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.

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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.

Israel The Good And The Moral

By Rodney Mazinter

In their obviously ill-judged comments about Israel, critics choose to waste their time at checkpoints on the borders gazing at the brave boys and girls making up the Israeli Defence Force, whose sole job is to protect Jews living in Samaria and Judea who just go about getting on with their jobs, and to provide a strong deterrent that ensures that murderous individuals do not infiltrate into Israel.

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People’s Army. Out of necessity, Israel is one of only a few countries in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. According to the IDF, 535 female Israeli soldiers were killed in combat operations between the period 1962-2016.

When I visit Israel, I look in another direction:

–  I see schools and youth villages where at-risk children are given the care that will give them hope and a future in life

– I see Ethiopian children given the means to make that leap across centuries and cultures and find their own excellence.

– I see the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where, when Israel’s enemies decide to destroy lives, they continue saving them

– I see The Bar-Ilan Medical Centre in Safed set up to bring the finest possible medical treatment to Muslims, Christians, and Druze villages throughout the country.

– I see the Laniado Hospital in the Netanya whose founder, a holocaust survivor who lost his wife and 11 children in the Nazi camps of death and there made an oath that if he should ever survive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to saving life

– I see the Wolfson Medical Centre where free, quality, paediatric cardiac care is provided for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, and whose dedicated doctors and surgeons have created a programme to create centres of competence in those countries so that they can carry out life-saving surgeries on the spot

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Heartwarming. An Echo Technician from Wolfson Medical Center in Israel, examines the heart of a child at the Save a Child’s Heart clinic in Zanzibar, March 5, 2018. The Israeli organization that provides life-saving heart treatment to children in developing countries won the prestigious 2018 UN Population Award for outstanding contributions to the world’s population. (Nati Shohat/FLASH9)

– I see caring for every life and notice that every life is sacred, where mind-blowing Israeli technology, and eye-opening developments in medical science are applied to the common good.

That and much more is what I see in Israel, the will to life with its hospitals, schools, freedoms, and rights.

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Saving Syrians. An injured civilian from the civil war in Syria being transferred to Ziv Medical Center in Safad, Israel. Photo by Simon Haddad/Ziv Medical Center

– I see, Christians, Hindus, Sheiks, Muslims, and from my experience, Israel is a source of inspiration to everyone because it tells every single person on the face of the earth that a nation doesn’t have to be large to be great. A nation doesn’t have to be rich in natural resources to prosper.

Israel has been surrounded by enemies and yet it has shown that even so, you can still be a democracy, still have a free press, still have an independent judiciary. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Palestinian can stand up on national television and criticise the government and the next day still be a free human being.

Israel’s demonisers would have us believe that they have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart. Quite the contrary – their decisions and actions are far more likely to bring war, poverty and hunger to the West Bank and Gaza.

The only conclusion any reasonable person can come to is that only prosperity, with robust industrial, commercial and even cultural relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to mutual acceptance and a durable peace. This can be achieved if only the BDS activists would acknowledge the true interests of the Palestinians above their own narrow, political ambitions and shallow priorities, and the Palestinians would recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Some twenty years ago, Palestinian businessmen and workers from the West Bank and Gaza entered Israel without much interference. Security over the years increased commensurate with the increase in attacks against civilians. Approximately 146,000 Palestinians working in Israel at the time accounted for about 20% of Palestinian GDP.

A very successful industrial zone was created at Erez, employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate, scheduled to provide up to 50,000 jobs. In addition, a joint industrial zone was planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians. Additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.

And then came the politicians and BDS for whom such developments meant nothing. They are the true destroyers of peace, jobs, families, development and prosperity.

Israel has much to offer the world. The chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Cape, Rowan Polovin recently returned from the 2019 “Our Crowd” Global Investment Summit in Israel where the technological advances were on display to 18,000 delegates from 182 counties who reveled in what 500 vendors had on show and business to the tune of one billion dollars was transacted.

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Cherishing The Past, Israel Has Its Eyes On The Future. The Summit is an annual gathering of innovation and startup ecosystem players offering a broad range of opportunities across tech sectors, startup showcases, VC perspectives, strategic networking, and more.

This makes the destructive tactics of BDS seem irrelevant” said Polovin.

Rather than follow the “destructive” path of boycotts and diplomatic downgrades, why not in the interests of South Africa benefit from Israel’s advances in medicine and the sciences and capitalize on lucrative business opportunities.

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Wonder Women. Women in the Forbes 2018 Under 30 Global Summit, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, ringing the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Bell. In choosing Israel to host 1st Global Women’s Summit, the Magazine’s chief content officer said ‘Israel is a great place to show how we can accelerate the cause of women in leadership.’

Surely this is the better way where all will benefit!

 

Why an Israeli Hospital is Treating Wounded Syrians

 

 

About the author

image003 (48).jpgRodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape

 

Case Against The Cape Times

By Rodney Mazinter

In South Africa there are a number of statuary bodies independent of government, officialdom and other outside influences, which determine that the fabric of democracy is kept intact in the daily business of a democratic country. The Press Ombudsman is one, whose role in the print media is to determine whether the actions of a newspaper are in line with good journalistic practice. Complaints regarding the practices of print media can be reported by the general public to the Press Ombudsman, who determines whether a complaint should be brought before the South African Press Council.

The Press Council of South Africa of which all newspapers are members accepts a Press Code that will guide the South African Press Ombudsman and the South African Press Appeals Panel to reach decisions on complaints from the public after publication of the relevant material.

Furthermore, the Press Council of South Africa is constituted as a self-regulatory body with a mechanism to provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective arbitration to settle complaints arising from this Code.

The powers of the Ombudsman include an ability to censure and fine newspapers found to be in breach of this ethical code.

On 25 October 2012 I believed I had found cause to complain about a story that appeared in the Cape Times headlined Apartheid policies: Israeli poll reveals a ‘sick society’.

My complaint centred around the fact that despite having pointed out to the Cape Times that the newspaper of origin, Ha’aretz, and its journalist, Gideon Levy, had retracted and apologised for an incorrect report, the Cape Times not only refused to do the same, but that it also refused to publish my and other rebuttal letters on its letters page leading the Press Ombudsman to later describe its action as “perpetuating a lie.”

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Fake It Till You Make It. What is SA doing about its fake news problem?

The story, originally written by Catrina Swart of The Independent (in Britain), claimed that a new poll had “revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believed that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians…” It continued to quote some other statistics, emanating from the poll.

Swart was reporting on an article by Gideon Levy published in the Israeli publication Ha’aretz.

The story read: “A new poll has revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians… That many Jews believe that Israel has adopted ‘apartheid’ policies… Nearly 70 percent of those questioned would object to the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank obtaining the vote if Israel was to annex the Palestinian territory, suggesting that they effectively endorse an apartheid regime.”

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Following the publication of Levy’s story, Ha’aretz published a correction the day after stating: “CLARIFICATION: The original headline for this piece, ‘Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,’ did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future.”

Levy wrote in an added apology: “My sin was to write: ‘The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, having Arab neighbours at home or Arab students at school. The truth is different…This article is meant to fix a few mistakes. They shouldn’t have happened; we must acknowledge them, apologise for them and fix them. They were not made intentionally…Now is the time to make things right.”

My complaint was that the Cape Times should have published these corrections.

The Press Ombudsman found inter alia “…its [the Cape Times] intro was materially the same as that of the headline in Ha’aretz (which the latter publication has corrected). The newspaper should therefore do the same; it should also have reported Levy’s own correction. I believe that the Cape Times should have:

  • known about the corrections; and
  • echoed them.

“The Cape Times is in breach of Art. 1.6 of the Press Code that states: ‘A publication should make amends for publishing information or comment that is found to be inaccurate by printing, promptly and with appropriate prominence, a retraction, correction or explanation.’ This goes for the corrections by Ha’aretz as well as Levy.

“The Cape Times is:

  • cautioned for not making the same corrections as that of Ha’aretz and Levy; and
  • directed to publish these corrections…”

The Cape Times carried out this instruction and published the Ombudsman’s findings in full on page 7 of its April 19, 2013 edition.

We should be grateful that the position of the SA Press Ombudsman operates effectively as a diligent watchdog over the interests of the general public.

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Unfortunately, this did not stop the Cape Times and other newspapers of the Independent group from persevering with their “fake” news and provocative propaganda. Over the intervening years I have had cause to cross swords with its journalists and editors. The consequences have been instructive. One has been that the group no longer subjects itself to the discipline of the Press Ombudsman and thereby frees itself from any responsibility to the truth.

 

About the author

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Rodney Mazinter

Rodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape.

The Israel Brief – 29 April -02 May 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 29 April 2019 – Deadly shooting in synagogue. New York Times cartoon and Barghouti needs to be banned.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 30 April 2019 – IDF blames Islamic Jihad for rocket. 21st Knesset sworn in and Roro goes on a rant about a certain NY Times cartoon…

 

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 01 May 2019 – Gaza factions threaten Eurovision. Poway Chabad killer in Court. Yom Hashoa and Roro reflects on a personal experience with Anti-Semitism.

 

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 02 May 2019 – Yom Hashoa Edition.

 

 

 

The Mensch Who Put The Monster On Trial

By Rolene Marks

“Not a day goes past that I don’t think about the Eichmann trial”. Judge Gabriel Bach greets us warmly as he welcomes us to his apartment in a leafy suburb of Jerusalem. His living room bears testament to an extraordinary life and career. Dotted with family pictures and impressive volumes of books, the eye is drawn immediately to a collection of books entitled “The Eichmann Trial”.

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Judge Gabriel Bach

It is this moment when you are aware that the gentle, charming man who has welcomed you with a twinkle in his wise eyes is one of the men who sought justice for the millions. He is the mensch who put the monster, Adolf Eichmann, the man responsible for sending millions of Jews to their deaths. I do confess to being more than a little star-struck. It is men like this, the quiet giants and their pursuit of justice and truth that hold a nation on their mighty shoulders.

Monsters are usually the stuff of fairytale lore but this one was real. The world was riveted when news broke that Eichmann was captured.

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Adolf Eichmann

Hiding out in Argentina as Ricardo Clement, the devil was now in custody, thanks to a stealth and decisive operation by Israel’s Mossad. All that remained was justice.

Born in Germany, the Bach family managed to flee to Holland just two weeks before Kristallnacht (Night of broken Glass) which would result in the destruction of many synagogues and businesses and the rounding up of Jews, many who would be sent to camps like Dachau. The Bach family managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazi machine, leaving Holland just before the German occupation and sailed to British Mandate Palestine on the “Patria” which would sink on its next journey. It was here, before there was a State of Israel and safe haven for Jews, where Bach, young lawyer in the state’s attorney’s office with an exemplary record and a bright future was one of those chosen to join the team of prosecutors.  He would also be tapped to be in charge of the investigation.

 It was time to gather the evidence for the trial that would begin on the 11th of April 1961.

The team of prosecutors would have to wade through volumes of documents and evidence. Married with a small daughter, Bach would spend 9 months immersed in investigations and communication with Eichmann without meeting him face to face, that included ensuring that he was aware of his rights to a defense attorney of his choice. The time came to meet the devil face to face.

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Chief prosecuter Tzvi Hauzner (standing). Defense advocate Robert Servatius (left). Deputy prosecuter Gabriel Bach (second from right)

Judge Bach describes his first encounter with evil. “I will never forget it. I was sitting in my office in the prison, reading the autobiography of Rudolf Höss, the commander of Auschwitz who was eventually hanged in Poland, describe how they had many days when they killed a thousand Jewish children per day and he mentions how the children would kneel and beg to be spared and when he and his colleagues were pushing the children into the gas chambers his knees would hurt and he felt ashamed of this “weakness” but remembered how Eichmann had reiterated that it was the children who had to be killed first lest they grow to be a generation that would grow up to take revenge. And then 10 minutes after I read that, there was   a request from Eichmann to see me.  It wasn’t so easy to keep a poker face with him sitting opposite me.”

How does one even imagine what it was like to have to sit opposite such a monster?

Bach describes having to handle this like any other criminal case. Emotional moments would come later – and without warning.

The German government was most cooperative in ensuring that Bach and his team received documents from all the ministries. The evidence was irrefutable.  It was time for the trial to commence.

The Eichmann trial was a game-changer in many respects. The first to be televised, the trial would allow millions around the world to enter the courtroom. The trial would also be the first opportunity that would allow survivors and witnesses to give emotional testimony. For many young Israelis who could not understand why the Jews of Europe seemed not to defend themselves, they now understood the severity, the genocide, the cruelty and the devious tactics of the Nazi killing machine that ended the lives of six million. There are accounts of Eichmann telling deportees on their way to the death camps to write postcards to their remaining loved ones and friends, not only telling them of the wonderful place they were going to, but also encouraging them to follow.

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Packed Courtroom. Leaning forward, members of the public strain to hear every word of horrific testimony in the case against Adolf Eichmann that was televised to the world.

Eichmann sat behind the glass, in the dock, completely impassive. Eichmann showed no remorse and no regret.

His defense? He was just following orders. This would prove untrue when on several occasions evidence would come to light and on more than one occasion when asked to spare the life of a Jew, Eichmann would refuse absolutely.

As the trial progressed, so did day after day of emotional, harrowing testimony from survivors who gave heartbreaking account of the loss of their families and the excruciating cruelty they endured at the hands of the Nazis under the commands of Eichmann.

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“Trial Of The Century”. Gabriel Bach (centre) with Adolf Eichmann in the glass booth (behind).

Most of us who have watched Schindler’s List can remember the searing image of the little girl in the red coat going to the gas chambers and her lifeless body on a pile of corpses.

A red coat would later affect prosecutor Bach’s composure! One day when hearing testimony from a survivor who during the selection process was spared for labour while his wife and daughter were sent to the gas chamber for immediate extermination. The SS were unsure of what to do with his son but eventually told him to join his mother and sister. The witness was concerned his son would not find them but saw the image of his little daughter in her red coat, no more than two-and-a-half, disappearing, never to be seen again.

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Schindler’s List | The Girl In The Red Coat (ft. ‘Oskar Schindler, Liam Neelson)

Bach had just bought his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter a brand new red coat. His impeccable composure was shaken to the core.

The trial would proceed until the eventual verdict. On December 13, 1961 the court found Eichmann guilty on most articles of the indictment, and on the 15th of that same month, sentenced him to death. The defense appealed to the Supreme Court which on May 29, 1962, ratified the verdict of the lower court. Eichmann and his team appealed to the President, Yitzchak ben Zvi for clemency but were denied and during the night between May 31, and June 1, 1962, Eichmann was executed by hanging at Ramla Prison. In his final moments, Eichmann expressed his unwavering love and loyalty to Germany and Argentina. After his body was incinerated, his ashes were scattered at sea outside Israeli territorial waters.

Justice had been served.

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Justice Served. Following Eichmann’s conviction and sentence to death, the man who had once tried to wipe out the Jewish people, pleaded for mercy from the head of a Jewish state. President Ben Zvi responded with a verse from the Bible: “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.”

At the conclusion of the process, jurists from all over the world, including some who had initially questioned Israel’s right to judge Eichmann, noted the fairness shown by the judges and their strict adherence to the principle of a fair trial.

This was more than Eichmann ever showed his victims.

Prosecutor Gabriel Bach would go on to enjoy an illustrious career that would see him assume many titles. He would go on to be State’s Attorney and then a Judge on Israel’s Supreme Court.  One title would accompany him through all of this – that of mensch. Today, at his advanced age, Judge Bach is still a most sought after and loved speaker and travels the world, engaging new audiences. He is particularly moved by the interest and willingness to learn by young Germans.

Judge Bach waves goodbye to us from the window of his modest apartment. Well into his 90’s his exuberance for life and gentle personality are testament to why this man is a giant amongst the heroes of the Jewish people.  The lessons have been many.

The importance of bearing witness, of seeking justice and the example set by a man who can affectionately be called prosecutor, Judge and mensch.

 

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Judge Gabriel Bach with Lotl correspondent Rolene Marks in Jerusalem.

Exposing Evil

Escaping the clutches of the Nazis as a child, years later he would face the arch architect of “The Final Solution”  in an Israeli court. ‘Insights and Revelations’ from the man who prosecuted Adolf Eichmann.

By David E. Kaplan

What was it like staring into the face of pure evil?”

It was my opening question to 93-year-old  Judge Gabriel Bach, regarding his first meeting with Adolf Eichmann, whose case he investigated in 1961, and then prosecuted. As Israel’s Deputy State Attorney, he was the only member of the three-man prosecution team who had one-on-one contact with Eichmann.

We sat for the interview in the former Supreme Court justice’s modest apartment in the leafy Talbiya neighbourhood of Jerusalem, just a stone’s throw from the official residence of Israel’s State President.

Conspicuous on the bookcase were leather-bound volumes – in English and in Hebrew – of the transcripts  of the Eichmann trial.

An estimated  500 journalists from around the world converged on Jerusalem in 1961 to cover what was dubbed the “Trial of the Century” and what was televised live to 56 countries. The trial was the first time that testimony about the death camps had ever been broadcast live – and directly from the victim’s mouths.

TIME magazine described the accused as:

A thin, balding man of 55 who looked more like a bank clerk than a butcher: a thin mouth between protruding ears, a long, narrow nose, deep set blue eyes, a high, often wrinkled brow. He looked puny beside two burly, blue-clad Israeli policemen. When he stood, he resembled a stork more than a soldier.”

Yet this “bank clerk” or “stork” was the architect of the ‘Final Solution’ that meticulously murdered six million Jews.

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Blaming The Other Adolf! Adolf Eichmann maintaining he was following Adolf Hitler’s orders. (Credit Kino International; from the documentary film “The Specialist”)

Following the audacious capture of  Eichmann by the Mossad from a street in Buenos Aires  in May 1960, he was brought to Israel where he was imprisoned near Haifa for nine months preceding the trial in Jerusalem. Tasked in heading the investigation, Deputy State Attorney Gabriel Bach left his young wife Ruth and their 2-year-old daughter in Jerusalem and moved into a hotel in Haifa.

He recounts before that fateful first meeting sitting in his office at the prison engrossed in reading the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp and who had been executed in 1947. Suddenly, Bach came upon a startling reference to Eichmann.

Höss was writing that they often killed a thousand children a day in the gas chambers and that the children would often go on their knees pleading to be spared. At times, when he and his colleagues had to push them into the gas chambers, he admits “my knees got a bit wobbly” but added “I always felt ashamed of this weakness of mine after I talked to SS Obersturmbannführer Eichmann, because he impressed upon me that it is especially the Jewish children that have to be killed first, because where is the logic, that you kill a generation of older people and you leave alive a generation of possible avengers who might afterwards create that race again.”

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Face of Evil. SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann.

Ten minutes after Bach read this passage, a policeman walked in and said: “Adolf Eichmann wants to see you.”

A father of a young daughter facing the man who had plotted the extermination of all the Jewish children in the world, “it was hard for me to keep a poker face.”

But that is what this professional lawyer did.

One can only imagine the thoughts that went through Bach’s mind.

Sitting a metre away from the monster – separated by a desk –  he recalled of sitting 20 metres away in 1936  from another Adolf – Adolf Hitler – separated by stadium seats.  It was at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. “I saw when Jesse Owens won the gold, Hitler walked out so he would not have to shake the hand of a Black.”

At that time, Bach was attending Theodor Herzl School off Adolf Hiller Square in Berlin. As good timing would have it, “Two days before Kristallnacht,  my family left for Holland.”

Within a few years, Gabriel was the only student of his class at Theodor Herzl School  – ALIVE!

The mild-mannered monster sitting opposite him was responsible for that!

Bach’s departure from Germany was not without incident or violence. At the Germany border with Holland, we were ordered off the train by the Gestapo and told to open our suitcases.  After an unpleasant search on the platform,  the train began pulling out and “the German SS officer kicked me in my behind as I was running, and I lunged with my case onto the train. That is how I left Germany – LITERALLY kicked out.”

In Amsterdam, Gabriel attended a non-Jewish school, but  as good fortune would have it, the family left for Palestine one month before Germany invaded. If again the Bach family were blessed with good timing, the ship the “Patria” that brought them to Palestine, sunk “on its very next voyage with a huge loss of life. So, as you can see, our family was always just one step ahead of imminent disaster.”

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Robert Servatius

All these thoughts percolated in the mind of Gabriel as Eichmann requested, “If he could have Robert Servatius – who had represented Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg – as his defense attorney. We agreed; even changed Israeli law to allow it and Servatius was paid by the Israeli government for his services.”

“Only Following Orders”

For this writer who had studied the Eichmann trial at law school in South Africa over four decades earlier, I recalled the two salient issues:

(1) one of jurisdiction, that is,  the legality of kidnapping a man from one country to stand trial in a second for crimes committed in a third

(2) Eichmann’s defence that he had been a functionary,  a bureaucrat “following orders.”

“Arguing jurisdiction did not pose a problem,” explained Bach. “The Argentine objection  was mostly token, and Germany – the only other country to realistically try the case – was perfectly happy Israel took on the responsibility and cooperated fully in providing much of the material and documents from the camps to help build our case. In any event, the global sentiment shifted enormously to the view that it was most important to present the facts of what Eichmann did, and preserve them for historical record.”

Addressing the second issue of “I was following orders,” Bach refuted this with one horrifying example after another.

“In 1944, Hungarian leader Admiral Horthy wished to leave the Axis and make peace with the Allies. Hitler convinced him to stay but only on Horthy’s condition that 8,700 Hungarian Jewish families be allowed to emigrate to a neutral country. Hitler agreed – not out of any sense of humanity –  but because it was more important to have Hungary remain on the side of the Axis powers, and would ensure that the remaining 800,000 Jews would be exterminated.”

Eichmann, however, would not have any of it.

“We found a telegram from the Nazi appointee in Budapest to German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, reporting that Eichmann was very upset about releasing these families, saying they were important “biological material,” who could proceed from the neutral country to Palestine, where they could help reconstitute the Jewish race. According to the Nazi telegram, Eichmann tried to speed up deportations so those Jews would be taken before their visas arrived. Eichmann thereby acted in defiance of Hitler himself, belying his claim – of just following orders.”

Documents from various countries showed Eichmann was often requested to spare particular Jews. However, “no matter how seemingly strong the request, Eichmann invariably said NO.” Bach presents the case of a German general in Paris who wrote to Eichmann requesting he spare a professor Weiss – an expert on radar – for his value to the German war effort. Eichmann refused. When the general replied saying, “How dare you refuse me, I am a General!” Eichmann responded:

And I am a SS Obersturmbannführer and I understand you already took over his patents, so there is no need to delay his deportation.”

When the SS came, professor and Mrs. Weiss managed to drop off their infant daughter at their neighbors, who sent her to America. During the trial, this young woman came to Israel and visited Bach in his office. She said she had no memories of her parents, and asked Bach to help her locate photos. He tried but was unsuccessful.

In Lithuania, the Germans arrested a Jewish woman who was the widow of an Italian war hero. This Italian officer had died fighting the Allies with the Germans. The Italian ambassador to Lithuania asked Eichmann to spare her, saying that, “All of Italy feels this lady should be allowed to return,” and “the Italian authorities demand her return, in memory of her husband.”

Eichmann refused and sent her to the camps.

For Eichmann, there were no exceptions.

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Deputy State Attorney, Gabriel Bach addressing the court

Postcards From The Edge

Always Gabriel thought there might be “one case” where Eichmann might find reason not to send a Jew to his death – but it was not to be.

In Holland, the Dutch Fascist leader requested Eichmann spare a dozen or more Jewish Dutch Fascists, “on the grounds that their deportation would demoralize their party comrades, and because they could help identify other Jews.” Eichmann agreed only to delay their deportation to Auschwitz for two weeks.

After that, Eichmann said, “their comrades would be used to it.”

Far from “following orders”, Eichmann proved a master manipulator at devising ways to keep Jews unsuspecting on their path to destruction. One such devilish stratagem, explained Bach  “was forcing the new arrivals at Auschwitz, moments before being sent into the gas chambers, to write postcards to their relations – the wording determined by Eichmann – such as:

 “The conditions are good here, come before all the best places are taken.”

Seeing Red

During the trial, “We came across a survivor who had received such a postcard before himself arriving at  Auschwitz with his family. This witness came to Jerusalem the night before he was to testify but because it was already 11 o’clock at night, I told him to come to my office in the morning. However, he arrived late the next morning, and so I proceeded blind,  putting him on the witness stand, without having heard his testimony.”

The witness testified of how he arrived at Auschwitz on the train, with his wife, 12-year-old son, and 2 1/2-year-old daughter. “The guards told his wife and daughter to go to the left, which he later learned were the gas chambers. Telling the guard he had been a metal worker in the army, he was told to go to the right. However, the guard was uncertain where to send his son. They waited some time until the guard returned and told his son to “run along after your Mama.” The son went off to the left, and the father stood there trying to see them, wondering if his son caught up with his mother and sister. Meanwhile hundreds of people had gone between them, and soon the father could not see his son anymore, nor his wife. But his young daughter was wearing a red coat, which he suddenly spotted. He watched this red dot get smaller and smaller, and so his family disappeared from his life.  His last recollection of them was of a red dot.”

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Red Alert. A scene from the movie ‘Schindler’s List’ of the red coated girl that film director Spielberg picked up from testimony in the Eichmann trial.

Bach points to a family photograph on a shelf. “Here is our daughter Orly, who was roughly the same age as the girl in the red dress. Only the day before hearing this testimony, my wife had photographed  me standing with Orly wearing her new red-coated dress that we had bought for her two weeks before. Hearing this testimony, culminating with the red dress moving inexorably towards the gas chamber, I suddenly was unable to speak — I could not utter a word. The judges looked to me to continue, but all I could do was shuffle my papers for three minutes before I gained my composure and was able to proceed.”

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Moment Of Reflection. Gabriel Bach processing the horrific testimony of a tearful witness.

Day after day over a period of four months, live testimony brought to the world  the horrors of the Holocaust.

Did Bach at any time during the trial ever get the impression that Eichmann felt any remorse?

“NEVER – he showed no sign of it.”

Supporting this assertion, Bach referred to an admission made by Eichmann in 1956 – eleven years after the war and five years before his trial – that he had only one regret:

 “that I had not been tougher because now you see what has happened, the Jews have reconstituted their State.”

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Girls In Red. Gabriel Bach shows a photograph of his daughter Orly who was the same age as the ‘girl in the red’ revealed in testimony.

Yes, a Jewish state that would hunt him down and expose his crimes to the world.

As I stood up after an enthralling three-hour interview, staring at me from framed photographs were Bach’s children and grandchildren. Their smiling faces left no doubt that Eichmann’s biggest fear – couched in the instruction to Auschwitz commandant, Rudolf Höss,  “to kill the children first” – was realised.

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Interviewing Team. Lay Of The Land (LOTL) correspondents (l-r) Rolene Marks and David E. Kaplan interviewing Judge Gabriel Bach (centre) in Jerusalem.

The smiling children of Israel, today, tomorrow and forever are the message to the Eichmanns of the world – “Never Again”.

 

 

 

 

*Feature picture – Adolf Eichmann on trial in April 1961. Photo : Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis.

Why Is There Anti-Semitism?

Has Jan Smuts’ Great-Grandchild, Philip Weyers, hit the nail on the head?

By Peter Bailey

As we commemorate Yom HaShoah, in memory of  the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust it is appropriate to readdress the question frequently asked:

 “Why it is that Jews have been singled out for a particular kind of hatred by diverse groups of people over two millennia?”

There are, and have been many prominent individuals, such as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who appear to hate Jews for no good reason, other than their Jewishness. However, the establishment of the State of Israel 70 years ago has proved a game changer. No longer do we only witness acts of anti-Semitism against Jewish individuals and property, but the Jewish State of Israel has become a prime target. The world can almost be divided into those countries that are vehemently opposed to Israel, denying its right to exist, and those that tolerate its existence for political expediency. The reality is that Jews in general, and Israel in particular, have few genuine friends in the international community, which brings me back to my opening question as to why that should be.

During my research, I come across long forgotten articles or facts dating back many decades, elements of which are as relevant today, as they were when published. One such article, was published on 8 February 1920, by no less a person than British master statesman, Sir Winston Churchill, titled ‘Zionism versus Bolshevism’ – A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People. The date of the article is important, as it follows a few years after the publication of the Balfour Declaration by the British Government and mere weeks after the Treaty of Versailles, the terms for the end of WWI, came into effect.

Included in the Treaty of Versailles was the Balfour Declaration, giving the establishment of a Jewish Homeland the international stamp of approval.

Palestine had a population of about 800,000 when Churchill wrote his article, while the global Jewish population stood at around 14 million, from which we can infer that Churchill saw Palestine, at best, as a symbolic home for the Jewish people. Certainly not the independent State of Israel, often referred to as the Innovation Nation – a world leader in science and technology. Despite his brilliance and acknowledged foresight, he would be amazed to find that Israel is now a fully-fledged state where more than half the global Jewish population of about 15 million reside.

The Palestine that Churchill referred to was the whole of what became Mandate Palestine, which currently comprises Jordan, Israel and the disputed territory, which was illegally annexed by Jordan on 24 April 1950, and renamed the West Bank, while modern Israel comprises only 17% of the original area that was intended to become Mandate Palestine.

Churchill would be truly amazed that such a small area today sustains such a large percentage of world Jewry.  

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Anyway, I forwarded the article to my good friend in South Africa, Philip Weyers – a great-grandson of General Jan Christiaan Smuts, former Prime Minister of South Africa and a great friend of Winston Churchill the two having first met during the Anglo Boer War of 1899, albeit on opposing sides, and then as fellow members of the British Imperial War cabinet during both WWI and WWII. Together with British Prime Minister Lloyd George and Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour, they shared a common belief in the importance and necessity of the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Smuts played an important role in the wording of the Balfour Declaration and its acceptance by the Imperial War Cabinet.

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Lovers Of Zion. Philip Weyers next to a statue of his great- grandfather, General Jan Christiaan Smuts.

The tone of Churchill’s article is set by the opening statement which reads:

 “Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.”

The reply from Philip Weyers after he had read the article, really got me thinking that he might well have hit the nail on the head. Philip had this to say:

“Interesting that Churchill did not think Palestine would be big enough to accommodate ‘more than a fraction’ of the world’s Jews. I reckon he did not know about the resourcefulness of Jews to transform desert into very habitable areas. The world will continue to underestimate Jews as they have done for millennia, and when the Jews rise above expectations the response is often pure anti-Semitism.”

Could this be it –  when Jews “rise above expectations” – that it is all about jealously’?

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From Jan To Yitzchak. Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan founded in 1932 is named after Jan Smuts – a strong supporter of Zionism. In 1941, Yitzhak Rabin joined the Palmach section of the Haganah during his stay at kibbutz Ramat Yohanan.

It is certainly no accident that twelve Israelis have won Nobel Prizes, three for peace efforts, while the rest for literature, science, medicine and economics. The development of many of the scientific and medical innovations that currently prolong or improve the quality of millions of lives daily – an ongoing process since modern Israel came into being 70 years ago.

During the same period, the surrounding Arab states – with about 430 million inhabitants – have managed to produce six Nobel Laureates, four of them for the peace that perpetually eludes the Middle East.

Let me end off by saying that by replacing the hatred and vitriol with an acceptance of Israel as a fixture in the region, rather than the never ending threats to annihilate the country and its people, would allow Israel to offer so much that could enhance the lives of the millions citizens throughout the Middle East and beyond.

 

 

image006 (4).pngPeter Bailey, who grew up in the South African gold mining town of Brakpan, first appeared in print at the age of 10 with two poems appearing  in the SA Outspan and Farmer’s Weekly. He speaks extensively on the Jewish contribution to South African military history and is the author of ‘Smuts, the Anonymous Figure Behind the Balfour Declaration’ and ‘Street Names In Israel’.

 

 

* Feature picture – AP Photo/Gil Michel

Antisemitism – Metastasizing Hatred

By  Rolene Marks

Everyday. Everyday we are reminded that it is everywhere. The cancerous hatred that is antisemitism is rapidly metastasizing around the world.

It has manifested in the images of swastikas on schools, the defilement of monuments to the Holocaust, the thin disguise as anti-Zionism – as if telling us that we have no right to self-determination as a nation makes it better!

The new phenomenon of politicised antisemitism that lurks the halls of the UK Labour Party, as well as the ill-disguised venom of the Ilhan Omar’s, Linda Sarsours et al that are pervading American discourse. The soccer thugs chanting “Jews to the gas” and the repugnant images of the hook-nosed, money hungry Jews, the vile BDS campaigns against our state Israel, the institutionalised obsessive hatred in the UN and in NGOs who have forgotten about the oppressed of the world with their disproportionate focus on Israel.

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Two Faced. Two new faces on a contrived crusade against Israel – Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour.

As I write this, it a matter of hours since news broke of yet another shooting in a synagogue in the USA. This time at the Poway Chabad in San Diego, killing one and wounding others. The attack occurred six months to the day of the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that claimed the lives of eleven. Communities around the world are reeling because an attack on one is an attack on us all.

Antisemitism is visible in WASP, exclusionary snobbery and the trolls on social media who hide behind avatars and cowardice. Social media is fast becoming the playground of the hater evident in the number of posts and comments as the medium is abused by these perpetrators to state their intentions or publish their manifestoes.

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Breaking News, Breaking Hearts. Jew-hating gunman fires upon congregants in Poway Chabad, San Diego during the Jewish festival of Passover.

Every day. Everyday more news breaks about antisemitic incidents on university campuses. It is not just restricted to students but also faculty members and universities who seek to divest from co-operation with Israeli universities. While volumes can be written about this, two recent examples include:

– South Africa’s top university, the University of Cape Town (UCT) mulling an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. A resolution to this effect will be further addresed by UCT’s Senate on the 10th May.

– a chemistry professor from Vermont’s Middlebury University who posed the following question to his class:

Calculate the lethal dose of poisonous gas that was used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.” He has been suspended but antisemitism is becoming mainstream and it is our duty to fight it.

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The Madding Crowd. Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town, South Africa. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)

Every day. Every day we see how more and more complicit the media is becoming in disseminating anti-Jewish rhetoric. It is alarming that many media outlets cannot seem to make the correlation between some of their content and rising antisemitism. The most  recent example of this is a cartoon published in the international edition of the New York  Times that shows a blind Donald Trump, yarmulke on his head, being led by Netanyahu who is portrayed as a dog. This could quite easily have come from Der Sturmer circa 1939 and again traffics in a dangerous trope that was espoused by the Nazi’s and many hatemongers today who compare Jews as either controlling global leaders or as inhuman and like animals.

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The New York Times international edition published this offensive cartoon that has led to widespread condemnation for trafficking in antisemitism.

The New York Times offered a weak apology that excluded “we are sorry”.

Every day. It is happening every day and the silence of the world that has not learnt from the history of the Holocaust is deafening. Today, space has been created for Holocaust revisionism and blatant denial. This is the greatest insult to the Jewish people and compounds an already spreading hatred that must be fought. This week as we approach Yom HaShoah -Holocaust Martyrs and heroes Day in Israel – we are reminded again of what happens when hatred goes unchecked. It spreads like the malignant, rapidly metastasizing cancer that it is.

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Caricatures in Aalst, Belgium are reminiscent of medieval antisemitism

Every day we need a reminder.  We need to be reminded that the Holocaust started with words – not gas chambers. We need to be reminded that hatred and intolerance is not just a Jewish issue, it belongs to us all.

The time is now. Do we choose to stay silent and complicit or raise our voices and take a stand? After the Holocaust we declared NEVER AGAIN. Never again has become every day. Whether it is the far left or the alt-right, political figures or campus activists, the media or non-governmental organisations and once-revered global institutions, this hatred needs to be checked.

NEVER AGAIN – well, it is happening again. Everyday. ENOUGH is ENOUGH

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Down To The Wire. ‘Never Again’ should mean ‘never again’.