The intersection of Zionism and Feminism

 By Rolene Marks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fraternisers Of Farrakhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exposing Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Israel Apartheid Week A Disservice to Palestinians and South Africans

By Sharon Salomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • “Palestinian people live in terrible conditions”

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

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

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

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

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

  • “Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”

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

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

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

IAW20191.JPG(Courtesy of MEMRI)

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

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

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

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

 

Courtesy of Israel Collective

 

 

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

 

The Israel Brief – 18-21 February 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 18 February 2019 – Israel-Poland diplomatic spat. PA accuse Israel of Piracy. Has the world lost patience with Palestinians?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 February 2019 – Qatar cuts Hamas electricity bill, France protests anti-Semitism, ISIS brides and Yisrael Beyteinu

 

 

The Israel Brief – 20 February 2019 – UK Labour Party Exodus. PA refuse tax money. Elections a Game of Thrones style?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 21 February 2019 – Israel to the Moon! France adopts IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Iran threatens war. Major election news.

 

 

 

Look Who’s Talking in Cape Town

Israeli Debating Teams score big in South Africa

While in November 2018, a Hamas delegation from Gaza visited Cape Town and called for Jihad against Israel, in January 2019,  it was visiting Israelis doing the talking – but with a different message.

Debating teams from Israeli universities won top honours at UCT (University of Cape Town) against the best universities in the world.

 

By David E. Kaplan

Israel is full of surprises. Situated in one of the most dry regions on the planet, Israel has far less of a water problem than Cape Town, which for Israel has an enviable supply. The answer to this anomaly might explain how a Hebrew-speaking country bested in debate, teams from the best universities in the world – notably Oxford and Cambridge.

The World University Debating Championships – the largest student-run event globally – was hosted by the University of Cape Town from the 27 December 2018 to the 4 January 2019 and included students from Malaysia, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and the United States who descended on the city in hopes of becoming world champions.

That honour went to Israel.

It was Israel’s prestigious Hebrew University of Jerusalem debate team that won the World Universities Debate Championship in South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, in the English Second-Language category, in other words, not in their ‘mother’ tongue.

Roy Shulmann and Elaye Karstadt competed against thousands of students from 20 countries winning the judges over “on stances on a multitude of current events.”

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Cheers! Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) debaters Roy Shulmann (left) and Elaye Karstadt celebrating their win in Cape Town. (Photo via Facebook)

In addition to Shulmann and Karstadt’s defeat of the Russian, Malaysian and Japanese teams in the final round of the championships, the Tel Aviv University (TAU) team, made up of Israeli Debating League chairman Amichai Even-Chen and Ido Kotler, made it to the final rounds of the general Open competition, which included native English speakers from around the globe. They competed against some of the top universities in the world, including Oxford and Harvard.

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Beyond Words. Roy Shulmann makes a speech at the World Universities Debate Championship, 2019 at UCT, Cape Town. Today, Israel is a force to be reckoned with in the world of competitive debating. (photo credit: DANA GREEN)

“Debate is not only a sport, but rather a unique tool for the development of logical and rhetorical capabilities,” said Shulmann. “It exposes students to a wide range of opinions, challenges their positions, and gets them to truly listen to the other side and answer the heart of the issue instead of the heart of the person.”

Shulmann said he hoped to “encourage a different ‘discussion culture’, one that allows us as a society to hold a real dialogue regarding disputes.”

This was a far cry from the Hamas spokespeople who in November proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Cape Town’s parliament that stated South Africa “will work towards the full boycott of ALL Israeli products and the support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel; and will ensure that ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel.” And this MOU was signed only weeks after 500 missiles were fired in under 24 hours into Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza  – one of which struck a bus.

While Hamas in Cape Town championed support for murder, Israelis in Cape Town spoke about holding  “a real dialogue regarding disputes.”

And who won?

Hebrew University debate team chairman, Naama Weiss, said that the Israeli teams are “used to meeting students at the competitions from countries hostile towards Israel.”

They have to be.

Competing against the team from Malaysia in the finals, the Israeli debaters could not have put entirely out of their minds that the antisemitic Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has banned entry to Israeli paraplegic swimmers to compete in his country that will be hosting the World Para Swimming Championships in July.

Mahathir has faced accusations of antisemitism for decades, frequently describing Jews as “hook nosed” and said that “Jews rule the world by proxy.”

Despite this, there were only “good vibes” between the participants of the competing countries at UCT.

“We never felt different,” said Weiss. “We actually become friends with them. It is important that we hold discussions with those that disagree with us, as well.”

Pity the Hamas delegation didn’t visit Cape Town a month later and hear these messages!

Mark My Word

Israeli debate teams achieved multiple successes throughout 2018. The same team of Even-Chen and Kotler, won last August the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia in the English Second Language category. In that same competition, Noam Dahan and Tom Manor, also of Tel Aviv University, won the Open competition.

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We Are The Champions. Tel Aviv University’s victorious debate team at the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia. (Photo via Facebook)

However, the international competition in Novi Sad, Serbia was not all fun and ‘debates’. The Qatar representatives repeatedly refused to participate in debates in which they were competing against Israel, stating on multiple occasions that they refuse to debate alongside an “apartheid state.” This is the same Qatar that is spending billions to build hotels, subways, shopping centers and stadiums ahead of the World Cup in 2022 but those working on the projects are mostly foreigners who are poorly paid and poorly housed, hidden from the rest of Qatari society, like outcasts. These wretched and abused workers live on the edge of the dream that they help build but are precluded from experiencing.

If ever there is apartheid, it is in Qatar!

Nevertheless, despite Qatari hypocrisy and attempts to politicise a major debate tournament by refusing to engage with students from Israel, the two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia.

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Qatar Boycott of Israel Backfires. Despite Qatar’s attempts to politicize a major debate tournament and its refusal to engage with students from Israel, two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia

If there were a prize for epic boycott failure, Qatar won it!

Its efforts to boycott debating Israel, ended up by getting BDS banned from European debates.

School Of Thought

Israeli university debating teams doing so well internationally may partly be explained because Israeli schools too are doing so well.

Afterall, one feeds the other.

Debaters are given topics – sometimes with just an hour or two to prepare – and told which side they represent. They often find themselves arguing the opposite of their personal beliefs. “That’s the idea,” said Maya Levi, 18, of Ohel Shem school in Ramat Gan. “In debate, beyond learning rhetoric, you learn how to think and see an issue from both sides. The challenge is stepping into someone else’s shoes when it’s not your point of view.”

The Israeli national high school debate team won the EurOpen debate competition in Stuttgart, Germany in November 2018, raising eyebrows for going undefeated for all 12 rounds of the competition.

The team beat 37 of the best debate teams in the world, including those of Germany, China and the USA.

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The Last Word. The Israeli high school debate team that came first the 2018 European championships. (photo credit: Nicole Chan/Learning Leaders)

Unbeaten throughout all twelve rounds was a rare achievement in debate, particularly for a team comprised of non-native English speakers.

Two of the members on the team, Maya Carmon and Omer Zilberberg, are students at the Atid High School for Arts and Sciences in Lod. The other students on the team, Tamir West and Tomer Zucker, study at the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem and at Oleh Shem High School in Ramat Hasharon, respectively.
It was a privilege to witness the team making history,” said Elijah Kochin, the team’s coach who accompanied them to Stuttgart.

“This generation of debaters is very talented,” said Miriam Kalman, a coach assisting the team leading up to the world championships in Sri Lanka. “We are looking forward to more success at the World Schools Debating Championships in 2019.”

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Far Out In Far East. Team Israel and friends find a quiet spot to display the national flag at the 2017 World Schools Debating Championships in Bali, Indonesia

Retired senior examiner for the English matriculation in Israel and who co-authored two English school textbooks, Stephen Schulman, expressed “hats off to our debaters” on hearing the results of the debating teams from Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University at his alma mater – UCT. Shulmann felt a particular pride that Israel debaters made their mark in Cape Town where he grew up and was a member of his school’s debating society. “A true debater needs to be imbued with powers of eloquence, be a good listener, be sensitive to his or her audience and have a quick and ready wit to win over others. Our university teams showed that they possessed all these qualities to an outstanding degree and I feel a great pride by their showing South Africa and the world the fine intellectual standards of our students.”

This all augurs well for Israel spokespeople for the future.

 

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Israeli Debaters In Action. Debaters from Tel Aviv University competing in the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia. (Photo via Facebook)

The Israel Brief – 20-24 January 2019

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Zionism and the Civil Right movement?

By  Rolene Marks

In honour of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lay of the Land pays tribute to this great civil rights leader and his tremendous support for the State of Israel and Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. At a time when Zionism is being maligned by many, we pay tribute to his support by examining who is a Zionist and historical ties to the civil rights movement in the article below.

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The King’s Message Is Alive. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has been a national holiday for 34 years.

 There has been a lot of debate, discussion and social media brouhaha lately over who is or what defines a Zionist.

In simple terms Zionism is nothing more that the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland. The great civil rights leader, Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, was rumoured to have coined this definition of Zionism and I reckon he knew quite a bit about human rights. And he was a Zionist! And he wasn’t Jewish!!

The reason that I am writing about this is important.

After thousands of years of being made well aware that Jews are unwelcome in many countries, we have returned en masse to our ancient and ancestral homeland.  The word ‘Zion’ refers to those biblical ties since time immemorial. It is proven that Jews have “indigenous people’s rights to the land” and in case anybody has doubt, antiquities are being unearthed every day in solid support.

Zionism is also the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is a guarantee of our rights to organize ourselves politically and assign it a name that hearkens back to our ancient roots and love for Zion. Many thought that with the realization of the modern state of Israel, antisemitism would disappear but instead it has reared its head in a new form – anti-Zionism.

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To say that Jews have no right to organise themselves politically, and calling it Zionism, is racism. And many agree – that is why we have a phenomenal support base that includes many Christians who work tirelessly in support of the Jewish state and Muslims, some of whom put their lives at risk to support Israel.

The Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. identified strongly with Jews and proudly marched alongside us as we mutually supported each other’s activism for civil rights. Today, many have forgotten the noble history and historical relationship between Jews and African Americans and have tried to hijack this to serve a different agenda. Christians in America are and remain some of Israel’s most ardent supporters.

Sadly, there are many that denigrate this relationship and demonise those of us who proudly identify as Zionist –  Jews and non-Jews alike.

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Comrades-in Arms. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., other civil rights leaders and clergy, including Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, during a civil rights march (Getty Images).

I am a card carrying, loud spoken, flag carrying, Hatikvah singing Zionist. I don’t care much for labels or wings but take exceptional pride in the fact that our beautiful flawed democracy – the State of Israel – is brilliantly multicultural, and allows for divergent opinions. Robust discussion and debate is a point of pride in a neighbourhood where you can be killed for disagreeing with the leaders or following a different religion.

Are we all not heartbroken by the visuals coming out of Syria or news of Christians being slaughtered in our region?

Is Israel perfect? No – sometimes we are guilty of an epic fail or many, but I believe part of being a Zionist is being able to criticize and self-correct. I believe that Zionism means you want to see an exemplary Israel. An Israel that is tolerant and welcoming and grateful for all who support her. This is dignified; this is keeping with the tenets of our founders who envisioned this. There is room in the Zionist tent for everyone – Christian, Muslim, left and right.

The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

I am proud of the many Arab, Druze, Christian and other minority groups who proudly serve in our diplomatic corps and IDF, laying their lives on the line every day for our safety. The rights of minorities, while not always respected (and this must be corrected), are enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

The Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recognised this.

His support was not contingent on perfection but rather the shared values of what both Zionism and the civil rights movement represent.

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Marching Together. (From left) Martin Luther King Jr., Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel march in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

The world is becoming a hostile place for Zionists. Ask the students on campus that are bullied and sometimes physically threatened for their political beliefs. Or the store owners in Europe who find their shops ransacked for carrying Israeli products. Or the travelers turned away from accommodation for being Israeli. The rise of the alt-right in the USA with their Nazi salutes and propensity for spray painting swastikas or the neo Nazis and BDS supporters in Europe or South America and South Africa has many Jews feeling afraid and isolated.

It is a fear shared by many who worked hard and fought for equality for all.

It was the dream of another great Zionist who while addressing civil rights in America in the 1960’s, voiced a sentiment that is universal and as relevant today as it was then when he said:

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. The time is long overdue to make it come true.

Through the 3D lens – perspectives on anti-Semitism

By Rolene Marks

One of the world’s most famous human rights icons and uber-Zionist, Natan Sharansky, theorised that you can measure anti-Semitism through what he calls “the 3-d lens”.  It is not a fabulous accessory for your eyes but rather a logical checklist to measure anti-Semitism.

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Can it be clearer? The rhetoric and imagery that gave rise to the Holocaust appear today in America and Europe.

The 3-d’s identified by Sharansky are – Demonization, Double-standards and De-legitimization.

The world seems to be suffering from an age-old disease for which there seems to be no cure – anti-Semitism.  Often lying dormant until it can manifest in whatever trendy guise is part of the current zeitgeist, anti-Semitism has currently reared its ugly head as hatred against the Jewish state, Israel. The 3-d lens has helped define this ugly phenomenon a lot more clearly. It seems that lately that you cannot open a newspaper or scroll through your social media news feed without mention of an anti-Semitic incident somewhere in the world.  The ominous site of the Nazi swastika is now common on university campuses across the USA and other parts of the world with its appalling message – Jews not welcome!

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Equating Nazism with Zionism = the New Anti-Semitism. Poster comparing Zionism to Nazism found on the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus.. (photo credit: EVA ZELTSER)

Recently, Jews around the world commemorated 80 years since the horrific events of Kristallnacht on the 9th of November 1938. Kristallnacht is a brutal reminder that the Holocaust did not start with gas chambers and Auschwitz. It started with words.

Many believed that after the atrocities of the Holocaust were made public, anti-Semitism would have ended. Today it is manifesting in new forms. In the past, anti-Semitism has revealed itself “traditionally” in ugly caricatures and stereotypes, the desecration of cemeteries and places of worship and discrimination against Jews. I remember a time in my life when sports clubs and organisations where what we called “JNA” – Jews not Allowed.

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America The Free! The US Stars & Stripes appear above the Swastika.

Today it is different – and no less malignant.

It has become a gross and dangerous global phenomenon – France reported a 69% growth in anti-Semitic attacks in 2018 and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has issued her own caution against growing levels, and in the United Kingdom, concern that it has been given a tailwind by Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn has given rise to yet another manifestation – that of political anti-Semitism.

It is often said that when the world is in a time of chaos the first scapegoats to bear the brunt of peoples’ frustration and anger are the Jews. Images of the new ‘yellow vest’ phenomena in France with their virulent indictment against what they see as wealthy Jews responsible for their misfortune does not happen in a vacuum. It happens when we fail to examine anti-Semitism through the 3D lens.

It is not specific to the European continent either. This cancer is prevalent in the USA as well.

The horrific events in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people, with an average age of 73, were slaughtered during Shabbat prayers simply because they were Jewish, has exposed startling levels of anti-Semitism in the United States. Their killer clearly stated on more than one occasion that “All Jews must die”. This horrific attack has been termed the worst anti-Semitic incident in US Jewish history.

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Murder In The Synagogue. 2018 witnessed the worst anti-Semitic attack in USA history at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in October that left 11 dead. Getty Images

Anti-Semitism is spreading its tentacles in a variety of forms. It is present in the far-right to far-left, from the lowest of the low KKK member to the upper echelons of the political establishment. It is also present in a new trend called Intersectionality – which can basically be defined as all suffering or oppression is linked. In other words, if you feel discriminated against as a woman or for your sexual orientation, you could immediately identify with oppressed Palestinians. Context and nuance be damned! This is impacting on the Jewish community as the message is simple – all are equal, all are welcome, except Zionists.

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Evil Amongst Us. Members of the National Socialist Movement rally near Los Angeles City Hall on April 17, 2010. (David McNew/Getty Images/JTA)

In a world where women’s rights and gender equality is growing in the collective global consciousness, spurred on by movements like the Women’s March, one would think that these seemingly progressive organizations would embrace diversity. And they do. Except if you are a Jewish woman who identifies as Zionist!

This is where intersectionality is finding a support base.  The leaders of the Women’s March have come under increasing criticism for their support of arch anti-Semite, nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan meets all 3 of the d’s in Sharansky’s lens. He demonises – having referred to Jews as “termites” or “satanic” and “have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.” He questions Israel’s legitimacy (de-legitimization) by calling or the destruction of the Jewish state. At the end of a talk to students at the University of Tehran law school, Farrakhan led the chanting of the common Iranian refrains “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” and was joined by members of the audience. Farrakhan also displays an appalling double standard when it comes to racism. An “advocate” for racism, he employs the grossest vitriol against Jews – “The Jews have been so bad at politics they lost half their population in the Holocaust. They thought they could trust in Hitler, and they helped him get the Third Reich on the road.”

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Frightened In France. David (identified only by his first name), a 59-year-old Jewish teacher who was severely beaten in Paris in 2014. The attackers drew a swastika on David’s chest

This is a man that Tamika Mallory, one the leaders of the Woman’s march declared “GOAT- Greatest of all time” and that her colleagues Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour proudly align themselves with. What could have been a revolutionary movement for women, has descended into a cesspit of hatred and discrimination that is resulting in chapter after chapter cancelling their solidarity marches because of accusations of Anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism has found fertile ground on the African continent as well. Once the economic powerhouse of the continent, South Africa and in particular its ruling ANC (African National Congress) party, have created an environment that is allowing the seeds of hatred to firmly take route. The ANC have cemented their relationship with international terror organization, Hamas. The irony of it all is that the Charters of these two organisations could not be more different but yet they have found common ground, signing a Memorandum of Agreement to increase co-operation and entrench their mutual solidarity against the State of Israel. Apart from the absurdity of this alliance, this has a knock-on effect and is evident in the increased vitriol on social media, support for BDS and amongst populist groups like Black Land First and the EFF (Economic Freedom Front). It is deeply worrying that the Rainbow Nation is forgetting the lessons of its past and descending into a cesspit of intolerance – especially since the rest of the continent is opening up to and warming ties with Israel.

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True Colours. Ukrainian football fans unfurl a Nazi flag during a match between Dynamo Kyiv and Karpaty in Kiev in 2012. Photograph: Ukrinform/AP

Whenever the world seems to be in chaos, Jews are blamed for this and today anti-Semitism is embarking on a dangerous world tour. It can no longer be viewed as solely a Jewish issue or a left- or right-wing phenomenon. Eighty years after Kristallnacht, we are reminded that the Holocaust started with words and not gas chambers and if we treat all forms of racism as equal, then we all need to start looking at anti-Semitism through Sharansky’s 3-d lens.

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Writing On The Wall. A German flag with Nazi swastika graffitied on a wall in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 20, 2018. (SAJBOD)) Anti-Israel sentiment is spilling over into ‘hateful slurs’ against Jews who are being warned “your time is coming”, and told the “Holocaust will be a picnic by comparison.”

It is often said that Jews are the proverbial canaries in a coalmine and that what starts with the Jews does not end with the Jews.  In times of turbulence, Jews are often the first scapegoat but very rarely the last.

For anyone who deigns to deny that anti-Semitism is a growing international problem, perhaps they need to borrow Sharansky’s 3D glasses.

“Merry Christmas in Gaza 2018”

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

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

The Other Cheek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bearing False Witness

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

Van Zile expounds on the nature of this diabolical situation.

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

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

Why is the truth suppressed?

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

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

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

 Because of this untenable situation, Van Zile sadly advocates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nasty Along The Nile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern of Persecution

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

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

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

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

This is the new trend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Reconciling Reconciliation

Boycotts That Deserve To Backfire

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

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

 

By Prof. Mohammed Dajani

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

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Prof. Mohammed Dajani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Prof. Mohammed Dajani. (Credit: Natan Dvir)

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

Without Israel, there would have been no university education in Palestinian Authority areas

By Charles Abelsohn

The Israel hating crowd in South Africa now desire to boycott Israel`s academic institutions and Israeli academicians  due to the “treatment” of Palestinian universities.

Let`s ask some questions. Are there universities in the West Bank and Gaza? If so, who established the universities and when. How are Palestinian universities ranked as compared with their Arab counterparts.

The Ottoman Empire, actually Turkey, a Moslem State, occupied Palestine from 1513 until 1917. Since Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard University, who visited the country in 1867, and described the Galilee as a place of emptiness and misery and in his famous book “Innocents Abroad,” Mark Twain recalls not seeing a living soul throughout his journey, unsurprisingly, there were no Arab universities. The Jews, however, established the world famous Technion in Haifa in 1912.

The British controlled Palestine between 1917 and 1948. The Jews immediately established another university, the world famous Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1918. The Arabs? Nothing, as in: no Arab university.

Jordan, an Arab country, illegally occupied Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967, renaming this area the West Bank.

During this period, the Jordanians were careful and shrewd enough to forbid and prevent the establishment of any university in the West Bank. Yes, in 1967, when Israel regained Judea and Samaria, there were no universities in the West BankNOT ONE! Did anyone academically criticize or boycott Jordan? Of course not. When it comes to Israel, double standards are the order of the day.

Israel recovered Judea and Samaria in 1967. In 1970, Deputy Israeli Premier Yigal Allon, who was then Minister of Education, announced that he had approved the establishment of the first university in Ramallah in principle when approached by West Bank Arab leaders, including Dr. Salem Nashef, Dean of the Tulkarem Agricultural School.

Paradoxically, it was the Arab Jordanians who still attempted to prevent the establishment of the first university on the West Bank. In April 1971, Sheikh Mohammad Ali Jaabari, the Mayor of Hebron, even needed to warn the Jordanian government not to interfere with plans by West Bank Arab leaders to establish an Arab university on the West Bank. Jaabari spoke in reply to a charge made by the Jordanian Education Minister in Amman that “all those who take part in planning the university are traitors and collaborators with the Israelis.” Eventually, under the Israeli administration, in 1971 the foundation of the Hebron University was laid and forty-three students joined from different parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

The universities in the West Bank enjoyed the cooperation of the Israeli universities without which they could not have been developed. In 1973, Dr. Nashef, as a guest of Tel Aviv University’s “Shiloah” Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, reported that Arab education on the West Bank had expanded under the Israeli administration since 1967. According to Dr. Nashef, 90 percent of children between 6-15 were receiving an elementary education, a much higher percentage than under the Jordanian regime. He further said that by 1973 the number of matriculants under Israeli administration had risen from 3,500 to 14,500.

Stupid matriculants. Were they not aware that they were supposed to boycott Israeli administered education?

What exactly are the boycotters boycotting? Thanks only to Israel, a second university, Birzeit University, was established in 1975. Under Israeli guidance, by 1993, when the Oslo Agreement establishing the Palestinian Authority was signed, there were 14 universities, 18 colleges and 20 community colleges in the West Bank and Gaza.

Bir Zeit University
Bir Zeit University

Current Palestinian tertiary student enrolment is 214,000, of which roughly 54 per cent are women and 46 per cent are men. This compares favorably with Israel’s tertiary sector where from a larger population enrolment is approximately 307,000 and the gender balance among undergraduates is 56 per cent women and 44 per cent men. The remarkably high participation rate reflects both the commendable importance Palestinians attach to the universities (and formal education more generally) for strengthening both their economy and their national identity and, importantly in the context of the proposed “academic boycott”, the absence of any impediment by Israel. There is no legitimate reason for any “academic boycott” except hate for Israel.

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Entrance to the campus of Al-Najah university

With Al-Najah National University of Nablus ranked in 20th place of the top 300 ranked Arab universities and Birzeit university of Ramallah in 27th place, it is clear that the Palestinian universities are among the best in the Arab world and do not suffer discrimination or oppression by Israel.

If the boycotters, like the Jordanians, had their way, there would today still not have been any academic institutions in the West Bank. Israel`s positive contribution to the Palestinians generally and Israel`s contribution to the establishment of higher education specifically continues to be ignored by the Israel haters, best described as the new obstructionist Jordanians, who themselves contribute nothing to the Palestinians.

Israel`s positive contribution to the Palestinian higher education may be compared to the “contribution” by UCT, Stellenbosch and other South African universities` professors and  students specifically and South Africa generally to the Palestinians – which is nothing. The anti-Israel noise by some South Africans may be emotionally satisfying to these few boycotters but the constructive support continues to be provided by Israel. By their actions, in attempting to prevent Israeli support of Palestinian institutions, these few boycotters may best be described as anti-Palestinian rather than anti-Israel, much like the Ottoman Empire (the Turks), British and Jordanians pre-1967.

Israel is now to be “punished” by a boycott for permitting the establishment of universities in the West Bank and Gaza, against the opposition of Arab governments such as Jordan. Until 1967 the world was silent which means the world at that time consented to the Arab opposition to universities in the West Bank. The criticism of Israel and its academics and the boycotting of Israeli academics is simply living proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

Kafka? Orwellian? I doubt whether these Israeli haters even know who these guys are.

 

 

image001 (16).jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles Abelsohn, a co-founder of Truth be Told, retired several years ago as the legal manager of one of the most well–known entities in Israel. He is a graduate of three universities (Cape Town, Stellenbosch and U. of South Africa) in South Africa in Law, Transportation Economics and Finance. His interests, even as a young student, were Judaism, Israel, Economics and Finance.

 

 

Feature picture credit: Yaser Wakid