The Crisis of Zionism

By Alex Ryvchin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New York Times reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

About the writer:

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

No Safe Space for Jew Hate!

By Rolene Marks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Christianity is Intertwined with Zionism

By Bafana Modise

The recent political uproar in South Africa triggered by its Chief Justice’s position on Israel has left many with unanswered questions, especially those less informed regarding the creation and existence of the state of Israel. While issues of law and religion are vying for prominence in this complex debate, I stand firmly in the camp that accepts the premise that modern-day Israel was born out of the Zionist dream of Jews returning to their biblical or ancestral homeland. I am proud – not embarrassed by this position

While scholars, politicians and jurists will persist in their arguments of separating religious and political Zionism in their attempts to try and undermine the legal basis of the Jewish state’s existence, the one fact that is irrefutable – irrespective of one’s politics or religion – is that Israel is a reality recognised as such within the community of nations. That Israel’s existence is further supported by Christian belief does not undermine or discredit our Christian position on the issue or reflect negatively on Israel.

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Rebirth of a Nation. The international community says YES to the establishment of the State of Israel with the UN proclamation of the independence of the State of Israel in New York, 1947. (Copyright: GPO)

So why the unfair crazed assault on our esteemed and proudly Christian Chief Justice?

Many of us Christians in South Africa proudly join with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in his opinion that Israel is the realisation of biblical prophecy. Our Christian position is in no way contrary to Israel’s existence. On the contrary – it reinforces it; hence the title of my article – ‘Christianity is intertwined with Zionism’.

For those less informed on Israel’s founding, let us remember that the former Soviet Union was the first country to recognise Israel on the 17 May 1948. This was followed by Poland, CzechoslovakiaYugoslavia, Ireland and YES – South Africa! The United States extended de jure recognition after Israel’s first election on 31 January 1949.

The biblical texts envisaged the return of the exiles back to Israel in the end of times through prophets like Isaiah, Joel, Zachariah and Ezekiel who warned that nations shall rise against Israel.  Do we want South Africa to be amongst those nations foretold in the Bible that “shall rise against Israel”?

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Christian Concern. During the Israel-Gaza War in 2014, over 12,000 South Africans, mostly Christians from all across the country, gathered in Johannesburg calling on Hamas to stop firing its rockets at Israel and strive for peace and security for both the people of Israel and of Gaza.

If we deny Israel as Christians then we are denying the ‘Will of the Father’ and the truth of the very scriptures we believe in.

Recently, the church has been pushed into political correctness on their position on Israel due to increasing global rejection of the state of Israel accusing it of being “a colonial settler state”.

Does Israel have outstanding issues to resolve? Yes, it does. Does South Africa have enormous existential issues that demand resolution? Yes, it does.

But this should not undermine our respective countries existence or warrant our destruction!

What the enemies of Israel want, and those attacking the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is that Israel should be characterised like the discredited statues in the US and UK in the hope that it too will topple, tumble, disappear or fall into the sea!

It will not happen.

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Beliefs Under Attack. The South African Branch of The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem organised a petition against the statements by ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe and other organisations attacking Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

It suits those attacking Christian support for Israel by resorting to such  statements that “the bible is a fallacy or a book of fairytale stories.” When they can devise a position in Christian scriptures to attack Israel, then the Bible is not “a fallacy or a book of fairytale stories.”

Sadly, what past wars between the Arab world and Israel achieved; was to divide the world into two camps.

It is unfair and malicious to attack Christians for their love for Israel. Would fellow Muslims, unhappy with certain policies in Saudi Arabia, try undermining that county’s existence and advocate for boycotts? Would they dare suggest to BOYCOTT the Hajj – the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca?  Of course not and should not.

Our love of Israel has nothing to do with its government or its military but rather a spiritual obligation to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Christian criticism of Israel is vital to improve and develop the only democracy in the Middle East to become the beckon of social justice for the preservation and advancement of Judeo-Christian values.

Recent attacks and condemnations against Israel are deeply rooted in antisemitism irrespective of human rights accusations based on the fact that Israel is the only country in the world with more than 200 condemnations at the United Nations, compared to such countries with grievous human rights abusers like China, Burma, Libya, North Korea, South Sudan, Iran, Syria, Turkey and many others. Most of them are notable for their antipathy to Israel and rush to condemn Israel at global forums.

If we are selective in our activism for ‘Human Rights’ then our activism becomes corrupted to satisfy particular political agendas.

We should continue to push and help constructively in the mediation between Israel and the Palestinians to try achieving a lasting peaceful resolution for all the people in this region.

To this end, however, Christians should never be blackmailed to support narratives which are in contradiction of their biblical scriptures.

Zionism was born out of the desire of exiles to return to their homeland which coincides with biblical prophecies as reflected in Mathew (5:9):

Blessed are the Peacemakers, For They Will be Called Children of God.”

Hence, I am firmly of the belief that Zionism is intertwined with Christianity.

Following this reasoning, it is not possible for any Christian to deny the existence of Israel and not support its development as a nation commissioned by God and ultimately to serve as a banner for the Almighty’s faithfulness and love of all nations. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was bold in taking the stance for his belief against political correctness hence we fully support and echo his sentiments which are universal and in accordance with biblical truth.

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An Appeal to Heal. Christians across South Africa are coming out in support of their country’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng’s balanced position to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

About the writer:

image004 (8).pngBafana Modise, is  Radio Personality, Public Speaker, Leadership Coach, Christian Activist and Voice-Over Artist who serves as Education Coordinator at South African Friends of Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Jewish Double Standard in Action

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

By Jake Donnelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

About the writer:

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

 

 

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

Poison Pen

When a cartoon is beyond the pale

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

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Jonathan Shapiro,

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

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

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

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

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

Was the wall – a necessary evil – effective?

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

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

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

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

Stephen Schulman

Ramat HaSharon

Israel

 

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

 

 

About the writer:

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

 

 

 

 

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

Hands off our Chief Justice!

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

By Rev Reuben Chapasuka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Inconvenient Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the writer

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

Email: rchapasuka@gmail.com

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

South Africa Hangs in the ‘Balance’

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

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

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

I would reply:

Audi alteram partem”.

Everyone deserves a fair hearing.

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

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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Picture: Puxley Makgatho)

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

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

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

How so? By exhibiting understanding and exercising balance?

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

The ANC spokesperson added:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cancelling “Cancel Culture”

By Rolene Marks

Whatever happened to the art of conversation and polite debate? There used to be a time when we could engage in robust, often passionate discussion and if we had divergent opinions, we would politely agree to disagree and then move on. No friendships were ended. No ties were cut. Nobody was “cancelled”.

Cancel culture is an ugly new phenomenon and lately it seems to be gaining a stronger tailwind than ever before. One only has to visit the social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see how anyone with a different opinion from the “woke” norm, are summarily subjected to online abuse and then cast aside. Cancelled. Persona non grata. You will never work in this town again!

Cancelling “Cancel Culture”2

It would appear that the first casualty of this is nuance. Understanding the complexities of issues is important if we are to find middle ground – and tolerance. Somewhere and nobody is certain when we lost our ability to politely and respectfully debate, discuss and engage in discourse.  Having an opinion today can get you into serious trouble. As the momentum from Black Lives Matter protests grows around the world so to increasing extremism of some elements within the ranks that are pushing an agenda.  One of the issues of this agenda is erasing those parts of history that explain the injustices of the past because they don’t support a narrative that the movement would like to promote. Statues, movies such as the classic “Gone with the Wind”, product branding and even great literary works like “To kill a Mockingbird” seem to have no place in current society because there may be references to inequality and racism.

From New York to South Carolina, and from London to Liverpool, statues are being pulled down off their respective plinths. The war on history and culture has started. But will cancelling important historical narratives really bring about racial equality or justice?

Cancelling “Cancel Culture”4
Cancelling Columbus. A group of protesters pulled down a statue of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

 

The only way to move forward, to teach tolerance and help to heal and understand the injustices and hurts of the past so that we can all do better is to have nuanced, robust and even painful conversations.

When Apartheid fell in South Africa, there were hearings conducted between victims and perpetrators of the racist system. The intention was to try and heal some of the terrible pain of the past and to help each side understand each other’s experience. Perhaps this is needed in other parts of the world so that the perpetrators can understand and learn, and we can all work towards a better, more just and tolerant society.

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Tackling Truth. Maybe the world could follow the South African example following the fall of Apartheid when hearings were conducted between victims and perpetrators of the heinous racist system.

It is not just around issues of race where cancel culture is flourishing. Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, created a storm that had muggles on social media channeling their inner Voldemort. All jokes (and bad references to the wizarding world) aside, Rowling’s attempts to explain her position regarding the transgender community. The row began after Rowling responded to a headline on an online article discussing “people who menstruate” by writing in a tweet: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

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Critics accused her of being transphobic, but Rowling said she stood by her comments, saying it “isn’t hate to speak the truth”. Rowling took umbrage to the definition of women as “people who menstruate” and in an impassioned essay warned of the erosion of the identity of women.

Rowling was summarily called a “TERF” – transgender exclusionary radical feminist and cancelled across social media. Even the stars of her movies, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, whose careers were effectively birthed by the series, criticized Rowling. Was this because they honestly took offence or because they themselves were fearful of being cancelled should they be seen NOT to take a stand?

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Storm on Social Media. Famed British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series has dared to challenge the cancel culture narrative.

Cancel culture which is favoured by the far left is the most illiberal form of liberalism. There is nothing progressive about killing debate – or careers.

There is also a difference between cancel culture and holding someone accountable for their actions. By removing debate and discussion, the ability to teach the importance of taking accountability and the relevant consequences falls by the wayside.

The one area where cancel culture seems to have disappeared is around antisemitism. This ancient hatred is allowed to go unchecked. It is quite unbelievable that while the world holds important and necessary discussions around race, the rising discrimination and hatred targeted at Jews is roundly ignored.  Those of us active in the fight against antisemitism are routinely told “don’t make it about you”. This is an appalling double standard. Jews are paying with their lives having been killed in synagogues, museums, grocery stores and in their homes from Pittsburgh to Paris. The time for silence is over.

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Antisemitism Neglected. A reminder of the unending hatred of Jews, a person pauses in front of Stars of David with the names of those killed in a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh in October 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The only way to fight racism is to deal with all forms of hatred and prejudice. Fighting racism effectively should not be done at the expense of promoting another form of prejudice, including antisemitism.

Cancel culture is dangerous.  At a time when the world has become more and more polarized, we can ill afford more divisions, let alone shutting down conversation and people entirely. The dangers of this kind of extremism supported by the far left are that eventually the pendulum will swing in the opposite direction and give a tailwind to the alt-right.

The only way forward is to seek middle ground and engage in discourse and education.

 Perhaps the time has come to cancel this cancel culture?

 

 

 

 

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

No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans

By Hen Mazzig

This article was originally published in the LA Times and is republished with kind permission.

 Along with resurgent identity politics in the United States and Europe, there is a growing inclination to frame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of race. According to this narrative, Israel was established as a refuge for oppressed white European Jews who in turn became oppressors of people of colour, the Palestinians.

As an Israeli, and the son of an Iraqi Jewish mother and North African Jewish father, it’s gut-wrenching to witness this shift.

I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi or the descendants of European Jews. I am baffled as to why mainstream media and politicians around the world ignore or misrepresent these facts and the Mizrahi story. Perhaps it’s because our history shatters a stereotype about the identity of my country and my people.

Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, was not established for just one type of Jew but for all Jews, from every part of the world — the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, Asia and, yes, Europe. No matter where Jews physically reside, they maintain a connection to the land of Israel, where our story started and where today we continue to craft it.

The likes of Women’s March activist Tamika Mallory, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and, more recently, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) falsify reality in their discussions of Palestinians’ “intersectional” struggle, their use of the term “Apartheid” to characterize Israeli policy, and their tendency to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews alone.

No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans1

 

I believe their misrepresentations are part of a strategic campaign to taint Israel as an extension of privileged and powerful white Europe, thereby justifying any and all attacks on it. This way of thinking signals a dangerous trend that positions Israel as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for those fleeing oppression. Worse, it all but erases the story of my family, which came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia.

For most of history, the Mizrahim have been without sovereignty and equality in the Muslim world. In Iraq, despite being “equal citizens” on paper, my family experienced ongoing persecution. The first organized attack came in 1941, the brutal Farhud, a Nazi-incited riot that claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews and forced the survivors to live in fear. My great-grandfather was falsely accused of being a Zionist spy and executed in Baghdad in 1951. My mother’s family was permitted to emigrate that same year, but with only one suitcase.

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From Roots To Riots. Nazi influence in Baghdad fanned anti-Semitic sentiments inciting riots that claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews who had lived in Iraq since Babylonian times. The writer’s great-grandfather was falsely accused of being a Zionist spy and executed in Baghdad in 1951.

Any erasure of the Mizrahi experience negates the lives of 850,000 Jewish refugees just like them, who, even in the successor states to the Ottoman Empire of the early 20th century, were treated as “dhimmis,” an Arabic term for a protected minority whose members pay for that protection, which can be withdrawn at any time. Demographic ignorance also works to deny the existence of almost 200,000 descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were threatened by political destabilization in the early 1990s and airlifted to Israel in a daring rescue operation.

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Flight To Freedom. Jewish immigrants from Iraq arrive in Israel in 1951. (Photo: Government Press Office)

One of Judaism’s central themes is a story of national liberation in the face of imperial powers. Israel is a place where an indigenous people have reclaimed their land and revived their ancient language, despite being surrounded by hostile neighbours and hounded by radicalized Arab nationalists who cannot tolerate any political entity in the region other than their own. Jews that were expelled from nations across the Middle East, who sacrificed all they had, have been crucial in building and defending the Jewish state since its outset.

Without a doubt, the creation of Israel provided a haven for Jews who survived the Holocaust and extreme oppression in Europe. However, we cannot acknowledge that history at the expense of Mizrahi Jews, who with so many others, regardless of skin colour, shared the desire for a Jewish state long before the establishment of Israel.

 

 

About the writer:

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Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and activist of Iraqi and North African descent, is editor-at-large at the J’accuse Coalition for Justice. @HenMazzig

The Intersection of Hatred

By Rolene Marks

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“I Can’t Breathe”. George Floyd’s last words have become the slogan of global protests.

George Floyd. Remember his name. George Floyd was murdered. We all watched him lynched before our very eyes as a police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt for nine minutes with this knee on Floyd’s neck. Crying that he could not breathe, pleading for his mother while 3 other officers stood by and did nothing. They preferred that the crowd disperse, rather than stopping the carnage.  Bystanders called out in horror and paramedics begged to help him, to no avail and no mercy.  Floyd who was in police custody for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 dollar note to pay for a purchase, died. He died before our eyes in some sick kind of murder pornography film.

Sadly, George Floyd is another name added to the increasing list of black men and women who have died as a result of police brutality in the United States of America. The role of the police is to serve and protect and Chauvin and his 3 accomplices have made an ever increasing chasm between civilians and law enforcement worse, much worse.

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And people are angry. All over the United States and across major cities around the world, including Tel Aviv in Israel, people are taking to the streets to say enough is enough. This needs to end. Some protests are extremely peaceful. There have been very moving images of people of all races embracing each other and police officials laying down their “arms” to hug protesters and march alongside them.

But many of these images are not peaceful at all. The images are shocking. Cities are being looted and businesses have been destroyed. Crowds are turning against each other and the police in rage and at least 11 people have lost their lives in vain.

This has created an opportunity for the most insidious to stir up even more racial tension. There have been several accounts of white supremacists infiltrating so that they can physically act out their racist prejudices.

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Solidarity From Israel. Demonstrators in support of US protesters over the death of George Floyd on June 2, 2020, in Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

This has not been limited to the right. Far left ideologues like Antifa (the self-proclaimed anti-Fascist movement) and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have joined and stirred the ranks of looters and chaos mongers. At the outset of the protests, these opportunistic hate-groups managed to instigate violence, looting and destroying businesses. These businesses provide much needed employment in an economic climate that has been dealt a significant blow as a result of Coronavirus shutdowns.

Just as nefarious has been the exploiting and hijacking of the memory of George Floyd and the pain felt by many for their own political agendas. BDS used the opportunity to take to social media and allege that Israel is to blame for the methods used by Chauvin to kill George Floyd. They blamed Israeli counter-terror training used around the world for the methods used by Chauvin. There is no proof that Chauvin has ever encountered Israelis or was trained by them.

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Blame The Jews, Again. Hateful cartoons suggesting Jews were responsible for the murder of George Floyd as a result of US police officers being trained by Israeli Police.

In Los Angeles, rioters also felt the need to deface a synagogue. The Congregation Beth Israel, one of the oldest in Los Angeles was daubed with the words “F*** Israel, Free Palestine”. Commenting on this, Richard S. Hirschhaut, the Los Angeles Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement to the Jewish Journal, “It is deplorable that certain protesters in Los Angeles today resorted to violence and vandalism.”

“The epithets scrawled on the synagogue wall do nothing to advance the cause of peace or justice, here or abroad,” he added.

Fighting racism by propagating antisemitism is utter hypocrisy. One form of prejudice cannot be fought by allowing for another. This is not justice for George Floyd and the countless others who have been murdered as a result of racism.

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Spillover Effect. The synagogue Congregation Beth El on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles Graffiti was vandalized and spray-painted with the writing “Free Palestine” and “F**k Israel”.

At the centre of this, is the concept of intersectionality that alleges that all suffering is equal; however, there is a glaring double standard when it comes to Jews.

Jews have always been inextricably linked with civil rights movements across the world.  Jews marched in Selma in the USA for equal rights and for years fought Apartheid in South Africa, and those are just two examples.  Wherever there has been injustice, Jewish communities around the world have been engaged in combatting it. Propagating hatred to promote a divisive and hate-filled agenda only serves to polarize people and create barriers, especially at a time when listening to each other is more important than ever.

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It is this interaction that will honour the memories of those who have lost their lives as a result of hatred and brutality the world over. We should endeavour to meet at the intersection of tolerance and understanding, rather than exclusion and discrimination. This will honour those social justice giants on whose mighty shoulders we stand.

George Floyd. Remember his name.