Ghastly in Gaza

That’s life under Hamas

By David E. Kaplan

I no longer feel safe in Gaza,” she sadly lamented and who can blame 26-year-old Rewaa Mershid, who further revealed:

 “I’m looking for ANY opportunity OUTSIDE Gaza.”

If you are thinking the reason for Rewaa’s appeal for ‘wanting out’ is to do with Israel it is quite the opposite  – HAMAS!

Rewaa Mershid is a journalist and one can be excused for thinking

she is in the right place with so much to report on but she says:

I’m a journalist and love journalism, but Gaza isn’t the place for me to continue.”

Hot Seat has become too Hot. Palestinian journalist Rewaa Mershid works at the studio of ZMN FM radio station in Gaza City (Photo: AP)

A reporter for a local radio station in Gaza, Rewaa was filming with a crew near the security fence some two weeks before the 11-day war broke out in May 2021, when a Hamas border patrol arrived on the scene. The ‘offence’ that was playing out to the Hamas officer of the border patrol was not a matter concerning security but that Rewaa NOT wearing a hijab – the religious headscarf worn by religious Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family. Words were exchanged, and the next thing the Hamas patrol officer took the matter into his own hands – literally –  by cutting a branch off a nearby lemon tree and then beat the female reporter three times.

This is Hamas ‘justice’.

Sharing later a medical report of her condition with the public, Rewaa revealed she had “bruises in the lower back and the lower part.”

Rewaa Merchid’s bruising was more than physical.

It was an indictment of life under the ruthless rule of Hamas and Rewaa’s treatment was another example of how women’s rights have so deteriorated since Hamas’ rise to power in 2007. While Hamas is quick to blame Israel  – and Egypt  –  for restricting movement in and out of the territory – refusing to acknowledge the justifiable security concerns – it has no problem itself restricting the movement of its women by enforcing that they require the permission of a male guardian to travel. Although women make up 50% of the population in Gaza, their influence in most fields is generally restricted, and their basic rights are often systematically denied. According to Hamas’ 1988 Charter, the role of women in society was explicitly laid out stating that Muslim women are important in that they “manufacture men….”

In the Field. Physically abused by Hamas, Gazan journalist, Rewaa Mershid, now wants out.

A most enlightening insight and ‘respectful’ recognition, it might explain how a Hamas border patrol office whose duty it is to enforce the law feels entitled to strike three times using a branch of a lemon tree on a woman journalist doing her job. No wonder Rewaa Mershid wants to leave; that is if she receives the permission of a male relative.

And if women have it bad in Gaza under Hamas, the children have it even worse.

No kidding!

Brainwashing and manipulating its people for years, Hamas starts on the young – the very young. What chance do they have? While kids around the world make friends and learn to expand their horizons, the children of Gaza are subjected to Hamas’ oppressive authoritarian rule that deprives them of a childhood and teaches them violence and hatred of Jews and Israel. The ones firing the rockets in 2021 are likely to have attended Hamas’ ‘train-to-kill’ summer camps as kids.

Killer Kids. A young Palestinian girl attacks ‘Israeli soldiers’ with a knife in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

Every year during the summer vacation,  camps for the young children are held throughout the Gaza Strip. They are mostly organized by Hamas. While social activities, sports and entertainment feature at these summer camps, more significantly  the young participants are subjected to radical Islamic Hamas ideological indoctrination and semi-military training, which includes instruction in firing rockets and abducting IDF soldiers.

Training for Tomorrow. Aiming at Jews and Israelis, Hamas summer camps preparing the Palestinian killers of tomorrow.

Looking back at 2016, when  Gaza kids acted in a play in the Strip’s southern city of Khan-Younis about stabbing and killing Israelis, you see young children brandishing toy knives and guns acting out violent scenes. All part of a ‘festival” in the Gaza Strip, these Palestinian youngsters wore military fatigues as they brandished their toy knives and machine guns simulating violence against Israelis.

Gunning for Israel. Young Palestinian boys hold toy guns in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

The event was broadcast on a Hamas television channel dedicated to “culture” (sic).

When Palestinians send their kids to act in these school plays, is it surprising  their kids commit attacks when they mature into adults?

Death to Israel. Undercover and masked, Hamas members prepare incendiary balloons to be launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, May 8, 2021 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Were these the same kids that have been sending over incendiary balloons in recent years destroying thousands of acres of agricultural fields and woodlands as well as death to wildlife and in May 2021, fired over 4000 rockets at Israel’s civilian population?

Probably.

Under Fire. A field burns near Sderot in southern Israel on May 9, 2021 caused by Incendiary balloons from Gaza. (Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council)

The world can make a difference by not pointing blame in the same direction that Hamas is aiming their deadly rockets – at Israel!




Gaza kids put on play about stabbing, killing Israelis





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

Sheikh Jarrah – On a wing and a missile

By Craig Snoyman

So why did Hamas fire over 4000 rockets at Israeli cities? 

At the start of the hostilities, the reason was quite confusing. It was because of the Israeli police attacking the people coming from their Ramadan prayers, it was because the Israeli police violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, it was because of the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah, it was because the right-wing Israelis were clashing with Muslims at the Damascus gate, it was because Smotrich had inflamed the situation by visiting Sheikh Jarrah and/or all of the above. Slowly but surely, now that the hostilities are over the scribes are deciding to assign the reason. Sheikh Jarrah wins.

The allegations that police attack innocent prayer-goers is as common as the allegation that dog bites man.  The allegation that Al-Aqsa is being attacked is old hat as is the allegations of Jews attacking Arabs. These are raised periodically and invariably over Ramadan. Smotrich’s conduct is too similar to the debunked Arik Sharon-violence version.  But Sheikh Jarrah remains a live issue! It seems inevitable that there will be more violence over the issue, and it fits very nicely into the “Israel is ethnic- cleansing the Palestinians” mould.

Tension in the Capital. Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood with the city center of Jerusalem in the background.

The Sheikh Jarrah story was not widely known until the start of the hostilities. It revolves around a case that has slowly been wending its way through the Israeli courts for the last forty years and not yet concluded. In 1876, a group of Jews bought the tomb of Simon the Just, the Second Temple High Priest, and the surrounding land. By 1948, there were several hundred Jews living in the area.  This area was captured by the Jordanians in the 1948 War of Independence and taken over by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property.  The Custodian leased the property to various Arab occupiers who paid rent for the property. After the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967, Sheikh Jarrah came under the control of the Israeli Custodian. The Jewish owners put forward their claim of ownership in court and in 1973 were finally successful.  Further litigation followed in the civil domestic courts. (The government was not involved) In 1982, in the magistrates’ court, both parties agreed the Arab occupiers would pay rent to the Jewish owners.  At that stage it was not disputed that the property was owned by Jews.  The Arab occupiers then reneged and failed to pay rent. In 1992, litigation followed seeking payment of rent and prevention of alteration of structures. In February 2021, the Jerusalem District Court, upholding previous decisions, held that the tenants must pay rent or be evicted.  The decision was appealed and is now in the Supreme Court.

Jerusalem under Attack. What began as protests over a matter of residency following failed rental payments and resting with Israel’s Supreme Court, was falsely presented as the  entire Sheikn Jarrah neighnouthood under threat, leading to Hamas in Gaza to fire rockets at Jerusalem beginning the 11-day war. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

In South Africa, and other Western countries, illegal occupiers of property are evicted. I was counsel in the first land invasion case in South Africa. One of the defences that we raised was that some of the occupiers were protected as they had Security of Tenure. They could remain on the property as they had occupied the property for a long duration of time. This same defence was raised in the Sheikh Jarrah case and the occupants were also granted what the Israeli court termed “Protected Tenant Status”. While we were successful on behalf of some of the occupiers, hundreds of other occupiers were evicted. Eviction is never an easy process. In South African cities, difficult evictions are usually farmed out to eviction specialists, known as the “Red Ants” (due to the colour of their overalls).  However, due the volatility of the situation, in our invasion case, the whole area was sealed off by tons of armed policemen and armoured vehicles, to ensure that the eviction process could take place. Considering the political volatility that exists, if the Protected Tenants continue to refuse to pay their rent, they will be evicted. The Israeli equivalent of the “Red Ants” (should something like that exists) would be totally inadequate. Like the South African government, the Israeli government will have to intervene and use organs of state to secure the area to ensure the eviction takes place.

And judging by recent history, the dogs of war are quickly unleashed!

The Sheikh Jarrah case is very clearly a civil case with no national players officially having skin in the game. It also has still not been concluded. It can be easily resolved if payment of rental is made. It may be in the interests of certain players to ensure that it is not and seek to force the eviction on political grounds.  This said, whether the matter is regarded as a civil case or a political one, the Sheikh Jarrah case is not the sort of claim that can rationally justify a war or provide a  reason for an attempted genocide of Israelis.  So, the ex post facto reasoning for Hamas to start firing rockets, is completely fake. However, the consequences were very real and extended across the world.

The extent of violence and pure Jew-hatred (anti-Semitism is not a strong enough word, the original German word of “Judenfresser”- Jew Eater- is far more expressive) that erupted as Hamas was lobbing its missiles at civilian occupied areas, was absolutely astounding.  This, unfortunately, was Hamas’ greatest success.

Many people were shocked that Israeli Arabs came out in violent support of Hamas’ action.  Starting in the mixed city of Lod, a rage of violence flared resulting in at least five synagogues being torched and a school and various shops vandalised. This violent rioting by Israeli Arabs soon spread to other mixed cities such as Jaffa, Ramle and Acre. Should one be surprised? 

In 2000, during the “al-Aqsa intifada”, Arab Israelis marched in the streets chanting, “With our souls and our blood we will redeem Palestine.” Jaffa and Haifa, the showcases of Arab-Jewish coexistence, were rocked by violence and vandalism. Twenty years after the Al Aqsa Intifada, Arab Israelis, with full rights as citizens, and without the concomitant obligations, again chose to support terrorists, rather than their own country. The fears of the right-wing Israeli politicians gave voice to a fifth column in their midst. 

More surprising was the response of the international community. President Biden made it quite clear that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. What exactly does this mean?  That under other circumstances, it doesn’t have that right? That it should normally just lay down and die? Other American politicians were urging sanctions on Israel and the suspension of arm sales. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans joined some of the largest rallies seen in recent years But these rallies were not in support of America’s greatest ally in the Middle East.  They were protesting against Israel, accusing it of war crimes and bombing innocent women and children. The intellectual philosophers of mass media indulged in mortality porn, judging the fairness of the conflict by the number of deaths on each side, calling it proportionality, while having no idea of the concept. These were also the talking-heads screaming that Israel was committing genocide. Israel lost the battle in America hands down! But in front of the eyes of America, the war was transformed from an anti-Israel war to a war against the Jews. There were over 17000 social media messages claiming, “Hitler was right”.  The signs and messages equating Jews with Nazis filled the newspapers and the TV screens, day after day. The virtually illiterate “social influencers” told their millions of followers on social media that “Israelis are child-killers” and “from the river to the sea Palestine shall be free” collectively reaching millions more people than the POTUS has supporters.

The would-be Picassos daubed swastikas and messages of hate on Jewish institutions and synagogues. It also got physical – people eating in restaurants were assaulted because they were Jewish. Gangs of thugs roamed the streets looking to beat up people who looked Jewish. Those who wore outer symbols of their Jewishness, such as ‘kippas’, were hospital cases waiting to happen. Anti-Semitic incidents, not anti-Zionist incidents, rose a staggering 70%. Collective guilt was enforced, with all Jews held liable for the actions of Israel. All of this happened while Israel was defending itself against and degrading the capacity of a terrorist organisation which had fired over four thousand war crimes against it. All of this happened in the Land of the Free – the USA – Israel’s greatest ally!

What went on in Europe may have been surprising but wasn’t unexpected. Europe is widely perceived to have a latent anti-Semitism which is supine, until some sort of incident ignites it. The incident that ignited it this time was the Israel – Hamas conflict. There were one or two pleasant surprises like the Israeli flag flying over the Austrian Chancellery and Chancellor Kurtz’ tweet that “we stand by Israel’s side” together with heart-warming visits by the foreign ministers of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But generally, the position was only slightly worse than what played out in the US. The influx of Muslims into Europe has not resulted in a reduction of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The trending flavour of the week was to re-post anti-Semitic and anti- Zionist messages. It was also open season on “criminals” who had the audacity to walk on the street while Jewish. There was a special bounty on the heads of anyone who looked like a rabbi, with a reward of as many kicks to the designated head, as felt necessary. The Chinese, who hypocritically commented that the USA has no sympathy for the suffering of Muslims, must have been smiling from ear to bank, as every one of the many pro-Hamas rallies abounded with its “Made in China” Palestinian flags. Not for the first time in history, was Europe a dangerous place for Jews. But then, both the Austrian Chancellor and the German Foreign Minister also did utter that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Little was said about the Jews in Europe who were unable to do the same. (Never.!….. Again?)

The response of the openly anti-Israel countries was not unexpected. The calls for war-crimes trials against Israel were all recited from the proverbial hymn book.  South Africa, which also called for war crimes prosecutions, went as far as suggesting that Israel was going to invade Africa! A special Human Rights Council session has called for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” to monitor and report on rights violations in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.  This will no doubt form a permanent addition to its notorious annual agenda Item 7. “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”.  Once again, Israel, objectively rated as democratic and free – and with a better human rights record that 13 of the 15 members on the Council – stands   convicted  by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers.  The charges will follow. The existence of a permanent “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories” remains part of the lynching party.  And then one realises why inane comments like “Israel has the right to defend itself” are so important.

Shoe on the other Foot. In 2016, it was ‘strickly a legal issue in the courts’ when residents at Naruna Estates outside of Cape Town, South Africa say they were being forced out of their homes, reminiscent of the apartheid era. The government said not at all — “they’re just not paying their rent.” (photo:Wendy Almacin)

The most horrifying consequence of the hostilities has been the justification and minimising of Hamas’ war crimes and the renewed de-legitimisation of Israel. As South Africa’s widely respected commentator on the middle east, Naeem Jeena said “So they fired a measly seven missile at Jerusalem” to show their support. So what – that’s OK now? Are seven “little” war crimes now de minimus, too small to concern civilised countries? Other commentators that have issued blanket denials that missiles have been fired from civilian areas (probably because Al-Jazeera and AP never knew this was happening) This, while Hamas issued a declaration that they are exempt from war-crimes, because they are “obliged” to fire from civilian areas. Millions of people have no objection to Human Shields as justifiable weapons of war and vocalise any of their deaths especially of “innocent women and children”. The mendacious excuse that Hamas says that it has to fire rockets at Israel because “it’s the only way that the Palestinians can protect their citizens” has gained currency and is virtually acceptable in the media. Time to remember that not firing rockets helps, too! But look how many people are prepared to accept that the end is shown to justify the means, when neither is justifiable. Rather accept the inanities, than these absurdities.

Responding with Rockets. Latching on to protests in Jerusalem, Hamas unleashes rockets from a civilian area in Gaza aimed at civilian areas in Israel.

The slogan “From the river to the sea” is also in vogue, used by both by politicians and ordinary people. This has translated into any Jew is seen to support Israel and every Jew around the world has become a target. The current homicidal mobs are not interested in which sea is being referred to, so long as they can beat up a Jew. When a convoy of cars can travel unimpeded through the heart of London, with someone shouting though a loud hailer “Kill the Jews, rape their daughters” it is difficult to believe that there is a distinction be anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It was Martin Luther King, in the days before Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, who said “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.” He also said that “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.” Sixty years after his words, in a world full of irrational hate, the recognition of Israel is still being questioned!

The growing verbal and physical harassment of Jews in New York, Miami and Los Angeles by young Muslims is now no different from that seen in Europe.  The license given to them by elected leaders like Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib and Corbin and McDonnell allows them to act with impunity. The genocidal Hamas tunnel rats have performed to loud vocal applause, have lost only a bunch of Gazans, whose deaths have been blamed on the Israelis, and the international community has already stepped up to fund the rebuilding of Gaza.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that they have no reason to change their modus operandi. These morally bankrupt international institutions continue to blame Israel.

But back to Sheikh Jarrah. Even to the most politically naïve, it must be obvious that the Sheikh Jarrah case is subject to political undercurrents and the litigants are being utilised at political pawns.  It would be reasonable to assume that the Arab tenants would far rather have paid the rent, as they initially agreed to do, rather than find themselves in this current situation. There has clearly been political pressure placed on them not to pay.  It is probable that the Palestinian Authority had a hand in ensuring the was no payment in order to embarrass the Israeli government and to allow festering resentment amongst the Palestinians. This manoeuvre was exploited by Hamas claiming that they launched their missile attack against Israel to protect the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. From finding emotional resonance, it morphed quickly into a festering sore then turned into a huge septic wound! Hamas’ claim of ethnic cleansing trumps the PA’s claim of “Judaising Jerusalem”. The PA has been outplayed, but its’ hands are tied. It would desperately like a solution to this impasse that gives no credit to Hamas.

The flag-wavers of the world are no doubt supporting the Hamas version!

Nasty Narrative. A protestor against the evictions in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, raises his placard to the world branding Israel  for “ethnic cleansing”.  [File: Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]

On the other hand, it would be reasonable to assume sure that the owners of the property would far rather have the rent paid, than evict the tenants.  They cannot relish the fact that they will become the face of the picture-posters of Israeli oppression. One cannot be oblivious to the fact that there are Jewish groups who would like nothing more than to have Jews reclaiming property and living in the recaptured and united Jerusalem. The Israeli government, which would probably have liked nothing more than this matter to fade into the background, is obviously being forced into taking a stand. Its hands are also tied.  But the real sympathy and concern must go to the judges of Israel’s Supreme Court, who have to hand down a decision. On the facts, it can logically only come to one conclusion- occupants who have previously agreed that they are lessees and who have admitted that they have not paid rent must be evicted. But the political pressure must be immense, no matter what is said about giving judgement without fear or favour.

The Supreme Court of Israel has given the Attorney General until 8 June to decide whether it wished to become involved in the Sheikh Jarrah case. However, the political pressure, both domestic and international, to prevent the eviction continues to grow. Secretary of State Blinken, on his trip to Israel, warned Israel that America was opposed to the eviction. Heavyweight commentators who should (and probably do) know better, are inflaming the situation by maliciously referring to the evictions as ethnic cleansing (Case in point South Africa’s pre-eminent Muslim political commentator Naeem Jeenah in a debate against Lay Of The Land’s Rolene Marks).  May God protect and guide the judges!

The decision is no longer about Sheikh Jarrah. It’s about irrational Judenfressen in its most ugly, vicious form. Sheikh Jarrah is an excuse to find a socially acceptable way to publicly express Jew-hatred while pretending that the obsessive hatred is justifiable.

As a lawyer, one is taught to look for the win-win scenario and that it is usually better to settle out of court than to run a costly trial that you risk losing. Sheikh Jarrah is one of those cases. While the players may be politically boxed in, everyone else attempting to interfere is not. While I don’t profess to have all the answers, I do see a way forward. The Palestinian Authority can’t be seen to be conceding on the issue. The Israeli government can’t be seen to be dictating to the Court. BUT there are still two options:  eviction or payment.  There is nothing that prevents a third party from paying the outstanding amounts of a debtor.  Surely, one of the international players such as the one which take millions of dollars to Gaza in a suitcase every month, or one of other the countries that have pledged billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza can find some way of paying the owners the money that is due to them and prevent the evictions, which may again set the world on fire.  One knows that there are finer details that would need to be worked out, but if there are negotiators that managed to broker a cease-fire between two implacable enemies, this dispute resolution should be child’s play. If the world sees it necessary to meddle in an Israeli domestic court case, then why not resolve it instead of pouring fuel on the fire?  Are we talking – a million dollars? Two million dollars? Five million dollars? Whatever it is, it’s cheap at the price! 

It used to be said that that there were five degrees of separation between everybody in the world. With the internet, it’s less. So lobby your congress-person, your parliamentarian, your elected representative, the NGO’s and all those other people and organisations that have interfered in the matter, but have not contributed to a solution.

Someone must know somebody who can do something constructive. Get the message out! Let the big-shots get an out of court settlement. These things happen every day.  Get the problem solved before the Supreme Court is obliged to hand down an irrevocable order. This message I send to you on the wings of my prayer.

The alternative is the winged fins of missiles again being launched!





About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.





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

“A Fiery Debate”

From Rockets to Rolene, the war continues in the media as Israel remains under attack

Rolene Marks vs Naeem Jeenah – The showdown on Islam TV.

Lay of the Land co-founder, Rolene Marks was invited on the 27th May 2021 to debate Afro-Middle East Centre head, Naeem Jeenah in a panel discussion ‘AQSA is Calling’ on South Africa’s Islam TV (ITV), a programme featured in South Africa. The decades old adversaries engaged in a discussion that is certain to raise one’s blood pressure.

Following her friendly introduction from Modiin in Israel, where she resides, she was immediately jumped upon by her adversary, Naeem Jeenah, Executive Director Afro-Middle East Centre who said that where Rolene lives is “in violation of international law” and that she: “is talking rubbish”.

That set the tone but what followed soon revealed who really was “talking rubbish”.

Dismissing the over 4000 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel’s civilian populations – a war crime in International Law – Jeenah opened up with the usual lies making the rounds of anti-Semites the world over of falsely and maliciously accusing Jews of behaving like the Nazis, thus suggesting that Jews are perpetrating a “Holocaust” on the Palestinians:

“What Israel is doing in Gaza is what they are doing in Jerusalem – ethic cleansing of the Palestinian people. They want to make it so uncomfortable so they will leave so they can take over entire Palestine. So please don’t come with this nonsense how great humanitarians Israelis are wanting to see development in Gaza. If that was the case, stop  bombing and killing the children of Gaza.” He then went on to promote the only “way forward” was for a binational state – meaning the dismantling of the State of Israel.

With a world gung-ho for 2000 years of exterminating Jews and now set on exterminating its hard-fought for national homeland, Rolene would have none of this.

Watch Rolene Marks vs Naeem Jeenah The showdown on Islam TV:






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

Shape of Things to Come

South Africa could help reshape and redefine the Middle East

By  Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Egypt, Washington, the UN and other stakeholders played an important part in bringing about the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a conflict that lasted for 11 days. The truce that was welcomed last Friday was as a result of hardworking advocates for peace from around the world that regrettably did not include from South Africa.

Despite our impressive credentials at reconciliation, my country South Africa continues to miss opportunity after opportunity for helping to bring about peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict and much of the embattled Middle East region.

The Jewish state is frequently labelled “apartheid Israel” by Its detractors who are intentionally spreading disinformation. First and foremost, apartheid was a statutory system of segregation and discrimination on grounds of race used in South Africa before 1994, where our black majority were discriminated against on every level – social, economic and political.

The New Kingmakers? Members of the Arab Joint list seen during a vote on a bill to dissolve the parliament, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on December 12, 2019. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

I am one of few fortunate young South Africans who has visited Israel in the quest for searching for the truth. I visited its parliament, where Arabs sit as members representing their community or Arab constituency. They have the right to fight for the needs of their people and they do.  This was never the case in apartheid South Africa and whatever form of racism there might be in Israel, it is not what we had in South Africa – it is not apartheid and is an afront to those who suffered under apartheid to suggest  any similarity.

It’s a lie that needs to be exposed!

While visiting the city of Ramallah – the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority – I engaged with Palestinians and heard their complaint relating to the land and its allocation and how this adversely affect livelihoods. While this is a serious issue, and needs to be addressed seriously, the BDS movement in South Africa presents such a skewered narrative of the situation to fit with its agenda which is:

not to establish a Palestinian a state but to do away with the Jewish state. Read their statements – it’s there in black and white clear as daylight.

March of Madness. A march against Israel down St Georges Street Cape Town some yeas ago. Note the wording on the banner: “For the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem), machine guns based upon FAITH and ISLAM must be used “ Imam Khomeini. (Photo D.E. Kaplan)

Those understanding the complexities of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been calling for a “Two-state solution” – the most practical solution. However attractive it might be in some circles, annihilating Israel is not an option and even for the more nuanced antisemites, Israel cannot be airbrushed away into oblivion. It has a total population today of some 9 million, nearly double the population of Ireland and nearly 2/3 the population of our neighbour, Zimbabwe.

Despite the unrelenting onslaught against Israel through rockets like last week and on the other hand, open-ended vitriol from the UN, NGOs, diplomats, and a biased international media, Israel has not only survived against the odds but outreached to the Arab and Muslim worlds finding acceptance in a region that was once implacably hostile to its very existance.

Apart from Egypt and Jordan that entered into peace agreements with Israel many years ago,  we now see Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco normalizing their relations with the Jewish state, much of it under the aegis of Washington.

South Africa, with its political history could also contribute  to helping reshape, reimagine and redefine the politics in the Middle East especially with regard to the recent tensions that violently erupted between Hamas and Israel. South Africa once proved to the world its talent in conflict resolution and reconciliation and showed an alternative to violence.

Last week was tense as the world was glued to their televisions and media platforms. While there were those calling for a ceasefire, too many were ready to trip over each other to brand Israel as the aggressor. They showed scant regard for the facts that Hamas began be firing rockets at Israel’s capital followed by thousands over the next 11 days all aimed at Israel’s civilian population. However displeased some may be with a court order relating to an eviction notice in east Jerusalem does not give the right to a foreign political entity – Gaza – the right to express its opinion on the issue by launching rockets at Israel’s civilian population across the country!

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Rockets. Rockets launched from Gaza land near communities in the hills outside Jerusalem, hitting a home and knocking out electricity. 

There was no need for this divisive issue to be ‘arbitrated’ through violence which s exactly what Hamas wanted and which South Africa – who should know better – supported. In so doing, South Africa failed to play the necessary role of an “honest broker”, which it could have done with its proven credentials.

South Africa is truly out of step here with US President Joe Biden publicly acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself and affirming Hamas as a terrorist organsation. Hamas is hell-bent in word and deed on the total removal of Israel and its Jewish population. You only have to read the frightening wording in the Hamas’ charter!

The US is joined by the European Union, and others who have identified Hamas as a terror group. It is only South Africa that heaps praise on this organisation and supports its murderous actions.

Clear Understanding. Noting the clear aggressor and who was threatening Israel’s’ civilian population, US president Joe Biden said that the Jewish state had a right to defend itself. (File Photo / REUTERS)

South Africa’s position constrains it from it  effectively tackling the issue.  There has been an occupation of the West Bank including east Jerusalem which many Israelis are not comfortable with. In his book titled Drawing Fire, internationally respected South African journalist, now living in Israel, Benjamin Pogrund wrote: “The settlers have transformed Israel; they have influence in the inner core of government, and they shape profound policy decisions for the future. Many, many millions of Shekels are devoted to them in budgets, both openly and secretly. Their existence has been made possible by military occupation”.

This issue could be pursued through dialogue but with the political divisions between Ramallah and Gaza – between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it is difficult for the Palestinians to have legitimate representatives to effectively pursue their cause. There needs to be one, not multiple leaderships to engage with Israel. This needs to be internally resolved within the Palestinian polity, an issue that South Africa could so easy have offered advice from its own experience of overcoming multi-ethnic diversity.

South Africa Quo Vadis? Has the restorative justice work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shown here circa 1996 and which served as an inspiration been lost forever?

The world needs to support pragmatic policies that acknowledges Israel has a right to exist alongside an independent Palestine. To this end, South Africa could take a more active role in trying to resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict through constructive counsel rather than undermining its potential role as a “peacemaker” by being patently one-sided by issuing government statements solely critical of Israel.

Nothing is achieved by this except devaluing South Africa’s judgement, its image and  undermining its potential for conflict resolution and reconciliation.

South Africa has failed the test so far; will it change course?





About the writer:

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is an independent writer and political critic.

From Zeerust, North West Province, South Africa.

078 9754 182




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

Dodging Death and Delusion

Israelis dodge rockets while the world media dodges the truth

By David E. Kaplan

Fun-loving, free-thinking, tolerant and vibrant, globally popular Tel Aviv  is known as the “City that never sleeps”.

These days Tel Aviv retains that moniker but for a different reason.

Its citizens, like so much all around Israel, lie awake at night waiting for the shriek of the siren to pierce the air and get them scurrying off to their bomb shelters.

It’s a few minutes after midnight, and following the threat of Hamas to rain terror over Tel Aviv, they follow through on their promise and extend their range to the entire Dan region and so we are in our stairwell in Kfar Saba as there is no time to get to a bomb shelter – six floors below!

No Kidding! Israeli children take shelter in in stairwell of their apartment complex.(photo credit: MAARIV)

You can’t chance a lift and you can’t run down six flights. It’s a death defying dilemma!

We hear the inevitable, and a few minutes after the deafening “Boom-Booms” as Israel’s Iron Domes intercept Hamas’ rockets, I say, “I’m going back inside”, to which I’m wisely-wifely counseled:

No, wait. There may be falling debris.”

Dead right!

The rockets from Gaza may be taken out by the Iron Dome but there remains the danger from falling debris that causes havoc on the ground.

Attesting to this, I then receive a text message from my son in Tel Aviv: “Massive debris just fallen on Florintin, near our apartment.”

Florintin, with its bohemian cafes, laid-back bars with craft beer and live bands and its vendors selling bureka filo pastries and falafel at the famed Levinsky Market, is none of that these days.

What Has Changed? Residents look in shock, after a rocket directly hits a house in Ashkelon, southern Israel, early morning on August 26, 2014. (Flash90/File)

People are playing the Lottery of Life at home!

Further south and five kilometres east of Gaza lies kibbutz Kfar Aza, perennially on the frontlines in the wars with those calling the ‘shots’ in Gaza.

Located only one mile or 1.6 kilometers from the Gaza border, the residents of this farming and industrial community are typically bleary-eyed from waking up to air raid sirens, sending them RUNNING to bomb shelters. The meaning of ‘running’ was made clear when I turned on i24NEWS, and heard a young woman in her early twenties being interviewed.  She said:

 “For the last six days, all I’ve eaten is cereal.”

How come?” asked the interviewer surprised.

Because I don’t want to be caught cooking a meal when the siren goes and have to remember to turn off the gas.”

The interviewer, believing she has grasped the terrifying reality, replies:

“Yes, I understand you only have 15 seconds.”

NO!” corrects the young kibbutz resident:

 “We, at Kfar Aza have only 5 seconds!”

That is 5 seconds to reach safety. Not everyone on Kibbutz Aza over the years has made it in time and sadly rest today in the local cemetery!

Even more deadly than rockets over the short range are the mortars. Firing explosive shells, mortars are aimed at targets which are close thus evading radar detection. No threat to the Israel’s big cities because of their greater distances from Gaza, mortars are a menace to the communities within an 8-10 kilometer range of Gaza.

This Tuesday was just such a horrifying day!

Assault on Ashkelon. A medic carries 8-years-old Eitan Vhnstok at the scene where an apartment building was hit by a rocket fired from Gaza in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on May 11, 2021. (Edi Israel/ Flash90

The Menace of Mortars

With mortars, there is no warning, only death and injury if they strike a target. This happened this Tuesday afternoon, May 18,  when a barrage of 50 mortars were fired from Gaza at the Eshkol Regional Council scoring a direct hit on a packing plant at Moshav Ohad resulted in the killing of two Thai workers and wounding ten others.  That’s how indiscriminate these attacks are – their aim is to kill Jews and ends up killing Thais!

It can just as easily kill Arabs as it did a week earlier when it struck a moving vehicle outside of Lod killing Halil Awad, 52, and his 16-year-old daughter, Nadine.

Another of Tuesday’s mortgage barrage hit the Erez Crossing where it wounded a 19-year-old Israel soldier with shrapnel wounds to his upper body.

However, beyond the twisted remains of the mortar’s casting found on the killing ground was also revealed some twisted irony!

Gaza Strikes Muslims. “Hamas missiles do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” said the mayor of Lod following Arab resident Nadine  Awad (above) being killed in the car with her father Halil Awad from a rocket from Gaza.

The injured Israeli soldier was part of a military unit assisting in transferring humanitarian aid in convoys into the Gaza Strip! Israel had earlier in the day, temporarily reopened both the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza, allowing many truckloads of fuel, medical equipment and animal feed into the enclave, and it was while the crossings were opened – HELPING THE PEOPLE OF GAZA –  that Hamas launched the large mortar barrage across the border, killing the two Thai workers, injuring eight and injuring the Israeli soldier helping the residents of Gaza.

And what should be most noted, especially the selective eyesight of the ICC (International Criminal Court) watchdog was that the Hamas terror cell firing these mortars, were doing so from inside a school in Gaza – a violation of the Rules of Armed Conflict and hence a War Crime.

There is an unspoken military policy in Israel “that quiet would be answered with quiet”, so if the world genuinely wants to help support bringing “quiet” to this war-torn region, stop equating Israel with the genocidal terrorists who ruin more than rule Gaza.  Hamas, which is responsible for the nearly 4000 rockets fired so far, publicly and officially calls for the “extermination of Jews and Christians to the last” and teaches these destructive worldviews as early at kindergarten.

Comforting the Kids. Israeli soldiers from Home Front Command visit families inside a bomb shelter in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on May 18, 2021 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Hardly a calling to engender “quiet”.

In 2017, Yahya Sinwar – Hamas’ present leader in Gaza – reiterated once again that “Hamas will never recognize Israel”.  He declared the terror organization will never disarm, adding:

Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel.”

Could he not be clearer as he was in word  in 2017 as he is in deed in 2021?

Following this war, all future financial support to help Gaza recover, should not be spent underground for Hamas but above ground for the people.

The message is clear and it should be to the world and the United Nations:

Support the Gazan people by not supporting Hamas

Border Crossings. A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck as it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)



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

I Placed a Tile on the Wall of Peace

By Rolene Marks

I once placed a tile on the wall of peace. It was on the wall that divided Gaza from Israel and very close to the Kibbutz of Netiv Ha’asara. I left in there in the hope that it would leave just a little bit of a dream of peace on the barrier between Gaza and Israel.

Writing on the Wall. The wording on the tile the writer affixes to the mosaic, includes – peace, happiness, unity, tolerance, hope, love, freedom, kindness and laughter.

Earlier in the day I had heard from the brave residents of the kibbutz situated just metres away about their experiences of living a life under constant fire and threats of infiltration from terror tunnels being built underneath their homes.  Many people don’t realise that there is a metro, a network of terror tunnels that are designed with the intentions of smuggling weapons but also as a springboard to launch attacks on Israeli civilians by reaching into the sovereign territory and kidnapping or murdering civilians and soldiers.

 I had been inside a terror tunnel that the IDF had secured. It was a shocking reminder of a pervasive threat, its intentions deadly. I have been to the south of Israel many times. I have seen the bomb shelters that dot the landscape, heard the stories of the incredible, courageous citizens and seen the fear in our children’s eyes. I know there is fear in the eyes of the children of Gaza too. I know that Hamas and their ilk keep both of our populations under hostage of terror.

Spreading Hope. The writer adds her tile to the ‘Path to Peace’ mossaic

For the past week, Israel has been engaged in a defensive operation called “Operation Guardians of the Wall” to protect citizens against over 3000 rockets and mortars fired on the country and rout out Hamas’s terror infrastructure and top brass.

Countries have been supporting Israel recognizing the threat that Hamas poses, however many have urged the use of proportionality in our response all the while failing to explain how they see that happening. Israel endures a conflict with its neighbours in Gaza who are hell bent on our destruction, having this intention ingrained in their charter. No other country has endured a perpetual conflict where the enemy entity hides within its civilian population and commits a double war crime by firing from within their own into ours, aiming for maximum casualties. On the one side, the intent is to murder as many Israelis and on the other, it is to inflict harm on their own so that they can rack up those devastating optics in the media. So far several hundred rockets fired have landed in the strip and 40 civilians have been killed as a result, including at least 5 children.

But it is a strategy that is working.

Model Behaviour? Daughters of Palestinian real-estate developer Mohamed Hadid  and Dutch model Yolanda, supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid are among celebrities who have been posting about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

We cannot underscore the role of media, and how it has been weaponized against Israel. At a time where ratings rather than lives matter, facts have become a casualty. Journalists and networks no longer care about context, nuance and the reality on the ground but rather views, engagement and ratings. Celebrities and social media influences have globbed on to this as well and in their haste to drive up their likes and shares and boast social justice credentials. To this end, they are playing a large part in sharing mistruths and propaganda. It also feeds into the never ending drip feeding of woke perpetual victimhood culture. They have little knowledge but massive reach – and that is dangerous. The supermodel Hadid sisters have a combined reach of over 100 million and other celebrities as well. This is many, many more times the total number of Jews in the world. Now, most would scoff at the idea of learning about the Middle East conflict from swimsuit models and comedians but here we are. It is dangerous and contributing to a climate of hate for Jews around the world.

While they have been astoundingly silent of issues like the Syrian civil war where 4000 Palestinians were slaughtered or have failed to drum up a march for the Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, Israel and global Jewry is fair game.

What has become disproportionate as the result of poor reporting and ignorant but eager social media posting is the hatred spilling over into the streets of cities around the world. It is entirely possible and probable to draw a line connecting what is reported in the media and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment that is starting to become inherently violent.  In the past week, Jewish communities around the world have faced a tsunami of hatred from London, where Jewish women were even threatened with rape, to Toronto where a Rabbi was beaten to New York, Brussels, Cape Town, Montreal, Sydney and everywhere in between.  Many are wondering if they will ever be safe again and if it is not time to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

Social media has become a free for all and many like me who have been doing double duty as frontline activists in the war against misinformation have face a blitzkrieg of hate invective. I use the term blitzkrieg intentionally because I have lost count of how many death wishes I have received, including pictures of Hitler telling me that this is the “cure for me” and disappointments that a rocket – one of over 3000  – has not killed me yet!

Pursuing Peace. Visitors standing before the “Path to Peace”, a joint mosaic creation, by thousands of people, towards hope, love, and happiness among all people. The creation is placed upon the border wall that divides Gaza and Israel.
 
 

But I will tell you what I know for sure at the risk of sounding glib. At Pesach time we read the ancient words that in every generation there are those who rise up to act against us. We have survived millennia of persecution and hatred and whatever it was that sustained our ancestors, is what we have inside us now and no matter how dark it seems we will prevail.

Israel’s army and our Iron Dome will continue to defend the country physically. The battle in the media and in the court of public opinion will continue and it is up to each of us to form that shield against misinformation and lies, a human Iron Dome if you will. Israel will continue to pursue and dream of peace while defending ourselves with all our might. And so it will continue.

 I placed that tile with a sense of hope. Because hope allows us to dream big. To believe in better days to come. I once placed a tile on the wall of peace, hoping it would be part of building a solid foundation, no matter how dark and hate filled the climate of the world is right now against Israel. It represented my hopes and dreams, for our people and theirs. Will my dreams be realized? I can only hope.



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

GAZA: THE FACTS

By Harris Zvi Green

People living around the world are not always fully aware of the issues pertaining to the Israel-Gaza conflict. They see television footage of the extensive damage caused to national infrastructures on both sides of the border. They hear about the tragic loss of life.

At best, media commentary refers superficially to the history of the conflict. It almost always ignores the context. Television cameras focus exclusively on photo opportunities. Their footage invariably shows specific or isolated events. The footage shown is driven by rating. Its prime purpose is to connect between one commercial break and the next. The overall picture is always distorted.

Explosions light up the sky as Hamas rockets streak into Israel. (Image: Reuters)

The following summary attempts to lay out the facts. I’m not seeking to present my point of view.

  • In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its military and civilian presence from the Gaza Strip and returned to the internationally recognized pre -1967 border.
  • The Gaza Strip – an integral part of the proposed ‘Two-state solution’ – is governed by Hamas after it seized control of the area from the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
  • Hamas has been declared a terror organization by a number of international courts, including the European Union’s General Court.
  • The Court ruled that Hamas is not a sovereign state. Furthermore, it ruled that Hamas had failed to display that its political and armed wings are separate.
  • Gaza is reportedly threatened with a major humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, its rulers have successfully accumulated an arsenal of missiles with a range of up to 250 kilometers. The more sophisticated rockets in their arsenal have the range to reach any target in Israel. Theoretically, they have the range to overfly Israel and hit major population centers in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
  • Hamas has invested millions of dollars to create an infrastructure of tunnels to enable attacks on civilian neighbourhoods inside sovereign Israel. This metro of tunnels inside Gaza also serves to provide refuge for Hamas military operatives from Israeli airstrikes.
  • Since achieving its “independence”, Gaza initiated a number of major military confrontations with Israel. Even during the relatively peaceful interludes between these confrontations, thousands of rockets fired from Gaza were fired on Israeli civilian targets.
  • The Hamas regime is widely regarded as an Iranian proxy dedicated to promoting the Islamic Jihad.
Gazan terrorists prepare to launch rockets toward Israel
  • In order to limit the free flow of arms from Iran to Gaza, both Israel and Egypt imposed a naval blockade on Gaza. This blockade was deemed legal by the UN appointed Palmer Commission. In the words of the Commission: “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
The building housing the offices of AP,  Al-Jazeera as well as, according to Israel was being used by Hamas operatives, collapses after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike. The attack came roughly an hour after the Israeli military warned people to evacuate the building.
  • To defend itself, Israel developed the Iron Dome air defense system to intercept the barrage of missiles being fired at civilian targets.
  • Israel recently completed the construction of an underground security obstacle on its sovereign territory at an enormous cost to effectively eliminate the threat of these tunnels on its civilian population.
  • During the past few days, more than 2,500 missiles have been fired at civilian targets in Israel.
A member of Hamas displays rockets in Gaza City (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Hamas continues to hold two Israeli citizens hostage and the bodies of two Israeli servicemen killed in action in 2014.
  • In an attempt to provide basic services to the Gaza’s civilian population, Israel provides both power and water to Gaza.
  • Thousands of trucks transport food and medical supplies to Gaza on a daily basis.
An Israeli inspects the damage to his house following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 15, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

I invite readers to draw their conclusions and to engage in a constructive debate regarding the future. If you scroll down below, Lay Of The Land invites you to comment and freely express your views in the space provided.  Avail yourselves of the opportunity to engage.

Clearly, the current state of affairs is untenable. It can’t continue.





About the writer:

Harris Zvi Green, born in Cape Town / South-Africa. Graduated from the University of Cape Town with a B. Com. degree and immigrated to Israel 51 years ago. He served as the Chief Financial Officer at a number of Israeli hi-tech companies. He is now retired. Married with three married children and is the proud grandfather of 13 grandchildren.




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

From Gaza with Hate

Israel under attack from the Air and the Airwaves

By David E. Kaplan

Abba; Az’aka….”.

It’s 2.00am, and that’s the voice of my 3-year-old grandson having woken to the piercing siren shrill from his 12th floor bedroom in a Tel Aviv high-rise, and screaming in Hebrew – “Daddy, siren!”.

Within 12 seconds, the family is out of the apartment and closeted in a central bomb shelter on their floor waiting for the next sound  – hopefully – a deafening “Boom-Boom”. I write “hopefully”, because the alternate sound to the “Boom-Boom” of Israel’s defensive Iron Dome missile intercepting a missile from Gaza is that of the rocket penetration through Israel’s defensive net and striking a civilian target.

Flames light the Night.  Sometime after 2.00am, a rocket from rom Gaza scores a direct hit on a residential building in Petah Tikva.

That is exactly what happened a few minutes later as a rocket ploughed into an apartment complex in Petach Tikva, a few kilometers east of Tel Aviv. The building instantly burst into a five-floor towering flame and five elderly residents were rushed to hospital. That there were no fatalities was a miracle. I stared at the flames on TV and thought:

 “How could anyone survive that?”

This is daily life in Israel today as nearly 2000 rockets have rained down on Israel since the beginning of the war started by Hamas but instigated, encouraged and sponsored by Iran. Apart from the mounting death and daily destruction, there is the anxiety whether experienced by a 3-year-old or a  67-year old woman resident of Rishon Lezion who died early on Wednesday after suffering heart failure on hearing of her friend being killed in a rocket attack on her home.

Yes, we’ve been through this before but not with such concentrated intensity. If we were horrified back in 2014 during the seven week Protective Edge by 200 rockets from Gaza coming over in one day – at its peak – that same number these days can come at us in less than five minutes.

Israel Under Fire. The aftermath of the Gaza rocket strike at Petah Tikva apartment block.(Photo: Meshi Ben Ami)

Terrifying!

The aim of Hamas is to overwhelm and undermine Israel’s defensive missile system – and at times it is working as the rising casualties and destruction will attest. Every night, we can expect at some stage to hear what can only be described as the soundtrack to a war movie, and then we scramble for the news on social media and TV, to see the visual results as we silently pray:

 “Please, no more death!”

Israel is locked into a lottery of life and death against an enemy not aiming for a Palestinian state but destroying a Jewish one – the only Jewish state in the world.

Sderot Under Attack. Flames appear from the bedroom of 5-year-old Ido Avigal  who died following wounds he sustained following a direct rocket hit on May 12, 2021 (Sderot Municipality)

Having been through this script before, we never have to wait too long before the world media predictably turns against Israel focusing less on the rockets fired from Gaza on civilian targets in Israel and more on Israel’s aerial defensive action in Gaza.

I turn on CNN this Friday morning and hear Diana Buttu the Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the PLO from Ramallah tell anchorman Michael Holmes that this is the result of years “of Israeli ethnic cleansing” and “that is why it is so important for the international community to put pressure,” not on Hamas but “on Israel to end this.”

Transparent Bias. Michael Holmes on CNN slanders Israel and not allows Dianna Butto’s assertions against Israel to go unchallenged but nods approval with her positions.

Note the tone and transparent bias of Holmes when he frames his next question:

Has this barrage of rockets from Gaza been a tactical blunder by Hamas in the sense of being what was a fairly popular uprising in Jerusalem over evictions and therefore made it easier for Israel to justify using overwhelming force as it always does. Was it a blunder by Hamas?”

Butto replies:

You know Michael, this did not begin with the rockets, but the decision by this Israeli government to  incite, inflame and to kill,” born out for Butto, “by Israeli calls to flatten Gaza.”

Tel Aviv Today! Inspecting a damaged apartment complex in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim on May 12, 2021, after it was hit by a rocket fired from Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Alexandra Vardi/AFP)

Holmes not only allows Butto to get away with these outrageous allegations – he facilitates it!

Accepting her  vituperative verbiage without challenge, he then asks:

What does the international community need to do not only to broker this round of violence  but set up some pathway forward?”

Butto is on a roll with this CNN anchorman and answers:

It’s simple, Michael. All they need to do is put sanctions on Israel; it’s really that simple. Instead we see leader after leader coddle Israel…. There is an active BDS campaign, which needs to be adopted and pushed….just as there were mechanisms to end apartheid in South Africa,  these same mechanisms can be used to end Israeli apartheid.”

Accepting this analysis, Holmes concludes his patently anti-Israel interview by directing some token ‘blame’  at the Palestinians by asking:

 “The Palestinians surely need to get their act together; elections were postponed and there isn’t a strong leadership and then you have Hamas in Gaza doing what they do. In other words, Israel needs Hamas as a visible enemy …… What do the Palestinian wings have to do to get their house in order?”

Butto replies that while the Palestinians need a new leadership, “this should not detract that it is up to Israel, forced by the international community to end this military occupation. They don’t need to have a Palestinian leadership in place to end the occupation.”

Free Hand. This former PLO spokeswoman had carte blanche  to sprout her allegations against Israel on CNN without any challenge whatsoever.

This shows how Israel is under attack not only from the air but the airwaves!

Do the TV network news commentators sitting in New York, London, Paris, or Johannesburg ever ask the question:

What if one rocket, never mind 200 in 5 minutes, landed in London, or Paris or New York or Johannesburg – what would our leaders do?” 

From once the plucky underdog supported by Western public opinion, today, Israel is the object of a global campaign to demonise the state and question its very right to exist.

Which means, if Israel has no right to exist, it has no right to defend itself.

Only a month ago on April 7, Israel commemorated on Yom HaShoah, the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result not ONLY of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators but of a world that mostly stood by and allowed it to happen.

5-year-old boy Ido Avigal (z”l) was killed in his home in Sderot by a rocket fired from Gaza, May 12, 2021. (Twitter)

Israelis can see – It would do so again!

And what can one say about the DNA of Hamas after releasing a statement following the rapid firing of 100 rockets at Israel yesterday that:

 “firing on Tel Aviv is easier than drinking water”?

When “drinking”, Jews toast, “L’Chaim” – “to life”. Hamas prefers: “to death”!

That’s the fundamental difference!

All I know as we prepare for another night of Gaza sending their aerial messages of hate, no 3-year-old in his bed with his fluffy friends should even know the word “Az’aka”!






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

Media Watchdog

As tensions rise and Israel is currently engaged in conflagration with terror entities in the Gaza strip, the media plays a vital role in ensuring that coverage is factual. But are they presenting the full picture and truth behind some of the headlines or are they engaged in a battle for clicks and views?

Rolene Marks writes this open letter to the Daily Mail and other media outlets.

To the Editor

It is 07h41 here in Israel and I am writing this while sitting in my bomb shelter. I am no different to the hundreds of thousands doing the same thing. In the last 13 hours, over 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza from terror entities in the Gaza strip, placing millions of Israelis, Jewish, Christian and Muslim in immediate danger. This also invites a response from Israel that places civilians in Gaza in danger and so the cycle continues.

Rockets are launched by Palestinian terrorists into Israel in Gaza, May 10, 2021.

I have read your coverage and would like to draw attention to important facts that need to be made public and have not been included in your coverage. You have not mentioned that 3 children were killed when a rocket misfired. Why were those children close to a rocket launcher? Why is it not mentioned that civilians are used as human shield by terror entities like Hamas and Islamic Jihad who are firing these rockets, threatening to turn cities like Ashkelon “into hell”? Are you aware that 1/3 of rockets fired have landed in the Gaza strip, endangering Palestinian civilians as well? Hamas and other terror entities are committed to inviting as much conflict as possible. Are you aware that residents of a Kibbutz close to the Gaza border yesterday were told to lock themselves in their homes for fear of infiltration? https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2021/Pages/The-rocket-attacks-on-Jerusalem-and-southern-Israel-10-May-2021.aspx

 With regards to the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah – I am attaching this legal explanation on the situation.  https://en.kohelet.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/sheikh-jarrah-brief.pdf.

Please note that this could also be sorted out if the Palestinian residents agreed to a rental option – like most residents living in homes owned by others do.

A screenshot of drone footage of a home in Jerusalem damaged by Hamas rocket fire. (Photo: Channel N12 screenshot.)

Are you also aware that protestors in the Al Aqsa Mosque stockpiled rocks and cinder blocks? This is a desecration of a holy site. Rocks were thrown at police and civilians to the cries of “bomb bomb Tel Aviv” and “with our blood and our bodies we will redeem Al Aqsa“.  Yesterday, a Jewish Israeli man was almost lynched but your coverage implied that he randomly rammed his car into some Palestinians. Rocks were thrown at his car, gas/mace sprayed in his eyes and he was almost pulled out of his car. Please correct. Please also mention the 7-month-old baby in Hadassah Hospital who sustained wounds to the forehead from a rock thrown at the car she was in. Thank goodness for a teddy bear tucked into the car seat that absorbed the impact. Yesterday rockets were fired towards Jerusalem, to the cheers of Palestinians as captured on Sky News. What if one of those rockets hit Al Aqsa Mosque as rockets have hit apartments buildings and houses in the last  13 hours? In addition, nearly 50 fires have been set off in southern Israel as a result of arson balloons from the Gaza strip, destroying valuable agricultural farmland.

An apartment building in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, May 11, 2021.

When covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbours, it is tempting to look at Israel as the Goliath to the Palestinian David. I implore you to take a closer look. This is a conflict where nuance and context is very important and more often than not, is lost in the coverage.

Thank you.

Kind regards

 Rolene Marks

Modiin

Israel.






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

The Arab World Fighting Antisemitism

How Arab countries have become the new leaders in the fight against growing antisemitism.

By Rolene Marks

There is a pervasive sense of optimism winding its way through the Middle East since the signing of the Abraham Accords. Hardly a day goes by without a major announcement of new Memorandums of Understanding signaling co-operation in some or other field; friendships between Bahrainis, Moroccans, Emiratis and Israelis are blossoming on social media and Israel even managed to pull off a sporting miracle – beating the Emirati team 33-0 in a friendly rugby match.

It is proof of what happens when peace takes flight!

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion once said that in order to live in Israel, one had to be a realist and believe in miracles. And where better than in a land where decades of strife and disorder and now being turned into normalization, recognition and mutual co-operation?

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the one that is poised to undo generations of suspicion, incitement and even hatred. The Arab world is fast becoming a great example of how to lead in the fights against antisemitism.

For decades and at least since the beginning of the 20th century, antisemitism has spread throughout the Arab world as a result of a number of reasons. The fall of the Ottoman Empire, the spread of Western Imperialism, the relations between Nazi leaders and the Arab world are some reasons why anti-Jewish propaganda found eager recipients in many parts and bred resentment against Jews and Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

Jews had experienced a relatively protected existence against persecution in Arab countries. Long seen as “People of the Book”, Jews were granted dhimmi status. This meant that they were not treated equally and were subject to specific laws, restrictions and taxes (called jizya) but protected against being killed. We could scoff indignantly (and should!) at this but in other countries where Jews were a minority, they endured far worse.

From Khartoum With Hate. A summit of the heads of Arab League countries, held in Khartoum, Sudan following the Arab defeat in the Six Day War in June 1967, the leaders in a press release expressed: “no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

In the 20th century as Pan-Arabism and Islamism spread, an estimated 850 000 Jews were expelled from Arab lands following the establishment of the modern State of Israel.  The communities that thrived in Libya and Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Morocco and so many others, dwindled down to few or ceased to exist.

Decades later, anti-Jewish sentiment would spread through these countries and also manifest itself as hatred against Israel, the Jewish state. Who can forget the infamous 3 No’s of Khartoum? No recognition, no negotiation, no peace.

But something remarkable has happened with the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the USA, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Morocco and the Sudan.

The signing of these Accords is more than just recognition or normalization. While hardly a day goes by without news of yet another investment or area of cooperation, perhaps one of the most important clauses is tolerance and promotion of education against antisemitism. Tolerance education has been policy in Bahrain and the UAE since before the Accords were officially signed and it is so evident in the exchanges between Emiratis, Bahrainis and Israelis online. But this connection is deeper than 120 characters on Twitter. It is also evident in the interfaith events that have almost become the order of the day. A sukkah (temporary decorative shelter) nonchalantly perched outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai during the Jewish festival of Sukkot spoke volumes, just as the minyan (quorum of 10 men required for prayers) at the synagogue in Manama, Bahrain. These are just glimpses into the relationships that are being built on a daily basis.

Constructive Engagement. Amongst Dubai’s towering skyscrapers, a tine structure surprisingly rose in  October 2020 – a Sukkah at the base of the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa. The sukkah – a temporary shelter where Jews gather to celebrate the weeklong harvest festival of Sukkot  – was set up following the US-brokered deal to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel.(AP)
 

But there is something more “tachlis” that is happening on the ground. Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel are starting to institute policies that take major steps that help fix decades of mistrust, incitement and hatred.

The signing of the Abraham Accords itself stands as historical. The recognition of Israel in the Arab world says this Jewish state exists, it is a part of our region, we will no longer ignore or deny its sovereignty and we will build strong and lasting ties. This is profoundly significant at a time when daily attacks on Israeli sovereignty come from quarters in the far right and far left and when peace in the Middle East was thought to be contingent on an agreement between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours. Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry must feel a fool because this was a theory he espoused many times. The three No’s have become the three yesses. Yes to recognition, yes to negotiation and yes to peace.

Bahrain Bounces Back . At the end of a synagogue service occurring on the sidelines of the US administration’s economic peace workshop held in Bahraini capital Manama in 2019 the men, clad in prayer shawls, broke out in song, walking around the bimah and singing “Am Yisrael Chai” – the people of Israel live.

Bahrain signed another important agreement. The Gulf state signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US department of State where they adopted the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism, becoming the first Arab country to do so. Under the agreement, both sides vowed to promote and share the best procedures for tackling antisemitism and anti-Zionism, including efforts to delegitimize Israel. This is a far cry from many countries around the world, including in Europe where antisemitism is rising to astronomical levels.

Another Arab world first is the decision by Morocco to include Jewish history and culture as part of the school curriculum. Islam is the official state religion and according to Education Minister Said Amzazi and the heads of two Moroccan associations who signed a partnership agreement this will pave the way “for the promotion of values of tolerance, diversity and coexistence in schools and universities.”

Morocco’s King Mohammed V1, is also “Commander of the Faithful,” has pushed for a tolerant Islam that ensures freedom of worship for Jews and foreign Christians.

These Arab countries are paving the way through practical, important and sincere examples of how to lead in the fight against antisemitism.  They are not relying on platitudes but are putting words into actions, something that many other countries should be cognizant of.

Winds of Change. With Morocco to become first Arab nation to teach Jewish history, culture in schools, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visits the Bayt Dakira Museum in Essaouira.  King Mohammed VI’s declaration that he will normalize ties with Israel has had “the impact of a tsunami,” says head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco. (Photo: AFP via the Moroccan Royal Palace)

It is hoped that more Arab countries will join the ever growing circle of peace. This will go a long way to winning increasing battles in the fight against antisemitism, however it may manifest itself. The proof is in the interaction that is growing not just between governments but ordinary citizens who value tolerance and co-existence.  This is an example that the rest of the world could and should be following.

This celebrates three new yeses. Yes to tolerance. Yes to education. Yes to peaceful co-existence.

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