Israel Apartheid Week

An open letter to the Student Representative Council of the University of Cape Town in response to hosting the annual hate fest in April 2019: The Israeli Apartheid Week.

By Stephen Schulman, a UCT alumnus living in Israel

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Hall Of Hate. Jameson Memorial Hall is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

Dear members of the UCT SRC,

Now that the new year of 2019 has arrived it came to my notice that you, as in the past, and as is your custom, in the merry month of April, hosted that annual hate fest: the Israeli Apartheid Week.

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As a past graduate of our proud university and even though many moons have passed, I still feel a kinship to this great institution and its students and therefore would like to draw your attention to certain cogent facts and to engage you in a frank open discussion. I am certain that your studies and exposure to the benefits of academia of my alma mater have endowed you with qualities of intellectual and moral integrity and have instilled in you the virtues of disinterested enquiry, dispassionate objectivity and courtesy that shall enable you to weigh my words and honour me with a reply.

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You label Israel an “apartheid state”.

To deserve that label, a country must fulfil certain criteria. Apartheid was official government policy, legislated, executed and also condoned and ideologically justified by the main Afrikaner churches. Black people were discriminated against, disenfranchised, relocated, dispossessed and relegated to the fringes of society while there were strict laws against miscegenation and racial intercourse.

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The high-profile marriage in 2018 between Arab-Israeli news anchor, reporter, and television host Lucy Aharish, a Muslim (left), and Israeli film and television actor Tzahi Halevi and a Jew. (Photo: Meir Edery)

Unfortunately, nowadays the term “apartheid” has been too often incorrectly applied to any form of discrimination, been devalued and has consequently lost its original context.

Now, does the State of Israel fulfil the criteria to be so labeled? Does it have an official policy of racial discrimination to groups within its borders?

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Firstly, all citizens irrespective of race or religion have full equality.There are Arabs serving in the diplomatic corps and an Arab judge in the supreme court. In the Knesset (Israeli parliament) the current minister of communications is a Druse. There are Arab parties in the Knesset and even though they see themselves as Palestinians and their views are often inimical to the state, as Israel is a democratic country, they have the right to express their opinions, which they freely do. Arab citizens are an integral part of the work force and partake fully in society. In my Medical Health Fund and in hospitals and clinics, there are Arab doctors and nurses with Arabs and Jews together in the hospital wards. I have been treated by Arab doctors and nurses and wait my turn in line after other Arab citizens to see a doctor. There is mingling in cinemas, restaurants and supermarkets. Just recently a well-known and popular TV presenter who happens to be a Moslem Arab married a Jew. Is this “apartheid“?

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Israel has freedom of religion and religious sites are protected by law. The Bahai faith so viciously persecuted in Iran has magnificent gardens and buildings in Haifa. A great number of Christian pilgrims visit our country. The LGBT community lives and works freely here. Do these same conditions exist in the Middle Eastern countries surrounding us, in Gaza and the West Bank?

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You profess a deep and lasting concern for the Palestinian community. Let us now examine a few facts. In 1948, the United Nations declared Israel as a legitimate state with a right to stand amongst the community of nations. The Israel War of Independence ensued as the fledging state’s Arab neighbors refused to abide by the UN resolution, acknowledge Israel’s existence, avowed to destroy it, “push the Jews into the sea” and promptly invaded the country. In the aftermath of the war, approximately 600,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees. Moreover, approximately 850,000 Jews who had been living in the Arab countries many centuries before Islam dominated the area, were persecuted, subjected to pogroms, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled.

image010 (3).pngIn the name of justice for all, a most relevant and pertinent question would be to enquire about the fate of these 850,000 Jewish refugees. The answer is quite simple: the vast majority were accepted with open arms by the fledgling state while a smaller number having European passports chose to move there. Today, Jews from Arab countries and their descendants are an integral part of modern-day Israel.

Israel did not push them into squalid refugee camps and keep them there to fester as hostages as the Arab countries have done to their fellow Moslems. Israel did not deny them full citizenship and opportunities. You profess deep concern for the Palestinians’ rights. Lebanon restricts them to refugee camps, denies them basic rights such as citizenship, health care, employment and education and disqualifies them from owning property. Moreover, they are barred from studying or practicing in twenty professions. Lebanon continues to ignore calls by various human rights groups to the Lebanese authorities to end discrimination against Palestinians.

Is this not “apartheid” in its true sense?

In reality, the policy and actions of Lebanon are closer to the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany. In the wake of the Gulf War, many Gulf states, Qatar included, used the opportunity to expel the Palestinians living there. Saudi Arabia has imprisoned many and in Syria, thousands have been tortured and murdered. Is there an Arab country that has accepted their co-religionists the Palestinian refugees, given them citizenship and full rights as Israel has done to the Jews expelled from the Arab countries?  In the name of full justice and moral consistency, why have you never raised your voices in protest? Why have you not devoted a week to this cause?

The SRC has always stated its awareness of and devotion to causes for human rights.

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Turkey under Erdogan has summarily dismissed over 100, 000 civil servants, purged the army, jailed many in the opposition and effectively silenced the free press either by laws or intimidation.

Iran is under dictatorship, executing, jailing and torturing many of its citizens, persecuting religious minorities such a the Bahai and actively developing and spreading terrorism throughout the globe.

Saudi Arabia denies gender equality, has religious intolerance ad has executed over 500 people in the last few years.

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China has forcibly relocated over 1000,000 Moslem Uighurs, incarcerated, executed and harvested the organs of members of the Falun Gong sect. and let us not forget, amongst others, its maltreatment of the Tibetans.

Yet, in the light of all these well-known gross abuses, the SRC has chosen to remain silent. Why is this so?

Is it because you don’t wish to offend and bite the hand that feeds you when Saudi Arabia and China invest large sums of money in SA?

You quite rightly state your pride in being an African university and your involvement in the affairs of the continent and so it should be. Nevertheless, you remain silent in the face of injustices. To name a few:

Zimbabwe is corrupt and oppressive towards its own people. There is slavery in the Sudan and many fellow Africans suffer under incompetent and corrupt rulers. I saw in your group picture where you happily and contentedly sit, that with the exception of one white person that you are all Africans, so in raising your voices you cannot be accused of racism. You have been empowered by your fellow students to speak out. Why is there silence on your part?

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Hall Of Hate. Jameson Memorial Hall is UCT’s venue during its annual ‘Israel Hate Week.

When I was at UCT, the SRC saw beyond campus politics, was involved, protested and demonstrated against government apartheid policies. South Africa – your country, the country of your forefathers and your future generations – is mired in deep corruption with its leaders filling their pockets at the expense of the ordinary citizen. Poverty, neglect and crime is rampant. In your site, I searched in vain for any pronouncements of your concern or activism.  It is incomprehensible that you should choose silence!

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Consequently, your official platform is full of platitudes that unfortunately are devoid of any content. I find it pitiful that you find time to single out Israel while willfully ignoring the rampant injustices around you. I find it pitiful and morally repugnant that you turn a blind eye to many egregious violations of human rights and let hatred, racism and anti-Semitism blind your reason. I find it saddening that you, the student council are devoid of any moral compass and are stained with moral cowardice.

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I level these charges against you. They are serious. If I have erred, I shall gladly stand to be corrected. I look forward to your reply. If not, then you will have affirmed all my accusations.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon,

Israel.

 

 

 

Tseva Adom (code red)

By Bev Goldman

head of Israel Section, SAICC / SA Israel Chamber of Commerce Johannesburg, South Africa.

Time passes, memories fade, events are forgotten.  I needed to remind myself of past traumas in Israel, and I did.

In 2001, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Brigades and other terrorist groups began launching Qassam rockets at Sderot (the small town that lies about a mile outside of the Gaza Strip in the western Negev Desert) as part of the Second Intifada (2000-2005), and have continued intermittently since then.

Not only continued but intensified!

In a single day in November 2018, more than 460 rockets were launched into the south of Israel, cruelly outmatched a few months later when over a 24-hour period in May 2019, 500 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Back in 2002, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) installed a radar warning system known as Shakhar Adom, or ‘red dawn’.  It operated as follows: an alarm was sounded across the town when the IDF realised that a rocket was inbound. It worked extremely well, and citizens mostly had time – about 15 seconds – to find shelter from the inevitable destruction which followed.

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One Israeli schoolteacher finds a unique way to help her class cope with the fear and panic in the face of Hamas rocket fire.

In 2007, a young 7-year old Israeli girl by the name of Shakhar complained about her name being associated with the warning system.  In true Israeli style, ensuring that as little discomfort as possible would affect the citizens, authorities changed the name to Tseva Adom – meaning ‘red colour’ or ‘code red’ – and Tseva Adom became known across the Jewish world as ‘15 seconds’ – the difference between life and death.

Seventeen years: 17 years during which the citizens of Sderot, and later those of other cities and towns near Gaza, have lived with the terror of imminent attack, imminent destruction, imminent death. 17 years of treading softly, holding one’s breath, praying that children and spouses have reached safety in time, wondering when the next warning would come.  17 years of angst, of apprehension, of foreboding – how do people live like that?

Three years after the first radar warning was installed in Sderot, it was installed in Ashkelon, a city lying north of the Gaza Strip near the Mediterranean coast, further away from Gaza than Sderot, then also under siege from rockets and imminent death.  But aha!  Ashkelon did better than Sderot.  Why?  Because its citizens had 30 seconds’ warning instead of 15 – much more time to find shelter.  And did the citizens of Ashkelon cope with that trauma? 30 seconds – the difference between life and death. Not quite shades of Sophie’s Choice, but near enough.

While everyone involved suffered unimaginable horrors, it was the children who really bore the brunt of the attacks. Post-traumatic stress disorders, hyperactivity, problems with sleeping, detachment from friends, from activities, from integration into any social world – that was then, but those children who are now adults are still traumatised, still terrified, still emotionally fragile. Yet because the actual number of deaths caused by the rockets was very low, what happened there has taken a back seat as people continued to live every day and to marginalise their horrific experiences. And as for the media?  Of course, there were no stories – there seldom are, when they concern Israeli tragedies.

The New ‘Normal’

Let’s fast-forward 17 years and look at Sderot today, and at Ashkelon, and at the other parts of Israel where breathing is less often taken for granted and instead has become a symptom of apprehension. Sderot is now home to three converted bomb shelters that were adapted to meet the needs of teenagers for space and their own activities. Each can accommodate about 50 teens, and each can expand to make room for at least another 20. The best part of this is that those children are already gathered in bomb shelters: should there be a Tseva Adom warning, it will have no effect either on them or their pursuits, except psychologically and emotionally – does that matter?

According to NGO officials who visited Sderot to show support specifically to the teenagers, ‘We came into this large two-floor bomb shelter and it was like coming into someone’s living room. There are comfortable sofas, a well-stocked kitchen, a giant TV on the wall and downstairs there is a games room and a homework room. Everything is well maintained by the kids.”  In this safe environment, the children are given leadership training courses, they are encouraged to interact socially with one another and establish healthy relationships, and they are assisted with their schoolwork.

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No Kidding! Tzeva Adom (Code Red): Helping Children Deal with Terror at school.

Almost normal – almost, but not quite.  These are tomorrow’s leaders of Israel: passive victims of the worst kind of hatred and enmity.  Can their future be predicted? I wonder.

In the latest incident in March this year, Ashkelon was once again targeted from Gaza and Israeli families were woken up once again by the sound of air-raid sirens from Hamas rocket fire. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad determined yet again to create as much devastation as possible in the city, firing rockets and launching several airborne incendiary devices (including kites); and there was a cross-border arson attack in which Palestinians breached the Gaza security fence and burned whatever they could find in the area.

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Destination Israel. A missile fired from Gaza aimed at Israel’s civilian population.

More of the same trauma, the same anguish, the same shattering blows to the lives of those living there. Unceasing, and now focusing on central Israel, Tel Aviv, other vulnerable cities.

What is life like for those who live under this constant barrage of attack, combined with the hatred that initiates it?  How do the people of south Israel, wanting nothing more than peaceful lives and opportunities to enjoy life, cope with these perpetual offensives?  And what about those Palestinians who want much the same as the Israelis, but who are held hostage by their corrupt and devious leadership, forced to endure terror and torture for ideologies with which they may well disagree, as seen in the many on-the-ground normal everyday relationships that have developed between them and Israelis in their neighbourhoods?

The sound of the siren – the Tseva Adom – remains terrifying for Israelis in the south of the country, even though the attacks are less frequent than they used to be. When the siren goes off, they must drop everything, run to bomb shelters and ensure that their families are with them.  They are often too afraid to leave their homes and venture out to do the tasks any normal family does, because the sirens might go again, at any moment.  They fear the slamming of doors, the backfiring of cars and trucks, unusual music being played: to many of them, these strange noises sound like that dreadful sign. They cannot even stop and freeze in panic in case they don’t make it to the shelter in time. These are offensives of wartime, yet the world refuses to believe Israel is in a constant war with her enemies because the numbers of casualties are so low.

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Sderot has been described by some of its citizens, with gallows humour, as “the biggest bull’s-eye on the map of Israel”.  When the bombing began at the turn of the century, and because of its “proximity to the border and the concentration of Hamas-led amateur bomb-makers on the other side, Sderot has (and has) a unique civic claim: on a rocket-per-head-of-population basis, it is the most targeted town in Israel, indeed the world.” That’s quite a reputation for Sderot: Hamas is making sure that other Israeli towns gain the same reputation.

I remember years back, during the infamous Vietnam war, that one of the most iconic photos to come out of that tragedy was the one entitled “Vietnam Napalm 1972”.  The caption read: South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing.” 
That photo, and others from that time, and the explanatory texts, made history. They were distributed widely; the world was shocked and stunned; the anger was palpable.

Israel has had more than its fair share of tragedies, of bombings, of fires, of in-bed murders, of terror attacks, yet whenever these have happened, world opinion has been quiet.  Jewish lives – Israeli lives – are far less important than those of many others.  We number so few in the world’s population that the thinking probably is that we have no standing.  Like putting one’s finger into a glass of water, pulling it out and seeing no difference whatsoever in the level of water, so too with murdering a few Israelis here and there, some children, teenagers and the aged, the end effect is negligible.  Not worthy of media attention.  Not worthy of comment.

It is what it is….

 

 

Bev Goldman.jpgBev Goldman worked for many years in education and journalism, and she holds a master’s degree in Feminist Literature. Prior to joining the SA Zionist Federation where she dealt with media and education for 12 years, she was the editor of the ‘Who’s Who’ of Southern Africa; a member of WordWize which taught English language skills to Russian and Polish immigrants in South Africa; an occasional lecturer in English at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg); and Director of Educational Programmes at Allenby In-Home Studies.  Currently she runs the Media Team Israel for the SA Zionist Federation; she sits on the Board of Governors of the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre (RCHCC); she is the National Vice-President of the Union of Jewish Women South Africa; she is an executive member of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW); and she edits and proofs Masters and PhD dissertations.

 

The Israel Brief- 17-20 June 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 17 June 2019 – Israel sends water to Gaza. US envoy supports Ambassador Friedman’s statement on West Bank. Rivlin hosts Muslim leaders and Trump Heights on Golan.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 June 2019 – Police indict 46 year old Palestinian man for rape of 7 year old girl. PM of Malaysia antisemitic comments. Hamas say new level of understanding with Israel.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 June 2019 – Update on rape case. John Cusack tweet and AOC concentration camp comparison.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 20 June 2019 – Don’t test us says Netanyahu. IAEA recognise Palestinian state and Bahrain says yes to 6 Israeli journalists.

 

 

 

 

 

Call to Action

In its efforts to undermine the State of Israel, South Africa’s premier university may well be undermining itself.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa’s oldest university. Established in 1829, it maintained a proud tradition of academic excellence, but these days it is making international news branding stupidity, rather than excellence.

On March 30, 2019, the Council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) declined to adopt a resolution by its Senate on an Israeli boycott and sent it back requesting clarification before the resolution could go to a vote, notably:

  • “a full assessment of the sustainability impact” and
  • “more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further”.

This issue has now gone global as alumni across the world from Australia and Hong Kong to the UK, Israel , Canada and the USA – many of them donors and potential donors – have submitted their thoughts of some of the ramifications and repercussions that UCT would face if it decided to implement an Israeli academic boycott in any form.

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UCT At A Crossroads. An uncertain future: should it boycott Israel, donors may boycott UCT.

They have responded to the call by UCT Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng  for UCT stakeholders (including staff, students, alumni, and donors) to submit their views online on the proposed academic boycott of Israel by no later than Friday 21 June.

 (see https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UCTcommunityviews_201906)

Many of the submissions have drawn attention  that a boycott would cause:

  • “A major decrease in donor support, including contributions towards funding bursaries.”
  • “Irreparable harm to the principle of academic freedom”
  • “A loss in reputation and credibility for UCT as the leading university in Africa.”
  • “A sense that Jewish students and academics may feel uncomfortable at a university that has severed ties with their Jewish, spiritual and religious homeland.”
  • “A concern that past degrees and certifications of the university will fail to enjoy international recognition.”
  • “A restriction in UCT’s ability to work with other international institutions and the subsequent degradation in its academic work.”
  • “A loss of potential outstanding students who will chose to study elsewhere.”

One of the many alumni submitting their views is a contributor to LOTL,  Adv. Charles Abelsohn, and who has a BA from UCT, a  LLB  from the Univ of Stellenbosch and a B.Com Hons  from UNISA.

18 June 2019

Totally opposed to resolution proposed by the Palestinian Solidarity Forum (PSF).

No expertise or evidence supporting the Resolution

There are no details on the expertise or knowledge of PSF on the Israel – Arab conflict. Declarations of support for one party are not proof of expertise on the conflict.

The resolution contains no definition of the alleged “gross human rights violations“. Instituting a boycott based on generalizations and/or declarations is not academic and not worthy of an academic institution such as UCT.

PSF has not provided any facts or evidence to the Senate supporting allegations of  “gross human rights violations” by Israel generally or specifically by Israeli academic institutions.

Healthcare

Let`s all agree that the most important human right is the right to healthcare and life. According to the CIA factbook:

Life Expectancy: The West Bank is in 92nd place with 76 years. South Africa, in 191th place with 63 years.

Infant mortality rate: The West Bank is in 120th place with a rate of 14.6. South Africa, in 162nd place with an infant mortality rate of 32.

South Africa`s gross human rights violations regarding healthcare  are worse than the West Bank and are amongst the worst in the world.

Israel`s ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ organization has performed heart surgery on nearly 5,000 Third World children since it was started over 20 years ago, including more than 2,000 from the West Bank and Gaza and 300 from Iraq and Syria. Does this constitute a gross human violation? There is no South African equivalent.

More  “gross human rights violations” by Israel  are treating Palestinian leaders, and their families as well as, in 2018, 20,000 Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. Approximately 1,975 Palestinian physicians participated in medical trainings in Israel in a variety of fields, such as: AIDS, women’s health care and cancer.

Healthcare: PSF has not shown any Israeli “gross human rights violations”.

 Academic

Under Jordan`s illegal occupancy of the West Bank (1948-1967), no universities were allowed in the West Bank. Israel established the first university in the West Bank in 1971 – another “gross human rights violation”.

The PSF has not shown any Israeli academic “gross human rights violations”; On the contrary – the leader of BDS studied at an Israeli university. Omar Barghouti, a founder of BDS, a citizen of Qatar, with a Master`s degree from Columbia (USA) studied for his PH D at Tel Aviv University!

American Universities

 Martha Pollack, Cornell University president’s reply to  a proposal for boycott: “Cornell is an educational institution, and its primary purpose is to further the education of students through our teaching, research and engagement mission. Cornell is not primarily an agent to direct social or political action. BDS unfairly singles out one country in the world for sanction when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.”

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Fistful of Rands. Hardly, if the resolution is passed. The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), an anti-Israel lobby group is at the forefront of the campaign to isolate the Jewish state at UCT.

Professor Cary Nelson, past  president of the American Association of University Professors has written a book: Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State (Indiana University Press).

Nelson takes a skeptical view of BDS. Many BDS people say their goal is to rebuke Israel and persuade it to improve the treatment of Palestinians. Nelson, having examined the words of BDS leaders in depth, believes they are in fact working toward the collapse of Israel. UCT, please take note:

All ten chancellors in the University of California system have reaffirmed their opposition to the academic boycott of Israel. In a statement, the chancellors said their “commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges, and universities is unwavering.” The boycott of Israeli universities and scholars “poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty”.

President Melvin Oliver of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, vetoed a faculty vote to end an exchange programme with Haifa University, saying it is plain wrong, discriminatory and inconsistent to boycott Israel so long as Pitzer, along with many other American colleges, “promotes exchanges and study abroad in countries with significant human rights abuses.” “China, for example, has killed, tortured and imprisoned up to 1 million people in Tibet and utterly obliterated the Tibetan nation. China currently has 1 million Muslims imprisoned in ‘re-education’ camps. Why would we not suspend our program with China?”

One definition of anti-Semitism is singling out Jews or Israel to be punished for supposed but unproven actions that have been documented on a much larger or much more brutal scale in many other countries. UCT, for example, has not considered voting to boycott Saudi Arabia for its state-sanctioned assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or Iran for the execution of homosexuals or the Palestinians for preventing free speech and assembly, never mind China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria`s 500,000 deaths  or Brunei`s death by stoning for homosexuals.

PSF has not shown why, worldwide, only Israeli academic institutions need to be boycotted for “gross human rights violations”.

European Union Cooperation with Israeli Universities

The European Union and Israel enjoy scientific cooperation under the Horizon 2020 programme. Grants have been awarded to 1062 Israeli projects from the beginning of the programme until the end of 2018. Israeli universities and research institutes can be found among the top 10 countries, worldwide, hosting projects. There is no EU boycott of Israel`s universities. There are no South African academic institutions participating in the EU programme.

Europe: PSF has not shown why Europe is wrong to cooperate intensively with Israeli academia despite Israel`s alleged “gross human rights violations”.

Proposed Resolution for UCT: UCT hereby resolves to deepen, not boycott or limit, its association with Israeli universities, for its own benefit and that of its students.

Big Ben might be silent, but warning bells are chiming in London – for Jews!

The article JEWXIT: COULD 300,000 JEWS FLEE THE UK? by Hannah Gal published in The Jerusalem Post on the June 12 is creating a stir.

It suggests that one in three British Jews have considered leaving the UK due to rising antisemitism and refers to a 2018 poll by The Jewish Chronicle, that “British Jews between 35 and 54 years old are most concerned about the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government, with over half of those surveyed giving emigration serious consideration.”

Revealing prevailing fear among families was a quote from an enraged Jewish mother  that “It is almost unreal to me that my daughter’s university choice is determined by her fear of antisemitism.”

She laments that “antisemitism is becoming a part of everyday life.”

This “everyday life” antisemitism, says another mother, is being exacerbated by an atmosphere created by the Leader of the Opposition and possible future Prime Minister:

I used to wear a Magen David (Star of David) but now I am hesitant. Corbyn’s passive aggressive support of anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments has created a climate where it is now okay to lash out at things Jewish. His actions speak louder than his words – his regular attendances at events and rallies that lobby for Palestine, coupled with pronounced silences whenever there is a tragedy involving Jewish or Israelis, tells me the allegations are not only well founded, but they are telling of a new kind of neoliberal socialist blood which Corbyn has created in the UK.”

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Walking Alone. Quarter of Jewish students in UK “fear antisemitic attacks on campus”.

The increasing anxiety level within the Jewish community recently led former chairman of the Conservative Party, Andrew Feldman, to pen a letter to Jeremy Corbyn saying:

I want you to know that many Jewish people in the United Kingdom are seriously contemplating their future here in the event of you becoming prime minister. This is because they can see that Labour, a party with a proud tradition of tolerance and inclusiveness, is now a hotbed of feelings against Israel and therefore the Jewish people. Quietly, discreetly and extremely reluctantly, they are making their contingency plans, and this would be a tragedy.”

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Future UK Prime Minster? Jeremy Corbyn leading a demonstration in London July 2014 against Israeli during Operation Protective Edge that began following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas.

In response to the article, former South African and today a resident in London, UK, Chris Manson writes:

The nature and level of the anxieties raised in the article is entirely commensurate with the evidence that is all  around.

Indeed, the only surprise to me is how long it seems to have taken to sink in!

There are many factors that inform that this situation has evolved over at least the past twenty years. As such, it is unlikely also to be just something transient.

 These are some of them but by no means all:

  1. The education profession is entirely dominated by a sort of post-modernist neo-Marxist orthodoxy.

The view disseminated by this establishment is rigidly anti-Israeli and unconditionally supportive of all her enemies.

Hence, this is the view held by educated young people, and to differ from it invites ridicule at best, but more likely ostracism or outright attack.

Nowhere is this culture more entrenched  than in the universities. That is why one reference in the article is to the selection of university being dominated by consideration of which campus, relatively speaking, may be less hostile.

  1. The “celebration” and elevation of multi-culturalism to totemic status. As part of the process of expiation of perceived Imperialist guilt, it has become a requirement of modernity, anti-racist purity and “progressive” political views to ascribe an almost sacred degree of absolute moral value to the views of the historic and contemporary immigrant communities.

Out of such communities were drawn the majority by far of British recruits for I.S.I.L.

For years, these groupings and many more mainstream organisations have campaigned also on behalf of the Palestinian cause.

Thus, over time the prevailing view has distilled into the perception that Israel is a sort of psychopathic “entity”, brutal, racist and simply vile in every way.

Anyone daring to even timidly question this this is simply tarred with the same brush.

These are crimes perpetrated by the Jews. Inevitably by implication, British Jewry provide a legitimate target. Payback for the defenceless victims of global “Zionism”.

  1. British thought and direction of travel is skewed by the dominance and power of London; this is where the zeitgeist of the nation is defined. Factors (1) & (2) above are dominant in this location which also largely explains the Brexit division.
  2. Jeremy Corbyn has always been an unrepentant advocate of the overthrow of Israel by any means.

The new recruits to Labour who form his praetorian guard, are social media people informed by factors (1) to (3) above. How surprising can it be that the amalgam of this is now reflected in a casual antisemitism for it is indeed an aspect of contemporary cool: along with anti-sexism, multiculturalism, climate change activism, Trump hatred and so on.

  1. If Corbyn wins the next election which he may well, and this could be sooner rather than later, we can expect an exacerbation of antisemitism as it will then enjoy a thinly disguised State sanction. Rather like South Africa as is clear from a recent article published on Lay Of  The LandI think therefore that for the Anglo Jewish community in the United Kingdom, the options are what they more or less have eternally been everywhere.

Remain, keep a low profile, disguise yourself, hope that things will get better and discretely work to that end.

Or, accept that sadly, the tide has turned here for the foreseeable future and get out while hanging on to the passport!

 

 

*Feature picture – Getty

“Shitty Jew”

By Rolene Marks

This is a personal account of a grossly antisemitic incident and the events that followed. It is important to share these stories, especially at a time when levels of antisemitism are rising to alarming levels around the world. We can no longer be silent in the face of hatred

Yes, you read the title correctly. This is not an easy story to share with you but at a time when hatred and vile invective against Jews is rising alarmingly across the globe, I feel the need to rise above my own personal humiliation and hurt and allow myself the vulnerability of sharing this very personal story with you.

Today, it is more important than ever to expose racism and bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head and send a message that antisemitism will no longer go unchecked. It is no longer okay to gaslight the concerns of Jews and we will no longer suffer in silence.

This story takes place in race sensitive South Africa and exposes a diabolical double standard that exists on issues pertaining to racism. The democratic rainbow nation that enjoys what is arguably the most progressive Constitution in the world, sets the bar when comes to calling out the bigots and haters but when it comes to the oldest hatred in the world, is oddly silent. Has the current political climate with the ruling ANC’s almost rabid disdain for the State of Israel filtered down and is clouding human decency?

South Africans are all too familiar with cases like Penny Sparrow, Adam Catzavelos and others who have made repugnant racist comments and are paying the price but there seems to be no punishment for antisemitism – only avoidance.

I guess when it comes to equal opportunity hatred, the South African media are not as “woke” as they purport to be. Cry the beloved country.

What happened?image001 (14).png

It all started with a letter.

In my capacity as co-founder of the South Africa-Israel Policy Forum, I responded to both a letter written by Gunvant Govinjee and an article written by Alexander O’Riordan that featured in the Business Day and The Daily Maverick respectively. Regrettably, my opening line that stated unequivocally that my letter was in response to both the letter AND the article, was omitted in both publications.

O’Riordan erroneously interpreted some of my comments as a direct attack on him, and proceeded to call me a liar both in a letter of response in the Business Day as well as on my Facebook page. The latter followed an invitation into my personal space after a well-meaning acquaintance suggested that if we spoke to each other, we might find middle ground.

It was not to be!

O’Riordan unleashed venomous invective, calling me a liar multiple times, alleging that I called him a racist (there is a BIG difference between calling someone a racist and saying comments are such) and demanding an apology. Although acknowledging that ‘perhaps’ he had reacted wrongly, he STILL persisted in calling me a liar. I had all the facts so wasn’t as bothered by those accusations as I was by what followed.

When I replied to him by saying that I was a proud Jew, his only response is to resort to personal attack and things took a profound turn for the worse.

O’Riordan responded by calling me a “shitty Jew” no less than four times and his final punch was comparing me to Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Now, while I cannot testify to Madoff or Weinstein’s levels of religious observance, I can ask why is religion a factor on what kind of a person they are? We don’t judge other criminals by their religion n’est-ce pas?

O’Riordan then went on to clarify who he deems “decidedly unshitty”. Those Jews that are “good” i.e. anti-Zionist or anti-Israel like Ronnie Kasrils or Joe Slovo. Good Jews vs Bad Jews – a distinction which antisemites are weaponising in order to sow division and try rationalise their hate-driven behaviour.

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O’Riordan claims that Ronnie Kasrils, a former Minister of Intelligence is a “good Jew” but please allow me to remind readers that this is a man who in an Op-ed for the Daily Maverick on the 20th of April this year, made the following comments referring to the development of business ties with Israel as “crony capitalists within the ANC” who were more than ready to have “their palms greased like Judas with silver coins“.

Today, the word ‘Israel’ or ‘Zionist’ has replaced ‘Jew’, and Kasrils, despite his Jewish roots, is trafficking in nasty antisemitic tropes. While O’Riordan – a self-proclaimed atheist – further states that there are “shitty people” of other religions, it is the focus on Jews and his propensity to make divisions that is decidedly dangerous and must be called out.

Good Jew vs Shitty Jew – this is not criticism of Israeli policy, which is legitimate and which Israelis have elevated to a national sport. This is where the line has been crossed and a further line drawn in the sand.

We, the Jewish people will decide what is offensive to us and making these despicable distinctions offends us to the core. Must we be punished and isolated for having and supporting a state of our own? Those like O’Riordan who make these distinctions believe so.

Following this, I sent an official letter of complaint to both editors, thinking that they do would share my disgust and act. To date I have had no response – not even an acknowledgement  of receipt  – from either of the editors.

Radio silence!

 At first, I was angry and then I thought, perhaps there is something more to this. Were the editors afraid of taking a stand or drawing attention to this issue? I really don’t believe it is anything personal or anti-Israel on behalf of the editors; on the contrary, I think the political climate in South Africa is such that it could invite a lot of hate-filled invective.image005 (5).png

Has the climate become such that when it comes to rising antisemitism in South Africa, people are too scared to take a stand? The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ruling ANC and terror organization, Hamas as well as the renaming of Sandton Drive after arch terrorist, Leila Khaled, has firmly cemented where South Africa’s alliances fall. The trafficking in antisemitic tropes by ANC and other party leaders such as the EFF who made this statement “We also call on the international community to remember the people of Palestine, the birth and death place of Jesus Christ. They represent the suffering, the permanently crucified, disfigured and humiliated body of Christ hanging on the summit for all shame. The Palestinians suffer racial discrimination, colonization and apartheid in the hands of the apartheid state of Israel” or former Foreign Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu who wished the “Israeli Embassy was in the Dead Sea” only adds fuel to the fire.

O’Riordan’s comments I find racist and offensive and the subsequent editorial silence of the respected Business Day and Daily Maverick, I find worrying, especially in today’s climate. My concern is compounded by these publications offering a platform to a professional propagandist who when unable to establish facts, resorts to racism, when referring to me as a “shitty Jew”!shitty Jew4.JPG

If he had made these comments about another race or religion, it would be equally intolerable and someone like this who trafficks in racism should be publicly shunned and exposed. O’Riordan should be held to the same standards as any racist.

If it is not going to happen in a country like South Africa that purports to be a liberal democracy to take a stand of racism in any of its ugly forms then it is up to us as individuals. Failure to do so allows for hatred to flourish.

I won’t be silent or silenced. Not on my watch.

In a democracy there should not be any place for intolerance and racism in a civilized society.shitty Jew5.JPG

Times Are A’changing

In Europe, now South Africa – Jews are feeling uneasy

By David E. Kaplan

The recent spat between the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ vice president, Zev Krengel and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, illustrates not only the widening chasm  between South Africa’s ruling party and its Jewish community but something far more alarming.

It exposes an increasing unease Jews are feeling with their position in South Africa today.

The “issue” is not over anything pertaining to Jewish wellbeing in their country – the primary concern of Krengel’s organisation the SAJBOD – but over South Africa’s relationship with the Jewish State – Israel.

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Satisfying Selfie. SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn, SAJBOD’s vice president Zev Krengel and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa are all smiles following post-election celebrations held at the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission’s) Results Gala.

Once a  ‘sign’ of inclusivity, the much touted “Rainbow Nation” image of the Mandela era has lost its sparkle. That inclusivity  comes today  for South Africa’s Jews  with a price tag:

Stop Supporting Israel.”

Can this really be expected as an option for a People who have repeated for over 3500 years from the Psalm of King David:

 “If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget its skill!”

Zionism –  the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel – is in the DNA of South African Jewry. Well over a half century before the Holocaust in Europe, Zionism arrived in South Africa  “in the knapsacks of the Litvak Jews.”

Many of the young new arrivals from the late nineteenth century  had been members of Hovevei Zion societies in Eastern Europe – the forerunners and foundation-builders of modern Zionism. These societies aimed to promote Jewish immigration to their ancestral homeland in Ottoman ruled Palestine, and advance Jewish settlement there, particularly in agriculture.

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Fundraising For Palestine. A 1922 pledge of 175 by a Cape Town Jew. South African Jewry’s contribution in absolute figures was second only to Jewry in the USA in the first two decades of Keren Hayesod (Foundation Fund) that was established in 1922. By 1939, with a Jewish population of 90,700 South Africa’s per capita record was extraordinary when compared to a Jewish population of nearly 5,000,000 in the United States.

It was therefore no surprise the South African Zionist Federation was established as early as 1898 – over a decade before there was even a Union of South Africa –  followed by the Board of Deputies in 1903. Nine years later the ANC was founded in 1912, with the aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans.

Now the organisations tasked with fighting for the rights of Jews and Blacks are facing off over an issue a continent away!

What has startled the Jewish community even more, was the rebuke Krengel and the SAJBOD received as if they had no right to criticize the ANC member.

The criticism in question was Krengel referring  to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as “the single biggest enemy” in government to South African Jewry. This was in response for her crusade for South Africa to sever diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Krengel had every right to articulate his concerns particularly following the Minister’s ignorance, bias and antisemitism all evident in her accusing “the Israeli government of funding WITS” (University of the Witwatersrand) and adding to her accusation “This was a fact that must be taken into account when implementing the proposed downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel.”

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Down With Israel. Diplomatic downgrade crusader, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: GCIS.

If the British Labour Party, once the political home for much of Britain’s Jewish community is being investigated for institutional antisemitism – why should senior members of the ANC be free of similar rebuke?

The Jewish leadership would have been remiss in not taking the minister to task.

As national vice chairman of the South Africa Zionist Federation Ben Levitas in Politicalweb expressed:

the SAJBOD did what they were elected to do by opposing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s decision to act on the ANC’s 54th National Conference resolution “to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel”. The Boards mandate is to guard and protect the interests of the Jewish community and the downgrade of relations with Israel most certainly impacts on the well-being of the community.”

While the cracks have been paved over following the recent national election, some members within the community are seeing through the façade of rainbow-nation-like unity and camaraderie. A May 23 letter by Brian Josselowitz to the editor the SA Jewish Report is revealing:

You can schmooze with the political elite, and even take selfies with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, but he serves at the pleasure of the national executive committee, and he will not vote against ANC policy, especially on the question of Israel.

The SA Jewish Report (SAJR) gave him its unqualified backing when he won the ANC presidency at the party’s last elective conference, and if he has, as the SAJR would have us believe, an open mind about the conflict, why didn’t he take cabinet colleagues Naledi Pandor and Sisulu to task, in public, for their anti-Semitic remarks? Why has he allowed Sisulu to say that all relations with Israel are being severed, and the embassy will be downgraded to a visa office, without repudiating her in public?”

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Soothing In Synagogue. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the Jewish New Year’s prayer session at the Gardens Synagogue in Cape Town, September 12, 2018. Picture: GCIS

A Deep Sense Of Foreboding

What is happening to freedom of speech in South Africa  when the Board’s director, Wendy Kahn, feels the need to defend  her organisation’s right to criticise government.

 “…I think the Jewish community, as with all citizens of South Africa have got a right to criticise and condemn statements and actions of government.”

All this follows:

  • in 2018 the ANC put out the red carpet in Parliament for the terror organisation Hamas that had only weeks before   fired close to 500 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel with the intention of endangering the lives of Israelis. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was co-signed by the ANC and Hamas that supported – inter alia – “the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel” and ensured that “ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel
  • The ongoing crusade of South Africa’s premier university – the University of Cape Town (UCT) – to boycott academic institutions in Israel
  • The passing of a motion brought to the Johannesburg council by the ANC, Al-Jamaah and EFF to rename one of the city’s prominent roads, Sandton Drive, after Leila Khaled. While glorified as the “poster girl of the Palestinian struggle”, this is the same Leila Khaled who, holding two hand-grenades in her hands in 1970, terrified a planeload of passengers on an EL AL Flight from Amsterdam to New York City and who the previous year, in 1969, had hijacked a TWA Flight from Rome to Tel Aviv diverting it to Damascus International Airport, where together with her partner, blew up the nose section of the Boeing 707. These are South Africa’s role models today – dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. Khaled was not hijacking civilian aircraft in support for a Two-State Solution:

        In 1970, there were only 1,514 Jews living in the West Bank!

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Explosive Personality. TWA Flight 840 being blown up on August 29th 1969 by Leila Khaled and her fellow hijackers. Source: adst.org

Is it any wonder that Jews in South Africa are questioning the direction of their country, the policies of its political leaders and the nagging thorn pricking daily, whether it is a suitable place for their children and grandchildren?

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Sign Of The Times. PFPL plane hijacker Leila Khaled (centre) warmly received in South Africa in 2015, might soon have a street in Johannesburg named after her. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

An old acquaintance in Cape Town who recently put his property on the market remarked:

 “It’s now just a house; it’s no more a home!”

 

 

* Feature Picture:  Cyril Ramaphosa chating to Lindiwe Sisulu on the last day of the ANC National Conference on December 20, 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Out Of This World

The week that was Eurovision in Israel

By David E. Kaplan

Shifting from the salon sofa and watching the buildup to the 2019 Eurovision Song Competition on TV to actually immersing oneself in the swelling  crowds at the Eurovillage in  Tel Aviv’s beach front was an eye-popping opener or as one says in Hebrew:

Ein milim” – “no words”.

For a press that usually obsesses with covering Israel in a negative light, what a refreshing change:

Britain’s The Independent ran with a headline reading:

This year’s Eurovision was one of the best in recent memory,” praising the broadcasts “general splendor” and calling it “an incredible show.”

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Stunning & Spectacular. An extravaganza of sound, sights and light at the Eurovision final in Tel Aviv.

CNN called the grand final “a showpiece that would have disappointed few Eurovision fans.

The New York Times, which only recently published a vile antisemitic cartoon anchored on Israeli politics, said the show had “enough glitz, plumes of fire and special effects to invigorate even the blandest Europop.”

Even the BBC was captivated by the special atmosphere. Its newsreader Graham Norton during his live commentary  said of the 2019 rendition of Israel’s 40th anniversary of “Hallelujah”  by Gali Atari accompanied by previous top Eurovision contestants – Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira and Verka Serduchka:

What a real treat for Eurovision fans… a really special moment. A gorgeous moment.”

The BBC was spot on – it was a “gorgeous moment”. However, the entire week was a compilation of “gorgeous moments.”

Off course, there were still those who could not resist ‘aiming’ their pens in describing Eurovision in Israel as  “Tel Aviv caught between partying and politics” but so be it:

The event lived up to its expectations; the theme of Israel’s Eurovision was “Dare To Dream”,  a theme espoused by Israel’s founding father Theodore Hertzel, who defied the naysayers over 120 years earlier with “If you will it, it is no dream.”

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Alive & Electrifying. The writer was amongst the 100,000 plus in this aerial view of the Eurovision Village in Tel Aviv during the second semifinals of the Eurovision song contest on May 16, 2019 with Jaffa in the background. (Courtesy Tel Aviv Municipality)

The results were there for all to celebrate as the eyes of the world – some 200 million viewers – were on Israel and seeing:

How you can build a country in 71 years and that despite the immense challenges, despite being surrounded by enemies desiring our extinction, despite a biased  global media in perpetual assault mode against the Jewish state, saw the curtain rise on a modern, fun-loving, exciting, enterprising, entrepreneurial and hi-tech behemoth that can also show the world:

How to party

And party Israel did.

Tel Aviv lived up to its reputation of the “City That never Sleeps” or as I like to describe it, “as the city that wakes up every morning  and decides what’s its going to be”.

Yes, the people of the “Start-Up Nation” know how to “work hard” but they also know how to “play hard” and  the multitude of visitors from abroad were swept away by the euphoric atmosphere.

Three Swiss visitors I spoke to, agreed, “The atmosphere here is special; you will never see anything like this in SwitzerlandEurovision or no Eurovision

A twentysomething from Germany remarked, “It’s funny; I’ve been here a week and even with the time change, Europe is fast asleep when you guys are still partying.”

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Sea’ing Is Believing. Adjacent to the sea, ecstatic fans in the fans zone by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 18, 2019.REUTERS/ Corinna Kern

Euphoria in Eurovillage

The lingua franca of the people standing around me  near the main stage at the Eurovillage was a cross of European languages and many of them were holding aloft their country’s flags.  Facing me were the flags of Romania, Italy, Sweden and Denmark. Looking back, all I could see was a sea of people, gyrating to the music of an Abba Revival band from Sweden. The four singers down to their dress looked like Abba and if you closed your eyes, you could be back in the seventies – they sounded exactly like Abba.

Most the people around me were probably not even born when Abba won with Waterloo in 1974, but tonight was Tel Aviv’s “Waterloo” as it won in victoriously emblazoning to the world, if you want to know us, come and see Israel for yourself.

Clearly, the thousands of overseas visitors were happy they did.

Party Poopers

BDS failed abysmally in sabotaging the event. Despite their appeals for countries to boycott – notably by their flagbearer, Roger Waters – not one European country pulled out. Noted for flying a balloon of a giant pig with a Star of David at his concerts and then denying “I’m NOT an anti-Semite”, Ranting Roger made a last ditch-11th hour incoherent rant on social media following an appeal “from my friend Omar Barghouti”  for contestants to boycott Tel Aviv. A co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, Barghouti does not believe in a two-state solution as he believes that the “creation of a Jewish state was a crime” and calls to restore the name of “Palestine” for the entire area from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

Waters’ appeal met on deaf ears.

Where once people listed to his music, today, few were interested in hearing what he had to say.

Even the pro-Palestinian Icelandic ‘Hatari’ participated albeit displaying Palestinian flags. They received no thanks for doing so!

The Iceland band’s gesture cut no ice with BDS who wrote on its Twitter account:

Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line.”

At a press conference, Hatari offered a purely positive message saying, “We need to unite and remember to love – hate  on the rise in Europe.”

Yes, that hate is manifesting itself in the worst outbreak of antisemitism in Europe since WWII.

And happy to join that hate fest  are Fatah and the  Palestinian Authority (PA).

During the week leading up to the final of the Eurovision, Fatah and the PA campaigned vigorously and visually for countries to boycott  Tel Aviv as reflected in its cartoons published daily linking Israeli music to violence – including the visual depiction of the common PA libel that “Israel intentionally kills civilians”.

Fatah posted the cartoon below on Facebook, showing an Israeli soldier shooting at Palestinians in Gaza. Musical notes are flowing from the “Eurovision” but turn into an ammunition belt for the soldier’s machine gun.

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In a second cartoon posted by Fatah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dressed up as Israeli singer Netta Barzilai who won last year’s Eurovision and brought the competition to Israel. Netanyahu is holding a missile in each hand:

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Missiles? What the PA and Fatah neglects to advise its gullible readership is that it was the Palestinians in Gaza that only two weeks earlier had launched nearly 700 missiles at southern Israel, killing four  Israeli civilians, injuring many and causing severe structural damage to property, including moving motor vehicles.

Never Stop Dreaming

Israel’s message to the world was so poignantly encapsulated by the Shalva Band. Shalva (The Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities) is a registered non-profit organization that supports and empowers individuals with disabilities and their families in Israel. The eight-piece band, which includes Israelis with blindness, Down syndrome and other physical and developmental disabilities, called on spectators “to never stop dreaming.” The band performed a rendition of A Million Dreams from the film The Greatest Showman.

The band made it to the finals  of The Rising Star, the local Israeli contest that determines who represents the country at the Eurovision. Predicted to win by judges and audience members, they dropped out because performing at Eurovision would have necessitated violating the Sabbath in order to participate in the Saturday night final broadcast.

At a press conference they revealed that they were living out their dream.

“When we first started playing together people wouldn’t listen to us, they would just leave the room,” said Band director Shai Ben-Shushan. “We worked hard, and we became better and better, and we believed in ourselves. After a lot of hard work, we got to Hakochav Haba (The Rising Star) – and in the beginning we didn’t believe that we were good enough to make it to the end.”

The Israeli public thought they did.

“We’ve made a huge change in Israeli society,” he said. “Today, when we walk in the street, the Israeli people want to embrace us – not because we’re a gimmick, but because we’re good at what we do.”

If only the PAHamas and BDS  would understand this message

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“I’m Not Your Toy”. Championing diversity, Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai performs at the Eurovision semifinal in Tel Aviv.

Wonder Woman On Wonder City

A quick lesson in “three minutes” about life in Tel Aviv was revealed in the back of a taxi by Gal Gadot, Israel’s famed star from Wonder Woman with taxi driver, famed Israeli comedian Yuval Semo.

“Three minutes,” says the Hollywood superstar it took for  Netta Barzilai in 2018 to bring the Eurovision to Israel with her winning entry “Toy”; “three minutes,’ she joked, “is the average an Israeli waits before getting personal – a little too personal,” and “Three minutes to understand the essence of Tel Aviv – Inspiration, innovation, big ideas and open arms. Come as you are, bring who you like, love what you do, day or night, daring and caring, outgoing and including everyone under one hot sun.”

At the end of the week – All Said And Sung – the real winner of Eurovision 2019 was – ISRAEL!

As Israel’s message in its 1979 Eurovision win: “Hallelujah

 

Corbyn’s Anti-Israel Obsession In Numbers

*This article currently appears in Jewish News/Britain

With the Human Rights Commission set to launch a probe into Labour antisemitism, we take a forensic look at the party leader’s relentless 30-year animosity towards Israel

By JODIE COHEN

On the UK Parliament website users can look up every Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by MPs since the 1989/90 Parliament.

EDMs are motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed. They are often used to put on record the views of individual MPs and can attract a great deal of public interest and media coverage.

Jodie Cohen3
courtesy Jewish News

MPs can sponsor their own EDM or sign other people’s. This investigation looks only at the EDMs Jeremy Corbyn has sponsored, as they are a clearer indication of his most strongly held views.

Since Parliament.uk’s records began, Corbyn has sponsored 834 EDMs covering 200 subjects, including 67 countries.

Yet one subject and one country stands out…

Israel, Israel, Israel…

Of the 834 EDMs sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn, 64 motions are critical of Israel or demonstrate one-sided support for the Palestinians.

He appears to have sponsored such an EDM virtually every year over a 22-year period, no matter what party leads the Israeli government.

The Labour leader’s EDMs on Israel appear to have started in 1993 – the year Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. They continued until he became Leader  of  the Opposition in September 2015. His record shows he has been more critical of Israel than any other country or single issue.

Corbyn’s Overall EDMs

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True Colours. Three major Jewish newspapers The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and the Jewish Telegraph say Corbyn government would pose an ‘existential threat to Jewish life’

To put the 64 EDMs on Israel and the Palestinians into perspective, Corbyn has tabled 55 EDMs calling for nuclear non-proliferation, one of the subjects for which he is best known. Some 18 of these specifically refer to Trident, Britain’s nuclear programme.

He has referenced his constituency of Islington 43 times during the same period – that’s almost 49% more EDMs on Israel than on his own constituency.  He is more interested in criticising the Middle East’s only democracy than representing the people he was elected to speak for.

The Labour leader has tabled 23 EDMs related to trade unions, labour relations and workers’ rights. He sponsored 18 regarding the transport sector and workers within that sector.  He proposed a further 17 on education, covering teachers’ pay, education funding and schools and colleges in his constituency. Corbyn’s EDMs on Israel are more than his EDMs on these three subjects – all of which he is passionate about – combined.

Appetite For Foreign Policy

MPs are allowed, of course, to take an interest in non-constituency and non-UK matters, and Jeremy Corbyn is clearly interested in foreign affairs. For example, he has tabled 26 EDMs on Morocco (often citing support for Western Saharan independence).

He has sponsored 25 motions on Chile (criticising Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and supporting human rights and democracy). And he has proposed 23 EDMs related to the troubles in Ireland in the second half of the 20th century.

However, his EDMs on Israel and the Palestinians clearly surpass the number of EDMs he has tabled on Morocco and Chile put together, and are not far behind his EDMs on Morocco, Chile and Ireland combined.

Take a deeper dive…

There have been times when Corbyn is so concerned about a subject that he tables more than one EDM in a row on the same topic. What’s his record? You’ve guessed it…In 2004, he tabled four EDMs consecutively on Israel and the Palestinians.

Some might argue that the other 649 MPs in the House of Commons might be just as concerned about Israel. So, I examined all EDMs on Israel since Parliament.uk’s records began. There are 442 EDMs on Israel in total, including motions that are both positive and negative. The Labour leader has sponsored almost 1/7 of these, only one of which could be deemed to be positive (it praises an Israeli peace coalition ‘Gush Shalom’).

He sponsored only two EDMs referencing Syria, both in 2013. One welcomed the UK ruling out military action, and one called for the Middle East to be a weapons of mass destruction free zone. There have been zero on Yazidi persecution, and zero referring at all to Islamic State by any of its names.

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Face The Facts. Corbyn has answered but people are afraid to accept the truth.

What about the troubles in Venezuela in recent years? He has sponsored no EDMs on the country since 2013, when he offered condolences to its people after the passing of President Hugo Chavez.

And what about those bastions of human rights, Russia and China?  He has sponsored two (on Chechnya) and five (on Taiwan, Tibet and human rights) respectively. On Iran, two EDMs express concern at the prospect of war.

The others either express support for the rights of Iranian workers or for the Kurdish people in Iran. None condemn Iran’s repeated calls to wipe Israel off the map.

Any condemnation of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah?  NONE.

So, it looks as though Corbyn is more concerned with Israel – which has been seeking peace with the Palestinians for decades – than with questionable regimes and key conflicts, in which well over one million people have perished.

One might assume that the reason Corbyn hasn’t tabled any EDMs on some of the above subjects recently is because he hasn’t tabled any EDMs since becoming leader – as is the custom for ministers upon their appointment.

However, a search of EDMs since September 2015 shows he has sponsored 54 motions during this time.

It’s also interesting to consider why Corbyn hasn’t posted any EDMs on Israel since becoming leader. One could presume it’s because, shortly afterwards, Labour became embroiled in questions over its attitude towards antisemitism and Zionism

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Hardly ‘A Labour Of Love’. Antisemitism on the rise, including Britain’s Labour Party, Jewish community groups and their supporters stage a protest in Parliament Square, London, England on July 19, 2018. ( Getty )

A clasis case was of Jeremy Corbyn claiming “British ‘Zionists’ don’t understand English irony despite having lived in Britain all their lives”.

The remarks were made in 2013, when Corbyn was giving a speech alongside prominent British extremists at a London  conference publicised by Hamas’ military wing.

What Would A Corbyn Premiership Mean For Israel?

Analysing his EDMs provides insights on what we might expect to see with regards to Israel, should Corbyn become prime minister.

In 2002, he was the primary sponsor of an EDM calling to end arms exports to Israel. That became Labour policy at last year’s party conference (remember the sea of Palestinian flags?)

In 2011, his EDM on the status of Jerusalem called on Israel to respect freedom of worship for all faiths in the city, which many would argue shows a lack of understanding of facts on the ground.

Corbyn denies supporting a blanket boycott of Israel, saying he believes in boycotting settlement produce only. However, our investigation has revealed that in 2002, he sponsored an EDM entitled ‘National Petition for Palestine’.

The motion says the British government should call on Israel to withdraw its army from the Occupied Territories, dismantle the settlements there, and accept that the Palestinians have an equal right to Jerusalem, whether it be the capital of their separate state (East Jerusalem) or that of a single democratic secular state.

It states Britain should make a public commitment to supporting UN resolution 194 calling on Israel to “grant the refugees, the Palestinians displaced by them, the right to return to Israel or a right to compensation if they choose not to return”.

Finally, it states that Britain should impose trade sanctions on Israel, including an arms embargo, until the above demands are met. A core demand of today’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is the Palestinian refugees’ ‘right of return’ to Israel. In the words of former US President Barack Obama, this “would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state”.

Corbyn’s supporters take pride in the fact that he is a man of principle. He sticks to his guns and is proud of his unwavering positions on policy. This is part of his appeal. So, it could be argued that his EDM calling for a full boycott of Israel is an indication of the direction a Corbyn-led government would take.

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Faces Of Despair. Revealing in their demeanor, members of the Board of Deputies Jonathan Arkush, Jonathan Goldstein following disappointing meeting with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Bookies’ Favourite

Recent polls have indicated that a Prime Minister Corbyn is becoming increasingly likely.

Despite the local government elections held last week delivering a rebuke to both the main political parties, a YouGov poll for The Times on 23/24 April suggested a Labour lead over the Conservatives of 3%, with Labour achieving 30% of the vote. In fact, thirteen polls all taken in April 2019 suggest a Labour win at the next General Election.

With Theresa May under fire for her handling of Brexit, European elections will give us the next indication of which way voters are headed.

Whether or not Jeremy Corbyn becomes the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, one thing is clear. Corbyn’s record of sponsoring EDMs over the past two decades and more indicates that for him, as recently suggested by former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, it really is “all about Israel”.

A dictionary definition of ‘obsession’ is ‘an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.’ This analysis suggests that Corbyn is obsessed with Israel on an absolute basis as well as on a comparative basis – comparative over time, with other MPs, and with other issues. It’s a negative obsession, with only one EDM out of 64 highlighting positive dialogue.

 The Key Question: Why?

So, why has the Labour leader been so utterly obsessed with Israel when other arguably far more pressing issues and topics get a free pass? That’s a question only he can answer. Until he does, people will remain deeply troubled about his true motivation.

 

About the writer:

Jodie Cohen4.jpgJodie Cohen is a public affairs consultant who has advised numerous multinational companies, as well as Jewish and Israel related organisations over the past 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Feature picture: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at a pro-Palestinian rally in London, 2014. | Photo: Palestinian Solidarity Campaign

Anti-Semitism – Why?

When Jews are persecuted the silent majority remain silent

 

By Philip Weyers a great-grandson of Field Marshall Jan Smuts, a twice Prime Minister of South Africa and supporter of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

The fine article by Peter Bailey in Lay Of The Land recently, “Why is there Anti-Semitism”, and the Yom HaShoah Commemoration yesterday of the six million Jews who were murdered at the hands of the Nazi’s between 1933 and 1945 has again brought to the forefront of my mind the phenomena that confronts me daily in the media and which I find inexplicable and appalling – Anti-Semitism.

I have only ever received kindness from Jewish people; family, friends and strangers, and for my own edification I felt the need to put to paper my thoughts or possible rationales as to why the world is so; why do so many dislike or even hate Jews, people they’ve never met and who have only ever served humanity, based purely on their religious and spiritual beliefs.

My upbringing was Christian, my Mother a devout Presbyterian and my Father a rather less devout Presbyterian, but a practising Christian, nonetheless.

My Mother would often refer to Jews as “God’s chosen people”, and this she said without malice or envy, purely as a matter of fact. Mom had many Jewish friends and she certainly did not differentiate between them and her Christian friends, all were her friends and there was no distinction.

My Father too had many Jewish friends, from his days at the Bar, on the Bench and socially. He, not being as devout a Christian as my Mother, did not refer to them any differently, they were his friends, period.

Ancestrally, my great-grandfather was a prominent South African who was influential in the discussions and drafting of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and fought with vigour to ensure the tenets of the Balfour Declaration were ratified into International Law at the San Remo Conference in 1920. He was also one of the few voices that reminded England that they had obligations to meet when they were doing all they could to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish State. He was a personal friend of Dr Chaim Weitzmann and an avowed Christian Zionist, as am I. His belief was that Palestine, or the Holy Land as he referred to it, was the Biblical home of the Jews and that historical precedent existed justifying his belief. Doubtless, his beliefs and convictions carried down three generations to influence me from a relatively young age.

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Christian Zionists. The writer beside the statue of his great-grandfather, Jan Christiaan Smuts.

Perspective

Persecution of the Jews is not a new development, 3300 years ago, the Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians and were led out of Egypt to the Promised Land – Israel as we know it today, by Moses. This predates the time of Muhammad and establishment of Islam (632CE) by more than 2500 years, so no arguments from the fundamentalists on that point. Since that time, persecution and enslavement or a combination of the two has been a constant throughout the millennia.

The Holocaust carried out between 1933 and 1945 was not the first such systematic action and killing of Jews. In contemporary history, the Holocaust was preceded by the Pogroms carried out in present day Ukraine and Poland, Romania and Iraq from the late 1800’s through to the late 1940’s. Historical estimations dating back to 135 BCE indicate that nearly 3 million Jews were killed for being Jewish in countries as diverse as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and even England. These Pogrom related 3 million deaths are in addition to the 6 million who died at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust, realising a total of 9 million murdered, astonishing and appalling.

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Plotting To Rid World Of Jews. Adolf Hitler talking with Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini.

 

Why?

Jews are a passive, peaceful people.

Jews have in my experience and in all recorded history been a passive, non-aggressive people in stark contrast to most other of the world’s peoples. In all the records of conflicts, the Jews have never been the aggressors. This holds true today, where Israel is not and never has been the aggressor and has on all occasions only defended itself or its security. It is a tendency of humanity to cast blame and attach liability to parties or peoples who are not able or inclined to defend themselves, easy targets, and so it is with the Jews who have been blamed for every worldly misfortune, often historically due to the preaching of the Clergy and in the present day, due to radical Islamists. The liberal press we have today which has such influence on what is deemed ‘Politically Correct’ and which is so eagerly digested by the world’s misguided liberals has much to answer for. Responsibility for the random massacres that continue to this day is most often to be laid still at the feet of the liberal, bigoted press, devious politicians and the vitriol and actions of fundamentalist Islamic Imams.

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Black Plague, Black Time for Jews. In Europe during the Middle Ages, Christians blamed Jews for the Black Plague resulting in their arrest, confiscation of their property, and being burned at the stake.

When Jews are persecuted the silent majority remain silent and are delict in not voicing any form of defence for the Jews, save for a few lone voices who generally are insufficient in number to have any impact. This situation is exacerbated by politicians and commentators who seek paths of least resistance and the desire for popular acceptance. The need to conform and not be at odds with the majority is a human tendency and sadly this characteristic has resulted in all too many people failing dismally in their human obligations.

Inquisition. Captives to the auto de fe for sentencing. Colored engraving.
Expunging Spain Of Jews. An auto-da-fé in 15th century Spain for condemned heretics, mostly Jews, during the Spanish Inquisition. PSUMPIX / CORBIS / GETTY IMAGES

Political Correctness

The new and to my mind destructive, naive and mindless concept of “Political Correctness” serves also as a reason for what Jews endure daily worldwide. A recent example of this is the massacre of the Muslims in Christchurch which quite rightly drew international condemnation. At much the same time a synagogue killing of Jews was carried out in the USA and over 200 Christians massacred in Nigeria, both events drawing very little from the Press and even less from politicians and the people. Such is “Political Correctness” at its worst; far more palatable and acceptable that Jews and Christians are killed than Muslims.

It is also so that the press report in such a manner as to conform with what is currently acceptable, regardless of whether their articles will stand up to scrutiny, and no one will scrutinise in any event. The current Gaza situation bears this out; when Hamas terrorists launched 450 rockets against Israel, the newspaper headline reads that an IDF attack on Gaza killed a mother and child. The Israeli civilian losses, which there were, are not of sufficient importance to warrant any indignation. It transpired also that the mother and child were killed by Hamas, not the IDF, and not that the press retracted their false accusations.

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Burning Hate. Hamas supporters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration in Gaza.

 Envy and Jealousy

The emotions of envy and jealousy can be immensely destructive and have resulted in countless negative and damaging consequences, sometimes on a vast scale. It is both a common perception and in my mind a reality that the Jews are a people whose small numbers bely completely their massive contributions to humanity at large. However, far from acknowledging their contributions to humanity, too many in the world react with aggression resulting from what must include malicious jealousy.

The success of Jewish enterprises and corporations across the globe are legendary to those who care to know. The dominant Hollywood movie industry was started and continues to be directed by Jews, the Rothschild family whose name has always been synonymous with success and wealth; Jewish. And the list goes on and on. Doubtless these internationally known corporations and enterprises are the cause of envy and resultant resentment to many.

Medical, science and technological advances made by Jews and Israelis also provide a long list of innovations that benefit mankind. More than one revolutionary cancer treatment is currently undergoing clinical trials. Twelve Israeli’s have won the Nobel Prize in the last 50 years, per capita the most on the planet, During the 20th Century, Jews won 138 or 21% of all Nobel Prizes, quite an accomplishment for a people that accounts for only 0,20% of the world’s population.

Rather than acknowledge these achievements which in most cases are to the benefit of mankind, a substantial proportion of the world’s population respond by being resentful. It should be borne in mind that much of the malice derives from feelings of inferiority which – real or imagined – are enormously powerful motivators and result often in acts of aggression.

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Supporters of Israel. Winston Churchill and Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1942. Before emerging friends and allies, Smuts, as State Attorney during the Anglo Boer War, interrogated Winston Churchill who had been captured. At one of their meetings during World War II, Smuts revealed to Churchill that at first he opposed his release but later reconsidered, but by that time, the prisoner released had himself i.e. escaped!

My perception, borne out by personal experience, is that Jews are also intellectual people, given so often to deep and analytical thinking which would go some way to explaining the success of Jews worldwide and Israelis probably in particular. This trait would explain much, including possibly the Anti-Semitic sentiments so many seem to harbour.

The State of Israel

Israel is the target of so many weapons from those wielded by seemingly most of the world’s media to the extensive arsenals of all of Israel’s neighbours and most in the Middle East region.

I understand and subscribe to the precedent created by Biblical history; that Israel was the home of the Jews thousands of years before Christianity began and longer still before Islam came into being. One of Israel’s names in those historical times was Judea, the connection therefore to me being obvious, even though it would seem to escape completely those today who choose not to acknowledge this.

Israel as we know it had its beginnings with the Zionist movement initiated by Theodore Herzl with the publication of his work “Der Judenstaat” in early 1896. Subsequently and after the death of Herzl, the movement for a home for the Jews was taken up by the brilliant physicist Dr Chaim Weizmann and largely through his efforts the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which was a declaration of intent to provide the Jews with a home, determined after much investigation, deliberation and negotiation to be Palestine.

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Solid Support. Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan in northern Israel is named after the Jan Smuts who was a prominent supporter of Zionism and played a significant role in the wording of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1941, Yitzchak Rabin joined the Palmach section of the Haganah during his stay at kibbutz Ramat Yohanan.

With the cessation of WWI hostilities, and by virtue of the Smuts Resolution at the Sen Remo Conference in 1920, Britain was granted a Class A Mandate over Palestine which enabled the settlement of Jews in Israel in accordance with the intent contained in the Balfour Declaration. Due to attempts to appease the surrounding Arabs, Britain tried on many occasions to thwart by any means possible the emigration of Jews to Palestine. Despite this, and showing tremendous fortitude, the emigration continued and on 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel, Eretz Israel.

Immediately following the declaration, the Arab states surrounding Israel on three sides went to war with the sole objective of destroying Israel – the War of Independence. This was followed in 1956 by an Israeli invasion of Sinai to effect the lifting of Egypt’s closure to Israel of the Straits of Tiran, essential to Israel’s oil imports. A lull in hostilities followed despite continuing tensionsת and when Egypt started massing troops along the Israeli border in June 1967, the Six Day War started when Israel undertook pre-emptive air strikes. The Yom Kippur War followed in 1973 when the surrounding Arab neighbours made another attempt to destroy Israel. Many isolated conflicts have followed since. All, without exception, the direct result of neighbouring Arab aggression or to safeguard Israel’s national security. There has never been a conflict due to Israeli territorial ambitions or ideological differences.

Despite Israel having come into being through legitimate internationally validated legal process, the Arab neighbours continue to perpetrate hostile acts against it.

The “Spoils of War” has resulted in territories changing hands for as long as history has been recorded, and were it a principle by which victors gained possession of conquered territory only for the duration of the conflict before returning it, the world would be very different to the one we know. The most obvious reversal would be the return of the United States of America to England which quite obviously is pure folly of thought. Despite the smaller scale, the same principle applies to Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. For Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to continue to agitate for return of territorial losses in conflicts the victors, Israel, did not initiate, is devoid of any precedent. This does not, however, influence the distorted logic of the terror organisations who continue to do all possible to harm Israel and Israelis. These terror organisations are so blinded by anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish fervour that this is unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever. Anti-Semitism runs rife and at a deeper level here than likely anywhere else on earth, certainly since the end of World War II. The international press and of late misguided liberal U S Democrats have been vocal in their Anti-Semitic condemnation of Israel, even when Israel acts against terror attacks perpetrated against her.

Mahmoud Abbas: "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem..."
Facing Reality. The PLO charter calls for the destruction of Israel as does Hamas; Nasser of Egypt called for the total annihilation of the Jewish State as did Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other Arab countries. While Israel looks towards peace, the leadership in Hamas as well as in the Palestinian Authority are constantly encouraging and honouring violence against Jews.

Family/Elder and Peer Pressure

Two of the most powerful conduits for sentiment, opinions and actions is that of hereditary influence and peer pressure. In the absence of free-thinkers, parental and ancestral opinions and prejudices along with peer pressure often determine attitudes and actions. This is more likely to occur in less sophisticated societies where exposure to alternative opinions and international realities is not a given. Doubtless much of the Middle East falls within this general category and as such, many of the various populations provide fertile grounds for indoctrinations and recruitment of adherents. Often the worst perpetrators know no better and have their Anti-Semitic hatred developed over generations and deeply entrenched, beyond I believe the possibility of any redemption or conversion. It is this inhuman mentality, developed over generations, that makes it possible to celebrate the deaths of Israeli citizens resulting from terrorist actions. Most of humanity would not, I contend, find themselves able to celebrate such tragedies.

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Massacre at Clifford’s Tower. On 16 March 1190 one of the worst cases of Anti-Semitic violence in Britain took place in York. It was not until 1978 that a plaque commemorating the massacre was installed at the foot of the tower.

This document is not intended as an exhaustive nor extensively detailed history, certainly not an answer, but rather as a basic exercise to put my considered thoughts down on paper in an attempt to rationalise for myself that which cannot be rationalised; the Anti-Semitic phenomenon which for me is beyond any comprehension and which is the cause, today, and for millennia past, of the death of millions of Jews and ongoing daily terrorist attacks against Jews the world over.

 

About the author

PHILIP WEYERS1.jpgPhilip Weyers was born in Doornkloof in 1958, eight years after the passing of his great-grandfather, Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts who served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948.

Weyers has served as Managing and Executive Director of the General Smuts Foundation as well as National President of the South African Air Force Association and Vice Chairman of the Council of Military Veterans Organisation of South Africa.

Invitations to speaking tours outside South Africa have included in 2016 to the UK for the 75th Battle of Britain reunion and in 2017 to Israel on the occasion of the Balfour Declaration Centenary.

Weyers’ interests include history, current affairs, ornithology, golf, gym, jogging and being a passionate friend and defender of Israel.