought the world glam, we brought the world glitz, we brought the world Madonna!

Israel has also hosted the major international cycling event, Giro D’Italia and if all goes according to plan, will be putting in a joint bid with regional partners to host the 2030 Soccer/Football World Cup. FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, recently visited Israel and citing the signing of the Abraham Accords, stated that he thought Israel along with possible partners like the UAE and Bahrain would make excellent hosts for the much loved global tournament. Talk about scoring a goal for peace!

Men on the Move. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Not feeling the love and urge to sing a glowing rendition of kumbaya as the rest of us peace loving folk, Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of the iconic Nelson Mandela, is calling for a boycott of Israel’s hosting of the global pageant. He is urging each contestant not to participate because in his words, Israel is an Apartheid state.

View our interaction on African television channel, eNCA here:

Mandla Mandela has his own dubious history and it is quite ironic that he is choosing the Miss Universe pageant as his hill to die on. What is interesting, is that this poster man for the BDS movement is doing this as a solo efforts and without the boycott-screeching mob.

He has been the subject of much derision from his family for his moving his late grandfather’s remains from their peaceful resting place without consulting the family. The family laid criminal charges of tampering with a grave and South African High Court Judge, Judge Lusindiso Phakade, ruled in favour of the complainants and ordered Mandela to exhume and rebury the body.

Mandla caught lying! In the above youtube interaction, Mandla Mandela says that Malaysia is boycotting the Miss Universe pageant but it is clearly not the truth.

Criminal allegations were again levelled at the younger Mandela when he was charged with pointing a firearm and assaulting, a man. He was found guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Mandela’s private life could also rival a soap opera. Tales of annulment and affairs, blazing arguments and paternity suits abound and after converting to Islam, Mandela married his fourth wife.

Perhaps he is the LAST person who should be commenting on activities that involve young women. His iconic grandfather, who stood as a beacon of reconciliation and was an advocate for speaking to both parties in a conflict and contrary to popular opinion was a friend and supporter of the State of Israel, must be spinning in his grave.

Mandela wants each beauty queen to pull out of the pageant. Who does he think he is?

This is gross misogyny to deny these young women an international platform to do the humanitarian work that they choose to do?

Calling for boycotts is not the desirable path to peace. In fact, all that boycotts serve to do is to break down discourse and cooperation. The Miss Universe pageant does provide a unique opportunity for young women around the world to interact with each other and learn about each other’s cultures. While these beauties may not be brokering peace from a luxury resort in Eilat, they will have a chance to build friendships.

One such example is the friendship that developed several years ago between Miss Israel and Miss Iraq.  This broke long-held barriers and has done more for the cause of peace than the posturing of politicians.

Blessed are the peacemakers – for they are often beauty queens.

It is this former Miss Iraq whose name is Sarah Idan, having seen the situation for herself, who has become quite a vocal supporter of Israel and the pursuit of peace in the region.

Chief vs Beauty. In a war of words, Miss Iraq Sarah Idan (right) counter-punches Mandla Mandela (left) over the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. (Image via Instagram)

In a brutal ironic twist, this Iraqi Muslim woman has been the subject of a nasty social media pile on over the last week. Idan took to social media in a video message and criticised Mandela’s call for boycotts:

All I can say is: how dare you? How dare you as a man try to tell an organisation for women in women empowerment what to do? This is an opportunity that millions of women dream of, having to go on a world stage and represent their people, their nation, their culture. Not governments, not politics and definitely not your political agenda,” said Idan in her video.

Please allow Miss South Africa to go and experience Israel up close on the ground, and let her be the judge for herself. I’m positive, just like me, she will be shocked to see that the Israeli government consists of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and those people not only get to vote on policies to shape their future, but they also are part of the people who have political parties, and some of them are even Israeli ambassadors to the world,” said Idan in her video.

The responses were staggering in their venom and vitriol. Here is one such example:

In a region where many women, including Palestinians, would not have the opportunities to compete in pageants because their leaders would not allow for this, wouldn’t the efforts of people like Mandela be best served lobbying for women’s rights and NOT breaking down cooperation and dialogue?

I am sure if it were Russia or China or Venezuela (who have turned beauty pageants into a veritable Olympic sport) that was hosting, Mandla Mandela would be there quicker than a queen could change into her evening wear.

As Israel gears up to welcome the Miss Universe contestants to our vibrant and diverse country, it is my hope that they will realise their dreams of being one step closer to “world peace”. If the brave, beautiful and regal Sarah Idan is any indication, then a well-shod step for one, is a giant leap for the region.  Mandela would be wise to take heed of women waging peace and kindly shut up.

Meddling Mandla. Lalela Mswane, the winner of Miss South Africa 2021, is being urged by Mandla Mandela to boycott the event  in Eilat, Israel.(Screengrab/Instagram)






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).

Normal People Don’t Boycott Israel

Best-selling Irish author, Sally Rooney, exposes her prejudice – and gross hypocrisy by supporting boycotts against Israel.

By Rolene Marks

Normal people don’t boycott Israel. At least, any normal person who would like to see a genuine, lasting peace between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours. The latest brouhaha over what is now seen as leftie, cause-du-jour, is best-selling Irish author, Sally Rooney’s decision to “not allow her books to be published in Hebrew”. After a global outcry, Rooney has decided she will allow her books to be published in Hebrew in Israel – as long as the publisher is BDS-endorsed Israel. Who wants to tell Sally Rooney that is the shortest list? Ever!

A Closed Book. The most popular Irish writer at present, Sally Rooney, a BDS supporter , does not want her books published anymore in Hebrew.

Sally Rooney is the author of the best-selling missive, Normal People, which was adapted into a highly successful TV show of the same name and various other novels which appeal to millennials. Over the years, Rooney has made no secret of her support for the Palestinian cause. In her books, characters have attended pro-Palestinian rallies and activities.

The latest storm revolves around her refusal to publish her latest novel in Hebrew which is not only one of Israel’s national languages alongside Arabic; but is sacred to the Jewish people.

Abnormal Attitude. The bestseller by Irish writer Sally Rooney who no longer wants her books read by Jews in Israel.

Rooney tried to rationalize her decision by accusing Israel of practicing Apartheid and trotting out justification for her decision by quoting BDS (whose stated end goal is the destruction of the State of Israel; Human Rights Watch (whose founder wrote an article for the New York Times citing his concerns that the once venerated organization has a decidedly antisemitic agenda) and Israeli NGO, B’tselem (who have been exposed as receiving funding based on as many anti-Israel stories they can drum up – true or not).

What Rooney fails to understand is that Israel is a robust democracy, where a variety of opinions and views about our ongoing conflict with the Palestinians exist. We are also a country with a healthy respect for the arts. Art is supposed to bring people together, it is supposed to inspire conversation. It is supposed to provoke. By excluding one group of people or one nationality from enjoying (or not!) her art, she could do more to bring people together rather than drive bigger chasms which is of course, what BDS and their supporters want.

They do not want conversation, discourse and cooperation – they want Israel, the national representation of the Jewish people branded a pariah and excluded and use the charge of “human rights violations” as the proverbial stick to beat the horse.

Israel is not an Apartheid state. We are not without our many problems but we are certainly not an Apartheid state. The BDS movement are well aware that the word Apartheid is provocative and emotive and that people invariably understand little about what it means. All BDS does is exploits the suffering of the true victims of Apartheid to push their own racist, exclusionary and antisemitic agenda.

Selective Sally. While more than 320 rights groups and other organisations have called on the UN to launch investigations into Beijing’s human rights abuses, Irish writer Sally Looney is happy for her books to be published in Chinese but not in Hebrew. (Photo: Getty Images)

What I find glaringly hypocritical is that Rooney is more than happy to be published in China, Russia, Iran and other human rights violation hotspots around the world. Could it be that it is easier to advocate boycotting the tiny, Hebrew speaking market because it won’t have that much of an impact on potential profits from sales of the books? Jews are very much the people of the book – but I guess not any of Sally Rooney’s!

We cannot pretend that this does not pose a problem. Decisions of this kind only serve to give a tailwind to those who want to propagate more anti-Israel division. This week, posters were put up on bus stops in London with the words “Normal people boycott Israel”. This was a play on Rooney’s successful novel – and endorsing her decision. London transport authorities denounced this as vandalism but the message was out there for everyone to see – without the benefit of history, context and nuance.

The conflict between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours is complex and won’t be solved through boycotts and demonization but rather through negotiation and compromise.

Several days ago, the former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell passed away. He had this to say about the conflict, “The quest for peace, however difficult, must not be abandoned. Israel needs to live in peace and security. The Palestinians need the same, as does the region.”

Peace, he added, “can only be attained by the parties themselves. The pursuit is not helped by international actions and resolutions singling out Israel for economic attacks, or human rights allegations while ignoring despotic nations far more deserving of condemnation. That is not justice and that is not acceptable.”

Wise Words. General Colin Powell who served as the USA’s 65th Secretary of State and who passed away this week, had cautioned against “singling out Israel …. while ignoring despotic nations far more deserving of condemnation. That is not justice and that is not acceptable.”

Rooney and her ilk should heed his wise words.

To borrow from the title of Rooney’s best-seller, Normal People, I would leave her with a few kernels of truth. Normal people want peace. Normal people pursue dialogue and inclusion. Normal people don’t discriminate. Normal people do not sow division and hate. Normal people look for solutions instead of propagating conflict.

This gross kind of antisemitism, practiced by people like Rooney should never be something that normal people do. I hope it is not too late.





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

Roadworthy

From a dark road in the sixties to a dark age today, British TV series “Ridley Road” illuminates

By David E. Kaplan

It was by casual chance and indifference that I tuned into a chapter of history that I knew little or nothing about. Screening down the latest new movies and series that appeared on my streamer list, I opted for a BBC drama series titled “Ridley Road”. I had no idea what it was about but it sounded mildly interesting as it was briefly described as set in London during “the swinging sixties.”  Far from it!

Darkness Lurks In Broad Daylight. A poster for Ridley Road  (l-r) with Rory Kinnear as fascist leader Colin Jordan, Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein who infiltrates the neo-Nazi organization and Tom Varey as Jack Morris, a Jew working undercover.

Sure it was London and the sixties but not about what I was expecting –  the youth-driven cultural revolution that saw London flourishing in art, music and fashion, and emblematic of fun-loving hedonism.

This was not Abbey Road but Ridley Road!  

It was a dark road covering a dark period in history and yet it was hardly ‘history’ when the underlying issues it covered are as sadly prevailing as today’s headline news.

It took me down a road untraveled and left me disturbed as we, as Jews, have been down this road before – too many times.

And one is left asking:

What has changed?

If Abbey Road was the eleventh album by the Beatles named after the location of EMI Studios in London, Ridley Road by contrast was the Jewish headquarters not of a music studio but of Group 62 formed in 1962 in response to the resurgence of fascism in Britain headed by Colin Jordan, the founder of Britain’s National Socialist Movement (NSM). The 4-part series opens not as I was half expecting of a bright London bus careering down Piccadilly  but a sunlit bedroom in a country house in Kent in 1962 where an adorable child is helping a young blonde woman make the bed. They are then joined by a dapper man with a warm friendly face. He is the husband and the father. They gather in front of the window welcoming the morning sunshine from a Kentish pastoral scene. Then the jolt –  the man, while smiling gives a Nazi salute. This man, this husband, this father – is the infamous Colin Jordan.

For those unfamiliar with this constantly sieg-heiling character, John Colin Campbell Jordan (1923 – 2009) was a leading figure in post-war neo-Nazism in Great Britain. Through his leadership of organisations such as the National Socialist Movement and the World Union of National Socialists, Jordan advocated a pan-Aryan “Universal Nazism”. Although unaffiliated with any political party, he remained an influential voice on the British far right.

Tough Times. A scene from Ridley Road with (l-r) Malinovsky (Eddie Marsan), Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) and Ronnie Malinovsky (Danny Sykes). Photo credit: Ben Blackall

In the fictionalized drama series based on true events, the headquarters at Ridley Road is run by group of Jews who are joined by a young Jewish girl from Manchester who bravely sets out to infiltrate Jordan’s neo-Nazi organization. Their most remembered confrontation – depicted in the series –  was in Trafalgar Square in 1962, when Jordan – protected by the Free Speech Act – held a raucous rally where a riot broke out between his neo-Nazi supporters and protesting anti-fascists.

Of the plot I will write no more; only of the secondary ‘plot’ , that is, the ramifications of the series reflecting the spiraling antisemitism in Britain today.

Battle of Trafalgar ’62. Covered in the TV series Ridley Road, here is actual footage of the first public meeting called by the British National Socialist Movement in Trafalgar Square that ended as reported “with 20 arrests, fights, bleeding faces, abuse, and tears.”

No sooner had I started watching Part III of the series, my eyes were drawn to an article in the Time of Israel headed:

“UK actor faces ‘relentless’ abuse for playing Jewish character in BBC series”

The series is Ridley Road  that debuted on October 3 on BBC and the UK actor is Eddie Marsan, mostly known for his role in the hit American series ‘Ray Donovan’. Marsan, who is not Jewish, plays the leading role of Soly Malinovsk, the leader of the anti-fascist underground movement known as the 62 Group. Twitter users were quick to attack the show of “favouring Zionists” and accusing Marsan of supporting “apartheid”.

Read all About It! A newspaper cutting from 1 July, 1962 of several thousand anti-fascists breaking up a rally held in Trafalgar Square by Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement. This was followed by a wave of anti-fascist action against the NSM and Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement throughout 1962.

Did these twisted twitter users even WATCH the series?

Marsan was quick to respond revealing that he has been facing “relentless” online abuse for playing a Jewish character in the four-part “Ridley Road” TV series.

F**k me, this is relentless, all I did was play a Jew, I dread to think what would’ve happened if I was actually Jewish,” Marsan tweeted .

On the Warpath. Scene from Ridley Road shows Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear), Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) marching towards a Synagogue. (photo Ben Blackall)

Should anyone be surprised at the spiraling increase of anti-Semitism in the UK when a non-Jewish actor is subjected to such vile hate. See some of the tweets Marsan shares:

  • Facts are facts Eddie, you are a crap actor and I’ll never watch shite with your Apartheid loving bake in it.”
  • Why does the BBC do so many programmes favouring the Zionists ‘return’ and so few favouring Palestinian’s Right of Return? Just asking

The former Ray Donovan star was quick to fire back with:

 “I did a series about British Jews facing antisemitism, nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. But if you think they’re linked you probably think one justifies the other & the irony is, that’s exactly why Ridley Rd got commissioned.”

Responding to another antisemitic comment, Marsan proudly explained that he was grateful “to do ‘Ridley Road’ because it gave me the opportunity to confront people like you constructively and creatively. You can scream & shout all you want & throw around false accusations about, but it just reconfirms your prejudice.”

Outspoken against antisemitism on social media in the past, Marsan grappled with an explanation:

Antisemitism gives the myth that it’s punching up to some mythical all-powerful Jewish elite… so quite often, young people are taken in by antisemitic tropes on social media. They don’t see it as racism, they see it as anti-capitalist, and they feel more inclined to support it.”

In truth, Jews have been victimized for being communist as much as being capitalist suggesting the nature of the prejudice  is never over belief but blood.

Disgusting DuoColin Jordan gives a Nazi salute outside Marylebone Magistrates’ Court in 1963 while leaving with wife Françoise after being fined for insulting a Jewish taxi driver by saying “ good Luck to you for being a Jew …but what are you doing out of the ovens?’ (credit National Vanguard.org)

The Jews are despised not for what courses through their brains but through their veins.

British Jewish actress, Tracy-Ann Oberman, who costars in the series as Marsan’s wife and co-activist in the 62 Group, is intimately connected with the history. Her grandparents were members of the intelligence-gathering and anti-fascist underground movement 62 Group, which tried to stop the rise of the far-right. Oberman has been a staunch advocate for the fight against antisemitism since she left the British Labour Party in April 2017, after it refused to revoke the membership of former London mayor, Ken Livingstone, who was accused of antisemitism.

Standing Firm. The former EastEnders actress, Tracy-Ann Oberman now staring in Ridley Road, has faced a torrent of antisemitic abuse on social media over the years but remained defiant by ‘standing up against injustices’.

Appearing as a guest on the British talk show “Lorraine”, Oberman revealed that she was  being targeted by antisemitic trolls on social media, who have been abusing her online for years.

It comes from the left and the right, and if you see an injustice, I’ve always felt I needed to stand up and talk about it.”

Despite the treatment Oberman has been experiencing – described as “frankly vile” by talk show host Lorraine Kelley – Oberman is adamant that she will continue to speak against antisemitism despite online bullying.

The British writer, activist and Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Emma Pollock CBE, called the abuse that Marsan is facing:

 “shocking, disgusting, [and] exhausting all at once.”

While appreciative of the support following the verbal abuse targeting the intrepid actor, Marsan wrote:

 “Thanks for all the kind responses about this but honestly, I’ve been in this game for 30 years & I think I’m the dog’s bollocks, I’m fine. But the point is, what if I wasn’t. What if I were a young kid just starting out & I had to deal with this level of abuse. It’s unacceptable.”

None of this should be surprising!

Failed Führer. Actual Colin Jordan. Ridley Road is inspired by the true story of a revival of neo-Nazism in Britain in 1962 and a group of Jewish men and women who club together to try beat the fascists off the street and push them to the fringes of British politics, which they were successful in doing.
 

Also hardly ‘surprising’, last Thursday, London’s Metropolitan Police arrested a 28-year-old man suspected of carrying out five “unprovoked assaults on Jewish people” over the past month in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill. Police had been searching for the suspect since he had been filmed two weeks earlier assaulting a Jewish man and a child on the street in separate incidents on the same day.

Londoners today hardly need reminding of the situation. Who can forget the video – televised globally on TV news networks earlier this year – showing cars with Palestinian flags driving through Jewish populated areas of the British capital honking their horns and screaming:

F*** their mothers, rape their daughters

If this is the ‘road’  the UK is set on going down, then Ridley Road is a ‘much watch’ as warning sign how societies can so easily “go down the wrong road”. Whatever the stresses and strains on a society, it seems Jews  are perennially caught in the middle and are blamed and ostracized.

One must bear in mind that this fanatical leader of the National Socialist Movement, Colin Jordan, was not “some crazy” aberration – he went to Cambridge and was a teacher in a school – a classic example as how the ordinary  transforms into the evil extraordinary.

Whether the threats to deal with Jews are heard as manic murderous screams from moving cars or are delivered in more refined parlance from those attired in suits and fine skirts, the instructive narrative of Ridley Road  is no less about the past as it is about the future.

Ask actors like Eddie Masan and Tracy-Ann Oberman!








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).

Irish Antisemitism and BDS

The unspoken morality complex

By Fionn Grunspan

Ireland’s antisemitism is growing in public notoriety, from the attempted passage of a BDS law to author Sally Rooney boycotting the Hebrew language. Ireland has always been extremely divided towards Jews, with two thoughts, two minds and two hearts; but one grows stronger.

Modern Irish antisemitism began with The Limerick Pogrom, also known as The Limerick Boycott (1904-1906), when the local Jewish community was subjected to local boycotts and violent attacks, forcing local Jews to flee Limerick. The Limerick Pogrom would prove pivotal as Jews were denounced as a ‘disgrace’ to Ireland’s identity and morality as sermonised by local leader and pogrom leader Father John Creagh. A spreader of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including that of ritual murder, he said that the Jews had come to Limerick:

 “to fasten themselves on us like leeches and to draw our blood“.

Promoting Pogrom from the Pulpit. On the evening of 11 January 1904, Father John Creagh (above) took to the pulpit during mass at the Redemptorist church in Limerick and delivered a virulent antisemitic diatribe which gave rise to a pogrom and inaugurated a two-year economic boycott of the Limerick Jewish community. This boycott compelled most Jews to leave the city.
 

The belief that Jewish people and culture remain a stain on Irish identity and morality, remain pervasive with modern Irish antisemites. Pro-Nazi elements, within Irish society rose to prominence, with Oliver J Flanagan in his maiden speech on becoming a member of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) in 1943 stating:

rout the Jews out of this country… where the bees are there is honey, and where the Jews are there is money.”

Flanagan, would go on to become a government Minster for Agriculture in 1954, and rose to Minster of Defence in 1976. Antisemitism, would continue to build within Ireland as the legacy of Irish indifference to the suffering of Jews even grew following WWII and the horrors of the Holocaust.

Lies and Loss in Limerick. In April 1970, Gerald Goldberg, whose family lived in Limerick in 1904  (see above), characterized it as a “near genocide perpetrated … against some 150 defenceless Jewish men, women and children”.

Those in Ireland who had wished to resist the Nazis would quietly without any fanfare travel abroad to enlist such as Marie Elmes, an Irish aid worker who saved the lives of at least 200 Jewish children during the Holocaust, by hiding them in the boot of her car. At great risk to herself  and even imprisoned by the Gestapo for six moth on suspicion of aiding Jews, in 2015, she became the first and only Irish person honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.

One and Only. Mary Elmes, the Irish woman who saved Jewish children from Nazi extermination camps is the only Irish person honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.

For the over 5000 Irish Soldiers serving the Irish Military Forces during WWII, their circumstances were such that they enlisted in secret and on returning home were treated as outcasts – formally stripped of their previous ranks and medals.

Irish antisemitism would rapidly worsen, turning from largely extreme ‘cold indifference’ with bouts of violence to open antisemitic hostility in the form of Israelophobia. As Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s became consumed by the ethnic conflict in Northern Ireland, southern or the Republic of Ireland looked for allies, finding it with antisemitic regimes.

It should therefore come as little surprise that the Iranian regime  – that supports the destruction of Israel and sponsors terror groups that calls for the destruction of Jews – also proved to be a strong supporter and close ally to Ireland.

Ingrained Hate. “Suspend Israel…sanctions now” read the banners held up by these protesters at a rally called by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in May 2018 (Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Irish antisemitism increased throughout the decades, culminating in other formative moments in the 2000s, with the disseminating of antisemitic literature and the support of the rising BDS movement. In 2006, a local scandal erupted within Ireland of the selling of the notorious antisemitic libel of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Tesco supermarkets, which were only removed after the denouncement by local Muslim Clerics and Imams. This began an intense discussion on Israel coupled with finding traction with the antisemitic philosophy of the BDS movement.

Who’s Calling Who Awful. Academic boycott conference in Ireland rejects anti-BDS speaker but includes prominent BDS’s Steven Salaita, who called Israel supporters “awful human beings”.  Three researchers wishing to present opposing point of view were rejected from participating.

Founded in 2005, the BDS movement calling for the boycott and destruction of Israel as outlined by its cofounder Omar Barghouti – “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine” -gained rapid popularity throughout Ireland in the late 2000s and early 2010s, spreading rapidly throughout Irish academia, the political establishment, and civil society. Ireland in direct contravention of its EU Membership, continues to try and pass a law called “The Occupied Territories Bill” to ban products; made in Jewish areas in the contested areas of East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria / West Bank. The Law is being championed by nationalistic religious and ethnic elements alike.

Music to their Ears. Anyway to drown out Israel, Irish celebrities and public figures gathered at Dublin’s iconic Ha’penny Bridge to launch the Irish ‘Call to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel’.

Irish author Sally Rooney, boycotts the Hebrew language by refusing to have her book published in Hebrew, citing the need to support BDS:

 “The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so”.

Rooney’s actions are a recurring antisemitic legacy within Ireland.

For the Irish – Hardly ‘Novel’. Irish bestselling author and BDS supporter Sally Rooney won’t allow latest novel to be published in Hebrew by an Israeli press because she supports a cultural boycott of Israel. In 2018, Dublin’s city council passed resolutions endorsing a boycott of Israel and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.  (Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu)

The unspoken Irish morality complex of boycotting Jews  – from the early twentieth century of its own citizens to the present of  proposing to boycott Jews today in Israel  – will continue to pervade Irish society until it is fully challenged.

Ireland today is repeating its age-old habit of boycotting Jews to self-promote its sense of misguided morality where Jews are seen as immoral.  They fail to acknowledge their own immorality.

A long time coming, Ireland needs to finally address its years of antisemitism and  repair its relations with its small and beleaguered Irish-Jewish community.



About the writer:

Fionn Grunspan is a sign language translator previously working for a number of charities. Since being a community teacher and activist within his Jewish community from his mid-twenties, Grunspan today, through  his “Clubhouse Page”, promotes news and information about the Jewish world, focusing on Israel. For reasons of personal safety and security, the writer declined to  have his photograph appear.





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).

JUDGE DAVID UNTERHALTER- REQUIEM OR SEQUEL?

By Adv. Craig Snoyman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should one be surprised?

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

Is it a warning to South Africa’s Jews?

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

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

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





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


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

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

By Rolene Marks

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

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

Oh. Snap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Israel is doing (sic) ethnic cleansing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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