Anti-Semitism and the African landscape

  By Rolene Marks

The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism.

In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.

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Theodor Herzl

It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s first Prime Minister, Golda Meir, recognized that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.

They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.

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Israeli PM Golda Meir (while serving as FM) and Kenya President Jomo Kenyatta laying cornerstone of Israeli Embassy in Nairobi (December 1963)

From the north to the south

Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.

The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.

Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.

The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.

The South African story

In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.

Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:

“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”

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Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and former President Nelson Mandela (Credit: Afrika Tikkun)

I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.

Good Jew, Bad Jew

Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.

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Wits University Johanneburg

There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.

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Anti-Semitism and the African landscape9
Pretoria University 29/08/2017

Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.

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Pretoria University 29/08/2017

The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.

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Mr Bongani Masuku found guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community in South Africa, 2017

South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?

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BDS Activist: Israelis as Inhuman Nazis

Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.

 

 

 

 

Where Is BDS When Christians And Yazidis Are Murdered?

It takes its cue from an indifferent world – A shameful Silence

 

By David E. Kaplan

 

Last year, writes Raymond Ibrahim, “Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and 2019 is expected to be worse.”

Raised in the USA to Egyptian parents, Ibrahim today is a widely published author and Middle East and Islam specialist.

He was the first to expose in 2012, an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”

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“Destroy All Churches In Gulf,” Says Saudi Grand Mufti. Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, stressed that since the tiny Gulf state was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, it was necessary to destroy all of the churches in the country.

Raymond Ibrahim is sounding ALARM BELLS about the plight of Christians in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Too few hear them ringing!

Writing this March in the Gatestone Institute, Ibrahim reveals that in 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors USA in its recently published World Watch List 2019 (WWL) of the top 50 nations where Christians are persecuted.

This translates on average, to 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.

Why the deafening silence?

Additionally, in 2018, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned”, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”

In 2018, 215 million Christians faced persecution and the prognosis according to Open Doors, is that this year – 2019 –   over 245 million will suffer – a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith.

This means that “One in nine Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.”

Worse for Woman

Another frightening trend is the “shocking persecution against women.”

“In many places,” reveals the report, “they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman! Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.”

Last year’s WWL provided more specific numbers:

At least six women every day are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim man under the threat of death for their Christian faith…”

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Worst Offenders

Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Sharia.

In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist” because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion.”

Similarly, in Somalia, (ranked #3),

Al-Shabaab’s primary aim is to rid Somalia of all Christianity. In 2014 when their leader Ahmed Godane died, they appointed a new leader.

Despite Pope Francis’ statement that Africa is a continent of hope and his call to engage in dialogue against the attacks that have recently occurred, there is not enough being done currently to protect Somali’s Christians. When they are not allowed to express their beliefs to the government without being killed or to celebrate holidays and customs publicly that are Christian, they are being stripped from their basic human rights from society.

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Take Note BDS SA. Nigeria accounted for more than half the worldwide killings of Christians in 2015. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

Being forced to hide their beliefs from the country and having to live in fear is not an acceptable way to live. Pope Francis is correct in saying that meaningful dialogue is important to solving this problem, but in the meantime, these Christians are being killed regularly, and a change needs to be come soon.

In Iran (ranked #9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” While worship is permitted under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.

“There are many reports,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, “that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power. For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.”

It has become increasingly common for authorities to arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles.

Under Pakistan‘s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.

Only recently, Pakistan’s supreme court struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that freed her after nine years on death row and ignited countrywide protests from Islamist groups.

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What’s Changed Since The Roman Circuses? Protestors in Pakistan screaming support for death penalty for Christian woman.

Christian farm labourer Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of five, was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010. She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.

In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), and Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.

While in Egypt, President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, have left Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.

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Is The World Illeterate. ISIS Killing Christians in Egypt Read more at https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/our-favorite-prey-isis-killing-christians-in-egypt/#xz2dsE8wa4LMr6oS.99

Some recent examples:

In December 2017, a gunman opened fire in Cairo at a church and a nearby shop owned by Christians. Eleven people died as a result of the attack.

In July 2018, a mob attacked Christians in a village in Minya, when Muslim residents were angered by a Facebook post they believed to be blasphemous.

Many Christian girls and women have become the victims of sexual harassment, abduction and rape. In just one month (April 2018), at least seven cases of abduction were documented.

In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people.

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Beach Barbarism. In 2015, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians – constructive workers that had been kidnapped – were beheaded by ISIS on the beaches of Sirte, in Libya,

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.

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Beware Of Reporting The Truth. In 2015, ISIS burned twenty media activists to death in Iraq’s northwestern city of Mosul. The victims were executed on charges of leaking security information to “hostile parties”. “The horrific execution was conducted in front of dozens of people in al-Houd, including some family members of the victims.

Home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnapping of girls by Islamist extremists, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims.

“Michael Jones” – not his real name – a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told The Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.

“You hear President el-Sisi speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said ‘Jones’.

“Then you have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices.”

BDS – are you hearing the cries and calls for salvation or are you callously ignoring?

The Yazidis – “We harmed nobody”

This ancient faith that has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community is facing extinction. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in the Iraqi heartland.

Facing extinction – they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.

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Horrors The World Ignores. Yazidis fleeing their towns for Mount Sinjar as Islamic State forces advanced on them. “They raped me every day, twice or more,” recounts Bafrin from the village of Kocho. “I was just a child; I can never forget it.” Over 400 men, the entire male population of Kocho, were rounded up, shot or beheaded. Old women were killed and dumped in mass graves, younger ones sold in markets as sex slaves, boys turned into child soldiers. (Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters)

The Yazidi narrative reveals surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history, but the worst, Yazidis today will say, is ISIS “that is trying to eradicate our faith and culture.” Acknowledged by the United Nations as genocide, the ISIS campaign may have dealt “the most brutal blow.”

On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Thousands were imprisoned or killed, and close to 100,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar. The UN referred to the attack as “a genocide”.

Women have paid the highest price when ISIS attacked. Close to 7,000 women have been sold as sex slaves. They have been brutalised by ISIS fighters, many of them repeatedly victims of sexual assaults. They were forced to convert to Islam, and many were forcibly married off to ISIS fighters. Women who tried to escape were often punished with gang rape.

Thousands of women and children, down to the age of nine, were repeatedly sold in slave markets in Syrian cities where ISIS had a strong presence. Boys from the age of seven years and upwards were separated from their mothers and put in camps where they were brainwashed and trained to become child soldiers.

In an appeal to the world, a priest, Sheikh Ismael Bahri, catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists and wails:

All humane countries of the world must see our situation. We’ve not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection.”

While the Yazidis’ plight has moved some countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany that offered refuge to a limited number of victims, notably the women brutally enslaved by ISIS, most the world remains silent.

“We feel threatened here, we don’t have a future here,” cried out Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis’ presence is also dwindling.

Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay in Iraq.

“We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves,” the Yazidis’ religious leader, Baba Sheikh says. “The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing.”

Wake up world – the Yazidis are an “Endangered Species”!

 

Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned – video

 

Feature picture: Yazidi Kurdish women chant slogans during a protest against the Islamic State group’s invasion of Sinjar city, in Dohuk, Iraq, August 3, 2015. (AP/Seivan M. Salem)

 

The intersection of Zionism and Feminism

 By Rolene Marks

It is often said that the “future is women”.

With movements like Times Up which advocates for gender parity and #MeToo which has sent a resounding message to the masses that women will no longer be silent about sexual abuse and harassment and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, it would appear that the time for women is now!

This International Women’s Day, as we focus on the importance of these issues, we have to consider whether or not ALL women are included in the conversation about these decisions that affect them.

With the rise of global phenomenon’s like the Women’s March and #MeToo that continue to gain momentum, so it seems that there are significant groups of women who are excluded.

In the case of the Women’s March, it was made abundantly clear to Jewish women who are proudly Zionist, that they were not welcome.

In fact, one of the founders, Linda Sarsour, had this to say:

It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

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BDS Supporter. Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour at SiriusXM event ‘Muslim in America’ in New York City, October 26, 2015. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM/via

It begs the question – are Zionism and feminism on a collision course?

Comments like this are fast alienating Jewish, Zionist women from participating in tthe growing feminist movement in the USA.

During the Dyke March in Chicago in 2017, Jewish marchers who displayed the Star of David of their rainbow flag were asked to leave. Organizers defended their decisions saying that they did not want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” and that it made other marchers feel “unsafe”.  This was not a display of the flag of Israel in all its blue and white glory but a rainbow flag with a Magen David (Star of David). So it was LGBTQ women’s rights for everyone – save for Jewish lesbians?

The Women’s March has fast become a growing cesspit of anti-Semitism, disguised in its new, trendy form anti-Zionism.

Three of the leaders of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are rising media sensations. They are articulate, camera-friendly and are very busy appearing to do good. They are “woke” and a draw card for young women who care about the growing importance of gender equality.

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Power Pin-Ups. The new faces of intersectionality, (l-r)Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez at the Women’s March at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, January 21, 2018. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images via JTA)

They organise rallies, clean up cemeteries, and protests at every conceivable opportunity. They are veritable pin-ups for girl power. They are also sadly, the new faces of ‘intersectionality’.

Intersectionality can be described as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Fraternisers Of Farrakhan

All suffering and discrimination are equal – except for that of Jews.

Unfortunately, these feminist poster girls have chosen to align themselves with some of the most vociferous anti-Semites.

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America’s No. 1 Anti-Semite. Louis Farrakhan calls Jews “Satanic” and compares Jews to “termites”.

While rallying against the “patriarchy” – they feel no compunction in cozying up to misogynist and arch anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who features at number 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of top Jew haters. Number one was the Pittsburgh Massacre. Farrakhan is known for his trafficking in gross anti-Semitic tropes like these:

I’m not mad at you because you’re so stupid. So, when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you do what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I’m anti-Termite.”

It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks.  Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks…  We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11

Tamika Mallory referred to him as GOAT – Greatest Of All Time. Greatest hater perhaps, but certainly not someone to whom women fighting for equal rights should embrace like these leaders have.

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As a result of this, many chapters of the Women’s March are divesting themselves from the greater movement and have joined well know celebrities like Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano in condemning the anti-Semitism that is spreading.

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Feminist Without Fear. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano said she won’t speak at the next Women’s March if it is organized by two current leaders who will not condemn anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Exposing Hypocrisy

Feminism is very much a part of the fabric of Zionism and the story of the modern state of Israel and as a Zionist feminist woman, I am free to pretty much say what I want – unlike my Palestinian sisters!

Feminism predates the modern state of Israel and weaves through Jewish history with feminist heroines like Yael and Devorah and they have continued the tradition of strong, outspoken women in modern times. Zionists wrote the book on feminism. Literally! Have you read the bible? Some pretty strong women in there!

Zionist women are the ultimate feminist rebels, pioneers and trailblazers.  Before the formal establishment of Israel, women were establishing the systems and institutions that would improve life for her citizens.  Organisations like WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) were at the forefront of the suffragette movement that took place in Europe at the time.  The struggle for political suffrage for women is regarded as first wave of feminism.

Women’s rights in Israel are amongst the most progressive in the world and it would be remiss of me to not mention the iconic Golda Meir, one of the first female Prime Ministers in the world.

A powerful leader and orator, Meir was one of the first to recognise how Israel can help impoverished countries in Africa, and this was very much in line with the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl’s, vision that he wrote in his manifesto.

Zionist women are free to criticise any policy that we may disagree with because an Israel that stands up to the tenets of Zionism is what we strive for.

Israel is a vibrant and flawed democracy just like any other country and women are very much a part of the fabric that has and continues to build the country every day.

We are pioneers in many fields. We are trailblazers in business, politics, volunteer organisations, the arts and sciences and so much more.

We are religious and secular and everything in between. We are warriors and defenders of our country on land, sea, air and airwaves and we are homemakers, entrepreneurs and creative genii.  We are changing the political landscape and we represent over 80 different ethnicities. We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.

The hypocrisy of the Women’s March that while castigating and excluding Zionist feminists, they are not advocating properly for their Palestinian sisters. If they were concerned about the rights of Palestinian women, they would be holding the leadership accountable at every possible turn. They would be demonstrating outrage about domestic violence and honour killings, gender Apartheid which prohibits women from owning property or businesses, driving, voting and pursuing careers of their choice. They would march against underage brides forced to marry men before they reach puberty. They would be outraged about genital mutilation; genocide of Christian women and the unspeakable torture women are enduring in the Middle East under ISIS.

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It is important that when it comes to discussing women’s issues, that the table is inclusive and that Jewish, Zionist women are included. Exclusion is not just discriminatory, it is hypocrisy.

Zionist women are happy to meet these organisations and movements at any intersection. Standing up for the rights of women regardless of religion or political leanings is what feminism is all about.

 

 

Gaslighting Gaza: Initial Analysis of UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza Riots

By Shaun Sacks

Senior Researcher at NGO Monitor – the globally recognized research institute promoting democratic values and good governance.

On February 28, 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border, which began in March 2018, alleged that “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law… and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The COI created a “confidential file” of “which is recommended be given to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” and to be used by governments to “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze.”

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Israel Under Fire. A devastating rocket fired from Gaza – which the UN categorizes as “peaceful protests” – lands on a bus in Israel near the kibbutz Sha’ar Hanegev region. Fortunately all passengers had alighted from the bus minutes begore the anti-tank missile struck the bus injuring the driver. (Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Methodological Failures

  • In contrast to professional fact-finding standards, the COI clearly established pre-determined legal and factual conclusions and merely gathered “evidence” to fit its desired outcome.
  • In preparing its report, the COI relied heavily on Palestinian sources, including Hamas and terror-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Notably, the COI uncritically adopts the NGOs’ application of a domestic law enforcement paradigm – erasing the context of the armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups – to analyze cross-border violence.
  • The COI used anonymous and unverifiable “testimonies.” When asked during a press conference to provide details about how many of the 325 the interviews it conducted itself or how it selected the 325 individuals reportedly interviewed, the Chairperson of the COI was unable to answer the question and stated he would have to provide that information “at a later date”.
  • The information provided in the published summary is a near copy-paste from NGO submissions to the COI. For example, all names of Palestinian children killed were provided by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), an NGO with ties to the Popular of Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, i.e. one of the parties to the conflict in Gaza. (DCI-P’s submission was prepared in partnership with the CUNY School of Law Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic.)
  • Reflecting the COI’s lack of expertise and muddled analysis, throughout the report, the COI mixes up the concepts of “international human rights” and “humanitarian law” and applicable rules and standards. For example, according to the Commission, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border was not a “military” or “combat” situation and therefore human rights law was the appropriate standard. Therefore, its conclusion that “human rights violations” may also constitute “war crimes” is baseless, since war crimes can only occur where the laws of war are applicable.
  • The UN’s shoddy researching and reporting led them to write identical paragraphs about the same fatality, Mo’min Hams, on different pages of the “protected groups” section of the report.
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Israelis Take Cover. Ignored by the UN, Israeli motorists flee their vehicles and dive for cover in the town of Sderot as rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip on November 2018. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Minimizing Palestinian Violence, Erasing Palestinian Terror

  • The COI largely erases the dimension of Palestinian violence along the Gaza border, as well as Hamas’ leading role in orchestrating the attacks. NGO Monitor’s two submissions to the COI provided significant detail regarding the presence of violence – including use of guns, Molotov cocktails, stones, burning tires, incendiary kites, etc. as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts – along the Gaza border. These and other evidence of violence are freely available from open sources. The COI ignored and minimized these armed attacks and reconstituted the riots as “peaceful protests.”
  • According to a statement made at a press conference, the COI deliberately focused on five main riot locations during the specific times of protests. This means that the COI ignored essential context including that the riots were used as diversions to attacks occurring elsewhere at the same time as well as military attacks, shootings and other violence that occurred at other times, particularly at night.
  • Although the COI acknowledges the involvement of terrorist organizations in planning the events along the border, it absurdly insists that “the armed wings of these parties were not represented on the [planning] committee.” In Gaza in particular, the distinction between “armed wings” of terror groups and other branches of these groups is meaningless.
  • The COI whitewashes statements made by Hamas officials that demonstrate Hamas’ role in organizing and directing the violence along the Gaza.  On May 17, 2018, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
  • On May 16, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil claimed “I am giving you an official figure. Fifty of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas,” referring to clashes that took place on May 14.
  • According to analysis conducted by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, dozens of fatalities named by the CoI were members of or were tied to terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).  Among these was 16 year-old Islamic Jihad member Ahmad al-Shaer, indicating the recruitment of children into terrorist organizations.
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Israeli Families Live In Fear. Miraculously no one was killed as this house in Netivot in southern Israel that took a direct hit from a missile fired from Gaza, November 2018. (Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Baseless Conclusions

  • The COI claims that Israel “intentionally shot” children, health workers, journalists, and those with disabilities, “knowing” that these people were “recognizable as such when they were shot.”
  • It is unclear how the COI could determine intent of or the information known to IDF soldiers at the time of a given incident.
  • One such disabled individual is identified as deaf. Obviously, an Israeli soldier, at a distance of 150m away, could not possibly know of this person’s condition.
  • In its press conference, COI members admitted that “maybe some of them weren’t visibly children.”
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From Gaza With Hate. Security personnel inspect a destroyed house in the Israeli city of Ashkelon following a rocket attack from Gaza, November 12, 2018. Over 370 rockets were launched from Gaza, which the UN invariably describes as “peaceful protests”. (Photo by Ilan Assayag)

Illegitimacy of the COI

  • None of the COI members has any expertise in international humanitarian law or military operations. Not surprising then, the report ignores the applicable legal framework and instead lazily refers solely to human rights law, making the absurd claim that “the demonstrations were civilian in nature… and despite some acts of significant violence, did not constitute combat or a military campaign.”
  • The COI was marred by a lack of transparency and accountability. It was allocated the massive sum of $1.5million to complete this report yet kept secret how this money was spent. The identities of the staffers and any consultants employed are not disclosed, making it impossible to independently verify their professional qualifications.
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Sderot Ablaze. Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (Photo by AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The COI was established by the notorious UN Human Rights Council – a body controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias. Therefore, it is not a true “inquiry,” but rather a rigged effort to recycle the claims of partisan NGOs and to grant them the legitimacy of the UN. This is another round to target Israel via such pseudo-investigations, including the notorious and subsequently discredited 2009 Goldstone report.

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UN Still Not Learning The Lessons of Goldstone. South African Judge Richard Goldstone expresses regrets about his report into the 2008-09 Gaza war writing recanting his findings. He later wrote that “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” He acknowledged that the report that bears his name “was wrong to allege that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.”

 

About the writer:

gazline in gaza1.JPGShaun Sacks immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1998. He received his BA from Bar Ilan University. Before joining NGO Monitor as a Senior Researcher, Shaun was the Senior Project Manager for NETSOURCE, an Israeli firm that specializes in providing technology employment opportunities to Ultra-Orthodox communities, and emerging market manager for McAfee Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 25-28 February 2019

The Israel Brief – 25 February 2019 – UK blacklists Hizbollah. Islamic Jihad threaten Tel Aviv. Bibi draws criticism and Abbas demands EU states recognise a Palestinian state.

 

The Israel Brief – 26 February 2019 – Chief Rabbi of Argentina attacked. Iranian Foreign Minister resigns. EU Presidential hopeful call for pact against anti-Semitism.

 

The Israel Brief – 27 February 2019 – Terrorist captured! Bibi visits Putin. African American law enforcement nixes BDS!

 

The Israel Brief – 28 February 2019 – UNHRC accusations against Israel. Bibi to be indicted? Trump peace plan titbits

 

 

Blame by the Numbers

 Israel’s paltry trade with South Africa during Apartheid era

By Rolene Marks

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Israel Apartheid Week will wind its hate filled way across the world in March and April – one of the main accusations is Israel’s support of South Africa during Apartheid. Lay of the land sets the record straight.

 

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This Is Apartheid. A 1956 sign common in Johannesburg. IMAGE: THREE LIONS/GETTY IMAGES

Israel’s detractors love to compare the Jewish state to Apartheid South Africa. This is not a comparison based on facts but rather part of a greater campaign to paint Israel as a pariah state and deal out the same sort of isolation through boycotts and sanctions as was done to South Africa during the height of Apartheid.

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This Is Apartheid. Separate stairs for “Europeans “ and “non-Europeans”.

Many try to single out Israel as the only country during those years to have had any dealings with South Africa but on closer inspection, trade and co-operation between the two countries was so minute to that of other countries whose trade with the Apartheid government registered in the billions of dollars.

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This Is Apartheid. Separate toilet facilities for “Whites”.

While Israel’s cooperation with the Apartheid regime is a cause of much embarrassment to me as both a South African and an Israeli, Israel’s role in not standing up to Apartheid is insignificant in comparison to other countries.

Focus on the Facts  

Israel’s total amount of trade with the then Apartheid government was a mere $200m dollars per annum compared to:

– U.S.A                – $3.4 billion

– Japan               – $2.9 billion

– Germany          – $2.8 billion

– U.K.                   -$2.6 billion

– Arab countries   – $3 billion

The Arab countries could have brought the Apartheid regime to its knees – if it wanted to! It didn’t.

It was the oil tankers from Iran and Saudi Arabia which kept the wheels of Apartheid oiled. Arab oil exports to South Africa totaled more than $3 billion per year and, if that supply had been cut off, would have ended apartheid in the 1960’s!

Double Standards

The Saudi and Iranian human rights records are abysmal and constitute some of the worst human rights violators in the world today. Nonetheless South African government officials frequently visit both countries. The singling out of Israel for opprobrium smacks of a horrendous double standards when one considers that in Iran, homosexuals are hung from cranes, and the ruling government has no compunction in denying the Holocaust or calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

This occurs all the while parading their ballistic missiles through the streets of the capital, Teheran!

France supplied Apartheid South Africa with weapons, nuclear material and financial aid, Switzerland the USA and Britain funded the Apartheid regime, Germany supported the racist regime in extensive trade. I include a few of the thousands of examples that can be sited:

Royal Dutch/Shell’s subsidiary, Shell South Africa, was involved in extensive operations in the petroleum, mining and chemical industries of South Africa and Namibia, with an estimated turnover of more than US$2 billion in South Africa in 1989.

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Business Buddies. In released reports, Margaret Thatcher made no mention of Nelson Mandela during the only formal talks she held with South Africa’s Apartheid president, P.W. Botha.
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Select Memories. Why does BDS SA ignore the real culprits who cooperated with Apartheid? A poster produced in 1971 by the British Anti-Apartheid Movement protesting British Arms to South Africa, Source: African Activist Archive

In 1962 Britain’s ICI and South Africa’s De Beers each put £5 million into AECI (African Explosives and Chemicals Industries) to set up three new plants producing tear gas, ammunition for small arms, anti-tank and aircraft rockets.

British Leyland’s South African subsidiary supplied Land Rovers that were used by the South African police against students in the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Selective Morality

The human rights records in Iraq, Libya, Syria have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Once again, South African government officials have no problem visiting these human rights violators, and those that purport to be human rights activists, like the BDS movement, remain silent and raise no issues of concern?

One must ask if a special standard is applied to the Jewish State and why?

It appears that perspective has little to do with the assumptions made about the historical relationship between Israel and South Africa. It also looks as if human rights are not a factor when dealing with bilateral relations between South Africa and other countries. When South African leaders visit Russia, perpetrator of some of the greatest crimes against humanity in modern times in places like Syria and Chechnya, and which in 2014, invaded and then occupied the Crimea in the independent Ukraine, they never raised any issues of concern.

Why does South Africa – that maintains that its “legacy” obliges it to take issue wherever and whenever human rights are grossly violated – remain silent against gross violations by Russia?

When the ANC hosted internationally criticised Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in South Africa – a man responsible for attempted genocide against the Jewish people – there were photo ops and soundbites instead of condemnation.

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Time For South Africa Apartheid week. (SAAW). Service delivery protests in the Western Cape where people were protesting for basic rights such as housing, electricity and greater infrastructure (Source: Henk Kruger)

And therein lies the rub!

When a special standard is applied to Jews and the Jewish state, it leads people to ask some very troubling questions.

Israel is a free, vibrant albeit flawed democracy. Is the Jewish state culpable as its detractors try make out?

The facts speak otherwise.

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Apartheid SA Today. Sprawling urban minority separated from the nearby squalor of the shanty town. This sight is typical throughout present apartheid South Africa where the “have nots” – predominantly Black – are separated from the “haves” in shanty satellite communities outside cities and towns throughout the country.

When it comes to historical trade relations between the two countries, Israel’s opponents are intentionally defaming the Jewish state ‘making mountains out of molehills’ by way of lies and deception.

 

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Unveiling The Truth. South African apartheid government needed weapons and the French arms industry needed money – thus started a long term alliance. In the Open Secrets’ series, ‘Declassified: Apartheid Profits’, we see how a secret office in Paris was brokering weapons deals in order to bust the apartheid arms embargo. While Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, France and its major corporations were among the most loyal supporters of Pretoria’s racist regime, to which they sold arms, nuclear and industrial technologies, in total disregard of UN sanctions. At the time, there was little protest. In this report (above), we learn of PW. Botha, then Minister of Defence visit to France in 1969 to discuss secret arms deals..

Israel Apartheid Week A Disservice to Palestinians and South Africans

By Sharon Salomon

Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international annual series of events held all over the world around February, March and April with the stated purpose of spreading information regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and rallying support for their cause. The 2019 series of events takes place from 16th March until 14th April. On April 1st 2019, the South African IAW shall commence.

There will be rallies, speeches, protests, presentations, workshops, even concerts, poetry readings and films, a huge festival of sorts, all designed, according to their website, to ‘raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies’ and ‘gain support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign’.

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The Writing Is On The Wall. This graffiti was spray-painted on wall of South Africa’s Wits University two weeks after kippah-wearing student was verbally assaulted on campus in October 2016. [Photos: SAUJS Countrywide.]

This movement has much support especially in South Africa where it is known what the racist apartheid regime was and so it is easy to attract local support to an ‘anti-apartheid’ cause. People in South Africa and throughout the world jump onto the BDS bandwagon genuinely wanting to support the apparent underdog. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?

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Ugly UCT. In an attempt to intimidate Jewish students, a bloodied Israeli flag with anti-Semitic graffiti hangs on the main building at the University of Cape Town at the start of Israel-Apartheid Week in March 2018. (photo credit: SAUJS/FACEBOOK)

The problem with this mission statement and movement as a whole is that, simply, there is no apartheid in Israel. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’i and other religious groups of all races and creeds, live and work together, vote, serve in government, have gay pride parades and do whatever they please in whichever way they please. I too support the Palestinian people to have freedom, real education, clean water, healthcare and full human rights. In other words I support the Palestinian people to be free from their corrupt, abusive, violence-inciting, terror-rewarding leadership.

If you are reading this and happen to be one of the very passionate people fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people, I implore you, as free-thinking and passionate individuals who care for the well-being of others, to consider the below responses to the arguments generally put forward:

  • “Palestinian people live in terrible conditions”

How is it possible for so many Palestinians to live in squalor while millions of dollars in aid are funnelled to the Palestinian Authority? Consider with this how it is possible for so many Palestinians to live in luxury at the same time. Who is supposed to be managing these funds and take care of the people? Why is so much money going into the destruction of the Jewish State instead of civil engineering and education?

  • “Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people”

How is it possible for the Palestinian population to have grown from around 650,000 in 1948 to over 4.6 million now if Israel is engaged in constant ethnic cleansing? And if there is this ethnic cleansing going on, how is it that Israeli society is made up of millions of Muslim Arab and Christian citizens? It does not make sense.

  • “The Palestinian people are denied having a Palestinian State”

Why does the Palestinian Authority not say ‘yes’ to having a Palestinian State when offered? They can have a State at any time they like.

  • “Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”

Why is there a push to support the Palestinian people to be such ethno-fascists that it is somehow deemed ‘understandable’ if someone ‘loses all sense’ and murders people (including stabbing children to death) because of not wanting Jews to live among them or even build a shed on their own properties, for example? Should we not be more concerned that non-Muslims are, to put it euphemistically, not welcome in Palestinian areas? If those areas become a Palestinian State, then those Jews who live there should have the option of deciding whether to move in order to remain citizens of Israel, or become citizens of Palestine. Much like what should happen in the formation of any state.

  • “Israel can end the conflict by giving land over to the Palestinian Authority

Israel has given land in the past, but nothing has changed with regards to the Jihad waged against Israel and the stream of rockets being fired into Israel. Why is this not questioned by those wholeheartedly standing against Israel by default of standing for the Palestinian people?

IAW20191.JPG(Courtesy of MEMRI)

Be a courageous game-changer and question this. Supporting any boycott of Israel without investigating for oneself whether or not these allegations against Israel are true, not only puts supporters of Israel (or Jewish people in general as has been seen in many incidences around the world) in danger, but also prevents growth, learning, understanding and dialogue. It prevents the ingredients needed in the first place for peaceful resolutions.

  • Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa does a gross disservice to those who suffered through apartheid.

Learn some facts from South Africans about what it means to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. Listen to the honourable Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party and a South African who lived in apartheid South Africa. Consider other points of view. Note that ironically the BDS movement harms the Palestinian people as we saw in the BDS “victory” when the Soda Stream factory was forced to shut down and move out of the West Bank and so hundreds of Palestinian people lost their jobs.

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Don’t simply jump on the IAW and BDS band-wagons. Be for the Palestinian people by questioning their leadership, not by being against countries which help them, including Israel. Supporting BDS ironically hurts the Palestinian people by putting the blame on others for their leaders’ crimes.

 

Courtesy of Israel Collective

 

 

Bio Pic 2.JPG“Sharon Salomon is a South African, Israeli living in Johannesburg.  She is the granddaughter of Auschwitz survivors, and of those who were smuggled from Iraq to Israel in the 1950’s. She remembers little bits of Apartheid as a young child and her parents being fiercely against. She is passionate about being a voice for truth and dialogue believing it to literally save lives. She is the director and founding member of Race Against Extinction supporting tiger conservation. She holds a BSc in Mathematical Sciences and consults as a Business Analyst.”

 

The Arab Voice

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

To enable readers across the world to freely make up their minds based on accurate and broad-based coverage on the Middle East, LOTL provides a platform to what Arab journalists – in their own words – are writing about the region.

 

 The Mullahs’ Disillusionment Will Lead To Their Downfall

Al-Anbaa1Al-Anba, Kuwait, February 1, 2019

Has Iran entered a deadly cycle of both internal and external chaos, which may result in the demise of mullah state? Observers of Iranian politics will all agree that the Iranian leadership is in deep state of turmoil that requires it to balance the demands of a disgruntled public at home with those of the international community abroad. Consider, for example, the recent speech delivered by Iranian President Hassan Rohani who spoke recently about the economic difficulties that Iran has faced for the last four decades, ever since the 1979 revolution. Rohani claimed that the main

Al-Anbaa2
Under Pressure. Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 on Iran facing economic difficulty amid U.S. pressure. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

 driver behind this problem is the United States, not the Iranian government, and that the Americans have lost their political and legal war against Iran, so they resorted to economic war. Rohani simply ignores reality and creates imaginary narratives about the dire state of his country’s economy. Iran, for all its wealth of natural resources, which could have fueled its economy, is home to one of the world’s most impoverished populations. Instead of spending money on education and welfare, the Iranian government is funding militias and terrorists. This is why the Iranian public has long realized that it is a victim of the ayatollahs. The demonstrations we’ve witnessed in the streets of Tehran are targeting a regime that humiliates its own people. It is beyond clear to the Iranian public that the so-called causes created by the mullahs, such as the liberation of Palestine, are no more than shallow attempts to deflect attention away from the regime. In late December, speaking to France’s Le Pen magazine, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied Iran’s existential threats to Israel. It is perfectly clear to all of us that Zarif’s statements contradict the truth. The Iranian regime is committed to wiping Israel off the map, and it has gone to lengths to do so. Sadly, the mullahs continue to insist on exporting their radical ideological revolutionary model not only to their neighbors in the Gulf, or the Middle East, but also to the rest of the world. Have you heard the statement of Hassan Abbasi, one of the most prominent theoreticians of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, about his country’s plans to turn the White House, Versailles Palace and Buckingham Palace into Shiite forts? The regime in Tehran is disillusioned and we can only hope that it is entering its last downward spiral before its ultimate crash. – Amil Amin

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Irate Iranians. Times are changing as riots in Iran against the regime’s failures in policies are become more frequent.

 

 

 

HEZBOLLAH AS A MARKER OF ARAB DISILLUSIONMENT
image006 (1).pngAl-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, November 5,2018

[Launched in 1960, Okaz is an Arabic Saudi Arabian daily newspaper located in Jeddah with offices all over Saudi Arabia.]

“Arab youth are growing increasingly disillusioned with their regimes. Political ideas that once galvanized the masses are now subject to mockery and ridicule. This is certainly the case in Lebanon where Hezbollah, previously a popular party led by a charismatic leader, is viewed by growing swaths of the public as a pariah.

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Sieg Heil. Inspired by Hitler’s aims, Hezbollah fighters take an oath with the same Nazi salute during a parade to continue the path of resistance against Israel. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

 “2006 marked a pivotal year for Hezbollah, as the Shi’ite organization went to war against Israel and managed to convince Lebanese citizens that it stood for the defense of Lebanon and the protection of the Palestinian people. Since then, however, the Shi’ite organization’s true motive has been exposed: it is loyal to Iran. Its popularity has plunged in parallel with this growing understanding in Lebanon and, more broadly, across the region. Even young Shi’ites today refrain from openly supporting the party, believing that doing so will further damage Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“While Shi’ite and Sunni extremism are both equally dangerous, they are also quite different as the former is promoted by a state – the Islamic Republic of Iran – that seeks to spread its toxic ideology throughout the Middle East. Make no mistake: This is the only reason for Hezbollah’s existence and the Arab public is well aware of this. As Arab societies finally begin to recover from the massive political upheavals that swept through their capitals in 2011, men and women are no longer enchanted by empty promises of rogue regimes.

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“As a result, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah seems like nothing more than a messianic zealot overseeing a marginal group of followers who seek to destroy Lebanon by turning it into an Iranian proxy. The Arab people have had enough of this and wish instead to build a better future for themselves. It is only a matter of time until the likes of Hezbollah and Islamic State lose every last drop of the credibility they once enjoyed and finally disappear from the face of the earth.” Yehiyha al-Amer 

 

 

Will Iran Fall Together With Venezuela?

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 8

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Al Riyadh Newspaper. Al Riyadh is the first daily newspaper published in Arabic in the capital of Saudi Arabia. It was launched in 1965.

On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile, becoming the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ten days after Khomeini’s arrival, the Shah’s government collapsed. On April 1, Iran was officially declared a republic. But the hundreds of thousands who received Khomeini at the airport were not aware that he was planning to establish an authoritarian religious regime. At that time, they wanted to get rid of the Shah without knowing what Khomeini was carrying in his bag. According to Shiite tradition, there are only 12 imams. Khomeini became the imam of the revolution and the imam of the Islamic Republic, and immediately eliminated anyone whom he knew from his past, even his closest confidants, chief of which was Sadiq Qutbzadeh, Khomeini’s so-called “spiritual son,” who helped spread Khomeini’s sermons on audio cassettes. Iranians, even those who dislike the regime he created, still venerate Khomeini because of his strong personality. Their veneration is similar to that of the Chinese Communists who remember Mao Zedong. To mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, claimed that Hamas and Hizbullah are ready to open the gates of hell for the Jewish state. “Hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been dug under Israeli feet. The resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have high precision rockets and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior,” he recently said in a televised address. Shamkhani did not mention Syria, where Iranian forces and bases are subjected to Israeli destructive strikes on a weekly basis. Nor did he mention the Hizbullah tunnels destroyed by Israel in a sudden attack. What is ironic is that as the Iranians seek freedom, they observe the people of Venezuela risk their lives for freedom. One cannot help but be reminded of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010, aimed at building a joint Iranian-Venezuelan

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Iran-Venezuela Relations. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Saadabad Palace on November 23,2015.

missile base in South America to target the United States – just like the Soviets were planning to do in Cuba during the early 1960s. Iran paid the initial costs for this program, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, in cash. According to Iranian officials, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also established cover companies in Venezuela, meant to help Tehran get a hold of enriched uranium. The leaders of Iran and Venezuela have long praised the strong strategic relationship between the two countries. However, Iran, once again, played some bad cards. It hedged its bets on an oppressive regime that is now coming under fierce fire both domestically and internationally. I can’t help but wonder if this Iranian-Venezuelan love affair, which has spanned several decades, is coming to an end. More importantly, will the regime in Tehran soon end up like the one in Venezuela? Will the two regimes, which rely on each other deeply, find their end together? –Hada al-Husseini

 

Has Amnesty International Lost The Plot?

By Rolene Marks

Amnesty International, used to enjoy a pristine reputation as one of the foremost non-governmental organisations that was at the vanguard of ensuring the rights of the truly oppressed. They raised a proud voice to free icons like Mandela, release prisoners of war and brought human rights to the global consciousness in a noble and erudite manner. They were feted by celebrities who brought social justice to rock concerts, admired by many and set the benchmark for activism.

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Losing Its Way. Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a Jewish British lawyer and human rights activist . As a youth, one of his earliest human rights campaigns was collecting £4,000 from friends and family to bring two young Jews to Britain from Nazi Germany in 1939. One wonders what he would think of his organization’s actions today!

Lately it would appear that this once venerated organization has become a poor excuse of what it once was and has decidedly lost the plot by disproportionately focusing on the Jewish State.

The latest attempt at trying to de-legitimise the Jewish state is the launching of a campaign that targets major travel websites to boycott listing Jewish-owned homes and businesses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The NGO has released a report called “Destination Occupation” where they claim that Israel has built a significant “settlement tourism industry” which has helped “sustain and expand” communities beyond the 1967 lines.

Amnesty International have online giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor firmly in their sites and accuse them of “fueling human rights violations against Palestinians” in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by promoting Jewish-owned properties and activities there.

It does not stop there.

The report greatly diminishes both Jewish and Christian spiritual connections to historical sites in both areas. Amnesty International accuse Israel of using archaeology “to make the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.” These claims come despite antiquity that supports ancient ties to the land.

Amnesty International would rather have you believe that instead of finding antiquity that is thousands of years old and supports Jewish claims and presence to the land of Israel, it is a ploy to build neighbourhoods in the West Bank. The report goes on to say, “Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archeological sites…[as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of [occupied] Palestinian territory.”

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Airbnb Talks With Forked Tongue. Although it says it opposes BDS, Airbnb is still boycotting settlements on the West Bank.

Targeting Israel

With all the other conflicts in the world, including the civil war in Syria that has resulted in genocide, it does beg the question, why is Amnesty International so fixated on Israel?

It could be said that there may be more nefarious intentions. Is Amnesty International giving a tailwind to the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement who by their own admission, advocate for a “Palestine that is free from the river to the sea,” in other words – no Israel? For a “movement” that purports to be human rights driven, this is more like hate-mongering drivel.

This latest Amnesty International report calls for travel websites to boycott only Israeli homes and businesses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  This is unacceptable and plays into the hands of BDS whose goals are anti-Semitic.

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The ban applies a double standard exclusively to Jewish-owned properties there – twice:

First, it calls for travel companies to remove the properties from their services, while it has never promoted similar bans for every other disputed territory in the world – from Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara and Tibet to Kashmir, Crimea and Gibraltar.

 Second, it treats listings offered by Jews differently than those from Palestinians – despite being in the same area. This violates Israeli law which states that there can be no discrimination based on location of homes of business according to where you live.

Human Rights Watch, another NGO who spearheaded the campaign to coerce Airbnb to delist properties, found out the hard way that when it comes to discriminating against Israel that there are those who are willing to play hardball. No sooner had the Airbnb ban been announced, four attorneys filed a class action suit against the company in the Jerusalem District Court to protest the US-based company’s decision to drop listings in West Bank settlements from its vacation rental website that hosts adverts from 191 countries. The case is based on a 2000 law against discrimination in products and services, which was amended in 2017 to include places of residence.

The law in Israel forbids discrimination based on the place where you live, and what Airbnb has done is by all means discrimination based on the place where you live,” said attorney Aviel Flint, a partner in the law firm Yossi Levy & Co.

This could also likely apply to the other targeted companies who may not want to test the boycott waters. NGO Monitor, who monitors the activities of these types of organisations, exposed the flaws and anti-Semitic intentions of Human Rights Watch in this report.

https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/human-rights-watchs-airbnb-campaign-discrimination-and-bds/

Amnesty International may be on the same trajectory to being exposed for its anti-Semitic intentions by expanding to include other travel juggernauts, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com and Expedia.

   Despite its earned reputation as a respected human rights organization, Amnesty International has a documented history of discrimination regarding Israel. Examples include its 2015 rejection of a “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK” – the only proposed resolution at its Annual General Meeting that was not adopted; comments by its current Secretary General that Israel is a “government that is rogue” and the head of its Finland branch that Israel is a “scum state”; and the fact that no other country in a conflict zone is the focus of similar Amnesty-led boycotts.

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The Hypocrisy Of Airbnb’s West Bank Ban. The company is selectively applying its rules when it comes to Israel and, in the process, undermining its own values.

Boycott Over Bridges

Amnesty International’s call for a boycott against Jewish-owned homes and businesses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is the antithesis of what the objectives of a human rights organisation should be. The report endorses boycott over bridges, conflict over discourse and instead of promoting peace and economic partnerships between Palestinians and Israelis, Amnesty chooses to scupper any attempts at normalisation.

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But Amnesty International may be in for a rude shock. This plan also violates US based anti-boycott laws and this once venerable organization could find itself sanctioned and its funding cut. It would appear that when it comes to human rights and being a voice for the oppressed and persecuted, Amnesty International has chosen to take the path of conflict and discrimination.

Clearly Amnesty International has lost the plot. A sad trajectory for this once noble organization.image012 (12).jpg

 

Coca Cola Cozying Up To Clover

Israeli consortium bids for South African food & beverage behemoth

By David E. Kaplan

Contrary to those half-witted South African politicians who advocate keeping their distance from Israel, are the astute in the country’s business community who think the positive opposite. The operative word is “THINK” as this week reveals a proposed marriage of South Africa’s beverage giant Clover with Israel’s Coca Cola.

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The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Bnei Brak, Israel. (Nir Keidar)

Of course, a deal is only a deal when all is signed – but why keep this news ‘bottled’ up – when the champions for enterprise and entrepreneurship in both South Africa and Israel are so enthused to see ‘golden’ opportunities above ground rather than the usual mineral subterranean variety.

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‘Clover’ an iconic brand in South Africa.

 

Heading a consortium called MilCo, Israel’s Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) submitted a bid to acquire control of Clover, in a deal that values the South African public traded company at $359 million (NIS 1.3 billion). The consortium is offering the SA food producer’s shareholders R25 per share, which will amount to 59.5% of the SA food producer.

Interestingly, while Clover traces its history back to 1898 with farmers meeting in the lush pastures of the Natal Midlands to discuss the establishment of a butter factory, only a year earlier in 1887, 208 delegates met at a hotel in Basel Switzerland where the modern Zionist movement was birthed under the chairmanship of Theodor Herzl.

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Delivering The Goods. Early Days as the precursor to Clover, the Natal Creamery Ltd. starts its milk distribution from Pietermaritzburg in 1902.

Trajectories of both affirm that with determination, passion, grit and self-belief, the impossible becomes possible.

While Clover Industries produces milk and juices, has 8,000 employees and owns 13 production facilities throughout South Africa, the Central Bottling Company is the fourth largest manufacturer of consumer products in Israel. It owns a number of leading brands, headed by Coca Cola Israel, Tara Dairy, and other beer and soft drink brands.

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….and Today. Clover delivery trucks in their multitude.

Eran Elsner, who manages the Central Bottling Company’s overseas business, said, “The Central Bottling Company group believes that its activity is synergetic with the activity of the company in South Africa. There is a reciprocal contribution of knowledge and experience between the Central Bottling Company group and the overseas companies, which is channeled towards innovation and business development, while providing added value to consumers, who are always foremost in our considerations.”

Other members of the MilCo consortium are Ploughshare Investments, which will buy 10.9%, and IncuBev, which will buy 8.3%. The latter is an international business focused on the food and beverage sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.

A barometer of the excitement following the announcement, Clover’s share price jumped 19% to R23.80 on Monday morning after the JSE opened.

At the same time in Israel, CBC, whose subsidiary companies serve more than 160-million consumers worldwide, made the following press release:

CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of beverages and, through its foreign subsidiaries, has manufacturing and distribution operations in Turkey, Romania, and Uzbekistan. CBC, which is also the owner of the Tara dairy, Israel’s second-largest milk processing dairy, produces and distributes its own brands and Müller brands, and it operates the license for the Müller brand in Romania.”

CBC also owns Gat Foods, a “grove to table” juice operation with customers in more than 70 countries. In addition, CBC works closely with its international franchisors, including The Coca-Cola Company, Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Müller Group and Diageo.

Further South African participation in the bid is Brimstone Investment Corporation (Brimstone) cementing its plans to further expand into the food sector.

“In addition to a long history of being one of South Africa’s most popular brands,” says Brimstone CEO Mustaq Brey, “Clover runs South Africa’s largest chilled and frozen goods distribution network and is well placed for further expansion. This made it an attractive investment proposition for the foreign direct investment which South Africa desperately needs if we wish to achieve the economic freedom our country deserves.”

Brey added that all of Brimstone’s investments are geared towards transforming the South Africa’s economy by creating shareholder value on a sustainable and responsible basis. “In this transaction, MilCo is adopting an owner-operator approach and a long-term investment horizon with a view to grow the dairy category as a whole, thereby benefiting local farmers and other suppliers throughout the value chain.”

Building for the Future

Clover has a “strong portfolio of brands and best distribution system in South Africa,” said Richard Izsak, CBC’s chief of staff and Israel Country Manager and Strategic Planning Director for The Coca-Cola Company’s Eurasia Group. “We want to build the company for the long term.”

While foreign takeovers of South African listed-companies have been a rarity in recent years, State President Cyril Ramaphosa has made clear that international investment is a centerpiece of his plans to revive the economy. The challenges are immense – weak economic growth and high unemployment and as warned by the US and the UK, “ongoing corruption scandals are a barrier to investment” as recently reported in South Africa’s Sunday Times.

This is not deterring Israel that has faith in South Africa.

Regarding the economy, says Izak, “CBC is investing for long term, even if there are some ups and downs in the short term.”

It’s the more the “downs” than “ups” that are keeping away much foreign investment, however Israel is ready and willing to invest.

Despite political currents and the diplomatic obstacles, the “Startup Nation” continues to enjoy a prosperous relationship with South Africa.

“South Africa is a country of unquestionable business potential,” said the head of the Israeli Economic Mission to Southern Africa Amit Lev in 2018 to the SA Jewish Report. “While it can be difficult at times, the trade relations between South Africa and Israel are mutually beneficial and have potential to improve both countries significantly.”

Noting that Israel’s trade with South Africa is low relative to business engagements with other countries – accounting for only 1% of overall trade – Lev expressed that “with the right approach and resources, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the markets of both Israel and South Africa.

Lev discounts the impact of BDS as a challenge for business. While these threats must be addressed, “our success stories outnumber such problems.”

There are many advantages to carrying out business in South Africa. “Besides being a portal to the rest of Africa,” said Lev, “the country has a growing economy, a sophisticated banking system which is compatible with Israel’s, and it is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group.

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South Africa-Israel – Working together for a better future

“Also, the country is a top agriculture producer, and the issues it is currently facing regarding water are ideal for the implementation of business infrastructure and solutions from Israel. Israel has so much to share with South Africa in the water, hi-tech and agriculture sectors, and the opportunity for Israel here is immense.”

Reflecting on the economic achievements Israel has notched up in the past 70 years, “Now is the time for Israel to mature its economic sector and move into its next 70 years of success. By creating multinational corporations, growing its trade network around the globe, exposing itself to more opportunities and inviting others to be a part of the growth, Israel can be enhanced and make giant steps in this magical movement of economy.”

While the business relationship between South Africa and Israel is promising, the Coca Cola bid for Clover indicates that the future could be even more promising.

ANC politicians – take note!