Could have been a model of reconciliation but instead the Rainbow Nation embraces terrorists that murder Jews

By Gary Kaplan

I know my paraphrased slogan is less catchy than the heinous one chanted across the globe, including in the city of my birth, Cape Town, South Africa. However, I believe my variation is more reflective of the truth.

South Africa has been robbed. Not at gunpoint for this is about a different type of crime, a different robbery, one that is still in progress and if not stopped, will leave South Africa with its open-ended financial crisis and debt, as well as a moral debt that will never be forgotten nor forgiven.

Sign of the Times. The chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” heard at pro-Palestine marches across the world is an antisemitic slogan calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. Does this sentiment  not share similarity with the apartheid of the old South Africa?

The ANC has not only allowed the anti-Israel movement to accuse Israel of Apartheid but has taken it upon itself to spread the new blood libel of our time and be its megaphone. The Apartheid analogy has served less as a realm of analytical inquiry and more as a rhetorical tool.  Since the Durban conference of 2001, this analogy has been used by activists of the BDS movement, along with their stalwart allies, which in South Africa are the ANC and the South African government. Their intent is to utilise this analogy as a framework that justifies isolating and ultimately dismantling the State of Israel, drawing parallels to how international pressure significantly contributed to the downfall of the Apartheid state. This modus operandi of exporting false narratives is an insult to black South Africans who suffered under the system of absolute racial segregation. Furthermore, it is a tragic theft of the actual black South African Apartheid narrative because the term has been misappropriated to falsely label Israel when referring to its conflict with Palestine. The truth has been robbed.

Morally Repugnant. In a display of zero partiality, South African President Cyril Ramaposa, on a state visit to Qatar, requested that the International Criminal Court investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in its war with Hamas saying Israel has “turned Gaza into a concentration camp where genocide is taking place.” Ignoring the barbarity and butchery Hamas inflicted upon Jewish civilians, the South African president also posted a video of a speech he delivered at a rally in support of Gaza, whose killer squads had perpetrated a massacre  on the 7 October.

Continuing on this misguided path, South Africa’s ANC’s leadership persistently espouses ignorantly on Israel’s war against the terrorist-run state of Gaza. Joining with the outrageous statements by different members of his government, on November 17, President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters during a state visit to Qatar that Gaza:

 “Has now turned into a concentration camp where genocide is taking place.”

It took the South African government nine days to condemn the 7th of October massacre by Hamas, and with that, it quickly blamed Israel for the:

 “genocide of the people of Gaza.”

This type of rhetoric backing Islamic terrorists is yet another slap in the face to the real freedom fighters who opposed Apartheid and exposes South Africa’s Jewish community to the danger of mob violence. We saw last month what transpired on Sea Point beach front when one of the organisers of the violence against Jews, Hannie Orrie, said:

 “We share one objective: to rid this country of Zionism.” The threat of the EFF, South Africa’s third largest political party to close down the Jewish day school, Herzlia, while ominous, is a symptom of the ANC government’s close associations with those terrorists seeking Israel’s destruction.

Jews not Wanted. A violent counter-protest at a rally that was meant to be in support of Israel in Sea Point where Jews were warned to stay away. It begs the question of how safe are Jews in South Africa today?

The Rainbow Nation and the ANC had a choice; they could have made a significant impact by trying to be a role model of reconciliation and broker a peace but instead, they chose to support Hamas that murderously and mercilessly pursues the destruction of the state of Israel. Instead of governing and rebuilding South Africa, they have spent their energy on siding with terrorists and allowing antisemitism and violence to breed and spread across South Africa.

Close or Else What? Although the Jewish community’s leadership is unbowed and defiant, it is a sign of the times in South Africa when the third largest political party can threaten the Westen Cape Premier, Alan Winde that he has “until the end of the year to close down [Herzlia] school, or the EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] South Africa will have to!”

How can a nation reborn after Apartheid be so intertwined with a brutal terrorist organisation like Hamas? Where did it go so wrong?

In my mind, there is a clear link between the Government’s anti-Israel sentiment and the country’s apparent infrastructure collapse, high crime and economic malaise.  I am sure there are many realpolitik reasons for the ANC to be so vocal against Israel, which include anti-western politicians in the ANC, seeking Muslim voters, BRICS, etc. However, they all start from a real ideological point. The ANC admire Hamas, they see them as themselves, and in that obscure way, they have a twisted take on history and reality. The only fundamental similarity between the ANC and the Palestinians is that both are ignoring the chance to govern their people to provide security and prosperity.

I can ensure the South African government that their people would prefer electricity 24 hours a day, clean water and an end to poverty and crime than its shallow forays into ‘foreign policy’.

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it took them 40 years to reach the promised land. Why? Not because they were literally lost but because a generation of slave- mentality needed to die for a new generation to understand the concept of freedom and live freely. It seems the ANC suffer from the same mentality; they too haven’t come to terms with the idea of freedom and its obligations and responsibilities. I find it hard to believe that the rainbow nation was created to align itself with terror and the destruction of the only Jewish state in the world. It seems South Africa today is going through the same evils it once had: racism, antisemitism, bigotry and supremacy. Once again, the Jews of South Africa need to explain to their government their place in society and explain why, even though their skin colour may be white, they are not “colonialists” but Jews. Have the ANC become the people they have fought against decades ago? Their blatant antisemitism would suggest so.

This ANC government supports an organisation responsible for the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust – an organisation whose official policy is to murder Jews and which poses an ongoing threat to the safety of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Blind Support. Supporting Hamas, South Africa’s ANC leadership ignores how the current hostilities began with photos like these of a blood-soaked child’s bed in Kibbutz Kfar Aza where children were butchered on October 7.

It seems to me that the South African government today is no better than when white Afrikaner nationalism of the 1930s sided with Nazism, aligning with evil.

Is this what my Jewish parents so strongly opposed in South Africa? Is this the new South Africa?

The South African government’s comments on “genocide” and “concentration camps” regarding the war in Gaza, place it alongside history’s greatest holocaust deniers. I am sure this is not the legacy Mandela would have wanted to be associated with!

The ANC’s more-recent posturing that the narrative of the Palestinian people’s struggle resembles their own history of racial segregation and oppression undermines the true narrative of the struggle against Apartheid. It is diluting their history and dissipating its value. What started off as a just cause of striving for freedom has bizarrely morphed to supporting destruction, rape and brutal massacre. Who after all in their right mind, takes babies and toddlers as hostages and can claim to be “freedom fighters”?

South Africa – From Economic To Moral Decline. In response to the will of the street, the South African parliament has called on the ANC government to close down the Israeli embassy, while having no problem hosting a Hamas delegation to South Africa that is responsible for the massacre of Jews on October 7, the worst since the Holocaust.

However, in the last week, South Africa’s ANC government has taken its endangerment to Jews to an all-new level by welcoming in the aftermath of the Hamas massacre, a senior Hamas delegation to South Africa to participate in the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine. The delegation included politburo member Bassem Naim, Hamas representative in Iran, Khaled Qaddoumi and Hamas representative in East, Central and Southern Africa Emad Saber.

According to a press release, the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine was jointly organised by the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and the Royal House of Mandela and would commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Global Campaign’s launch and the death of Nelson Mandela. What would Mandela who so loved children, and as president donated half of his salary to poor children and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, gave part of the prize money to help street children say about the users and abusers of his legacy cozying up to the likes of Hamas who in the process of perpetrating a massacre of Jews, take babies and toddlers as hostages?

Seems more of the old South Africa than the new.  

South African Islamic Scholars Laud October 7 Massacre By Hamas: We Are Extremely Proud Of The Mujahideen, Our Brothers And Sisters From Hamas; This Was A Morning Of Honor And Glory; The Al-Qassam Brigades Are Connected To Allah

About the writer:

South Africa-born, Gary Kaplan works in the international relations division at Israel’s national trade union, the Histadrut where inter alia, he manages its youth exchange programme with the German trade union Confederation addressing issues from labour relations to Holocaust remembrance.


South Africa’s diplomatic posturing is reminiscent of an amateur actor auditioning for a lead role – with ‘real life’ deadly consequences.

By Tim Flack

In the grand theatre of international relations, South Africa performs with the drama and unpredictability of a Shakespearean character lost in a modern Netflix series. The government, resembling a team of scriptwriters, crafts each episode of its diplomatic saga with more twists and turns than a soap opera, keeping the global audience both amused and bemused.
Let’s glide into the narrative of South Africa’s tango with the International Criminal Court (ICC) – a dance that’s less ballroom elegance and more a freestyle of indecisive chaos. Imagine a teenager on social media, constantly updating their relationship status – that’s South Africa with the ICC. One minute they’re in a committed relationship, and the next, it’s “it’s complicated”, with Parliament frenetically jigging in the background, trying to keep up with the rhythm.
Enter on stage, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the man of mixed signals. One moment, he’s announcing a split from the ICC, and the next, he’s retracting with a casual “just kidding” message, reminiscent of a rom-com [romantic comedy] where the protagonist can’t decide between two suitors – except here, the choice is between global justice and domestic convenience.
Remember the Omar al-Bashir saga when South Africa erred in its decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – wanted for crimes against humanity – during his controversial visit to the country in 2015 to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg? When a Rome Statute member like South Africa fails to comply, it prevents the ICC from carrying out its functions.

Shielding a Sudanese Criminal to Supporting Hamas Terrorists. Indicted by the ICC for allegedly directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir (2nd from right), stands with other African leaders during a photo op in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015.

The farce played out akin to hosting a party where the guest of honour was adorned with arrest warrants rather than the inflated attire of office.
Fast forward to the present and the plot thickens – as well as sickens – with Hamas, the bad boys of global politics, who Ramaphosa is fine to have South Africa support. While okay in the past for South Africa to split from the ICC, Ramaposa is now happy to refer Israel to the same ICC for alleged war crimes. This erratic conduct in South African foreign policy is the diplomatic equivalent of pointing a finger hysterically at someone jaywalking while you yourself are committing a heinous crime!
Al said, Ramaphosa’s silence on Hamas’ perpetration of a massacre against unsuspecting Israeli civilians resonated loudly. While the president plays lead character in this ‘thriller’ where the script is seemingly improvised, the audience, notably the South African Jewish community, watches with apprehension. Each diplomatic move, each controversial call or charge at the ICC, sends ripples of concern through the community, turning political theater into a personal reality show.

Child Killers. South Africa’s leadership totally unmoved by photos like these of a children’s bedroom following a visit from Hamas killer squads from Gaza. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

For the Jewish community, this story is more than political satire; it’s a narrative that resonates profoundly, sending chilling signals. The rise of BDS activities and an increase in antisemitism add layers of unease. I may characterise this as akin to watching a thriller; however, the plot twists could result in dire real-world consequences.
Amidst this diplomatic dance, the South African Jewish community is not merely an audience but an integral part of the narrative; their concerns and fears magnified by each new development. It’s a stark reminder that behind the scenes of international relations, real lives are affected, and the repercussions of these decisions are far from fictional.
Yet, there’s another layer to this drama. Picture the South African government as the self-proclaimed ‘cool kid’ on the global playground, strutting around with misplaced confidence while its peers subtly roll their eyes. This image captures South Africa’s sense of self-importance on the world stage, a stark contrast to its actual international reputation.
This irony is not lost on observers. Here’s a government portraying itself as a skilled player in the high-stakes game of global diplomacy and human rights, yet back home, the reality tells a different story. It’s a country battling basic governance issues – from schools lacking essential facilities to rampant crime and a faltering power grid.
This disconnect between self-perception and reality is striking. The South African government steps onto the international stage with bold proclamations about human rights and global diplomacy, but these words ring hollow against the backdrop of unmet basic human rights at home.
To the international community, South Africa’s diplomatic posturing often appears as an overreach, reminiscent of an amateur actor auditioning for a lead role. The ambition is laudable, but the execution falls short. The country’s attempts to assert itself in global matters, especially human rights, seem out of touch with its domestic struggles.
This dichotomy is not just a matter of image but of substance. For a nation to be respected on the global stage, it must first address its internal challenges. Preaching about human rights and justice abroad loses its gravitas when its own citizens suffer at home due to governmental criminality and incompetence.

Confusing who are the Criminals. Ignoring that Palestinians from Gaza perpetrated a massacre in Israel even killing and kidnaping babies, President Ramaposa said South Africa believes Israel is committing “war crimes” and “genocide” and referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

South Africa’s international aspirations, while noble in intent, risk being perceived as a facade, overshadowing the more pressing issues within its borders.
Until the government can effectively tackle the myriad issues plaguing its own backyard, its attempts to position itself as a global leader in human rights will likely continue to be met with scepticism and muted mockery from the rest of the world.
If you’re going to point fingers Mr. President, Hamas threw the first rocket. It also perpetrated a massacre which was the bloodiest in Israel’s history.
This Mr. President you saw fit to ignore.
Which begs the question – Are you morally fit to remain in office?

About the writer:

Tim Flack is the CEO and Head of Comms and Public Relations and founder of Flack Partners PR, a boutique public relations firm in Cape Town, South Africa. Tim specialises in providing tailored communication strategies for businesses in the political, safety and security, and small business fields.

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)


Simon Wiesenthal Center accuses South Africa’s leadership of fueling antisemitism by its outrageous lies against the Jewish state

By David E. Kaplan

In South Africa, the best are its people, the worst its politicians.

This recognition was visually most evident at the 2023 World Rugby Cup final on the 28 October in France where on the one hand you had the inspiring victorious South African Springbok team and its multitude of devoted South African fans and on the other, in the VIP section on the stands – the failing President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa who with few achievements to show for himself as president, wanted to bake in the glory of his nation’s Springboks heroes. There could not be two contrasting images of absolute success and abject failure.

While the image on the TV screens of the players brought screams and applause from fans in their living rooms, the sight of Ramaphosa brought mostly grunts. For the Jews of South Africa, it was justifiably more than just “grunts”!

No longer just the anxiety about a failing economy, collapsing infrastructure, diminishing employment opportunities, rampant crime and systemic corruption, now add government-fueled antisemitism!

Targeting Jews. Despite having no permit, Hamas-supporting protesters violently attack and disrupt a pro-Israel prayer rally in Cape Town, South Africa on November 12, 2023. (photo credit: INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY JERUSALEM)

Some three weeks before the hoisting by the Springboks of the Webb Ellis cup in Paris, death squads from Gaza, reminiscent of Nazi “Einsatzgruppen” entered Israel’s south to murder, rape, decapitate, burn and kidnap Jews. While much of the world in the immediate aftermath were horrified and voiced their support for Israel with leaders like US president Joe Biden, UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak and French president Emmanual Macron paying condolence visits during a time of war, South Africa’s government was not only silent, but its foreign minister, Naledi Pandor called not the leadership of the victims but the perpetrators – Hamas – and offered South Africa’s support. No concern shown or any mention of the Jews massacred or kidnapped by Hamas, the ANC government then added salt to its wounding Jewish community by withdrawing its remaining diplomatic staff from its embassy in Ramat Gan citing reasons of Israel committing a “holocaust” and carrying out “Genocidal airstrikes”. One would think that with three Holocaust Museums in South Africa – Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban – the South African government would be better educated to know what a “Holocaust” and “Genocide” is and not falsely accuse Israel of either. Instead of displaying some sympathy and understanding of Israel experiencing the worst massacre of Jews since the real Holocaust – “the Shoah” – all it has done is stoke the fire of antisemitism as exhibited by anti-Israel protests on the streets of South Africa.

Violent and Vicious. Taking their cue from the Hamas terrorists, Israel supporters – one of whom was in a wheelchair – were frighteningly harassed by pro-Hamas supporters.

Interviewed by the South African Jewish Report (SAJR), a Jewish attendee to a Christian prayer gathering for Israel on Sunday 12 October on the Sea Point promenade, said:

 “I’ve never experienced such vile violence and antisemitism in my life.”

He withheld his name for security concerns.  

Attacked by the Hamas-supporting mob shouting “Allahu Akbar”, he “was strangled, kicked, hit, scratched, dragged, maligned, and almost pushed into the ocean.”

The coordinator of the Christian-organised prayer gathering, Vivienne Myburgh, told the SAJR that “they broke a 75-year-old man’s finger, threatened to shoot a woman,” and “stabbed a man in the arm. There were knives and guns. They burned a prayer shawl [tallis] and Israeli flags with glee. I tried to grab destroyed posters and flags, but the police told me, ‘Your life is worth more than this’, so I had to leave them.”

The message cannot be clearer than the words of PAGAD National Coordinator, Haroon Orrie, who wearing a Hamas headband, said outside the Sea Point police station:

 “The time for action is here. We share one objective: to rid this country of Zionism.”

While South African Jews may pray for a variety of things, it will no longer include for the welfare of the South African government. South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein responded to the government’s evil support of Hamas by advising that the prayer for the Republic of South Africa composed by the late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris in 1994 honouring the country’s transition to democracy, will no longer include for the government. The Chief Rabbi explained in a letter to the SAJR that:

 “The [current] change is clearly due to the South African government’s ongoing support for Hamas. How can we pray for a government that supports an organisation responsible for the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust – an organisation whose official policy is to murder Jews and which poses an ongoing threat to the safety of the Jewish people and the State of Israel?”

It’s not a decision that was taken lightly,” Goldstein added, but “…when the government crosses the line and adopts a stance this immoral, we can’t in good conscience pray for them.”

Put his Foot into it. Quickly resorting to violence, this Hamas supporting protestor took his frustrations out on the Sea Point police.

It is thus understandable that the Israel office of the Jewish global human rights organization researching the Holocaust the Simon Wiesenthal Center – has weighed in releasing this press release dated 9 November 2023. It admonishes the South African government that “should be ashamed of itself” for “its outrageous accusation that Israel is committing a Holocaust against the Palestinians.”

Following the above press release, the director of the SWC and a frequent contributor to Lay of the Land, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, told the SAJR:

You must also question the impact on Jews living in South Africa. The government doesn’t feel protective towards Jewish people in South Africa even though Jews are important citizens. If there’s no protection for Jews, Jews should reassess and analyse their situation.”

South Africans have reason to be worried both in the short term about their security and in the long term about the sustainable of its community that has dropped dramatically from a high of 120,000 to hovering precariously above 40,000.

Silent on the Massacre of Jews, Vocal on Blaming Israel. Adorning a Palestinian keffiyeh, South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor has withdrawn all South African diplomats from Israel in support of Hamas, whom she called following their massacre of Jews in southern Israel on the 7 October, 2023.

With a long-standing romance between the South African government and Hamas, coupled with its warm embrace of Iran – both committed to the destruction of the Jewish state – is it any surprise that South African Jews are wondering if their own government is not by the message it sends, inciting future pogroms?

For many of South Africa’s Jews having planted one foot out the country in Israel, the other foot is now more than ever likely to follow.


The relentless pursuit of a mirage

By Raymond Wacks Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory

I am driving along a well-remembered highway in Randburg. It is 2005 – the last time I visited South Africa (where I was born and, as they say, bred). Randburg is an anonymous conurbation on the outskirts of Johannesburg. As a student, I had a holiday job here as a cashier in a supermarket.

But is this really Randburg? Formerly a whites-only area, I see only black faces. My supermarket has disappeared. The shopping mall is unrecognisable. I must have taken a wrong turn. Peering at the road sign, I am reassured. This is indeed Hendrik Verwoerd Drive.

Former Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd? In post-apartheid South Africa? Surely this architect of evil cannot still be celebrated 15 years after the demise of what he called ‘separate development’? While many towns and public places have been accorded new (or pre-existing) African names, several roads have been reborn to conform to the new ideology. Nelson Mandela features prominently, of course, but there are also streets dedicated to the memory of Che Guevara, Joe Slovo, and other revolutionary heroes.

Perhaps, I thought, policy had simply failed to catch up with principle. Nevertheless, it struck me as astonishing that Verwoerd should continue to be venerated. It was he who famously declared that his government’s role was ‘the preservation of the white man and his state’. Under his premiership, from 1958 until his assassination in 1966, apartheid was not only consolidated, but clothed in philosophical, cultural, and theological validation that drew on the seductive power of Afrikaner nationalism. He had, in fact, presided over the country’s break with Britain and the establishment of a republic. And, under his steely, cerebral leadership, the African National Congress was banned, and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment.

South Africa Out of Step. Under apartheid, blacks were separated by law from whites – including separate stairways.


Apartheid, it is frequently forgotten – or conveniently overlooked – was not merely racial segregation. It was an elaborate, intricate project, sustained by a doctrinaire philosophy applied by an authoritarian regime buttressed by draconian legislation. It relied on an unaccountable security force with sweeping powers, a largely enthusiastic legislature and a mostly pliant judiciary. The legal system was the creation of a white minority; the political system disenfranchised every ‘non-white’ person, and the law discriminated against them in almost every facet of social and economic life: employment, land, housing, education, sex and freedom of movement.

Deaths in detention and torture were systemic. ‘He slipped in the shower’ or ‘he jumped from the interrogation room window’ were the stock explanations offered by the security branch. Surveillance, intimidation, and police brutality were routine. Apartheid South Africa was the archetypal modern police state. The Broederbond, a secret, Calvinist, all-male society fostered Afrikaner interests. Jan Smuts described it as a ‘dangerous, cunning, political fascist organisation’.

The neo-Nazi nature of this totalitarian order was one of its fundamental components. I remember the day that Verwoerd’s successor, John Vorster, was elected. We university students greeted each other with mock Nazi salutes. He was detained in 1942 as a result of his membership of the pro-Nazi Ossewabrandwag, which supported Germany during the Second World War.


There was, of course, a small minority of whites, including Afrikaners, who opposed the injustice of apartheid. A conspicuous example was the lawyer, Bram Fischer. Despite his impeccable Afrikaner antecedents (his father was judge president of the Orange Free State; his grandfather, a member of the cabinet) he championed the rights of the oppressed, defending Mandela in the notorious Rivonia trial of 1963-4. Enduring considerable personal suffering and sacrifice, he went underground to wage war against the iniquity of apartheid.

In 1966, he was convicted of furthering the aims of communism – a catch-all charge, since communism was defined to include ‘bringing about any political, industrial, social, or economic change… by the promotion of disturbance or disorder’ or ‘encouraging feelings of hostility between the European and the non-European races… the consequences of which are calculated to further… disorder’. The statute empowered the minister of justice to brand as a communist any person he decided fitted the description.

The writer (left) seen here with Nelson Mandela in 1991.

Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment, during which he developed cancer. As a result of a fall, he fractured his neck and femur. He was partially paralysed and lost the ability to talk. Three months elapsed before the authorities permitted his transfer to hospital. He died soon thereafter. Ruthless inhumanity and petty vindictiveness were among the hallmarks of apartheid.

Nelson Mandela described Fischer as ‘one of the bravest and staunchest friends of the freedom struggle that I have ever known … displaying a level of courage and sacrifice that was in a class by itself’.

Issue was black and white. This area of the sea and beach was strictly reserved for South Africa’s white population.


The generosity of definition of the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950 was equalled by the Terrorism Act of 1967 which defined ‘terrorism’ as including anything that might ‘endanger the maintenance of law and order’. Life sentences in South Africa were exactly that. And the gallows were kept busy: between 1910 and 1989 more than 4,200 executions were carried out. About half of those met their end between 1978 and 1989 when the struggle against apartheid was at its peak.

The overwhelming majority of those put to death were black; many were political prisoners. At the end of July 1989, for example, a total of 283 prisoners were being held on death row at Pretoria Central Prison. Of these, 272 were black; 11 were white. In March 1988, 53 individuals were hanged for politically related crimes.

Sign of the Times. ‘Swart gevaar’ (Afrikaans for “black danger”) was an apartheid term skillfully used to sensitize the whites to fear the majority black African population as a dangerous threat.


It hardly requires stating that injustice in our world is ubiquitous. But the abomination of apartheid was unique. The United Nations sought in 1973 to crystallise its essence by establishing it as a crime. According to the Apartheid Convention, the offence consists of inhuman acts committed for the purpose of maintaining domination by one racial group over any other, and systematically oppressing them.

The authors of the Convention, in pursuit of greater precision, provided a catalogue of the acts embraced by the crime, including murder, torture, inhuman treatment and arbitrary arrest of members of a racial group, legislation that discriminates in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, separate residential areas for racial groups, the prohibition of interracial marriages, and the persecution of opponents of apartheid.

The text captures the quintessential elements of apartheid as applied in South Africa – even though it drains it of much of the system’s malevolence and authoritarianism touched on above. And, despite the demise of apartheid in 1994, the offence lives on. Thus, in 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court included apartheid, along with a catalogue of other wrongs such as murder, extermination, enslavement, and torture, as a crime against humanity.

Sharpeville Massacre. More than fifty black South Africans lie dead after police opened fire on a demonstration in Sharpeville. The people were protesting against the rule that forced non-whites to carry passes. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)


Lawyers – and other pedants – may therefore claim that, notwithstanding the terms of the Apartheid Convention, and its explicit description of the South African situation, apartheid may exist anywhere. This folly has, of course, given rise to the preposterous contention that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’. The Jewish state is far from a paragon of virtue, but stigmatising it in this cavalier manner is itself a grotesque injustice – and an affront to those who endured the long years of torment and persecution in South Africa.

The subjectivity of suffering renders any attempt to calibrate injustice, difficult. It is specious and misconceived, however, to describe Israel as implementing apartheid – even by the standards of international law.

Where are the ‘inhumane acts… of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination’ by one race over another, as specified in the Rome Statute? Unlike blacks under apartheid, Israeli Arabs may vote, stand for election to parliament, be appointed to the judiciary. They have the freedom to attend any hospital, school, or university. They are not denied access to beaches, cinemas, theatres, libraries, sporting facilities. They may choose who to love. And it is reportedly easier for an Arab citizen of Israel to buy an apartment in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem than in Beirut, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Doha.

Signposted Society. Separate areas allocated for the different races. In this natural setting, Malays left and Europeans, meaning whites, to the right.


Even Richard Goldstone, the former South African judge who headed the censorious inquiry into Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ operation in Gaza, conceded that in Israel, ‘there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute…’ In an article in the New York Times in October 2011, he declared:

I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system, under which human beings characterised as black had no rights to vote, hold political office, use “white” toilets or beaches, marry whites, live in whites-only areas or even be there without a “pass.” Blacks critically injured in car accidents were left to bleed to death if there was no “black” ambulance to rush them to a “black” hospital. “White” hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.’

Truth be Told. Richard Goldstone, the former South African judge who headed the censorious inquiry into Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ operation in Gaza, conceded that in Israel, ‘there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute…’

The plight of those who live in Gaza and the West Bank is plainly different. Combating terrorism and maintaining security inevitably exact a high price. It cannot be denied that many Palestinians encounter hardship, privation, and indignity. But one might ask: Where is the sympathy and compassion for those who live in squalid camps in various Arab countries?

In Lebanon, for example, up to 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in dreadful social and economic conditions, many in overcrowded camps without essential utilities. They are effectively stateless. In 2001, the Lebanese parliament enacted legislation prohibiting Palestinians from owning property. The law also restricts their ability to work in several areas. While a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions was terminated – provided they obtained temporary work permits – more than 20 high-level professions are denied to Palestinians. Moreover, Palestinians are not eligible for social security benefits. They are subject also to discrimination in respect of housing, property ownership, inheritance rights, and freedom of movement and residence.


Where is the expression of outrage at these measures? Is Lebanon not an ‘apartheid state’? What about Syrian discrimination against Sunnis and Christians? Or its gulag of extermination camps in which thousands of political opponents are executed and tortured? Why is Israel singled out for censure and boycotts? Even in the case of Gaza and the West Bank it is mendacious and mischievous to describe Israeli policy as apartheid. Is the Israeli government really an ‘institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group?’

Despite the political challenges, Palestinian West Bankers are carving out a future characterized by enterprise and ingenuity embodied in such projects as Rawabi (Arabic روابي meaning “The Hills”). The first planned city built by Palestinians in the West Bank, Rawabi is hailed as a “Flagship Palestinian enterprise”.

Whatever traction its advocates seek to gain from the South African archetype, the argument actually undermines the Palestinian cause. If there is injustice, let us call it by its name. Simplistic sloganeering is unhelpful. It is no less so than in the increasingly fashionable designation of ‘Holocaust’ to instances of barbarity that, while plainly heinous, fall far short of the depravity of the Third Reich. There are, of course, all too many examples of egregious attempts at genocide around the world but they are usually confined to a single nation and spring from internecine tribal or religious divisions. The ‘final solution’ – the wholesale extermination of the Jews (not merely in one country, but across all of Europe) – stands alone as a paradigm of inhumanity and iniquity. Let it be.

It is no answer to assert that these usages are merely metaphorical. Metaphor often enriches language. But it may also debase. The capricious abuse of ‘apartheid’, along with ‘massacre’, ‘genocide’, and ‘occupation’, has lamentably become commonplace.

Factual and linguistic precision is more likely to generate solutions to intractable political problems. Reckless rhetoric may appeal to the demagogue; it has no place in the quest for peace and justice.

I have just discovered – thanks to Google maps – that Hendrik Verwoerd Drive has been renamed. It is now Bram Fischer Drive.

About the writer:

Raymond Wacks, Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory, graduated from Wits law school in 1969 having served on the Executive of the SRC and as President of the Law Students’ Council. He left South Africa in 1970 to pursue research at Oxford where he spent the next decade. In 1982 he returned to SA to take up the chair in public law at the University of Natal, Durban. Wacks is the author of fifteen books, several of which have been translated into more than a dozen languages on legal philosophy, privacy, and justice. He is also the co-author of five books, and editor of ten. His monograph, The Rule of Law Under Fire was published by Hart in 2021. Oxford University Press published the sixth edition of his Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory in 2021, as well as the third edition of Law: A Very Short Introduction which appeared earlier this year.

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).


What’s happening under the Netanyahu coalition has former South- Africans in Israel worried.

By Larry Butchins

We are under dire threat. Whether many people are ready to accept and believe or not, we are on the brink of becoming what all our detractors and enemies have claimed for decades – an apartheid state. With laws that call for discrimination against Arab Israelis – yes, when funds are held back from Arab communities, that is discrimination; when law makers on the right talk about “giving job preference” to Jews over Arabs, that is racism; when women are told to “cover up” and sit at the back of the bus, that is prejudice – whether we like it or not, and it doesn’t matter if that is “official policy” or not , it is this government which is enabling that type of thuggish, racist, discriminatory behavior. Empowering those who do believe it, to act it out.

I believe that as a former South African, who grew up and then lived under the apartheid regime all my life until making Aliyah, it is my moral duty to raise a red flag and wave it vigorously, to warn what could happen here. It is my moral duty to caution that while I have fervently defended Israel against those who condemn it as an apartheid state, we are rapidly heading in that direction, to hell in a handbasket, and I am horrified by that possibility.

Shades of Shame. Visual imagery of South Africa past that the writer never wanted to revisit elsewhere.

Allow me to hark back to the days of apartheid in South Africa, as a reminder of what life under doctrinaire and dogmatic rule, was really like back then.

One of my earliest memories of apartheid was when I was probably around 10-years-old. Late one night, my parents insisted I accompany my father to take our black maid Mavis to the central train station in Durban. I had to sit in front of the car and Mavis had to sit in the back seat. When on the drive home, I asked my father why I had to go with him, he replied that he had to have proof (me, his white little boy) that he and Mavis were not contravening the Immorality Act. Had he been stopped by the police, driving alone with a black woman, they both would have been arrested on charges under that “immoral” act. He would have copped a large fine (because he was white), and she would have been thrown in jail (because she was black), processed in the system, and not seen the light of day for weeks, possibly even months. I couldn’t quite internalize the message at that age, but it followed me the rest of my life in SA, always looking over my shoulder to check that the dreaded security service, BOSS (Bureau of State Security) wasn’t following me or checking everything I had written, said or done.

Disturbing Developments. At a change of command ceremony on Wednesday night, outgoing Binyamin Regional Brigade commander Eliav Elbaz, said in reference to increasing settler violence that “It should be said in a loud clear voice, that actions of this type are not ethical, not Jewish, and do not contribute to security.” (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

I will quote from a chapter of my book, “Train in the Distance” in which the protagonist, Adam Marks, a reporter on a weekly newspaper in the 1970s – the height of apartheid – laments about his so-called “privileged freedom”.

“Do you think I’m free?

“When I write and publish the word ‘Amandla (Freedom in Zulu) under my name in the columns of a widely circulated newspaper, do you believe that I will not be condemned for that? Do you not understand that I am putting my freedom – and the welfare of my family – at risk? I cannot express my opinions freely, I cannot associate with whom I please: if I wish to invite Black friends to my home for dinner, I will be watched and under suspicion. If I meet Black friends for a day at the beach…well, that’s not going to happen, because we can’t even go to the same beach! I cannot even meet them for a picnic in a public park – unless my Black friends are seen to be my servants – haulers of wood and drawers of water for my benefit.

“Do you not understand that I cannot read, or view or listen to what I want? If I wish to read ‘The Communist Manifesto’, or ‘Lolita’, or ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, or hundreds of other banned books, magazines; or see certain films; listen to music by certain musicians – can you believe Maria Callas singing Lucia di Lammermoor fell under the censors obliterating red pencil? Fats Domino, The Beatles, Rodriguez…how many more?

“Radical new ideas, by writers, artists, musicians and committed, passionate people, are influencing and shaping dynamic new thinking throughout the world…and here we sit, under the yolk of an evil system with evil intent, all because of our ‘privilege’.

“I am not free; my ideas are not free; my life is not free – despite all my privileges, I am still a white victim of apartheid. YOU are white victims of apartheid; and I don’t know when or if it is ever going to end…”

Separate entrances in post offices and banks, stairwells in train stations, trains reserved for different races; busses – those which allowed blacks on board in the first place, insisting they sat at the back – the last three rows reserved for blacks; Christian National Education – indoctrination of school children about the “right” of the white man to conquer the land and confine others to “homelands” or “locations”; the imposition of the morals and religious authority over what we could read, or view, or listen to, or even discuss…

Back of the Bus. Some of the hundreds of Israelis demonstrating against the segregation of men and women on buses in certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem, where the women must sit in the back. (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

I could write volumes on the apartheid regime, its beginnings, middle and end… and how White South Africans enjoyed a multitude of benefits, lifestyle choices and preferential treatment. About how the Afrikaner-led government set itself up as the highest authority in the land – except for the Supreme Court and a group of courageous justices. Despite virulent government opposition, criticism and the possibility of arrest, banning orders, 90- or 180-days imprisonment, they were a light of sanity in a very dark nation.

Under the General Law Amendment Act, the Special Branch was allowed to arrest anyone they suspected of being engaged or involved in any act against the State and to hold them incommunicado for 90 days (and later 180 days) at a time. The Special Branch could interrogate and extract information, and the public was not entitled to any information including even the identity or whereabouts of people being detained. Detainees could literally and effectively “disappear”. If no charges were to be laid, the Special Branch had to release the individual or individuals after 90 (or 180) days. At the time, Prime Minister John Vorster boasted that this was repeatable “until this side of eternity.” A perfect example of the absolute need for an authority higher than the government.[1]

Am I suggesting that bleak Kafkaesque scenario could happen here in Israel? Not exactly, but there are certain resonant and frightening parallels. I do believe that former South Africans, those who came to this beautiful land of ours to flee discrimination and mind control, who came here to a democratic homeland; who came to work for and build a beacon of freedom and enlightenment – albeit somewhat flawed – should now stand up and cry out:

 “We are NOT an apartheid country – and NEVER WILL BE: IT CANNOT HAPPEN.”

[1] South Africa, Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy – Detentions Without Trial During the Apartheid Era

About the Writer:

Larry Butchins – I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and started my journalistic career as a cub reporter on Durban’s morning newspaper, The Natal Mercury, covering fires, accidents, shipping and beach news. I then moved to the Sunday Tribune’s Johannesburg branch office, covering everything from visiting celebrities to political scandals and student anti-apartheid riots. At a protest at Wits University, I was arrested along with student protesters and spent the weekend in a cell in Johannesburg’s notorious John Vorster Square.

Eventually lured into Public Relations, I opened my own PR firm in Durban. On moving to Israel with my family in 1987, I branched from classical PR into Marketing Communication, running a small English-language agency promoting Israeli products abroad, working with Israeli hi-tech enterprises. Five years ago, I self-published my novel Train in the Distance based on my actual experiences as a journalist working under (and often against) apartheid’s rules and regulations.

In addition to professional writing, I write articles and stories, travel blogs – The Offbeat Traveller – and children’s books, two of which have been published in the US and South Africa. I am now entering my third career as a screenwriter and producer for an international TV series based on my novel.

My wife, Marlyn, and I live in Tzur Yitzhak , north of Kfar Saba; have three grown children and four  grandchildren who all live in Mitzpe Ramon.

Contact Details:


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).


Top Jewish Day school in South Africa’s “Mother City” targeted by politicians

By David E. Kaplan

The picturesque backdrop to the Cape Town Jewish community’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’ –  Herzlia School – is the  iconic  exquisite Table Mountain. The latest media backdrop to this ‘gem’ is anything but “exquisite”.

High and Low. A member of the EFF in the Western Cape Legislature has called for the deregistration of Herzlia School (entrance seen here) charging that it is a “feeder for South African Zionists joining the IDF”. (Herzlia High/Facebook).

How can it be otherwise when antisemitism casts its dark show on the country’s Mother City, resting on a school, a Jewish school!

Shame on the Western Cape Legislature that a member should feel so emboldened to call for the de-registration of a school – for being Jewish!

Whatever such practical implications this would suggest, it sends a familiar message to Jews.

Cape Town to Cairo via Israel. A former member of Knesset, advisor to the late President Shimon Peres and Deputy Ambassador at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, this alumnus of Herzlia School, Cape Town, Ruth Wasserman Lande is currently chairperson of the Women’s Impact Forum at the World Jewish Congress.

Disregarding and disrespecting the School’s excellence and its proud history in being a feeder to the University of Cape Town (UCT), it  ignores a long line of illustrious alumni enriching humanity both in South Africa and across the world. Such notables from judges, poets, artists and leaders in industry and the sciences  include Ephraim Mirvis who is presently the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Michael Hayden, Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine and best known for his research in Huntington disease and Israeli diplomat, Ruth Wasserman Lande who was a member of the 23 Knesset had served previously at the Israeli Embassy in Egypt as well as serving as an advisor to President Shimon Peres.

Rabbi and the Prince. An alumnus of Herzlia School, Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis (left) with then Britain’s Prince Charles, now King Charles III at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Jan. 23, 2020 (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP, file)

Dismissing the phenomenal  achievement of the school enjoying a 100% pass rate, the motivation  behind the call of the member of the third largest political party in South Africa – the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) – to de-register the school is its Jewishness embodied in its love for Israel – the national homeland of the Jewish people.

It’s a love that goes back in time to well over a century.

The hate that drives those supporting the deregistration of Herzlia School goes back a lot longer – 2000 years!

The love of Jews in South Africa for a Jewish state preceded its establishment in 1948 by half a century. It even preceded the establishment of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the ANC  – established in 1912 – when in 1896, the first members of Hibbat ZionHovevei Zion Society was formed in South Africa and a resolution establishing the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) was passed in 1898. That was one year after the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. An enriching offspring of this movement is Cape Town’s Herzlia School established in 1940, that has above its entrance gate, the prophetic words of Theodore Herzl, after whom the school is named:

If you will it, it is no dream”.

It is a dream that took 2000 since the exile under the Romans to come to fruition and it’s a monumental achievement that some South African politicians in the ruling ANC and the those in the EFF would like to see destroyed. Unable to build themselves, they chose instead to destroy the work of others.

In support for her calling for Herzlia School to be de-registered, EFF MPL Aisha Cassiem said during a debate in the Western Cape Legislature:

It is insulting for the DA [Democratic Alliance] provincial government to condemn the war in Ukraine but do nothing with regard to this school [Herzliya School ] which is aligned to the apartheid state of Israel and encouraging learners to partake in apartheid.”

Gunning for Jews. Undaunted by the danger to Jews her rhetoric could cause,  MPL Aisha Cassiem called upon Education MEC David Maynier to deregister Herzlia School as he had, according to her, the power to do so.

There may well be not another school in South Africa that its students while at school and thereafter, stood out as vocal opponents of Apartheid.

It may well be true that there is “no need for concern” as expressed by the South African Board of Deputies (SAJBOD) in its press release:

By now you are aware of an article which has appeared in the Cape Argus calling for the deregistration of Herzlia High School. This article has also been shared on a variety of social media

Rest assured, the school is in no danger of being deregistered. It was tabled for discussion last week Thursday during a Western Cape Legislature meeting where this outrageous proposal was unequivocally rejected.

Obviously these reprehensible claims against the school have no substance and there is no need for concern. The Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies is in constant communication with Herzlia leadership and will continue to monitor the situation. ”

Adrienne  Jacobson
Chairperson, Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies

Herzlia School’s proud badge

However “outrageous” the proposal so described so as not to cause concern, the public rhetoric of political leaders in South Africa today like Aisha Cassiem is false, dangerous and highly inflammatory that could so easy lead to physical violence on Jews.

Seduced by the parlance of the likes of EFF’s Cassiem, potential perpetrators of violence could so easily believe they would enjoy official approval. This is a familiar plot and script for Jews well versed in their history.

There is more than the electrical outages or loadshedding darkening South Africa today. Contributing  to South Africa’s ‘Dark Ages” are its politicians and when they resort to antisemitism, the writing is on the wall or in this case, on the slopes of Table Mountain!

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).


Young South African woman on a mission to Israel

By Jonathan Feldstein

If she were a Biblical character, she would be the Queen of Sheba: an influencer, and a strong and inspiring leader looking to build alliances, to learn, to grow, and to bring better to the world. Coming from the tip of southern Africa, she is a tip of the growing movement across Africa to repair and restore relations with Israel and the Jewish people. She is also a popular media personality and author for whom her Christian faith is interwoven in everything she does.

Major Personality. Media personality and author Major Daughter from South Africa. (courtesy)

A decade ago, Major Daughter was given a vision for the imperative to restore ties with Israel as a pillar of Africa to correct the curse resulting from most of the continent breaking ties with Israel decades earlier.  While she is not a formal educator, she knows that education is the key.  Africans need to be educated to the reality that Israel is, Israel’s long-standing history in Africa, and to break the stereotypes of perpetual misinformation that, at best, is ill-informed.  But in recent decades ‘ill-informed’ has become disinformation, even with malice and lies. 

Much of the lies and disinformation emanates from the country of her birth – South Africa. It is something about which she is passionate about fixing, one by one.  And that’s the nature of the unique trip she is leading to Israel, and her appeal to Israelis to join the movement.

On June 26, dozens of business, civic, academic, and religious leaders along with noted media personalities will be participating in a special event that gives voice to her vision. While coming from around the world, the Leadership Summit and Tour will start in Egypt, the northeastern corner of Africa, symbolically building a bridge between Israel and Africa. It will trace the route of the Exodus of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom, and as a reminder of God’s providence thousands of years ago, demonstrating His might at the time in contrast to that of the then, world superpower. It will culminate in bringing the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

Now, as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel with the birth of the State of Israel, she leads a group of Africans and others to learn, grow, be inspired, and to build alliances. Just like the Queen of Sheba.

Many initiatives exist to build relationships between Africa and Israel. While there are several notable holdouts – including Major Daughter’s native South Africa leading a charge against Israel in the expansive continent. In recent decades, many African nations have gone out of their way to forge their own mutually beneficial relations with Israel.  One thing that differentiates this effort is that it is faith based, but not only based on faith leaders. For that reason, Major is looking for Israelis to join the Summit on June 29 for a day of intense conversations, and networking.  She says:

Israelis should come out (to participate) because Africans are coming to learn, more than just networking, but to form partnerships. Israeli Jews should come out to be part of it, to support this global conversation, and how we can turn the tide.  We want to see what can be done to make progress. Let’s not talk about the darkness of the past, we want to shine a light on the future.”

In a recent conversation on the Inspiration from Zion podcast, Major Daughter affirms that much of Africa is suffering the cumulative consequence of cursing Israel and is eager to change the course.  Part of the “correcting the curse” is exposing Africans to the reality of Israel. Many think that Israel is an endless war zone, impossible to live within safely, much less thrive and prosper. The notion that there are people who don’t understand this, how Israel is truly a shining example for all, is astounding.  She expects that the Leadership Summit and Tour will open their eyes, and then the eyes of many more back at home thereafter.  Many also don’t realize that Israel is also a thriving democracy, for all its citizens. She decries the “Apartheid” label that was disingenuously branded on Israel in her own country, along with the scourge of BDS. Africans know the truth. They will see it first-hand. 

The Summit will take place at Jerusalem’s Ramada hotel.  Israelis are invited to register to attend the full day of programs, meals, coffee breaks, and forge their own relationships among the Summit’s diverse participants for only $50.


Striking another Biblical analogy, Major is clear that supporting Israel and building bridges is neither a one-way street nor exclusive to having positive relations with the Arab and Moslem world. Some think that supporting Israel is mutually exclusive to supporting Arabs, that Arabs and Jews are destined to be enemies, and that you can only support one. 

The opposite is true,” says Major and avers that because Jews and Arabs are related, “people can and must support both.” 

Hers is a refreshing voice of intelligence, faith, and inspiration, and all participating are in store for something unique and remarkable, and will go a long way in advancing the cause of why she believes visiting Israel is something that everyone has to do.

When King Solomon in ancient times was visited by the Queen of Sheba, she brought gifts of gold, frankincense and spices; this ‘Daughter’ of Africa will bring energy, inspiration and understanding to build bridges and alliances of the future.


For information and to register for the Leadership Summit, please visit this site.  

About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall,, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.

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).


Can the South African experience be a guiding force? It could and should

By Ostern Tefo

Several anti-Israel activists, including BDS (Boycott Divest Sanctions) and others, boldly assert that Israel is an Apartheid state, when such allegations could not be further from the truth. Misguidedly, this has led to a South African foreign policy exclusively geared to favour one side – Palestine. As a result of erroneous perceptions, this has created a complex and divisive viewpoint.

Ruling oppressively in Gaza, Hamas has no interest in achieving peace in the sense of parties arriving at a mutually agreeable consensus. This not in its DNA. As long as this remains the case, the predicament of the Palestinian community must be regarded as the product of both Hamas’ rule over Palestinians in Gaza as well as the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Conflicts can be resolved if both parties are willing to do so. The latter is well illustrated by the success of the South African liberation struggle which resulted in a successfully negotiated settlement that birthed democracy and above all, “peace and reconciliation”.

Raucous Road. A protest against Israel in South Africa in 2021. Are these the voices that shape South Africa’s foreign policy?
(AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

Israel has repeatedly attempted to initiate peace negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, but each time has been violently rebuffed. It would be inaccurate to compare the struggle for democracy in South Africa to the Palestinian struggle for independence. They are not remotely comparable. To say that “Israel is an Apartheid state” solely in an effort to delegitimize Israel, ends up delegitimizing the definition of Apartheid. It is an abuse of the word and hence an abuse of the people who suffered under Apartheid.

It is critical for a number of reasons that South Africa not only maintains but strengthens its diplomatic relations with Israel. South Africa is on its knees with:

– its rolling blackouts

– the world’s highest unemployment rate

– poor access to healthcare

– grey listing

– a murder rate that is higher than the death toll in Ukraine at present.

All this, when my country, South Africa, could greatly benefit from Israel’s rapidly expanding entrepreneurial economy with its emphasis on hi-tech innovation. South Africa could profit from a number of Israeli solutions which is presently being used to solve problems in much of African.

So, why not South Africa?

Take the South African healthcare system for starters, which is in tatters and compare it to Israel’s superlative National Healthcare System. There is no comparison!

Cultivated Hate. The venom by some in the South Africa Muslim community against Israel that influences the ANC today began years ago as seen in this protest against the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Every resident across Israel, whether in cities or small towns in the countryside is insured for quality healthcare under their National Health Insurance Law. While South African health care accessibility remains poor in rural areas and there are problems retaining physicians in the public system, surely South Africa could learn from the Israeli system.

Then there is Israel’s drip irrigation technology popular in much of Africa. Tailormade for dry terrain or lands plagued by unreliable water resources, the Israeli system allows villages to grow more food with less water, which not only dramatically improves food security but also economic development and financial independence. Israel, a far more desert country than South Africa with much less rainfall, is now water independent. South Africa should welcome the Israelis instead of driving them away!

A Light unto the Nations. Israeli engineering students from Tel Aviv University (TAU) bring solar power to a remote Tanzanian medical clinic, as part of their ongoing work in the village. (Photo via Facebook)

In terms of “loadshedding”, our all-consuming national catastrophe  of widespread national blackouts of electricity supply that began in 2007 and is worse today in 2023, why not speak to the Israelis who have revolutionised solar power and energy?

Instead of the South African parliament dumbly voting this March 2023 to downgrade ties with Israel, it should be doing the opposite. It should be strengthening not destroying ties!

Sad ‘State’ of Affairs. At a time when many African and Muslim countries are strengthening and deepening ties with the State of Israel for the benefit of everyone’s common interests, South Africa does the opposite as exhibited in its House of Parliament in Cape Town when it voted to downgrade its ties with the Jewish state.

Ultimately, we have to come to terms with the fact that Israel  cannot be prejudiced for defending its sovereign policies and the interests of its people, and Palestine must take responsibility for the attacks on Israel carried out by Hamas and other extremists. South Africa’s refusal to maintain full diplomatic relations with Israel motivated solely by the conflict, exposes its bias and prejudice because Palestine also commits a fair share of unprovoked aggressions against Israel.

To preserve the true legacy of the South African experience of reconciliation and share it with others that they too can benefit,  South Africa’s foreign policy should be consistent, and above all, its leaders need to display impartiality and non be biased.

‘Tapping’ into Israeli Ingenuity. Israeli Sivan Yaari of INNOVATION:AFRICA opens taps of clean water for the first time in this remote part of Tanzania. Innovation:Africa has completed over 880 solar and water installations, impacting over 4.2 million people (photo credit: INNOVATION:AFRICA)

Since COVID-19 broke out, the South African economy has continued to contract. In contrast, Israel’s economy is still expanding.

We have much to learn and gain by deepening our relations with Israel. South Africa stands to gain far more from a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel than Israel does and yet, we behave abysmally towards Israel.  All to our detriment and suffering of our people.

Switched On Tanzania. An ‘illuminating’ lesson for South Africa – Nkaiti Medical Center is lit up at night for the very first time thanks to Israeli engineering students. (Photo via Facebook)

In essence, one cannot dismantle the fact that the benefits of the association outweigh the costs. Thus, it would be in the best interest of the South African to restore full relations with Israel and encourage partnerships to the mutual benefit of South African and Israelis.

About the writer:

Ostern Tefo has a BA in Political Studies and International relations and is currently studying for his LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. He serves as a coordinator at ‘Africans for Peace’, a collective of independent students, scholars and activists who bring an African lens to the global debate on peace and stability on the African continent.

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 reputation of tough and tenacious, SA Rugby loses its spine

By Lennie Lurie

In an unprecedented vote on the 6th November 1962,  uniting nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, condemning South African Apartheid policies and called for the imposition of economic sanctions on South Africa. While nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom were at first reluctant to impose sanctions, by the late 1980s, both countries and 23 other nations had passed laws placing various trade sanctions on South Africa.

An immediate arms embargo was followed by a trade embargo which played havoc with the burgeoning vehicle production factories in the eastern Cape province. Despite the large numbers of black employees who were dismissed as a result of production cut backs, they heartily approved of the economic sanctions even though their income was grievously affected. Anything which would contribute to the removal of the cruel, wicked and  humiliating racial policies of Apartheid was encouraged and the black workers were prepared to bear the load of the economic boycott as it affected them as well.

When it was realised that the SA Government was not bending under the economic boycott, a cultural boycott was imposed on the Republic. No foreign entertainers and singers visited SA and no South Africans performers would be welcome overseas. The iconic and celebrated SA singer of authentic African music, Miriam Makeba, who gained international fame with her popular “click” song, wholly supported the cultural boycott, which made a strong impression on South African artists and entertainers.

Miriam Makeba – Click Song (Qongqothwane) (Live)

Here again, the resolute and determined SA government remained steadfast in the maintenance and implementation of the Apartheid system.

Finally, it was decided to impose a sport boycott on all South African sportsmen and women preventing the proud ‘Springbok’ teams – notably in rugby and cricket – from competing abroad as well as officially banning any overseas countries and foreign sports team from touring South Africa. And this, dear friends, was the final straw which broke the back of the Apartheid system!

Economic sanctions against South Africa placed a significant pressure on the SA government. The cultural boycott made SA unwelcome overseas and isolated the country from foreign entertainers and performers. The real fear that the Springboks would no longer compete against the sports teams of other countries proved to be a hardship (particularly on the rugby field!) that even the most fervent white nationalist could bear.

In 1990, President Frederik Willem (F.W.) de Klerk recognized the economic unsustainability of the burden of international sanctions and felt the isolation of his country in all aspects of culture and sport. Reluctantly but finally and unreservedly, he released the nationalist leader Nelson Mandela and unbanned the African National Congress (ANC) that Mandela led. De Klerk and Mandela together guided the country to democratic elections in 1994, with Mandela as president. When Mandela was asked if the sanctions, especially the sports boycott, helped to bring an end to the apartheid system, Mandela replied “Oh, there is no doubt!”

Can’t take the Heat. While players from Israeli rugby team ‘Tel Aviv Heat’ are seen here in London celebrating a victory in November 2022, they will not be seen in South Africa this March after their invitation to compete was withdrawn by the SA Rugby Union following pressure from the BDS coalition.

Who can ever forget the emotional scene when Nelson Mandela congratulated the Springbok rugby captain, Francois Pienaar on winning the 1995 World Rugby Cup in Ellis Park. Rugby was as dear to Mandela as any white South African rugger lover – he never forgot the pressure of the international sports boycott on his country and how it contributed in breaking the vile and contemptible Apartheid system.

True Colours. Disinviting Israeli rugby team to participate in South Africa in 2023 is a far cry from the outreach projected by President Nelson Mandela and Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar at the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup.

In light of the above historical review of the sports boycott on South Africa, it is therefore most surprising and deeply disappointing to read that the South African Rugby Union (SARU), had on the 3rd February, 2023, rescinded its invitation, given in August, 2022, to have the Israeli rugby team Tel Aviv Heat compete in the 2023 Mzansi Challenge tournament – also known as the Currie Cup First Division, which is scheduled to start on the 24th March with teams from Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe and six SA provinces.     

The Tel Aviv Heat team includes a number of South Africans and its coach, Kevin Musikanth, was born in South Africa.

Happier Days. Launched as Israel’s first professional rugby team in July 2021, Tel Aviv Heat is seen here celebrating a post-match at Loftus Versfeld at the end of a magical South African Tour hosted by the Blue Bulls in 2022.

The SARU President Mark Alexander stated that it had “listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups” and took the step “to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division.” A more accurate and honest reason being that the SARU bowed under pressure and alleged threats from supporters of the South African BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanction) Coalition.

Shameful Withdrawal. Under pressure, Mark Alexander SA Rugby president rescinds invitation to Israeli team, Tel Aviv Heat.

This cowardly and shameful volte-face decision by the SARU is not only insulting to the Israeli Tel Aviv Heat rugby team but it is a despicable slap-in-the-face to the sporting image of South Africa which knows only too well the historical background of imposing a sports boycott on a fellow sporting nation or team. To comprehend that the all-powerful SARU has cowardly kowtowed to insidious pressures and / or threats of the SA BDS Coalition, an anti-Israeli group of South Africans who are known as talkers, not doers, is all the more pathetic. It is indeed a sad day when South African rugby has lost its independence, objectivity and neutrality in matters relating to sport and becomes a spineless puppet manipulated by an anti-Semitic group, simply pulling on distant strings!

Let SARU bow its head in shame in stooping so low as to callously affront the proud and heroic image of that South African leader, known to all his friends as ‘Madiba’, who had the courage to welcome and support a sport boycott as a means of exerting pressure on a government that oppressed his people under the scourge of Apartheid.

Not long ago, the University of Cape Town, again under pressure from BDS student supporters, decided to impose a boycott on all Israeli universities and colleges. UCT soon realized that it had more to lose than gain by such an ill-advised and self-defeating act and promptly withdrew its boycott threat after it was inundated by letters from former students informing the UCT council that they would discontinue all financial aid should UCT enact the boycott. Frankly, UCT could be in greater need of ground breaking Israeli academic discoveries and inventions than vice versa!

Thumbs Up to Thumbs Down. Israel’s SA-born rugby coach Kevin Musikanth who helped get together Israel and the UAE to play a historic match for the Sons of Abraham trophy got the thumbs down for his Tel Aviv team the ‘Tel Aviv Heat’ to compete in his native South Africa.

Likewise, SARU has already lost face in the eyes of many Israelis and probably Israeli supporters world-wide. Making excuses about “competition becoming a source of division” when it is well-known that the BDS threat was the real reason, places SARU as a pathetic and weak-willed organization, susceptible to the crudest form of verbal pressure.

Even the image of the proud Springbok emblem has been irrevocably tarnished and sullied by the cowardly collapse of SARU.

One can only exclaim: How the mighty have fallen!

About the writer:

A B.Sc. graduate in Economics and Geology from the University of Cape Town (UCT), Lennie may be the only volunteer from abroad who was granted permission to leave his group on kibbutz during the 1967 Six Day War to rejoin his paratroop brigade that he had served with years before following his matriculation in Cape Town. In Israel, Lennie has worked as an Export Manager for some of the country’s major food manufacturers and chemical companies as well as an independent consultant in Export Marketing guiding many small Israeli businesses to sell their products and services in the world-wide market. As a result of a work accident in 1995, Lennie made a career change and became an independent English teacher working mainly with hi-tech companies and associated with universities and colleges in the north of Israel.

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


ANC government repeatedly alienates partners for development in South Africa

By Pamela Ngubane

In a heart-warming series of events, Israel has repeatedly displayed its commitment to continue growing its ties in Africa. This follows the announcement by Chadian President, Mahamat Deby, that his country would open an embassy in Israel.

The Chadian leader travelled to Israel to officiate the inauguration of the embassy in Ramat Gan in early February. Deby cited that Chad and Israel were at a decisive turning point in their relationship, during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem that week. This followed waves of peace talks in the Middle East and Northern Africa, which have resulted in a remarkable increase in economic cooperation between Israel and other states.

Back to Africa. “We believe that our co-operation can help not only advance our relations and our co-operation, but it is also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel,” said Chadian President Mahamat Idriss who is seen here meeting with Israel’s State President, Isaac Herzog following the opening of the Chadian Embassy in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv.

Deby was welcomed in Israel with great diplomatic fanfare by President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for the opening of the Chadian embassy. At the time, Prime Minister Netanyahu reported that this would form part of a tremendously important relationship with a major country in the heart of Africa.

The news of Chad formalising its diplomatic ties to Israel were followed closely by reports that Israel and Sudan would sign a “historic peace agreement” in Washington in a few months’ time, indicating an irrefutable move to promote peace, dialogue and increase economic cooperation between Africa and Israel in 2023.

The Sudanese agreement is particularly noteworthy because it overturns the Khartoum Resolution of 1967, which was issued at the conclusion of the 1967 Arab League summit, convened in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in the wake of the Six-Day War. The resolution is infamous for containing what became known as the “Three Nos”:

“no peace with Israel”

“no recognition of Israel”

“no negotiations with it”

This has been comprehensively shattered this year and replaced with three Yes’s for peace.

‘Power’ to the People. Children in Iringa, Uganda, where the Israeli nonprofit organization, Innovation Africa connected a clinic to electricity via solar power, December 21, 2019. (Sue Surke/Times of Israel)

Countries in Africa and the Middle East continue to welcome Israeli technology and innovation through these historical peace agreements and talks. This is an unsurprising fact, given that Israeli solar technology now provides a stable water supply to over 3.5 million people in Africa, and to over half a million people in South Africa as well.

One would be forgiven for imagining that these developments would encourage South Africa’s national government to adopt foreign policies which would aim to promote Israel in our country as a partner for our continued development and basic service infrastructure. And yet, here we are, completely disengaged from reality. Our Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, won’t pick sides when it comes to Russia and the war it has waged on innocent civilians in Ukraine! However, when it comes to Israel, it’s always been a hard no. Why? Because Israel offers the ANC government (currently polling below 50%) with the only straw of relevance they have left to the South African electorate. And even then, it is entirely misguided and based on a narrative that has never served Palestinians or Israelis at all.

Impacting Millions. Since its inception in 2008, Israeli company ‘Innovation Africa’ with its solar and water installations, impacts millions across 10 African countries Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, eSwatini, Ethiopia and Senegal.

South Africans have been called to categorically reject the appropriation of the suffering of black people under colonisation; and Apartheid by the enemies of Israel as a tool to de-legitimise the Jewish state. This has been communicated on a number of occasions by several stakeholders, including the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, as well as Stand With Us.

The Holy Land of Israel remains the ancestral and indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. The return en masse of Jews throughout the world to re-establish their state two thousand years of exile and statelessness, is the legitimate and legal expression of the Jewish people’s struggle for national self-determination.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and is home to a multicultural society where the rights of all religions, minorities, ethnicities and beliefs are protected and promoted. It is the only country in the Middle East where the population of Christians is growing and has a number of holy sites which are critically relevant to Christians and their faith.

Skewed Foreign Policy. While quick to condemn Israel at every opportunity, Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine that is claiming thousands of innocent lives. Reinforcing the two country’s friendship, Pandor is seen here welcoming her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks in Pretoria. This February 2023, joint “war games” military exercises with Russia and China were held in South Africa.

And yet – the ANC continues to feel threatened by Israel’s growing ties in Africa. So much so, that our national government shamelessly allows the narrative of an “Apartheid state” to consume all conversations about Israel in our country.

South Africa’s foreign policy between Israel and the Palestinians should take a de-hyphenated approach if we are to contribute meaningfully to securing peace for the people living in both territories during our lifetime. This will ensure that South Africans continue to access the best that Israel has to offer, while creating a safe space for the difficult conversations that need to take place to address the senseless violence and suffering that has destroyed families across both borders to date.

At this rate, we need to start asking ourselves, as South Africans, some hard questions. Has the ANC government been captured by the BDS movement? And is BDS dictating our foreign policy to our public representatives?

About the writer:

A Social Science Honours graduate, Pamela Ngubane is a history teacher who was appointed as the Spokesperson of SAFI (South African Friends of Israel)

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