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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

 

Why is ‘The Rainbow Nation’ Falling for Darkness and Deception?

No surprise when it has ‘academics’ like Oscar van Heerden peddling lies and falsehoods against Jews.

By David E. Kaplan

Where does one even begin in responding to University of Johannesburg academic, Oscar Van Heerden’s scurrilous diatribe posing as an article in the Daily Maverick (24th January 2019) that opens with inflammatory lies:

Oscar Van Heerden
‘Author’ Of His Own Misfortune. Dr. Oscar Van Heerden’s stature as an ‘academic” has severely been tarnished following his exposure in the Daily Maverick plagiarizing the words of academic and frequent commentator Marc Lamont Hill, fired from CNN for his antisemitic statements accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

The Palestinians are being decimated. Bombs are being dropped on them, rockets are deployed to kill them, and snipers are at the ready to finish the job where the other methods failed.”

This is classic antisemitism when you resort to antisemitic rhetoric blaming the Jews of Israel with such transparent falsehoods.

Even the words “finish the job” is a term taken straight from the intentions of the Nazi’s “Final Solution” and referencing it to Palestinians.

He intentionally neglects to mention Israel’s attempts at negotiation since the 1967 war being rejected. On September 1, 1967, the Arab League summit delivered the “Three No’s” – ‘no to peace with Israel’, ‘no recognition of Israel’, and ‘no negotiations with Israel’.”

Van Heerden does not mention this nor does he write of the constant terrorism, rockets fired at Israeli civilian populations and tunnels built for terrorists to enter Israel and murder civilians.

And how does this South African armchair academic portray this murder and attempted mass murder of Israelis:

After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

It bothers not that this “academic” resorts to propaganda joining an infamous company that goes back 2000 years using hatred of Jews to deflect confronting the truth of societal problems. In the first century, the Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus; the 7th century Jews were persecuted by the Muslims for denial of the prophethood of Mohammad; in the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of the Black Death, the plague that decimated half of Europe; in 1881, Jews were accused of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II; from 1933-1945, Nazi propagandist referred to Jews as rodents and sub-humans (untermenschen) paving the way for factory-style mass extermination. Since 1948 and the Declaration of the State of Israel, the “Jewish enterprise” of Israel is a colonial blot on a Muslim landscape that requires being expunged.

At no stage does van Heerden address Palestinian intransigence – only blaming Israel.  But the reason is clear, for Van Heerden is not seeking a solution for the Palestinian people but the dissolution of Israel’s Jewish people. He reveals his true agenda when not even supporting the official South African position of a “Two-State Solution” when he quotes:

“…So as we stand here on the 70th anniversary …of the Nakba, we have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us ….. a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

In other words – no Israel.

And who is he trying to fool when he writes: “Palestinians are routinely punished for their political views rather than any actual threat of violence.”

Threats of violence?

How would he describe the firing of 500 missiles at Israel in November 2018? Lobbing over marshmallows?

South Africa that same November welcomed a delegation of Hamas from Gaza.  Does South Africa want to play a role and support the ‘Two-State Solution’ or does it prefer to subscribe to the dark agenda of Hamas and Van Heerden of “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

Hamas has long proved its terror bona fides in line with its 1987 covenant expressing its religious duty to destroy the Jewish people and its nation state. Since 1993, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in mass-casualty suicide attacks throughout Israel. Hamas’ current terror crusade in Gaza has been engineered by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Europe and by Yahiya Sinwar, Hamas’ president, a former commander in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’s military wing.

Sinwar is widely considered to be Hamas’ most ruthless leader since the organisation’s founding in 1987.

Is Pretoria aware that the Iranian regime has put Gaza “in play” as a chess piece as part of its regional strategy to destroy Israel and subvert countries across the Middle East?

Accordingly, Tehran’s $100-million funding of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2018 stands behind the terror campaign as the Islamic Republic’s southern front to destroy Israel. Simultaneously, the regime has placed some 175,000 Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, pointed at the Jewish state, while tens of thousands of Iranian military operatives are ready to attack from Syria.

Iranian operatives under the command of Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, together with Sinwar and the Hamas leadership, have been planning, financing, inciting and compensating tens of thousands of supporters, many of them young teenagers, to storm the internationally recognised border fence with Israel even at the risk of death.  This is a far cry from how van Heerden describes the situation in the opening of his article!

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, referring to the Jews living in southern Israel near the border with Gaza:

We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts.” Hamas operatives, camouflaged in civilian clothing to appear like innocent civilians, reportedly receive $1,000 to commit cross-border attacks. Hamas pledged $3,000 to the families of those killed by Israeli fire.

Palestinians injured by Israeli troops in the clashes receive $200-$500 in compensation, depending on the level of injury, while the Palestinian Authority pays thousands of dollars monthly for life if they are captured or killed, in line with PA legislation.

This is not a popular protest; it is part of Iran and Hamas’s grand strategy in its war of attrition to destroy the Jewish state.

Mahmoud-al-Zahar
Truth Be Known. Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar admits ‘we are deceiving the public’ about peaceful protests. It would appear that the Hamas leader is more honest than Oscar van Heerden.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar – who visited South Africa in November 2018 – confirmed Hamas’ strategy in a May 13 interview on Qatar’s’ Al Jazeera network with:

The Gaza protests are not peaceful resistance… It is supported by our weapons.”

Iran is using Gaza’s civilians to execute a new “popular warfare” strategy. According to a senior Palestinian Authority security official in Ramallah, Iranian elite Quds Force officers are entrenched in Gaza tunnels, assisting in the overall strategy and execution of the fence-storming terror campaign.

What van Heerden’s article also fails to address is that the fault lines of the Middle East have little to do with Israel. As Matti Friedman wrote last week in The New York Times:

They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If Israel’s small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.”

Rather than subscribe to the propagandist writings of van Heerden, far better for South Africa to use its diplomatic influence to convince the Palestinians to stop incentivizing its youth to commit terror attacks and instead create a secure and stable and flourishing society based on human rights and equality – values South Africa has struggled for.

To this promising future, Israel is waiting to assist its neighbours to achieve those dreams.

The Israel Brief – 20-24 January 2019

 

 

The Israel Brief 20 January 2019: Israel Chad renew ties, Iron Dome intercepts Syrian rocket and Netta!

 

The Israel Brief 21 January 2019 : Martin Luther King, Iranian rockets and open Sudanese airspace and viewer

 

The Israel Brief 22 January 2019: Mali, strike casualties, Save a Child’s Heart and baby rhinos…

 

The Israel Brief 23 January 2019: Trump peace plan, IAF strike Hamas, Aya Masarawe

 

The Israel Brief 24 January 2019: Short and sweet! 16 year old charged manslaughter, more Iron Domes rolled out German antisemitism

 

Hamas vs Fatah

 

Without a knockout punch, this ‘war’ will continue as Israel waits an eventual victor. There can be no realistic peace overture until Palestine civil war ends.

By David E. Kaplan

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Death In Gaza and Israel To The Rescue. Palestinian children play on burnt out cars, one day after clashes between rival forces of Hamas and Fatah movements, on August 03, 2008 in Gaza City. Nine Palestinians had been killed so far during the clashes that began when Hamas security forces tried to arrest suspects thought to be behind a July 25 bombing that killed five militants and a little girl on a Gaza beach. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized a total of 150 unarmed Palestinians to cross in to Israel for refuge. The wounded were taken to hospital and the rest were transported to Ramallah. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Israel will go to elections in April 2019 and a major issue will be the Peace Process. Within this perennial debate will be the much trumpeted ‘Two State Solution’, supported by a majority of Israelis, with the proviso “if we have a partner to negotiate with.”

Commentators and world leaders around the world frequently chastise Israeli leaders that this proviso is baseless and “a ruse to avoid negotiating.”

You have a partner they  counsel like a school master, and his name is Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority.

Really?

If Israel is to negotiate it must do so with the duly elected leader of the Palestinian people otherwise the agreement would be worthless. Lacking the support of a majority of the electorate, any peace agreement could be jettisoned by the next Dictator-in-Chief.

After 2000 years of exile and repeated fatal failures in reading shifting political landscapes, the Jews of Israel are reluctant to take existential risks.

It is not a Left or Right issue – it is an existential issue.

With Palestinian elections last held in 2006 and repeatedly delayed with one excuse after another, Abbas prefers remaining permanently at the helm than rolling the dice with democracy and losing to his rival Hamas as the polls predict.

So, with his faction Fatah in an open-ended war with Hamas who is there for Israel to negotiate?

The Palestinian national movement may by the end of 2018 have reached the lowest ebb in its history.

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Game Of Thrones. Hamas routed Fatah in fighting in Gaza in June 2007 and has since governed the Palestinian territory.

Look what has transpired between Christmas and New Year regarding Israel’s “partner for peace” in the West Bank and his arch-rival in Gaza.

For more than a quarter of a century, the Palestinian movement has been split into two increasingly irreconcilable ideological factions – Fatah and Hamas – entrenched further by the geographic split of the West Bank and Gaza.

While tensions between Fatah and Hamas are always at boiling point, 2018 was a year that the two rivals were at each other’s throats – literally.

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Political Discourse In Full Swing. Hamas security officials using batons to detain Fatah supporters during clashes in Gaza City on Sept. 7, 2007. AP

Gloves Were Off

There was little of the Christmas spirit when antagonism between the two factions culminated in the last week of 2018, with Fatah accusing Hamas of detaining 500 of its men in the Gaza Strip.

The gloves were off – as always!

During the non-democratic takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, a number of Fatah officials were sent to their grizzly deaths in public by being thrown off high-rise apartment buildings. The message was clear: Hamas was demonstrating its brand of political discourse.

The relationship has hardly improved but, in an effort, to reach some semblance of unity – a representative leadership that Israel could hopefully negotiate with – in March 2018, the prime minister of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority Rami Hamdallah, bravely visited Gaza – to attempt a reconciliation.

He did not get very far – neither politically nor physically!

No sooner had his motorcade left the Israel border crossing and entered Gaza, a roadside bomb exploded alongside the convoy.

Hamdallah luckily escaped without a wound. Not so lucky was the relationship between Fatah and Hamas – it exposed ‘wounds’ that seem to be resistant to healing.

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Prime Minister, Prime Target. Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah (right) shakes hands with Hamas security officers in Gaza City in October 1917 on the last day of his visit to Gaza before returning to the West Bank after reconciliation talks. His second attempt at reconciliation in March 2018 ended up in an attempted assassination on his life.

Which begs the question, how is Israel expected to reach an agreement with Palestinian leaders when these same leaders are unable to reach agreements between themselves and are quite happy to kill each other in the process?

It became quite farcical when following Fatah accusing Hamas for the attempted assassination of its Prime Minister, Hamas counter-punched by claiming that the PA bombed its own prime minister to ‘kill reconciliation’.

This would be a comedy if the plot was not so tragic.

In this ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ of Palestinian politics, the most essential qualification for a family-man aspiring to be a politician, is a life insurance policy!

Animosity over Anniversaries

Fast forward from March 2018 to December 2018, why were 500 PA supporters in Gaza arrested?

Depends who you ask.

According to a Fatah spokesman, the arrests were aimed to prevent “our supporters from celebrating the 54th anniversary” of the launching of its first attack against Israel.

Our sons have been arrested by Hamas because of celebrating this anniversary,” said Atef Abu Seif, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, he added, was “kidnapping Fatah men from the streets, raiding their homes and confiscating posters and other material that were supposed to be used during our rallies.”

Abu Seif further accused Hamas of torturing some of the detainees.
This followed the PA security forces earlier using force to disperse Hamas supporters who took to the streets of Hebron and Nablus to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

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No Kidding. During clashes between Hamas and Fatah that left 600 dead, Palestinian children take part in a protest calling for an end to the internal fighting in Gaza City on January 29 2007. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

This tit for tat culminated with the Hamas crackdown in Gaza enraging Fatah leaders in Ramallah. President Mahmoud Abbas – who also serves as chairman of Fatah – denounced Hamas going so far as to incredulously accuse it of working for Israel.

Those who prevent us from marking this occasion are spies,” he said referring to Hamas. “We have been suffering from the spies here and there, and they will end up in the dustbin of history.”

Abbas used the Arabic word ‘jasous’ when he talked about the “spies.” Palestinians often use the word to label those who collaborate with or serve as informants of Israel.

So Hamas, whose sole aim is the destruction of Israel and whom only two months earlier were responsible for firing 500 missiles at civilian areas in Israel are, according to the Fatah leader “spying” for Israel?

Can anyone make any ‘sense’ of this?

Senseless in Gaza

Well this accusation made no sense even to Hamas which responded by hinting that the 83-year-old Abbas was “senile” and “talking nonsense”.

Abbas’s speech is trivial,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “The real spy is not the Gaza Strip, which has dazed the occupation – rather, it’s the man who was described by Yasser Arafat as the Karzai of Palestine.”

The Hamas spokesman was referring to Hamid Karzai, who became Afghanistan’s head of state in 2001 after the Taliban government was overthrown and was regularly referred to by Arabs and Muslims as a puppet in the hands of the USA.

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A Day At The Office. Palestinian militants from Hamas sit in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ personal office after it was taken over by Hamas in fighting in Gaza City, early Friday, June 15, 2007. (AP / Hatem Moussa)

So now it is suggested by Hamas that Abbas is an American stooge, the same ‘stooge’ that is refusing to accept the USA as a mediator ridiculing the administrations peacemaking efforts calling it a continuation of the Balfour Declaration “conspiracy.”

As if articulating in an alternate universe, Abbas only a month before, proclaimed on the 14th anniversary of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death that “Our national unity is the most precious thing we have.”

What unity was he referring to?

The PA President pressed on:

Unity is our strongest weapon to face the plans for liquidation and conspiracies that are being waged against our national cause.”

Clearly his words found no traction with Hamas who continued calling him a “dictator”, “senile”, “mentally unstable”, “traitor”, “collaborator” and “liar”.

Hamas has also denied Fatah’s claim that it had detained 500 of its men but admitted that it had “summoned” 38 senior Fatah men only “for questioning to maintain calm and order.”

Fatah was not buying this.

An official response from the West Bank indicated that there’s was no chance that the two parties “could ever resolve their differences.”

This was only three weeks after BDS in South Africa welcomed in December 2018, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between a visiting Hamas delegation from Gaza and an ANC parliamentary caucus in Cape Town, calling it “a success for Palestine solidarity”.

What solidarity?

Even Egyptian officials have admitted that they have given up on their repeated attempts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.
“That’s it: There will be no dialogue with Hamas,” said Hussein al-Shiekh, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank. “We have notified Egypt and Qatar that their efforts to achieve have reached a dead end.”

Maybe South Africa should be notified as well!

hamas delegation in sa 2018
December 2018 – Hamas’s parliamentary delegation meet with South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu, the adviser of South Africa’s Foreign Minister, and other senior government officials. Hamas’s delegation includes Mahmoud al-Zahar, Marwan Abu Ras, Mushir al-Masri, and Mohammed al-Ghoul. (The Palestinian Information Center)

Dead End

Judging from the actions and words of Fatah and Hamas, it now seems that the chances of ending the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are virtually zero.

The question for Israel is if Hamas calls the President of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas a “dictator”, “senile”, “mentally unstable”, “traitor”, “collaborator” and “liar”, and Abbas says that Hamas “will end up in the dustbin of history”, who is Israel expected to be realistically talking to in its quest for peace?

 

 

 

“Merry Christmas in Gaza 2018”

Except it was more ‘misery’ than ‘merry’ all thanks to Hamas

By David E. Kaplan

Don’t celebrate and survive” was the 2018 Christmas greeting that Christians received in  Gaza!

While across the world people wished Christians a MERRY Christmas; in Gaza they were threatened NOT to be merry.

The same Hamas that South Africa’s ANC government in November 2018 welcomed to Parliament in Cape Town, only a month later, allowed flyers to be widely circulated threatening Palestinian Christians not to celebrate Christmas – or else.

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Danger List. The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus.

The terrifying flyer was penned by the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades – a coalition of Islamist groups operating in Gaza – and it warned the 1,300 Christians living in Gaza, as well as Muslims looking to take part in the holiday festivities, that celebration of the Christian holiday is forbidden by Islam. The flyer included quotes from the Quran alongside a burning Christmas tree.

Needless to say, this shattering news did not appear in South Africa’s media or on BDS’s venomous website – it was too busy contriving nonsense like, “Santa will not be visiting Bethlehem,” because of Israeli activities.

Time for the Truth

While Israel promotes and welcome Christians to the Holy land – a total of 73% of Christians tourists said they would “certainly” or “probably” revisit Israel as revealed in a Ministry of Tourism report – Hamas has abandoned its Christian community.

The verse from the Quran quoted on the inside of the flyer was not only aimed at Christians but also at Muslims whom were warned “not to go the way of the Jews and the Christians, indeed God is not for the evil people.”

Can a message be clearer – Christians and Jews are “evil people.”

The flyer admonished that it is “absolutely forbidden” to celebrate the holiday in any capacity.

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Nightmare For Christians. Three Christians killed in a targeted suicide bombing attack in Syria.

The Other Cheek

On the other hand, Israel welcomed over 150,000 Christians for the festive season, who celebrated at the many Holy Land sites such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth as well as other locations where the Christmas story unfolded over 2000 years earlier, over 600 years before the arrival of Islam. The most visited sites were the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, followed by the city’s Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall the Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives as well as Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee and the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

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Pulsating Parade. Christians from all over the world flock to Jerusalem.

Despite the tense situation and a number of Jews who had in recent weeks been murdered by Palestinian terrorists, Israel took special measures to assist Palestinian Christians in observing the holiday. A week before Christmas, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun met with various Palestinian leaders, including some residing in the Gaza Strip, presenting special measures such as more flexibility in granting permits for Christian Gazans to visit family members in the West Bank. Reports reveal that roughly 50 percent of all Christians living in Gaza received these special permits from Israel.

Enabling Christian to enjoy Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, Israel’s Tourism Ministry, headed by Yaniv Levin, whose great-grandparents were South African from the Orange Free State, provided free transportation to and from Jerusalem from 2.00p.m. on Christmas Eve to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Last Christmas, the Jerusalem municipality handed out complimentary “Christmas trees” to residents ahead of the holiday.  During the distribution of the live, potted trees, Santa showed up and rode a camel, and mingled with children and others at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate.

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Free Christmas Trees. Sponsored by the Jerusalem Municipality, Issa Kassissieh, wearing a Santa Claus costume, rides a camel and distributes Christmas trees in Jerusalem’s Old City December 21, 2017. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

President Reuven Rivlin extended his own Christmas greetings to those celebrating this year, wishing Christians around the world a holiday “full of peace, joy and love.”

Bearing False Witness

Israel’s spirit of celebrating Christmas stands in stark contrast to the toxic conduct towards Christians in Gaza. Dexter Van Zile, a Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) writes that “It is time to evacuate the last remnants of Christianity from the Gaza Strip.” Referring to Gaza as having been turned “into an impoverished theocratic gulag by Hamas,” he writes that Christians who live there, “suffer from the threat of kidnappings and forced conversions at the hands of extremists.” These stories do not appear on news networks because, “Journalists who criticize Hamas are imprisoned and tortured.”

Van Zile expounds on the nature of this diabolical situation.

For Christians to remain in Gaza, “they and their benefactors in the West must conceal Hamas’s evil acts from scrutiny and condemnation.”

He cites the case of the 2007 kidnapping and forced conversion of Sana al-Sayegh, a professor at Palestine University that was “perpetrated by Hamas militiamen and that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was deeply involved in.”

Why is the truth suppressed?

As Van Zile reveals, citizens of Gaza “operate under the thumb of Hamas and have to watch what they say about life in the Strip.” It is much easier, “to blame Israel for the suffering Palestinians endure.”

Living a lie is a resident’s passport to survival!

Telling false narratives that absolve Hamas and condemn Israel, is the price of Christian survival in Gaza. In order to survive, “Christians and their benefactors must bear false witness,” or “lie by omission the sins of Hamas.”

 Because of this untenable situation, Van Zile sadly advocates:

 “It’s time to evacuate every last Christian from Gaza.”

However it’s not just in Gaza! The Gaza Strip is a microcosm of the plight of Christians living under Muslim rule.

Only a few weeks earlier, the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that millions of Middle East Christians are on the verge of “imminent extinction.”

He lamented that “In the birthplace of our faith, the community faces extinction,” calling it, “the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.”

In the early 20th century, Christians made up to 20% of the population in the Middle East. That figure has now dwindled to around 5%. Its easy to understand why and that Israel has nothing to do with this exodus.

Before the ‘Arab Spring’, Christians in Syria were businessmen, engineers, lawyers and pharmacists. Now they are leaving the country in their droves. In Iraq, 300,000 Christians have fled persecution since the downfall of Saddam Hussein and in Egypt, Christians face harassment leading them to emigrate in record numbers.

Nasty Along The Nile

Egypt’s Christians or  Copts as they are known, are facing “unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression,” according to The Open Doors 2018 World Watch List Report.

In 2017, more than 200 Copts were driven out of their homes and 128 were killed because of their faith.

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Egyptian Christians Attacked, Dozens Of Churches Torched. This picture taken on August 18, 2013 shows a burnt icon in the Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya, some 250 kms south of Cairo, which was set ablaze on August 14, 2013. (AFP Photo/Virginie Nguyen Hoang) © AFP

Numbering approximately nine million, the Copts represent 10 percent of Egypt’s population and roughly half of the Christians living in the Middle East. Since 2014 their persecution has increased with the World Watch List Report listing Egypt “as the 17th most dangerous place for Christians to live.”

On the CBS News’s December 2013, ‘60 Minutes’ programme, the plight of Copts was revealed as having “suffered one of their worst periods in nearly 2,000 years.” Following the overthrow of Egypt’s first Islamic president in a military coup in 2013, Christians were the target of revenge by Muslim mobs, and over 40 Christian churches all over Egypt were gutted by arson and looted. Some of these churches were over a thousand years old and filled with priceless relics. Since then, Copts have been murdered in ongoing sectarian violence. An example of such murders was this 2018 report in Open Doors:

Two young masked men entered the pharmacy and dragged my father outside. They told him to kneel in the street. They put two guns at my father’s head and told him to convert to Islam. But he shook his head. Then they shot him.”

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Fired Up. Christian church set ablaze in Egypt in 2013.

Pattern of Persecution

Leaving Egypt, a quick flip across the Middle East reveals a pattern of persecution of Christians.

In a heinous incident in 2016 in Syria, jihadists slit the throat of a Christian man in front of his wife, giving a vent to their odium for Christianity. They mocked the woman in a derogatory way saying, “Your Jesus did not come to save him from us.” This odious incident took place in Syria’ ancient town Maalula; which was invaded by militants a few days earlier during the Civil War.

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Shocking & Mocking. Syria: Militants slit a Christian’ throat in Syria and mock his wife saying “Your Jesus did not come to save him from us.”

Another Christian woman resident of Maalula related to the media that “They arrived in our town at dawn and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders.” The woman who was identified as Marie, further narrated that after their first advance against the town, Christians started fleeing.

This is the new trend.

In Turkey, Christians are facing oppression by their government and while Christians were once a majority in Lebanon, that is no longer the case. From the civil war which began in in the 1970s, to the Syrian occupation, to ISIS aggression, Lebanese Christians have suffered and fear becoming extinct in their own country, given the sheer number of young, educated men and women emigrating.

In Iraq, the situation is far worse. There, the Christian population has dramatically dwindled; while there were once 1.4 million Christians, there are now less than 200,000. In Syria, Christians and Yazidis faced a full-scale genocide at the hands of ISIS, and even then, the TV news networks were reluctant to use the “g-word.” Truth be told, TV networks are far more interested in anything the Pope might say on gay marriage or contraception than genocide.

Why have these networks failed to spotlight the plight of Christians suffering increasingly under Islam? Correspondents have long connected the dots, writing of the hundreds of thousands of Christians “on the run” from their homes, of the mass graves been discovered, and Christians have been made to “convert or die.”

While Israel’s enemies like to joke that, “Santa will not be visiting Bethlehem”, who can forget what took place in the city in 2002 when terrorists affiliated with then PLO leader Yasser Arafat infamously raided and trashed the birthplace of Jesus Christ – the Church of the Nativity – holding 200 monks hostage for 39 days.

After the departure of the terrorist-occupiers and their hostages released, booby-trapped explosive devices were discovered in the Church. To even think of booby-trapping one of the holiest sites in all Christendom, and then to add insult to injury, altars, religious objects, and furniture were discovered fouled by urine, cigarette butts and human excrement by Arafat’s henchman.

Is it any wonder – following systematic and constant abuse – the Christian population in Palestinian controlled areas is constantly decreasing. Last year, Christians were only 2% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, less than half their number a generation ago.

In 1950, 86% of the residents in Bethlehem were Christian. In 2017, they were only 12%.

Of all the countries in the Middle East, it is only in “evil” Israel that the Christian population has stayed stable, and in fact,  has increased.

The world media should probe why in every Muslim country, the Christian community is dwindling – and in the words the Archbishop of Canterbury on the “verge of imminent extinction” – except in Israel where it is on the increase?

‘Turning the other cheek’ is a phrase in Christian doctrine from the Sermon on the Mount  that refers to responding to injury without revenge and allowing more injury. This passage is variously interpreted as commanding non-resistanceChristian pacifism, or nonviolence on the part of the victim.

However, the way the trend is going, there will come a time when there will be no Christian cheeks in the Middle East – except in Israel – to turn!

 

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Mindless Murder. From the Middle to Far-East, Christian are threatened as when the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 132 Christian children in Lahore, Pakistan in 2016. Reuters

Reconciling Reconciliation

Boycotts That Deserve To Backfire

Pressure from supporters of a boycott against Israel led organizers of an academic conference in December 2018 on “Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma” at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University to disinvite seven professors from three universities in Israel. One of the participants was a Palestinian, Mohammed Dajani, who founded Wasatia’ which aims to bring both Israeli and Palestinian public opinion closerto having more faith in negotiations and dialogue with each realising that the cake needs to be shared not trampled on.”

In an exclusive article for Lay Of The Land (LOTL)Prof. Mohammed Dajani explains  his position why it was so important for him and the six Israelis to participate and how wrong the South African organisations were to oppose their participation.

 

By Prof. Mohammed Dajani

South Africa has long been a global symbol of the possibility of emerging from a turbulent and conflict ridden past to a hopeful future built on the spirit of reconciliation between its peoples.

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Prof. Mohammed Dajani

It has been the hope of many, including Palestinians and Israelis, to replicate the successful transition towards peace and democracy that South Africa did.

South Africa has always had the potential to play a meaningful role as a negotiator between Israelis and Palestinians. The iconic former President and anti-Apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela, was living proof that reconciliation between historical enemies was possible.

South Africa is a country that I was excited to visit in 2016 to promote peace. Peace is the solution that both Palestinians and Israelis yearn for but there are elements that will do anything to ensure that the normalization of ties between our two peoples never happens. It is not just the fundamentalist elements within both Israeli and Palestinian society that would rather peace not happen, but in the Rainbow nation as well.

The BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement, has found fertile ground in South Africa and is extremely vocal in their support in the breaking down of any constructive and productive dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, one could go as far as to deem them anti-normalisation and anti-peace.

Peace will be built from the ground up and through Palestinians and Israelis engaging with each other. This is how we recover from historical traumas.

The reluctance of BDS and their allies to support peaceful endeavours was evident recently when I along with an Israeli colleague, was invited to participate in a conference titled Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma at the University of Stellenbosch.  South Africa is always a favoured stop on my lecture circuit because of the historical symbolism of reconciliation and I thought that this conference was a fitting place for my message of peace.

 My Israeli colleague and I were asked “not to participate” and were told that it was “a political matter of not allowing the normalisation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by means of discussions about reconciliation, empathy and forgiveness while Israel continues to attack Gaza and place it under siege, occupy the West Bank, kill and torture Palestinian activists, and deny human rights to people who have been dispossessed of their land”.

There was not attempt to hear the reality of the situation from people who live in the region or give my Israeli colleague and I an attempt to bring context and fact to discussion. This has also robbed participants of the opportunity to ask important questions and engage in meaningful dialogue and does not have the interests of the Palestinian people at heart.

I have endured my fair share of criticism as an academic but never have I had my credibility or identity as a Palestinian doubted before.  To accuse me of not being a “genuine Palestinian” because I seek peace and engage with Israelis or Jewish communities around the world is extraordinarily myopic and one can see how preposterous it is for an organization that says it is concerned with human rights to be so set against dialogue and reconciliation.

The irony of not being allowed to speak at a conference which puts this discussion at the forefront of its agenda is such a lost opportunity to promote healing and understanding. It is also counter-productive to academia to not encourage diversity of opinions. It would appear that any contrary opinion to that expressed above is not welcome.

This is deeply troubling for a country that once prided itself in setting the benchmark for discourse.

If there is to be any solution and if South Africa intends to play a meaning ful role, then all voices need to be present at the table. This would not only be in the best interests of Israelis and Palestinians but also academia – after all, this is where future peace makers are shaped.

 

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Prof. Mohammed Dajani. (Credit: Natan Dvir)

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani, an adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute, founded the Wasatia movement of moderate Islam and previously worked as a professor of political science at al-Quds University in Jerusalem.