To my Breslov and Balfour Brothers and Sisters

….And to all brethren who prioritize acting upon their beliefs and desires at the risk of spreading COVID-19 by flouting the regulations

(Courtesy of the Times of Israel blog)

By Richard Shavei-Tzion

I feel your pain!

Having to desist from the sacred acts which you have been performing zealously for decades and which define your lives, seems intolerable.

Passion is a potent component of the human experience. Without it, there would be no oomph to life. It is the catalyst for great love and joy, spirituality and depth, but it can drive hatred and war, destruction and death. None of us have the monopoly on fervour. We do not share Muslim and Christian beliefs, but we can agree that their adherents are as ardent as us in their devotion. Yet this year St. Paul’s Square, the Catholic Holy of Holies, stood empty through Easter as the Pope conducted virtual video services. The Hajj in Mecca was performed by 1,000 symbolic pilgrims rather than the regular two million worshipers.

My Breslov brothers, we have something in common. For many years, we have met at the airport as I too set out annually to far off lands for the High Holidays, to sing the melodies and invoke the magnificent liturgy which has become wrapped around my soul. I will sorely miss this pilgrimage of sorts, made all the more painful by our local rabbi’s judicious decision to strip our services of much of its sublime poetry. While I cannot comprehend the spiritual value of the Rabbi Nachman experience, ordinarily I would defend your right to participate in this ritual as long as it did not impinge on the freedom and safety of others.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray close to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the Ukrainian city of Uman. (File photo: Reuters/Konstantin Chernichkin)

As for my brothers and sisters who gather en mass every Saturday night outside the Prime Minister’s house in Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, I admire your commitment. While I am not a great proponent of taking to the streets, I do support your fundamental democratic right to protest and commend your efforts in pursuit of your political principles.

However there are times when we are faced with the competing right to personal freedom and the societal need for order and control. We must all sacrifice one for the other to a degree. Without balances, we can have no liberty to pursue our dreams, mutual and personal.  There are times when matters of life and death, tilt the scales, when sacrosanct individual privilege is outweighed by the right to personal safety, to the protection of life itself. It is our communal misfortune to be living in such times, when the gathering of multitudes has become the seed of suffering and death.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, June 27, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While there are those who claimed at the beginning of the pandemic that they had the “Ear of God” who said that “He would protect the pious”, it turns out that God’s word got lost in the translation. Finally, now that many of the pious of all religions have been stricken by the plague, we must accept what Paul Simon has known for decades. “God only knows, God makes his plan. The information’s unavailable to the mortal man.” (Slip Slidin’ Away.)

As for our Balfourites, you will agree that actualizing your license to protest thereby exposing thousands of heavy breathers to contact with one another has not managed to tilt the balance of power an iota. In addition, perhaps gathering outdoors reduces risk but it does not eliminate it.

So many people have sacrificed so much in compliance with the harsh decrees imposed upon us. If there is great disappointment in being deprived of a seminal once-a-week or annual event, consider the anguish young couples have experienced as their once-in-a-lifetime wedding dreams have been shattered. (That is of course unless you are related to the Belz Rebbe or an insider in the celeb scene in Tel Aviv or family of an important hamula.) Think of the heartache of parents, siblings and offspring who this year on Remembrance Day, with great, silent forbearance, forfeited their holy right to visit the graves of their loved ones who have fallen in the defense of our nation, in order to protect us all.

For the first time since Israel’s founding, military cemeteries on Israel’s 2020 Memorial Day to the country’s war dead were blocked off due to Covid-19 with people asked to pay their respects in private. Seen here  was the normally busy market in Jerusalem during the sound of the siren.

Representatives of both your camps point fingers at each other, reminding us of the other side’s transgressions. Please understand, not only do two wrongs not make a right, they also make fertile ground for disease and hardship.  This is not the time to assert one’s claims to freedom of individual expression based on the other’s wrongdoing. This is the moment for cooperation and compromise in a cause that unites us all.

“One Voice” A Gift to Israel. A first-of-its-kind video 15 Choirs from around the world sing “Oseh Shalom” in honor of the State of Israel’s 70th Anniversary. Music: Roman Grinberg. Concept and production: Richard Shavei-Tzion

Imagine the impact you Breslovers would make by declaring that you were ceding your holy experience, just this once, in favor of the safety of the House of Israel. Consider the Kiddush HashemPikuach Nefesh and Or Lagoyim, three of the loftiest Jewish principles achieved by one act of Loving Kindness.

I believe Rabbi Nachman would agree.  

Think of the material support you would accrue for your heartfelt cause if you Balfourites announced that henceforth your protests would be implemented through social media rather than on the streets, in order to ensure the wellbeing of the thousands of attendees and by extension, every citizen in the country.

What a great paradigm of leadership and unity you would all display. How many healthy souls and hearts could you win over to your great causes?

Gratitude in the Corona Age. 60 People share their gratitude for special moments and to special people

Our decrepit leaders have raised the “Divide and Rule” maxim to a new level. Defy them.

Think bigger than the confines of your communes to our greater commonality and we will all be blessed.

[The author has been traveling for many years to serve communities in the Diaspora over the High Holidays]


You’ll Never Walk Alone. The Ramatayim Men’s Choir, Jerusalem sends a blessing in this time of Carona



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Richard Shavei-Tzion is a widely published poet and is the author of “Poetry in the Parasha” and the Prayer for the Preservation of the Environment. His occasional articles on human and Jewish topics have been published around the Jewish world and his photographic images have been displayed in solo and group exhibitions Richard is the director of the Ramatayim Men’s Choir. He manages commercial property and a medical center in Jerusalem.


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

“Beverly Hills, 90210” in 2020

Women Building businesses while building Israel

By Gina Raphael

The economic impact of the global pandemic has been felt all around the world, including in one of the most famous retail mecca’s in the world – Beverly Hills. Thanks to a resourceful solution that improves business with an altruistic twist, many will benefit.

As Chair of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) for Los Angeles, my focus during this most difficult time of COVID 19 has been raising funds to help WIZO projects in Israel, benefitting women and children. While our goals are fundraising for Israel, we have felt a commitment to our “Chaverot” (friends) at home, as we work on behalf of the State of Israel.

Mrs. Rebecca Sieff
Dr. Vera Weizmann

In 1920, WIZO was founded. Two of the founders included Dr. Vera Weizmann, whose husband Dr. Chaim Weizmann was the first President of Israel and Rebecca Sieff, who served as WIZO’s first President and whose family owned Marks & Spencer.  They held the belief that to enable women to realize their full potential and take part in the building of a national homeland, they must be taught to use modern technologies. A framework for women’s vocational training had to be established. An independent women’s organization would enable women to develop their organizational talents and professional skills. They believed that a separate organization would further this aim.

For a century, WIZO has been helping to raise a nation as the largest social services provider outside of the government with day care centers, youth villages, shelters for battered women, girl’s leadership programs, vocational training, senior centers and so much more. WIZO USA has also assumed responsibility for the Eli & Marion Wiesel Beit Tziporah Centers in Israel, primarily focused on assisting youth of Ethiopian descent with after school and summer programmes to progress academically.

Paving the way for Tomorrow by Catering to the Needs Today. A WIZO Day Care Center in Israel (WIZO archives)

Today, WIZO has 250,000 volunteers across the globe, with over 54 Federations committed to each other and to projects in Israel. In Los Angeles, we have “committed ourselves to empowering women at home as we work to empower women in Israel.”

Under the leadership of Lauren Cohen, a Career and Executive Coach, WIZO launched this Summer, our Women for Israel Forum this Summer. The Forum serves as a community of women who network with each other to build their businesses while committing to a minimum gift to Israel. The price is nominal $18 a month or $180 a year and includes a range of marketing opportunities. The Forum has almost 50 members that include art dealers, attorneys, medical professionals, and chefs. Women are at various stages of their careers and have agreed to mentor and connect, bringing forward a new generation while ensuring new avenues for all.

While the Forum is a significant priority for WIZO Los Angeles, we felt the imperative to take our efforts to the next level. With most famous retail zip code in the world, 90210 is faced with empty storefronts.  WIZO Los Angeles is seeking a higher level of commitment from our Beverly Hills community while helping Israel.

Popular shopping destination Rodeo Drive is all but deserted as retail shops are shuttered in Beverly Hills on March 20, 2020. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

“Beverly Hills is a magical place where dreams come true. WIZO wants to create spaces where glamour, talent, friendship, inspiration, and business all intersect. Let us shine more light on our already amazing City, while empowering women locally and in Israel. Our value is not just who you know but also how we give and share” explains Lauren Cohen, also the WIZO Los Angeles Leadership Chair.

Our vision this Fall is to partner with property owners and entrepreneurs to create pop up group shops and incubator centers to help women foster their businesses while providing additional vibrancy to the community with a percentage of all sales or corporate gifts benefiting the work of WIZO in Israel. We are taking the legacy of Vera Weizmann and Rebecca Sieff to a new century, helping women fulfill their potential and working on behalf of Israel.

To join our work, please contact Gina Raphael, Chair WIZO Los Angeles gina@wizousa.org. Visit us at www.wizola.org.


About the writer:

Gina Raphael is as an entrepreneur and business owner in Beverly Hills, CA. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Gina is Chair of  WIZO Los Angeles (Women’s International Zionist Organization), and  Chair Israel Bonds Western Region. She is the mother of three daughters – Danielle Gross (21), Sydney Gross (19) and Mia Gross (10).




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

An Open Letter to Seth Rogen

By Stephen Schulman

Dear Seth,

I must apologize if I have never heard of you before, but neither being a reader of the tabloids nor a follower of all the fashionable internet podcasts, I had never come across your name until now.

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Relishing in Reviling. Beginning as a lighthearted conversation between two Jewish comedians, Rogen (right) and Marc Maron (left), the talk turned to Israel where Rogen’s disparaging comments sparked an uproar.

Nevertheless, while appearing in the podcast of Marc Maron to plug your latest film, promote yourself and widen your fan base, you held forth and bared your soul to all and sundry on the subject of Judaism and Israel. After reading reports of your words, myself, both being a citizen of and living in this country, I feel that your words are in dire need of an emendatory reply.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process. If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is truly for the preservation of the Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you are trying to preserve all in one place – especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? I am trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that’s the best place…..that’ll do it. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Your message is clear:

You have negated Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people, seeing its purpose as illogical, senseless and useless. Furthermore, in your opinion, since all religion is a baseless mumbo jumbo; Israel has no religious justification for existence at all. Sweeping statements indeed!

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Senseless Seth. Seth Rogen says Israel ‘doesn’t make sense’.

Seth, your ignorance is abysmal, appalling and frightening. You are 38 years old. Have you never read any books? Have you never attempted to broaden your knowledge?  Have you never progressed beyond that of a muddled pre-adolescent?  For a person of your age, I find your mental vacuity simply breathtaking.

Israel has had a Jewish presence for millennia. Towards the end of the 19th century, many young pioneers, identifying themselves primarily as secular and socialists but aware of their heritage, fired with ideals of social justice came to then Palestine from exile; to rebuild a homeland for the Jewish people. With the passing of time, amongst other social organizations, the Histadrut (the Labour Federation) that saw to the rights of the workers and Kupat Cholim (the sick fund or NHS) were founded for the benefit of all the occupants of Palestine irrespective of background or religion. Was all this done for the sake of religion?

Return to Zion has always been a central tenet of Judaism and the Land of Israel features prominently in our prayers. Jerusalem and the Land of Israel is not only part of Jewish history; it plays an integral role in the Hebrew Bible and is an inseparable part of our faith. You choose to view this as antiquated and valueless.

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Voyage of the Damned. Refugees aboard the M.S. St. Louis arriving in Antwerp, Belgium after over a month at sea, during which they were denied entry to Cuba, the USA and Canada. Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Throughout our history (and yours too!), there have been pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, massacres and persecutions of our nation in Christian and Muslim lands. When so many Jews were desperately trying to escape the clutches of Nazism, where were the countries of the world offering them a safe haven? In 1939, the steamship St. Louis with close to a thousand Jewish refugees on board seeking refuge was denied docking rights in many countries and it returned to Germany with its passengers ultimately dying in the concentration camps. Amongst the countries denying them entry was Canada – your birthplace – where a member of parliament stood up to say that letting in one Jew was one Jew too many! Yet, these same countries that denied Jews entry, after the war opened their gates to let in many Nazi collaborators. Canada, your Canada, in the post WW II period, opened its arms to and turned a blind eye to the influx of these criminals. Today Canada boasts the dubious record of having the largest number of memorials to Nazi collaborators.

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“None is Too Many”. The title of this book about Canada’s restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees during the Holocaust is based on an immigration official in 1939 when asked how many Jews would be allowed in Canada after the war replied, “None is too many”. A monument – referred to in the media as the “none is too many” memorial – was displayed in Halifax’s Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to commemorate the liner M.S. St. Louis carrying Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany being blocked from entering Canada. The ship was forced to return to Europe and 254 of the refugees later died in Nazi concentration camps.

With the termination of WW II, there were many Jews who had survived the Holocaust scattered in DP (Displaced Persons) camps throughout Europe, my late parents-in-law being amongst them. Why in these camps? Why didn’t they return to their former homes? The answer is very simple. They had been taken over by others and to assert their property rights was tantamount to asking to be murdered. When my father-in-law returned to Bialystok, his former neighbours made this very clear to him and his example was one of many. Where was the one place they wanted to go to that would be free of post war pogroms and anti-Semitism? You guessed it:  Palestine – shortly to become Israel.

You clearly don’t know it but prior to and after the declaration of the State of Israel, the 850,000 Jews living in the Arab countries were persecuted, disenfranchised, dispossessed and expelled thus bringing to an end of Jewish presence that had existed for over a thousand years. The Arab countries are now ‘Judenrein‘ – an accomplishment the Nazis would have applauded! The great majority of the refugees found their home and rebuilt their lives in Israel – the country whose existence you find senseless!

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Many peoples have their own ancestral homelands. Do the Jewish people not have the same right, or have you conveniently ignored that fact? Just ponder this:  Had there existed a Jewish state prior to the Second World War, countless lives could have been saved!

Yes, Israel is located in a ‘volatile’ region. It is indeed so, not of our own volition but due to the fact that our neighbours refuse to accept our right to exist. Peace has been signed with Jordan and Egypt albeit a cold one with calls within these countries for our destruction. A Hezbollah controlled Lebanon with its huge arsenal of rockets sends daily threats while Hamas in the Gaza Strip sends incendiary balloons to torch our land. Dear Seth, you with your wisdom and perspicacity, what do you suggest we do? Close shop and move en mass to Canada?

‘And I also think that as a Jewish person, I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that – oh, by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there, oh like the f***g doors open!…. They forgot to include the fact to every young Jewish person.’

Dear Seth, in your settling of accounts, is this all that you can remember about your Jewish education? Have you never progressed beyond that? Any thinking person is inclined to disbelieve that Palestine simply comprised one big vacuum beckoning to be filled by Jewish settlements! It wasn’t the moon! A perfunctory perusal of history books would inform you that there was an Arab presence there too. In 1917 the Jewish population of Jaffa/Tel Aviv was forcefully exiled to some parts that today are in the West Bank,  in 1929 the Jewish population of Hebron was slaughtered,  and in 1936 there were riots in which many Jews were killed. Who carried them out? It wasn’t pixies!

Open Letter to Seth Rogen4
Turbulent Times. US newspapers headline the massacre of Jews during the Arab riots of 1929 when more than 130 Jews were killed in Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere.

Once again, your reasons for Jews supporting Israel: ‘They want to make you feel frightened enough about your own survival to the point that when you are old enough, you will make sure money goes to Israel, and that trees are planted and that you will always speak highly of Israel and Israel will survive no matter what.’

Dear Seth, when Israel comes to your mind, is your sole connotation that of trees? Possibly you can’t see the wood for all the trees? For your elucidation, Israel is a thriving country of 9,000,000 people that in spite of being surrounded by enemies is prospering. Amongst other achievements, it boasts a stable economy, a booming hi-tech industry and is a world leader in agricultural technology. It is the only true democracy in the Middle East; and guarantees religious freedom to all faiths in it. There is a large LGTB community that openly asserts its rights; and members of it serve in our Knesset (Parliament).

Diaspora Jewry openly identifies with the state and supports it. There is an awareness of our security problems – with Iran and its proxies openly preaching genocide against us – and they take pride in the strength and ability of the Israel Defense Forces in protecting its citizens and borders.

I have yet to encounter a Diaspora Jew who has been so brainwashed that his/her knees are perpetually knocking in terror and his/her trembling hands continually writing out cheques for the state! Methinks you are getting carried away by one of your film scenarios!

‘As I get older, I appreciate that religion you know……….it puts you to work and it forces you to do stuff.’

Dear Seth, kindly make up your mind and be consistent. On one hand you say that religion is claptrap and on the other hand praise it for helping you during a period of mourning. Your paucity of vocabulary attests to the shallowness of your thoughts.

‘I remember my dad frankly telling me, People hate Jews. Just be aware of that. They just do.’

Your dad knew what he was talking about. Institutionalized antisemitism was part of life in Canada. There was a quota on Jews entering higher institutes of learning and many clubs and societies restricted their membership. Unfortunately, today in this turbulent time of fear and uncertainty, antisemitism has grown and become a multi headed monster assuming many shapes and forms, the old tropes have taken on different guises and conspiracy theories abound. A Canadian Polish newspaper has printed stories unequivocally stating that Jews have devised and spread the Covid-19 virus in order to profit from it – a modern twist to the medieval accusation of Jews poisoning the wells.

Open Letter to Seth Rogan2
Blame the Jews. The Polish-Canadian newspaper Glos Polski publishes an anti-Semitic tirade suggesting COVID-19 is a creation of “organized Jewry”.

And you Seth, at this heightened period of antisemitism, with your appearance on the podcast, with your self importance, eagerness to self publicize and ingratiate yourself and with your ‘progressive,’ ideas have made yourself the darling of the BDS camp, providing grist to the mill for the detractors and deniers of legitimacy of Israel. Even with your mother twisting your arm, you simply ‘clarified’ your ideas and said some remarks were made in jest. Some jest! Your lack of sensitivity is shocking.

Seth, it appears that as a standup comedian, you spent some lean years before producing your cinematic tour de force: ‘The Pickle Barrel.’  I wish you every success with it. Just do yourself and us all a favour: Before making your next public appearance, buy some books, do some much needed reading, consult with those more learned than you and then think before you open your mouth.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon

Israel

 

 

 

About the writer:

image001 (4).pngStephen Schulman is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist youth movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. He was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

 

Feature Picture: Sarah Snook and Seth Rogen are husband and wife in the new comedy “An American Pickle.” (Credit –

 

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

 

The Crisis of Zionism

By Alex Ryvchin

When the French playwright Edmond Fleg attended Theodore Herzl’s Third Zionist Congress in Basel he marvelled at the scene. “I looked about me. What Jewish contrasts! A pale-faced Pole with high cheekbones, a German in spectacles, a Russian looking like an angel, a bearded Persian, a clean-shaven American, an Egyptian in a fez, and over there, that black phantom, towering up in his immense caftan, with his fur cap and pale curls falling from his temples.” Fleg saw the sum of Jewish exile in that room. Jews of east and west, religious and secular, wealthy and poor, radical and conservative. A people dispersed to every corner of the globe, just melting a little into their surrounds, adopting local language, custom, dress, before being rudely plucked out and sent onward by Kings and Empresses, warlords and clerics, to new lands and new privations.

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Time to Act. First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The staging of a Zionist assembly in Europe, which unified Jews under the banner of a single idea, had been achieved through a combination of grandeur and old-fashioned community organising. At the First Zionist Congress, also held in Basel, in 1897, Herzl entered the Stadtcasino in black trousers, tails and a white tie, more befitting a matinee of La Traviata than a Jewish communal event. But in the days before, Herzl sat up with students addressing envelopes long into the night.

At that First Congress, the aim of Zionism was expressed as to establish a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel secured under public law. Within this simple declaration stood an almighty mission. The Jews had not had a national home for two millennia. The Land of Israel had since 135 CE been known by another name, had seen multiple empires befall it, and had a meagre Jewish population of 25,000. Moreover, the mass physical return of a scattered and acculturated people to long vanquished lands was something that had never been achieved in human history.

It was this dreamy idealism that gave Zionism a magnetic quality. It animated Jewish youths to throw themselves into community activism and intellectual rumbles out of which organised Zionism grew. It led to the founding of grass-roots Zionist groups like Bilu (House of Jacob, come ye and let us go), whose members travelled from Russia to Palestine and established agricultural settlements. It compelled the likes of Chaim Weizmann to spend his student days in Germany as a member of another Zionist group, the Verein, throwing his humble stipend into sausages and beer while raucously debating Zionism, socialism, nationalism and internationalism in cafes until the wee hours.

And it prompted the writer Israel Zangwill to lambast the Jewish establishment for holding back the progress of Zionism to the detriment of the suffering Jewish masses. Zangwill thundered to the Jewish poor in London’s East End, “we are supposed to pray three times a day for the return of Jerusalem, but, as soon as we say we want to go back, we are accused of blasphemy!”

When this generation of Jewish activists encountered the pamphlets of thinkers like Leon Pinsker and Herzl their minds were instantly seared and permanently changed. How could a vigorous young Jew coming of age in a time of unsparing brutality towards Jews, be unmoved by Pinsker’s illustration of their stateless people wandering the earth as “a ghost-like apparition of a living corpse … living everywhere but nowhere in the correct place?” Or Herzl’s functional oratory that promised, “the Jews who wish for a state will have it. We shall live at last as free people on our own soil and die peacefully in our own homes.”

Not only was Zionism exciting and radical, world events conspired to make it a matter of life and death. Jews were looted, raped and slaughtered across Russia in 1881 and 1905, in Fez in 1912 and in Shiraz in 1910. This turned Zionism from a rising ideal into an urgent humanitarian mission.

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Poetic Warnings. Although Hayim Nachman Bialik’s later writings became more universal in outlook, it was his “In the City of Slaughter” written in response to the Kishinev pogrom that proved such a powerful statement of anguish at the situation of the Jews of Europe.

The Kishinev pogrom of 1903, while comparatively less bloody than some of the others of the time, was chronicled so graphically it caused deep shame in the Jewish world. The poet Hayim Nachman Bialik wrote:

in the dark corners of Kishinev, crouching husbands, bridegrooms and brothers peering through the cracks of their shelters, watching their wives, sisters, daughters writhing beneath their bestial defilers, suffocating in their own blood, their flesh portioned out as booty.”

The New York Times reported:

 “the scenes of horror were beyond description … the streets were piled with corpses and wounded.”

After Kishinev, an editorial of The American Hebrew noted that “American Zionism had come of age,” while a Christian speaker at a Zionist meeting at Cooper Union declared, “all efforts must be made to establish a Jewish commonwealth.” Zionism offered Jews an escape from Kishinev, both physically and psychologically.

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Hunting Season. Jews were the prey as seen in this photograph taken following the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, when 49 Jews were murdered following a ‘blood libel’ against the Jewish community. Here, the victims are laid out wrapped in prayer shawls prior to burial (public domain)

Any doubt about the necessity of Zionism dissipated as the Holocaust descended onto Europe. As David Ben-Gurion noted, “what Zionist propaganda could not do,” being to fully reveal Jewish self-delusion and vulnerability, “disaster has done overnight.”  The surviving Jews, absurdly warehoused in displaced persons camps in Europe several years after the defeat of Nazism, yearned to locate the ruins of their families and rebuild lives away from European antisemitism. “Palestine is definitely and pre-eminently the first choice” for resettlement, Earl Harrison, President Truman’s envoy for refugees, reported.

The creation of Israel in May 1948 did nothing to dim Jewish interest in Zionism. The establishment of the state may have been the practical fulfilment of the Basel vision, but much work remained. There was the immediate defence of the state against invasion, rescue missions for imperilled Jews, the upbuilding of a society, and the pursuit of peace with Arab neighbours once war subsided. In a sense, Zionism became more important as the Jewish world unified behind creating a society worthy of the two millennia intermission.

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Rebirth of a Nation. David Ben-Gurion declaring on the 14 May 1948 the state of Israel with the portrait of Hertzl above.

For diaspora communities, there were governments to be lobbied to achieve recognition of Israel, public opinion to shape, humanitarian aid to raise. Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund and Women’s International Zionist Organization and a kaleidoscope of others weren’t simply folded into the Jewish State in 1948, they redoubled their efforts.

There were trees to plant to cultivate the land, university faculties to endow, lone soldiers to support, victims of terror to assist, millions of Soviet, African and Middle Eastern Jews to rescue and absorb. All of this deepened the investment of diaspora Jews in the Zionist project. No one wanted to miss out on history in the making and if Aliyah was impracticable, membership of Zionist organisations, political activism and fundraising enabled diaspora Jews to be active players in the extraordinary story of Jewish rehabilitation and national rebirth.

For Jews who had either lapsed in their religious observance or, like the vast majority of Soviet emigres, were never religious to begin with, Zionism offered the Jewish communal pride, feelings of belonging, and opportunities for learning and debate, previously only to be found in religion.

A senior Israeli diplomat once told me that Zionism was his religion. It is the sort of comment that would instantly be misconstrued as amounting to worship of settlements or prayers at the altar of Bibi. But I immediately understood what he meant. He was immersed in the story of Zionism, believed with perfect conviction in its justness and necessity, was inspired by it, and compelled to act civically and humanely by its teachings. He wished to convey the wondrous stories of Zionism to his children – Weizmann’s experiments with acetone, Herzl’s awakening at the Dreyfus Trial, the magical moment on 29 November 1947 when Jews worldwide realised they would get their state. This diplomat wanted his children to imbibe these stories as he had, so that they too would grow up connected to their Jewishness, know who they are, remain strong in the face of aggressors, and proud in the knowledge that they belong to a people of vision and fortitude.

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French Injustice. The Dreyfus trial in 1894 known in France as “L’Affaire”, come to symbolise modern injustice and remains a prime example of a conspired miscarriage of justice and antisemitism.

Yet the price of Israel’s incredible success is that the very imperatives that drew Jews to Zionism – state-building, rescue of Jewish communities, urgent defence, are now seemingly gone, meaning there is much less to connect a young Jew of Johannesburg, Sydney or Toronto to a national project playing out on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, currently lacking towering figures and spellbinding moments.

The solution is a deeper understanding of what Zionism means and what it truly represents. Zionism, at its core, has always been about rights. Yes, Zionism sought a national home for the Jewish people. But why? To protect the most fundamental right of all, the right to live. Zionism remains, through its support for a strong Jewish state and its ethos of Jewish self-help, the greatest bulwark against antisemitism. And it was Zionism that attained recognition that the Jews are a people and thus possess the right to self-determination. As Churchill observed, “the Jewish people should know they are in Palestine as of right and not of sufferance.”

History shows that the most basic rights extended to other peoples have to be hard won and vigilantly defended when it comes to the Jews. Zionism represents that bundle of rights that the Jews have secured and will never relinquish. The right to a place of refuge from murderous hatred. The right to a national centre for the preservation and enlargement of Jewish cultural, scholarly and scientific contributions. The right for Jews, like all other nations, to freely determine their own political status.

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The Knesset. After 2000 years of exile and persecution, the Jewish parliament stands proudly in Jerusalem as a functional symbol of Jewish nationhood.

When expressed as the embodiment of Jewish rights, Zionism soars above party politics and the acrimony of policymaking in modern Israel, and it correctly presents anti-Zionism as a campaign to strip Jews of their rights. But if Zionism loses a clear purpose, it will be swept away by more emotionally gratifying offerings, which have the capacity to deliver absolute ruin.

 

 

 

About the writer:

Alex-Ryvchin.jpgAlexander (Alex) Ryvchin is an Australian writer, advocate, commentator, and lawyer. A former spokesman for the Zionist Federation UK, Ryvchin’s writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Jewish history have been published in numerous international newspapers including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, The National Post and The Jerusalem Post. Ryvchin is a regular columnist for The Spectator.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Unbreakable Bonds

The Relationship between the USA and Israel

By Lay of the Land USA correspondent

Away from the feuding in American politics – a matter for Americans themselves to determine and decide as they will in November’s upcoming election  – President Trump’s steadfast support for Israel has been reassuring and much appreciated. At a time when Israel faces existential threats and is not short of enemies committed to its destruction, it is reassuring to Israelis as well as Jewish communities around the world that the Jewish state enjoys the solid support and friendship of the United States not only in word but indeed.

There is only ONE Israel and we all know what befell the Jews when there was NO Israel!

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Unshakable Ties. During the meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo Pompeo said that he is sure that “you know that Israel has no better friend than the United States.”

Appreciation of this enduring support and friendship, was warmly evident in a recent address by leading businessman and philanthropist, Simon Falic at a gathering of Christian Zionists to honor the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The indefatigable Secretary of State has been in the forefront of  championing President Trump’s vision for peace in order to “achieve enduring security, freedom and prosperity for both sides.”

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Simon Falic stressing the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel.

“Judeo Christian values are ingrained in the United States of America,” began Falic. “For many of us, one of the most significant events in the last century was the establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to our ancestral homeland.  I believe, as so many of you, that this historical event was decreed by the heavens. The destinies of the United States and Israel are intertwined.”

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Stressing the familial nature of the relationship, Falic said that  “while our common enemies refer to the United States as the ‘big Satan’ and Israel as the ‘little Satan’, I think it is more like we are the big brother and Israel the little brother.” Evidence of this was  “President Truman’s recognition in 1948 of the establishment of the State of Israel, to 1973 during the Yom Kippur war, when President Nixon sent desperately needed weapons to allow Israel to defend herself and survive the Arab onslaught and then from the billions of dollars in aid over the years to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal and united capital of Israel  and the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights.”

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Strong Ties. Simon Falic, Chairman of Duty Free Americas at the ceremony presenting Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014. The medal, designed and struck by the United States Mint, recognizes and honored the late President Peres for maintaining strong bilateral relations between Israel and the United States and was the first Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to a sitting President of Israel. (Photo: Shmuel Lenchevsky/Dov Lenchevsky)

Through this all, “big brother has always been there for little brother.”

Stressing the Biblical ties to the land, Falic said, “The Jewish people returning to live in Israel after 2000 years in exile is based on something far more meaningful than any partition plan, any arbitrary division of land, or any political decision that granted Jewish survivors of World War II a place of refuge. It is essentially tied to the Bible. Without this perspective, people inevitably miss the entire story that leads to mistakes politically.

“Time and again, leaders from across the globe adopt definitive positions about what is best for Israel and how to move the peace process forward. Yet, these ideas never worked. They insisted on imposing a solution without seriously considering and ignoring the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemies who vow to destroy this sliver of Holy Land that could fit into Lake Michigan.  Israel and her people alone will have to face and deal with the consequences, as the Oslo accords have taught us.  The mindset of the Arab world is that they can lose 99 wars with Israel – but all they have to do is win the 100th.”

Warning against failure to take advantage when destiny provides a window of opportunity, Falic recounted of the telegram, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, General George Marshall wired on May 13th, 1948, to David Ben Gurion “stating that if he declared an independent state of Israel, five Arab armies would attack and within 48 hours and not one Jew in the land would be left alive.  The rest is history.”

This same warning of fearing the worst and hence counselling inaction, occurred before President Trump announced the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. “He was also warned by his Generals that there will most likely be a violent reaction around the world to US interests.”

And once again “The rest is history”.

This pattern of warning and suggested caution was to again repeat itself with President Trump’s “recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights.  We can only imagine what would be the situation today if Israel had not conquered the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and held in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.  Today, ISIS, the Syrian and Iranian regimes and the Russians would be overlooking the Sea of Galilee.”

Looking to Pompeo, and with a warm smile, Falic exclaimed:

“You are now being part of Israel’s History.”

Exposing European hypocrisy of singling out Israel for selective opprobrium, Falic drew attention to last year’s European Union Court of Justice, when “all 15 judges unanimously ruled, that all products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria, or what they refer to as occupied territory, must be labeled as products made in “occupied territory”.  There are close to 100 conflicts and disputes around the world regarding borders and territories, including Cyprus that is occupied by Turkey, but only Israeli products made by Jews, were singled out. Europe destroyed and eliminated century’s old Jewish communities and today they pursue Israel and the Jews in their courts and in diplomatic circles. The primary product that was part of this European’s court decision, was a wine called Psagot. Psagot is the “poster boy” of the BDS movement.

 

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Taste Of Ancient Israel. The Psagot winery is located in the northern region of the Jerusalem mountains, an area ripe with remnants of biblical-era vineyards and wineries. 

 

My family and I are partners in this winery.  We invested in Psagot over 10 years ago – against the advice of other investors and wine experts. We were told that while the wine is excellent, it is in a disputed area that one day might be part of a negotiated agreement and Jewish life and business there will be eliminated.

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Psagot winery. During the vineyard’s construction, a coin dating back to the Great Revolt of (66–73 CE) was discovered where its front face is stamped with the words “For Freedom of Zion” and adorned with a vine leaf, while the back face reads “Year Two” (a reference to the Revolt) alongside an image of an amphora – an ancient container used for storing wine. This coin appears on the label of each bottle of Psagot wine.

Ironically, these naysayers encouraged and emboldened us, even more, to invest to help establish Jewish life and business after 2,000 years.  Next to the vineyards is a cave and press where wine was produced and stored during the time of the Second Temple. An ancient coin of Judea was found in the cave, and today a replica of that coin appears on many of our bottles.  Psagot was a small unknown boutique winery producing 40,000 bottles per year. Today, after winning many prestigious wine awards in France and London, we produce 400,000 bottles per year.

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Shared Values, Common Destinies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waves as he speaks at the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“Secretary of State Pompeo, only one week after the despicable decision of the European court, you publicly announced the State Department’s determination that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not categorically inconsistent with International law. Your official announcement is widely referred to in Israel as the “Pompeo Doctrine”.  I don’t think you really know how loved and respected you are in Israel.”

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Simon Falic (right) with Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) organization.

Reminding his Christian Zionist audience of the strong connection the Jewish people have with the land of Israel “where Abraham, Isaac, Sara, Leah, Rivka, and Rachel, walked, lived and are buried,” Falic concluded with  “Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and to all our Christian Zionist friends, “May G-d bless you and protect you. May G-d make his face shine upon you and treat you with grace. May G-d lift his face toward you and grant you peace.”

In a world currently plagued not only of a virus but one of uncertainty, it is reassuring that we have certainty on this critical issue – the unbreakable bond between the USA and Israel.

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Simon Falic flanked by his wife, the Honorary Life President, WIZO USA Jana Falic (left) and Nili Falic, Chairman Emeritus, Friends of the IDF (FIDF).

 

 

 

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

 

No Safe Space for Jew Hate!

By Rolene Marks

It would appear Twitter has an antisemitism problem – and also a penchant for double standards. The social media platform has become a cesspit of antisemitic hatred. In just 280 characters, users are able to communicate some of the most vile invective, conspiracy theories and caricatures. Many of the “twits” who tweet, invariably hide behind avatars or their twitter handles, failing to provide proper profile pictures and names. Cowards.

Over the last few weeks, Twitter has given a tailwind to a new breed of hater – the celebrity. Not content to sit in their mansions and virtue signal on issues ranging from the environment to social justice, it seems that quite a few have decided to parlay their “talent” to Twitter and other social media. Rapper Ice Cube, comedienne Chelsea Handler, football player Desaun Jackson, former America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, and even Madonna (is she still relevant?) have espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric. Some like Nick Cannon, Desaun Jackson and more recently, Ice Cube, have apologized and offered to engage and learn about Judaism. But there are others who have not.

Enter British rapper, Wiley. Born Richard Kylea Cowie Jr, the rapper went on a tirade against Jews that included accusations that would not have been out of place had Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels written them himself. In a rant lasting nearly 24 hours, the hate included comments like “Israel is ours,” you cannot “challenge the Jewish community” without losing your job, the Jews were equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan, and that he was “not antisemitic, I am anti-slippery people.”

“I don’t care about Hitler, I care about black people,” he commented, adding of Jews, “Do you know what these people do to the world?”

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This raised the ire of many, not just the Jewish community. It also brought to light the horrific abuse that Jews are facing online. In the last two weeks, Twitter has faced a barrage of criticism – first for allowing white supremacists to persist with the hashtag  #JewishPrivilege and the second, controversy over the symbol of the Jewish people, the Star of David. The extraordinary activist, Hen Mazzig, led a campaign to take back the hashtag and soon Jews were sharing their agonizing stories of experiencing antisemitism. We then turned it on its head and started celebrating the things we feel makes us proud to be Jewish. This was followed in quick succession by the banning of the Star of David as a “hateful image”. After a massive outcry, Twitter apologized and rectified but the Wiley tweets were just the straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back.

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“Antisemitic? Are u stupid? Do you know what these people do to the world?” British rapper Wiley wrote.

After Wiley’s tirade, Twitter was inundated with complaints and calls to shut his account down. Wiley was banned from Twitter (as well as Instagram and Facebook) for a week. This was not suitable punishment – just a mere slap on the wrist.

This prompted Jewish organisations that were joined of prominent figures and organisations in the United Kingdom and around the world to boycott Twitter and Instagram for 48 hours starting on Monday morning in response to antisemitism on the social media platforms.

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Those taking part in the 48-hour Twitter boycott include MPs David Lammy and Rosena Allin-Khan, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, actor Jason Isaacs, broadcasters Rachel Riley and Maajid Nawaz, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and entrepreneur Lord Sugar. (REUTERS/GETTY IMAGES/BBC)

The boycott was promoted under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate, which participants shared on their social media pages along with an image that called out Twitter’s “inaction on anti-Jewish racism”. Israelis, Americans, Australians and many others took a stand against online hate. What was particularly heartening was to see allies from the Muslim and black communities joining their Jewish brothers and sisters. Lawmakers, celebrities and more also went Twitter radio silent.

The expectation was not to shut down Twitter but to raise awareness and the alarm against growing online Jew hatred. And so far it has succeeded with that mission – and also sent a clear message that when it comes to antisemitism, Jews will no longer be passive. We will shout as loud as we can or sometimes resort to silence – which can be deafening. Sometimes the silent protests achieve the loudest results. Wiley has now been permanently banned from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Jews should not have to resort to protests to raise the alarm against antisemitism. One hopes that Twitter will wake up and realise that they cannot have a double standard either.

The social media platform announced yesterday they had withdrawn a video retweeted by US President Donald Trump in which doctors made allegedly false claims about the coronavirus pandemic, after Facebook took similar action.

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“Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy,” a Twitter spokesperson says, declining to give details on how many people had watched the video.

Like or loathe President Trump, it appears that when the US President tweets, he is sanctioned almost immediately but arch antisemites like Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan and the Iranian Ayatollah Al Khamenei who have tweeted appalling hatred that has included calls for Israel to be eradicated or referred to Jews as “cancers” are allowed.

Words have meaning and consequences. Over the last few years, Jews have been the victims of violence and in a number of cases; hate crime murders. The message was clear – there can be no safe space for Jew hate, no matter how famous you are. We hope that Twitter received the message. Loud and clear.

 

 

 

Feature picture: The Twitter logo superimposed on antisemitic tweets (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/JTA)

 

 

 

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.

 

Hidden Holocaust

 – Journey with the Enemy –

A descendant of victims of the Holocaust and a descendent of its perpetrators team up to unravel the truth of who murdered the Jews of Lithuania

By David. E. Kaplan

Consider the following:

Of the 220,000 Jews that lived in Lithuania when the Nazis invaded on June 22, 1941, 90% would be killed over the ensuing three years  – not in gas chambers – but by “personal murder” – by shooting. And yet, there were less than 1000 Germans in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation!

So who did so much of the killing or more specifically:

What was the extent of Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust?

It is this much avoided and deflected question that set off two intrepid investigators – Dr. Efraim Zuroff,  the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) Chief Nazi Hunter and Director of the SWC’s Israel office and one of Lithuania’s most influential and popular writers and a descendent of Lithuanian persecutors of Jews, Rūta Vanagaité, on a journey of discovery.

The result is their groundbreaking publication:

OUR PEOPLE

Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust

This compelling ‘book of revelations’ traces the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania focusing on the role played by ordinary Lithuanians and exposes the efforts of past and current governments to hide crimes of murder perpetrated by Lithuanians on their fellow citizens. It is the first documented history of Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust based solely on Lithuanian sources.

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Our People. This compelling book traces the quest for the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania.

It focuses on a number of contentious issues, notably:

  • What was the extent of Lithuanian collaboration? Just how many Lithuanians participated in the execution of Jews?
  • Were there murderous attacks against Jews before the Nazis arrived?
  • The efforts by Lithuanians to create a false symmetry between communist and Nazi crimes. There are constantly attempts to glorify those who fought against the Soviets after 1944, despite the fact that these people had participated in the genocide of the Jews

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Tellers of the Truth. Shunned by many in her family and ostracized in her country where the book has been withdrawn from Lithuanian bookstores, Rūta Vanagaitė (right) with co-author, Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff at a public address of their book – ‘Our People – Discovering Lithuanian’s Hidden Holocaust’.

The urgent need to unveil this dark past was all too evident earlier this year in January 2020, when over 200 Israelis, mostly of Lithuanian descent including this writer, braved the freezing cold and rain to protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. The reason for the protest –  to register opposition to a proposed parliamentary resolution declaring:

Lithuania has no responsibility for the murders and extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War because it was occupied by Soviets and then by Nazi Germany.”

The proposed resolution was to absolve Lithuania and Lithuanians of involvement in the Holocaust for the murder of 95% of Jewish citizens because it was occupied successively by Russia and Germany. Should not a nation’s law be there to reveal the truth, not hide it?

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Truth be Told. Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff (left) with Lay Of The land’s David Kaplan (third left) and fellow protestors outside the Lithuanian Embassy on January 24 2020. The banner is addressed to Lithuanian parliament member Gumuliauskas and reads: “No law will wipe away the blood of Jews”

With the message of this protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy being “No One Saved Their Lives, Lets Save The Truth”, the book by  Rūta Vanagaité and Efraim Zuroff – one of the speakers at the Tel Aviv protest – could not come soon enough!

Frustrated with the passage of time of “fewer suspects to bring to justice, the focus,” says Zuroff, “is shifting from prosecution to education.” In other words from the courtroom to the classroom. The monumental material presented by these two brave Holocaust detectives will hopefully impact – if too late for a court of law, at least in the court of public opinion.

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Banning the Truth. Credited with breaking taboos in Lithuanian society about collaboration during World War II, Rūta Vanagaité presents the book ‘Our People’ with co-author top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, February 17, 2016. The Lithuanian publisher has since recalled books. (AFP/Petras Malukas)_

Holocaust Travelogue

The book is unusual in many respects. Firstly, it is the product of a ‘partnership’ rather than a “collaboration – a word that does not contextually resonate well with me,” quipped Zuroff – between the descendants of victims and collaborators. The two investigative writers visited over a period of 40 intense days, dozens of mass murder sites in Lithuania and Belarus, where they interviewed witnesses still living “right next these sites.”

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Murder on their Mind. A group of Jews facing execution in the forests of Siauliai, Lithuania, 26-29.06.1941.  Even before the Germans arrived at the major Jewish settlements, murderous riots perpetrated by the Lithuanians broke out against the Jews and at the encouragement of the Germans, the riots continued and thousands of Jews were murdered.

Exchanges between the cowriters interspersed throughout the book reveal the depth of their motivation in embarking on their journey. In one, Zuroff says, “You can cry from today till doomsday, but it does not change the facts… You know why everyone in Lithuania hates me? Because they know that I am right,” to which Vanagaite responds, “So let me see if you are right or not. Let me face this truth. Let us face it together.”

In this way, the descendant of victims and the descendant of victimizers undertake a joint “journey with the enemy,” in a quest to unearth the unvarnished truth about Lithuania’s Holocaust.

It is also the first book to bring verbatim quotes from those who participated in the shootings – those who actually pulled the triggers!  Having personally visited many of these sites in Lithuania, I recall at the time, noting the close proximity of the mass grave pits to the villages, what the residents must have thought as they watched their neighbours marched out of town followed shortly by the thunderous sounds of gunfire?

As Zuroff notes:

 “There were killing sites where there had been only Lithuanians; other sites where the only Germans present were those photographing the shooting, and then there were locations  where Nazis from Germany and Austria together with Lithuanians carried out the mass executions.”

To understand the mindset of these “ordinary” Lithuanians who pulled the triggers, this 1998 interview of a 28-year-old volunteer to the Lithuanian 12th Battalion that was transported to Belarus in a unit assigned to kill Jews is most revealing. His participation in the slaughter of at least 15,424 in 15 different locations around the country, mostly occurred before the notorious 1942 Wannsee Conference called to coordinate the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

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Killings in Kovno. Crowds gather to view the aftermath of a massacre at Lietukis Garage, where pro-German Lithuanian nationalists killed more than 50 Jewish men. The victims were beaten, hosed, and then murdered with iron bars. Kovno, Lithuania, June 27, 1941.(Dokumentationsarchiv des Oesterreichischen Widerstande)

He describes the procedure:

The local police went through apartments and collected Jews, then herded them onto the square.” The Germans kept back anyone likely to be useful to them, and the rest were marched by the Lithuanian unit, in a column four people wide, to pits already dug beyond the city limits.

They were herded into the pit, laid on the ground, and then we shot them.”

Having slaughtered one batch, they forced the next group to lie down on top of the corpses before firing on them, then the next.

The small children were carried; the others were led. We murdered them all.”

As to the question of the role of the  Germans, this soldier replied:

 “The Germans shot rarely; mostly they used to shoot photographs.”

This type of testimony reinforced by photographs, reveal that in most cases the massacres were carried out by Lithuanians. At times, no Germans were even present!

Equally fascinating was the soldiers reply to the question whether he ever asked himself why these Jews were being shot?

I don’t blame anyone anymore, only God…… for allowing the murder of innocent people. And that’s how I thought about it then as well.”

In other words, God was responsible!

What made this book all the more compelling and authentic was that Zuroff’s partner was a descendant of “the very people we were investigating.”

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Cruel Complicity. A Lithuanian militia in 1941 leads a group of Jews to the site of their execution, at Ponary, near present-day Vilnius, Lithuania.

It is important to understand how this unusual partnership arose:

“The first time I met Rūta Vanagaité,” says Zuroff, “was in 2015. She had a grant to teach non-Jewish Lithuanian students about Judaism and Jewish history. What had motivated her was the discovery shortly before that two of her relatives had been complicit in the Holocaust and she was looking for a way to shed light on her own families dark past – in a way to atone for their sins.”

Growing up in Lithuania, she told Zuroff that she knew nothing about Jews, which prompted her to start a program called “Being a Jew”.  She received a grant from the EU (European Union), to run the programme and to expand it beyond Lithuania to include Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic. As part of the grant, the EU obligated her to run a conference on Holocaust education.  “However, she had no idea who to invite as she had never dealt with the subject before, so she approached some people in Lithuania  who had been dealing with this issue and they said you can invite anyone except two people.”

One of those they all warned her against – was the Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff!

“All Rūta had to hear was whom NOT to invite and she, of course, invited us both.”

A month before the conference, which Zuroff was unable to attend, he needed to visit Lithuania and curious to meet Rūta, he communicated with her and she invited him to speak. This came as a huge surprise. “I had not been invited to speak in Lithuania for 25 years where I am persona non grata there  – not officially but in effect. Anyway, we met, and she told me about her relatives that had participated in persecuting Jews. I was in shock. I had visited Lithuania dozens of times over the years in my efforts to prosecute Nazi Lithuanian collaborators and no-one had ever told me that their families had been involved. Given the huge number of  Lithuanian collaborators,  I’m sure I must have met people who families were involved but they never said a word.”

Here for the first time, Zuroff met someone who not only admitted; but felt the need to do something about it.

Realizing what they were up against, literally a wall resisting the truth, “we realised that it may be better if the message came rather from Rūta than me.  After all, she was Lithuanian, not Jewish with no axe to grind. Me on the other hand, I am a Jew from Jerusalem; with a Brooklyn accent; and a very hated figure in Lithuania. It was a no-brainer, and this is why our book now published in six languages, on the Lithuanian edition  – my name does NOT appear.”

Not that made any difference. While Our People became a best-seller in Lithuania, it has now been removed from its bookstores.

Future Impact

To the question whether other descendants of perpetrators would be encouraged by the book to follow the example of Rūta, Zuroff replies thatIt’s not only what the descendants of perpetrators will do but more a question of what Lithuanian society will do! We hope that the book will create a veritable revolution  in terms of Lithuanians understanding what happened  and coming to terms with the truth.”

And there has been some encouraging signs. “Soon after the book was published, a dedication ceremony to the martyrs of the Holocaust in Moletai in north eastern Lithuania where in the past 50 people would attend, over 3000 people showed up to march from at the site of  the former synagogue destroyed by the Nazis to the site of the mass murder outside the town.”

On the other hand, Lithuania’s most popular writer is paying a price.

Rūta Vanagaité has been harshly treated. During her research,  she questioned an initiative in 2018 to honour one of Lithuanian’s post-WWII anti-Soviet fighters. “She had read his file in the KGB archives and knew his past during the Nazi occupation was questionable.”

The response was swift and vengeful.

Her publisher severed relations with her, removed all her books from bookstores, and they are now stored in a garage in Vilna,” relates Zuroff.

“Originally they said they were going to turn her books into toilet paper,  but she sued to get the books back,  but no bookstore in Lithuania is prepared to stock them.” Clearly, this harassment has backing from above. “The father of Lithuanian independence, Vytautas Landsbergis wrote an op-ed in the country’s most influential and popular website,  basically telling Rūta that now that she has betrayed her country, why does she not go commit suicide.  That was sufficient to convince her  that it was time to leave Lithuania  and today lives much of her time in Israel.”

Holocaust Distortion

Why this book is so important for the future is articulated best by the writers themselves:

“If there is anything that has been learned from the events of the past almost three decades….. when it comes to facing the Holocaust in post-Communist Eastern Europe, lip service is the dominant currency. In that respect, Lithuania is not only an excellent example, but is in fact, the leader of the efforts to elude an honest confrontation with Holocaust history, and in the process rob the Shoah of its justified status as a unique case of genocide. This process is known as Holocaust distortion, not to be confused with the far-better known phenomenon of Holocaust denial. Yet it is those efforts, which have intensified over the past fifteen years; especially since the Baltics were accepted as full members in both the European Union and NATO, which currently pose a particularly dangerous threat to the future of Shoah memory and education, and make this book of unique significance, way beyond Lithuania’s borders.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Mending a Broken Heart

By Rolene Marks

“It’s amazing when you stop for a moment and consider that this woman is not an Israeli and is not Jewish. She is a foreigner. She has no family or roots here. She has been through terrible physical abuse for a year. Yet together, WIZO, the hospital, all the good people in our community came together and reached into their pockets and hearts during this difficult Coronavirus period to save her life. It’s like it says in the Torah, “And you shall love the stranger,”(Deuteronomy chapter 10, verses 17-20. Leviticus chapter 19, verse 34).

It is never easy to be a stranger in a strange land. It is difficult to adapt to a culture completely different to your own and when a global pandemic spreads and brings with it seemingly insurmountable challenges, it feels like a battle that cannot be won. But this is a story with a difference. This story is proof that even in the most difficult and uncertain of times, there are always people that are willing to help.

Meet “S” a 26-year-old Eritrean woman, who left her home to come to Israel – at great personal risk. Many Eritreans seek work in Israel and are not Jewish and “S” was no exception. “S” life has been full of hardships. She began her long walk towards a better life in a strange land at 16 and was forced into an arranged marriage while staying at a refugee camp en route at 17. Her husband was already living in Israel and paid for her to come to Israel.

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Many migrant workers seek work in Israel.

Shortly after arriving, she became a mother to two gorgeous little ones, a girl and a boy, now aged 7 and 4. But the marriage was fraught with violence. Both “S” and her daughter suffered severe abuse at the hands of her husband and eventually fled for their lives, along with “S”’s small son.

“S” was referred to a WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation’s) shelter by Israel’s welfare services and “Mesila” (assistance and information center for the foreign community), an NPO (non-Profit) serving the rights and needs of the tens of thousands of legal and illegal migrant workers and refugees living in and around Tel Aviv.

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At this safe haven, WIZO provided loving arms, therapy and shelter from the constant blows and abuse “S” and her small charges faced. At last, she could begin to heal physically – and maybe emotionally. But this was not the end of her story – and her remarkable journey.

In June 2015, before her arrival at the shelter, “S” was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva after fainting at work. Pregnant at the time, she was later diagnosed with a heart defect. This required her needing a catheterization and the doctors decided that in order to survive, she would need to abort. In the four years that followed she had no medical follow up – and the violence meted out by her husband continued.

When “S” arrived at the shelter in 2019, she began a process of medical checkups with the help of a refugee clinic in Jerusalem that works in cooperation with Sha’arei Tzedek  Hospital. She had a series of cardiological examinations, and began medical treatment. “S” needed a procedure that could potentially save her life.

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Asylum-seeking women (their faces purposely hidden to hide their identities) and a volunteer nurse at the Tel Aviv Refugee Clinic (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich/Times of Israel)

On April 30th, 2020, “S” met with Dr. Amit Korach, a cardiologist who took care of her at Sha’arei Tzedek. He recommended a procedure which would switch her mitral valve and fix her tricuspid valve. While not life threatening, this procedure was considered critical for her improvement of quality of life.

The staff at the WIZO shelter wanted to do everything in their power to help “S” not only have a second chance at life where she could provide for her children but to ensure that she received the best possible medical care. With the Coronavirus pandemic spreading around the world and limited resources available, these caretakers needed to figure out a way to move mountains.

Funds would be needed to be raised. The surgery cost 90,000 NIS. The medical staff at the hospital generously agreed to cover part of the procedure and Physicians for Human Rights helped file a request to the Ministry of Health, asking for further funding options and Mesila in Tel Aviv also assisted. Through WIZO and the local congregation, a crowdfunding campaign was started and additional funds were raised. This is an extraordinary feat – especially at a time when most organisations are stretched to the limit financially.

“It’s important to remember that “S” is the sole caretaker of her two children,” Rinat Leon-Lange, Director of the WIZO shelter said. “She is currently living at the shelter, but can stay only for a limited period of time. Since she is an Eritrean refugee, her occupational options are limited and consist mainly of work that demands physical effort like cleaning or working in a kitchen. Her current medical condition does not enable her to engage in such physical work. Without income, she is doomed to either live in poverty or be dependent on another person, which could lead to yet another dangerous and abusive relationship. Due to her lack of legal status in Israel she is not eligible to receive any kind of government stipend for financial support.”

” “S” is still a young woman, so the success rate of this surgery is high,” says Yael Zimran, a social worker at the WIZO shelter. “This surgery would not only improve her quality of life physically, but would also enable her to be financially independent without having to rely on someone else. So for S, this really would be a life-saving procedure.”

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Thanks to WIZO, “S” and her children are safe.

The surgery was finally performed at Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital in June 2020 – at the height of the Corona pandemic. Dr. Korach and Dr. Hila Elinav, who had been treating “S” at the refugee clinic advocated for “S” to receive the best care and throughout the procedure she was treated by medical staff who knew her well. The staff looked after her in the hospital and took care of her children who remained at the shelter. The children were therefore able to be in constant contact with their mother while she was hospitalized via the shelter’s dedicated staff.

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Integrated Cardiac Center – Cardiopulmonary Surgery at Sha’arei Tzedek Medical Center

“The surgery was a success,” Leon-Lange proudly reported. “She is recovering slowly, but surely.”

Throughout the Corona crisis in Israel, WIZO has been on the frontline. “S”’s journey from Eritrea to a shelter and then life-saving surgery is proof of her remarkable courage and this has been recognized and honoured by WIZO who apart from providing an embrace of safety against abuse, also ensured the mending of a broken heart.

Thanks to the joint efforts of WIZO, Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital and other welfare organizations a young Eritrean mother living in a WIZO women’s shelter is on the road to recovery and independence.

Our gratitude to all WIZO Federations for their generous support in helping to provide shelter for women and children suffering from domestic violence in Israel.

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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.

The Jewish Double Standard in Action

Evil of One Kind is Denounced, Evil of Another is Given a Pass

By Jake Donnelly

The Jewish double standard was on display this past week in the wake of DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson’s social media posts promoting Louis Farrakhan and erroneously quoting Adolf Hitler. While it appears many people were rightfully taken aback by such blatant antisemitism, the resulting outcry – or lack thereof -was the perfect microcosm to highlight the double standard many Jews, and specifically, American Jews, live with on a daily basis. The Jewish double standard is quite simple:

When Jews see something bad, racist, or evil, they join in the fury and call it out, but when something antisemitic occurs, there is little by way of resulting uproar.

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Posting Online Hate. The Philadelphia Eagles condemned social media posts by DeSean Jackson, the team’s star wide receiver, saying they were “absolutely appalling”.

In the most basic terms – because of the history of Jews – they will almost always call out evil, but they are naive if they expect a reciprocal response.

The “Jackson and Jackson” saga following the almost cultural revolution of the George Floyd murder is the most obvious example of this. When George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, almost everybody agreed that this was a despicable act that needed to be condemned. It was such a heinous act that most people from every walk of life came out and admonished Chauvin and anybody that took part in the incident. And I mean everybody: black, white, Asian, Jews, and even cops said:

This is beyond the pale and something needs to be done.” Something was done  – Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder.

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No Defence For Antisemitism. Initially defending DeSean Jackson posting of antisemitic messages, Stephen Jackson (above) later apologizes – following the furor – for using ‘wrong words’ in his defense.

 

While Floyd’s death is an absolute tragedy, the coming together of all types of Americans was – ironically – something beautiful that emerged out of the ashes. Politicians, corporations, sports teams, schools and athletes all came out with strongly worded messages denouncing the murder. It appeared that everyone agreed – for one of the few times in recent American history – that something evil had occurred, and that this injustice needed to be seriously addressed. Everybody sent out messages and missives because it was so obviously evil.

In the midst of all this, I worried that this communal consensus would only last so long as the victim was black. Once something terrible happened to Jews or an antisemitic incident occurred, this thought of “everybody is on the same page” would disappear. I was too soon proven right!

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Monsey Machete Murderer. Grafton Thomas, the suspect in a stabbing at a Hannukah celebration, leaves Ramapo Town Hall in Airmont, New York, after his arrest in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.Kena Betancur / AFP – Getty Image

In the ‘Jackson and Jackson’ saga, there were some brave voices that spoke out like Steelers lineman Zach Banner, and retired football players Emmanual Acho and Geoff Schwartz. Banner and Acho should be lauded for doing so (I expected it of Schwartz because, well… Schwartz). However, where were all the other voices? What DeSean Jackson wrote and posted and what Stephen Jackson said and doubled down on, were also so beyond the pale it should have appalled everybody. But it did not because there is a Jewish double standard. All those politicians, corporations, teams, schools, athletes and owners, were as silent as an unmarked graveyard on a moonless night.

What is making matters worse is the excuse that so many are readily giving both the Jacksons; mainly, that they were simply “ignorant.” People like Stephen A. Smith are jumping to their defense and claiming they were ignorant and did not know any better. Both DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson are both claiming ignorance and that their words and intentions are being misconstrued. But that is what is so telling; what they both posted and said is so antisemitic it is the equivalent of calling Jews “K—s.” If anybody sad something similar about any other race or religion, nobody would be excusing them of ignorance, especially because these tropes have been around for eons! But this is why the utter lack of response is so disappointingly not surprising; the Jewish double standard is simply a fact of life.

Even such noted and powerful Jews in sports like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft did not say a word even though the Kraft Foundation pledged $1,000,000 to fight “systemic racism a month ago”.  In his defense, Kraft is a mensch who does great for Jews and Israel.

What of the famed NFL McCourty twins,  Devin and Jason, who are also community leaders and speak up on issues and stress to do the right thing? Not a word from them even though their teammate, Julian Edelman, is one of the most outspoken Jews in the NFL.

And what of all those cadre of players – both active and retired – that Robert Kraft takes to Israel every year to inspire Israel football players? Not a word!

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Field of Dreams. New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft (center, blue blazer) with most of the 18 NFL ‘Gold Jackets’ in Israel and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in June, 2017 for Israel’s first full-size American football field, part of the new Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Nor is this some mundane gripe. Jews die over posts and messages like the ones distributed by DeSean and Stephen Jackson. The 2019 Monsey murderer, who stabbed five people at a rabbi’s house in New York state, was a devotee of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement and enjoyed listening to Louis Farrakhan and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. If you care about White Supremacy (and you should), you should also care about Black Supremacist groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Hebrew Israelites. Both White Supremacists and Black Supremacists are as evil as the other and the only thing they agree upon is that Jews are evil.

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Man of his Word. Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan really misses the opportunity in his speeches to include incendiary antisemitic comments and tropes.

If you actually care about ridding evil you are correct to denounce President Trump’s weak response to Charlottesville, but you are also allowing it to prosper if you remain silent to the Jackson posts.

You need to care about evil no matter its source. If you call out heinous crimes and messages because it attacks one race, but then zipper your mouth shut when a different race is attacked, you are revealing to the world your own prejudices and hate. In the words of Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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Hardly Generating Mass Support. A small protest following New York city police’s hate crimes unit saying it was investigating eight antisemitic incidents reported in December, 2019

When evil is directed at the black community, we rightfully speak out. However, when that same evil is directed at the Jewish community, there is silence and that evil spreads, the same way it has spread for millennia.

That is the Jewish double standard and that is why we are seeing an increase in antisemitism yet again.

 

 

 

About the writer:

jake_smiling_teeth copy.jpgJake Donnelly is a broadcast journalist specializing in articles and content about Judaism and Jews in America as well as United States politics, history, and culture. Jake is a graduate of Trinity College (Hartford, CT), where he B.A. in Jewish Studies, and Syracuse University (Newhouse School), where he received his M.S. in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He is a professional play-by-play sports broadcaster specializing in hockey, baseball, basketball. You can find all of his work on his website, JakeDonnelly.com, and reach him on Twitter @JacobDonnelly31.”

 

 

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

WIZO On The Front Line

By  Rolene Marks

There is nothing like a major global crisis to test the mettle of even the strongest people. During this Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen global leaders either flying – or flailing. It has tested our own personal strength and endurance. Non-Profits and social welfare organisations have been called to step up stronger than they ever have. One organization has more than risen to the challenge and has proven yet again why it is the backbone of Israel as the country navigates its way through this corona crisis – WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation).

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Celebrating its centennial in July, WIZO has for the last century been a bastion of support since its founding and today is no different! WIZO is working on several fronts to make sure that Israel’s citizens of all ages are well taken care of and protected – especially the most vulnerable.  The Covid-19 is unprecedented in modern history and requires new, creative ways of doing things – while maintaining optimal safety and health guidelines.

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WIZO has worked closely with the authorities to ensure the best possible solutions in  the most efficient time.

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“WIZOoming”. The World WIZO Executive conduct all-important meetings via Zoom

Helping Combat Gender Based Violence (GBV):

As the global community battles the Covid-19 virus that has killed so many, ravaging economies as it continues its spread, so another silent and potentially deadly phenomenon grows – domestic violence.

There are many vulnerable women and children trapped at home in lockdown with someone who could be or is abusive. This is not a situation that is unique to Israel, but it is making headlines. Since the start of the pandemic, 5 women in Israel have been killed.  These are just the statistics that we know of – many cases, physical or emotional, are not often reported.

“We aren’t prepared for the tsunami that’s going to happen; we’re talking about an extreme situation that we’ve never seen before,” says Rivka Neuman, Head of the Advancement for the Status of Women division at WIZO, which operates shelters and hotline. “We are seeing normative families reporting violence for the first time, and a worsening of the situation in families that have been in the cycle of violence.”

WIZO runs hotlines, including two for men with the hope of breaking the cycle of violence. The organisation recently opened a third shelter where women and their children can be removed from danger and protected while having to undergo the quarantine that is expected.

WIZO’s hotlines are operating at capacity and the men’s hotline is no different. Established six years ago, the hotline provides counseling for men who are in distress and allows them to have an initial, accessible dialogue about the difficult feelings they have. The line provides mediating facilities along with continuous professional care. Manned exclusively by male volunteers who have been trained by professionals, men are able to call while remaining anonymous.

“We are trying to change the public discourse in Israel and to implore men who are in the cycle of domestic violence, whether they are abusive or abused, not to remain alone with their pain and suffering, to call and receive assistance in order to escape the violence cycle, “says Avi Mor, Coordinator of the WIZO Men’s Hotline.

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Can We Talk?    The WIZO Men’s Hotline    (Nationwide emergency hotline 1-800-220000)

With news about rising domestic violence around the world making headlines almost daily, WIZO once again proves its mettle at the vanguard of fighting this growing scourge.

Taking Care Of Children Of Frontline Workers

Israel’s frontline workers are protecting lives around the clock – but who is looking after their children? WIZO is ensuring that our medical professionals and many others who are performing vital services have peace of mind while they work.

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Kid Gloves. Staff at a WIZO Day Care Centre make sure that it is ready daily for its children.

WIZO was the only organization that was given permission to keep day care centres open at four hospitals – Hadassah, Ichilov, Assaf HaRofeh and Barzilai. This is testament to the trust that the government and the citizens of Israel have in WIZO.

Children of healthcare workers who normally do not attend these particular day centres were able to attend and their parents were able to focus on the task at hands while knowing their children were in the best possible care.

Protecting Our Elderly

Making sure our savim (grandfathers) and savtot (grandmothers) are safe!

Looking after the most vulnerable in society is one the things that WIZO does best! When it was announced that extra measures would have to be taken to protect Saba and Savta (grandpa and grandma), WIZO immediately mobilized. The big concerns apart from potentially contracting the virus, was the emotional and psychological toll being separated from family, especially grandchildren.

In WIZO’s Parents Home in Tel Aviv, every precaution that ensured the most sensitive emotional support was deployed. One of the greatest concerns was how to hold the traditional Pesach seder. Many were dreading this holiday where families traditionally gather; but the staff found a solution which brought residents together while keeping with social distancing laws. Each resident had their own table and was able to happily participate. This was repeated for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day), allowing for happy residents to participate in a sing a long and truly make the best of celebrating during lock down.

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Corona Free. Magen David Adom conclude Corona Virus checks at the WIZO Parent’s Home and find the facility 100% Covid-19 free!

Residents were so happy with their care, that they awarded their caregivers with this beautiful award:

A DECLARATION

We, the residents of the WIZO Parents’ Home in Tel Aviv,

Hereby award a Medal of Honour

to all those involved in the management of this residence during the Corona crisis.

We declare the WIZO Parents’ Home in Tel Aviv to be a shining example to be followed for all facilities and organizations responsible for the care of seniors, both independent living and those requiring nursing care.

This  Medal of Honour recognizes the dedicated and thorough care and treatment provided by the staff to the residents from the outbreak of the Corona crisis till now. The staff has taken excellent care of all the residents and does not compromise on the health and comfort of those in their care.

We are deeply appreciative of the endless devotion of the staff of the Parents Home, led by Chairperson Riki Cohen and Director Yair Efrati, and proud to have such a wonderful, professional and caring institution carry the WIZO name and tradition.

May you continue to care for Israel’s seniors for years to come in health and happiness.

WIZO is delighted to report that Covid-19 tests were carried out on all residents and staff and there are no infections. WIZO’s Parents Home is Corona free!

This is just a snapshot of the work that WIZO is doing. There is also legal aid, especially for women in the workplace and the protection of their rights, protecting our students in a variety of schools, many of whom come from difficult situations at home, counselling for parents and a host of other supportive services.

All around the world, WIZO’s venerable global army of volunteers; are working around the clock to make sure that all of this work is supported. Our Chaverot have been champions – holding events via Zoom (or “WIZOoming” as we call it) to make sure that not only do we stay in touch; but hold activities to support our cause. The Corona virus has challenged us to be as creative as we can and in this uncertain economic time, where non-profit organisations have been particularly hard hit, creativity is a necessity.

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Keep On Smiling. Friendly teachers at WIZO’s Nachlat Yehuda School waiting to welcome students.

In the last 100 years, WIZO as a global organization has endured wars, fascism, communism, Apartheid and now a global pandemic. While we know that this too shall pass, the commitment and dedication of WIZO leadership, staff and volunteers, both in Israel and globally, is the secret to our resilience and is the reason why when it comes to a crisis – you will find WIZO on the frontline.