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.





By Bev Goldman

Business Manager South Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Although a tiny country geographically, Israel’s challenges are enormous, hence it is hardly surprising that the number of think tanks in the country increases steadily. Today, there are dozens of such institutions providing decision makers with high-quality and objective policy research on a range of critical issues.

We have seen how events can confound “even the experts” – most notably 2016. How did the plethora of experts, analysts and predictors get the Brexit vote or the Trump election to the USA Presidency so wrong?

Clearly, predictions on human behaviour are difficult to call, hence the importance of ‘think tanks’ to research and advise. “Policymakers need understandable, reliable, accessible, and useful information about the societies they govern,” according to a 2016 Go To Think Tank Index Report.They also need to know how current policies are working, as well as to set out possible alternatives and their likely costs and consequences.”

Think tanks may vary by ideological perspectives, sources of funding, topical emphasis and prospective consumers.

In October 2017, a new think was launched in Jerusalem, billing itself as Israel’s “new conservative security think tank” that “seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defence and diplomatic discourse and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.”


The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) has already made a name for itself as a result of its activities in a number of areas, including “the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land of Israel as a central component of strategic worldview; the salience of security in diplomatic agreements; rejection of unilateral Israeli moves that strengthen adversaries; the importance of strategic cooperation with like-minded allies; the imperative of Israel being able to defend itself by itself; and, critically, the importance of a united Jerusalem to Israel’s security and destiny.”

All these policies and stratagems fall under the main umbrella of reclaiming Zionism. Its worldview is conservative and strategic and, according to its vice-president Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, it will deal with the basic issues of national security, with an emphasis “on the struggle for the future of Jerusalem.”

Hereunder are a few of the major think-tanks playing a vital role in the Israeli government’s policy-making decisions.

– the Taub Centre for Social Policy Studies does impartial research on socioeconomic conditions in Israel, and develops innovative, equitable and practical options for macro public policies that advance the well-being of Israelis.  The Center strives to influence public policy through direct communications with policy-makers and by enriching the public debate that accompanies the decision-making process.

image004 (3).png– the BESA Centre (the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies) is named in memory of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, whose ground-breaking Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty laid the cornerstone for conflict resolution in the Middle East.  On June 14, 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu chose the BESA Centre podium as the venue for announcing his historic acceptance of the “Two-State Solution”.

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Peace Makers. Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat (left) and Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem, Begin in whose honour the the Begin-Sadat Center for Stategic Studies is named after.

-the Israeli Democracy Institute, based in Jerusalem, is an independent centre of research and action dedicated to strengthening the foundations of Israeli democracy and bolstering the values and institutions of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In the University of Pennsylvania‘s 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, IDI was ranked the twenty-third best think tank in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Look Who’s Talking! Former US president Jimmy Carter speaks during the sixth Annual Herzliya Conference in 2006. Carter attended the conference organized by the IDC Herzliya’s Institute for Policy and Strategy. (Photo credit should read Ofer Vaknin/AFP/Getty Images)

-the Aaron Institute for Economic Policy seeks to sustain economic growth and social strength in the country by developing modern and innovative strategies and policy tools for the Israeli economy. Based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) which today has over 60 students from South Africa, the institute’s main aim is to develop policy strategies that eliminate weaknesses and empower the strengths of the Israeli economy. Its research focuses on multiple industries while examining the various reform tools and cross-referencing data with modern technologically developed countries while seeking ways of increasing cross sectorial growth by changes to industrial sectors.

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New Horizons. A paper on poverty reduction and growth at the 2018 Aaron Institute for Economic Policy at the IDC Herzliya.

the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA) specialises in public diplomacy and foreign policy. Founded in 1976, it primarily researches defensible borders; Jerusalem in International diplomacy; Iran and the new threats to the West; and combating delegitimization.

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Protected Jerusalem Landmark. Built in 1932, the home of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is located in Beit Milken at the corner of Rachel Emeinu and Tel Hai Streets, directly across from the Greek Consulate in the Greek Colony.

This think-tank focuses on Iran, radical Islam, the Middle East, Israel, the peace process, Jerusalem, antisemitism and world Jewry. Its Director of the Political Warfare Project, Dan Diker, in January co-penned an article with David Kaplan and Rolene Marks in South Africa’s Daily Maverick “Why Oscar van Heerden insults South Africa’s intelligence’. It exposed the lack of academic research and prejudice against Israel of the South African “academic”, Dr. Oscar van Heerden.

– Established in 2000, the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) – also based at the IDC Herzliya – is the convener of Israel’s most prestigious annual conference, the ‘Herzliya Conference’, which aspires to contribute to Israel’s national security and resilience. The Institute conducts integrative and comprehensive policy analysis on the challenges facing Israel, identifying opportunities and threats, producing strategic insights and policy recommendations for decision-makers, and informs the public and policy discourse. Often referred to as “Israel’s Davos”, the Conference is annually attended by participants from South Africa.

image008.png-the nonpartisan policy think tank Reut Institute in Tel Aviv provides real-time, long-term strategic decision-support to Israeli policymakers, aiming to “identify the gaps in current policy and strategy in Israel and the Jewish world, and work to build and implement new visions.” Reut is not akin to the traditional ‘think-tank’ model in that its methodology is very different: it focuses on unique cutting-edge theory, software tools, and impact strategy. It aims to provide early warning of strategic surprises and opportunities and to design strategies to avoid or seize them respectively.

“We don’t provide the answers, we frame the questions: we help people in positions of leadership, authority and influence identify and abandon old paradigms and refocus their thinking.”

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The Reut Institute. Established by Gidi Grinstein in 2004, meet Reut’s team ready to pursue “the vision of an Israeli and Jewish model society that is resilient, prosperous and makes a significant and distinct contribution to humanity.”

Ever Mindful

These, and other think tanks that proliferate across the land, are suppliers of vital information to Knesset members and the public.  They are peopled by some of the finest Israeli minds, often drawn from the ranks of academia. They focus on ensuring that policies and strategies adopted for the security, development and future growth of the Israeli state and its citizens are aligned with the needs of the latter – their continued prosperity, the resilience and cohesion of the Jewish people both inside and outside of the country, and the country’s standing in the international community.

Reading through some of the documents that come from these various think tanks is fascinating but simultaneously puzzling.

Are they official government policyAnd if not, why not?

In many cases, their proposals and tactics seem to make more sense than the myriad of bureaucratic decisions which are often made reactively rather than proactively, and which appear to fly in the face of public consensus. They are reflective and profound and have clearly been analysed at length.

The Good, The Bad and The Great

It all makes fascinating reading.

One research paper that particularly resonated for me was JISS’s Professor Ephraim Inbar’s recently published “The Future of Israel Looks Good”.

“Time,” wrote the professor, “is on Israel’s side.”  His review of the balance of power between Israel and its foes; of the domestic features moulding Israel’s national power; and of Israel’s standing in the international community, “validates the assessment that Israel has the dominant hand for the foreseeable future.”

Inbar argues that Israel’s powerful military machine in overcoming numerous military challenges has enhanced its deterrence; and the decline in the intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a direct result of its military superiority. The welcome beginnings of a peace process with several Arab states translates into a diminished likelihood of another large-scale conventional Arab-Israeli conflict.

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Prof. Efraim Inbar, Director, BESA Center Lecture #8 from “Turkey – Whereto?” Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies July 10, 2013

Countering the endless threat of missiles on its civilian population, Israel deploys impressive anti-missile systems, which include the Iron Dome that in its encounters with Gazan terrorists, intercepted 88% of incoming projectiles. Inbar however warns that “these systems cannot provide a full defence in view of the numbers of missiles arrayed against Israel.”

The bad news – and there is always bad news – is a nuclear Iran which presents a grave national security challenge not only to Israel but to the region and beyond. This threat could start a nuclear arms race transforming a regional balance of power. While the emergence of a nuclear Iran is potentially catastrophic, Israel is believed capable of neutralising this existential threat.

But hey – what about the good, the better news?  In 2010, recognition of Israel’s economic achievements opened the door to its becoming a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a brotherhood of the world’s 33 most developed countries that are committed to democracy and a market economy. Sound economic policies, an emphasis on market values, and a seamless adaptation to globalisation have resulted in Israel emerging as one of the most developed market economies, driven in large part by its science and technology sectors as well as its sophisticated manufacturing and agriculture areas.

While Israel has achieved so much in seven decades, I have taken a more sombre posture noting Israel’s position within the orbit of its international placing on the world stage.

What of Israel’s other stumbling blocks?  What of the country’s social rifts? The Ashkenazi-Sephardic cleavage? The Palestinian citizens in the West Bank territories? Their accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing? The grim lives and the overcrowding in Gaza?  And what future plans are there for that populace, many of whom want only an ordinary life, transport, freedom, movement, safety, education, health care?

Worth Thinking About

Think tanks work so long as those who people them, and those to whom their findings are conveyed, work simultaneously to secure their verification and their implementation. This demands leadership of the highest calibre with a commitment to pursue improved living standards rather than only planning for military crises.

And so, despite the odds and obstacles, Israel at almost 71 is a great success story. Its future will remain bright as long as it continues implementing prudent domestic and foreign policies and remains successful in transmitting a Zionist ethos to future generations. While peace with all its neighbours “is desirable,” says Prof. Inbar, “that eventuality is not a necessary condition for Israel’s survival or prosperity in the medium-to-long-term.”

Words of wisdom, words of comfort, words of reassurance.



The Roots of Peace

By Rolene Marks

There is something that is quite phenomenal when women bond. Women can connect in a way that is unique and on a different level to their male counterparts. So, imagine the possibilities of what could happen when you bring together women from very divergent backgrounds!

One Man’s Vision

Israel is a country of simplicities and complexities and gorgeous diversity. This is a country that has gathered in exiles from over 80 different countries and has rich and diverse minority communities making up roughly 24% of the population and contrary to what many of her detractors would have you believe, they enjoy full and equal rights as citizens with representation in the Knesset (parliament).

But Israel, being a country filled with paradox, means that sometimes there are chasms between the cultures and creative ways to break down barriers is exactly what is needed.

David Moatty, Director of WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) Afula Community Centre had a vision. What would happen if he brought together women from different cultural backgrounds to bond over something creative – painting?

The result was “The Olive Tree”.

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Fostering Friendship. Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Circassian women in Israel come together in a creative project to portray the olive tree as the symbol for peace and friendship.

The Olive tree has long been a symbol of peace. Its roots (pun very much intended!) stretch all the way to biblical times and are an iconic image for the Abrahamic religions. In Judaism, the olive tree and its oil, symbolises justice and mercy, and according to the Christian gospels, olives are symbols of sacrifice and love. In the Quran (the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God), it is written that the olive tree is the “world’s axis and the symbol of the universal humanity of the Prophet’.

UNbelievable. Art from Israeli women of diverse religious backgrounds exhibiting together at the UN in Vienna.

Bonds of Friendship

They came from a variety of different backgrounds and ages with a common interest – to create art and perhaps make a friend or two. Women from all cultural and religious groups – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Circassian and originally from places as exotic and diverse as Romania, Lithuania, Argentina, the Caucasian mountains and with a local flavour that included Nazareth, Umm-Al Fahad and Tiberius. Thirty-five women, aged between 17 and 80, painted glorious portraits of olive trees and weaved bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime.

The project is sponsored by a host of European WIZO Federations that include France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Bonding Together. World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky with Muslim participant.

Through their mutual love for art, the women have fostered an environment of tolerance and sharing. Olive trees make no distinction between cultures and art is a universal language and this is evident in the exquisite portraits painted by the women. Each picture tells a story and transports you through their personal journeys.

Mali Schneiderman from Kfar Saba was seriously wounded in a car accident ten years earlier. Painting has helped her to heal and regain both her physical and mental health.

Hana Rozenstein, a Holocaust survivor, has painted her “Tree of Peace” in gratitude to the beautiful country she calls home. Sharing her story with the Arab women in the group has brought her a tremendous sense of joy, and Shuzanna Abu-Masoud, the sixth child in a religious, Muslim family, dedicates her painting to her mother who adores the multicultural contact between Jews and Muslims.

Uniting Nations

It is not just the paintings and their talented artists that tell a story. This project with its roots firmly grounded in tolerance and altruism, has found itself warmly received all over the world – even in the halls of the United Nations, where it has been showcased both in Geneva and Vienna.

State Of The Art. Participants gather at the exhibition and reflect on their pursuit for peace through their art.

Mention of the UN is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of every Israeli as the institution seems to have a disproportionate amount of focus on the Jewish State but the Olive Tree project is living proof that accusations of practices of Apartheid and trumped up resolutions are figments of the imagination. The real work is done on the ground between Israel’s citizens. This is where peace is negotiated.

The Olive Tree project has recently been renamed “Shutafot le Derech” and the journey that it has inspired has not just been a tour of the world  – helping to tell Israel’s stories of diversity and tolerance that are so seldom heard but do exist – but also healing.

Message To Mankind. The exhibition at the UN is an example of cross-cultural cooperation.

It is here amongst the women, amongst the unbreakable bonds of friendship, where the roots of peace are firmly planted.



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


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.

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

South Africa Misbehaves; Israel Behaves

While in December 2018, South Africa’s ANC government welcomed to Cape Town a Hamas delegation from Gaza committed to Israel’s destruction, a renovated community centre was being opened in Johannesburg. This community centre is sponsored by Israel.

This same Hamas who only weeks before fired some 500 missiles at Israel’s civilian population,in comparison to Israel – who opts for Construction rather than Hamas-style Destruction.“

By David E. Kaplan

While the news focused on Cape Town where a Hamas delegation in Parliament, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that 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,” there was another event playing that was not making news.

A renovated community centre sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in South Africa, was unveiled in Soweto in early December 2018, despite pressure from the BDS movement to scrap the project.

The opening of the new community centre proceeded despite the tensions between the two countries. Last May, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel, who has since returned and in June, the mayor of Johannesburg suspended Mpho Phalatse, a council member in charge of health after she made a public declaration that the city was a “friend” of Israel.

This trajectory of antisemitism was further evidenced when during November 2018:

– Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar called in the presence of ANC leaders in Nelson Mandela’s cell  on Robben Island for a violent Jihad against Israel “to regain the land inch by inch”.

– the Johannesburg City Council voted to rename a major street in the city after Palestinian terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled.

–  following BDS pressure, Stellenbosch University disinvited to a conference, seven professors from three universities in Israel.

Despite all this, and throughout the year, Israel’s ambassador to Pretoria, Lior Keinan, has been promoting social projects involving the local population across the country. The unveiling of the community centre in a distressed neighbourhood in Soweto, follows a spate of projects by the Israeli embassy in the fields from agriculture, women’s empowerment to advancing gay rights. The Community Centre is just the latest, and proudly displays a plaque noting the contribution of the Israeli embassy. The unveiling took place in the presence of Ambassador Keinan and Israeli, Danny Adeno Abebe, who initiated the project.

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Constructive Engagement. Israeli-sponsored community centre opens in South Africa. Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan (centre)

From Dreamer to Doer

An Ethiopian who immigrated to Israel with his family as a young child, Abebe, is presently the shaliach (emissary from Israel) to the Jewish Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror, that was founded in South Africa in 1930 by Norman Lurie of Johannesburg. Lurie was more than a dreamer; he was a doer and so is this young emissary from Israel.

Inculcated with the values of Tikun Olam (“Correcting the world”) Abede initiated a programme called “Your Neighbors,” where through Habonim, they organized enriching monthly encounters between Jewish children in Johannesburg and children in the distressed area of Kliptown in Soweto. The activities at these meetings, ranged from doing  homework together to the more social activities like dancing.

“However, “the community centre where we were meeting, lacked a roof and became difficult to conduct activities during rainy days,” said Abede. The makeshift roof became moldy, and “the musical equipment was destroyed by the water.”

Abebe invited Lior Keinan, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, to visit the neighbourhood and meet with the local leadership, who requested help in repairing the roof.

No sooner had Keinan agreed to assist on behalf of the State of Israel, predictably the local BDS activists responded by putting pressure on the local leadership to halt the renovation plans.

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Man of Africa. Apart from serving as an Education Adviser to the Habonim Dror Youth Movement, Danny Adeno Abede acts as well as a consultant to professional staff and related Jewish and Israel organisations, representing WZO in Johannesburg. Follow Danny and his family’s journey, as they integrate themselves into the Jewish Community in South Africa.

True Colours

Rather than show concern for a community in need, in true BDS fashion, its leaders decried the community centre project as “a public relations stunt financed by the apartheid state in the Middle East.”

The residents of Soweto saw through the BDS façade of underlying hypocrisy and false pretense and accepted the Israeli aid since the project was designed to benefit the local population.

Abebe says, “the community centre plays an integral part in the lives of more than 400 children living in Soweto, where they can now spend their time doing homework without the dangers of getting drenched by rain.”

Abede who is presently at the annual Habonim summer camp in Onrus in the Western Cape, says “There is something about being an Israeli emissary that reinforces my profound love for my country. And the distance from family that my work demands, makes me long for it even more.”

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Sign Of The Time. The plaque at the newly renovated Community Centre in Soweto.

Abede is no less a man of Africa than those he brings Habonim to engage with. He has the depth of understanding prejudice and deprivation from personal experience.

Arriving in Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses when Israel began a seven-week clandestine mission to bring more than 8000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, Abeda’s saga is no less compelling than the biblical saga that transpired over 3000 years earlier.

Referencing the story of Passover when the Jews fled the slavery of Egypt and undertook the long and arduous journey to ‘The Promised Land’, he says “We understand the meaning of freedom, liberty and a long journey undertaken through the desert. Our family experienced the uncertainty throughout the journey, as well as the sense of helplessness, much like the wandering Jews must have experienced with Moses as they walked through the desert without truly knowing their destination or having hope.
When we read the Haggadah (text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover), we feel we are part of that same journey, part of the people who reluctantly followed Moses.
We, too, walked in the desert dressed in minimal clothing, thirsty for water and hungry for food. We too walked endlessly without knowing where our escape route from Ethiopia would lead us. Like those Children of Israel, we were refugees. We too, shed tears while burying our dead where there was no cemetery. We too, laid our dead to rest at the side of the path and continued our seemingly endless journey with the vague hope of reaching the land of Israel.”

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Operation Moses. Boarding the plane after weeks in the desert, on the way to the promised land, 1984.

Abede says “it is hard to shake off the comparison between our exhausting journey and that of the Children of Israel. We had the same purpose – getting to the land of Israel.
I still remember my father’s dark gaze and my mother falling ill in the desert. I remember my sick younger brother in the refugee camp in Sudan. I remember myself with a runny nose and a bleak look of hopelessness.”

He recalls, “the dead having been buried among the great stones, near a tree trunk or behind a small grove because they were Jews.”
Among them was his aunt, his father’s sister, so when “when we sit each year at the Passover table and tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt and of G-d’s miracle with the Children of Israel, I praise G-d the miracle in bringing us from Ethiopia to Israel.”

Love Thy Neighbour

Abede’s “Your Neighbour/Makwelwane” project was launched early in 2018 when the members from the youth movements of Habonim and Bnei Akiva as well as teachers and pupils from Johannesburg’s King David Schools engage with the youth in Kliptown, Soweto. Says Abede, “The goal is to enrich the education of pupils in Kliptown one Sunday every month. The Jewish youth will tutor them in maths, science, English and other skills needed to pass matric exams. In return, the Kliptown youth will teach their Jewish counterparts Zulu, tribal dance and their local culture.”

The idea behind the initiative is “to activate the idea of ‘Love thy Neighbour’ by closing the gap between cultures and sharing skills,” says Abede.

From the Community Centre in Kliptown, Soweto the message is to engage and prosper.

This message this writer heard from Ambassador Keinan when together with Akiva Tor, Head of the Bureau for World Jewish Affairs at an event on the 5th November 2018 at Café Riteve hosted by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), United Jewish Fund and the SAZF (South African Zionist Federation).

Ambassador Keinan revealed that despite the efforts of BDS, progress is being made in so many areas not receiving the media attention it deserves and that the potential remains for Israel to assist and enrich South Africa in so many areas from hi-tech, agriculture, water management, cyber technology and health.

He reiterated much of what he had expressed in September to the SA Jewish Report that Israel’s relationships with countries in the Middle East have greatly improved, enjoying good relationships with the other countries in BRICS, like Russia, China, India, even Brazil. “We also have much improved friendships on this continent, and we are opening more embassies in Africa and African embassies in Israel. We have a record number of African leaders coming to visit Israel, so why should South Africa stand alone? There is no logic to this.”

From his experience of BDS, Keinan said the organisation has nailed its colours to the mast. “The fact that it stands with Hezbollah flags outside Israeli embassy events says everything. Hezbollah has nothing to do with Palestinians, and everything to do with Iran and the destruction of Israel. Whatever BDS says, this makes it clear it wants to see the total destruction of our country.”

The meaning of ‘Habonim’ in Hebrew is “the builders”.  Projects and initiatives that bring people together in enriching engagement is about building not like BDS which is about destroying.

Moving away from ‘destructive’ to ‘constructive’ messages, the Community Centre in Soweto supported by the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish youth movements in South Africa stands as a beacon of hope and promise.

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Sending Message Of Love. Danny Abede with his kids wearing Habomim uniform shirts in Khayelitsha



Feature picture credit:

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.

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.


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

A Week of Infamy

DARK DAY for South Africa as it rolls out RED CARPET for Hamas Murderers

By David E. Kaplan

What a difference a weekend makes!

On the Friday, the 30th November, a delegation of Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council met and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ANC caucus in Parliament, while on the Monday, a Hamas-controlled military court sentences six Palestinians to death for allegedly collaborating with Israel.

All that remains to be decided for the “hapless six” is whether they will be executed by hanging or firing squad!

Parliament or Prison. Hamas parliamentary delegation meeting with heads of ANC bloc in SA parliament in Cape Town.

South Africans should know all about Hamas’ atrocious record when it comes to the rule of law as they may recall their compatriot, the South African jurist, Navi Pillay who during her tenure as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014, appealed to Hamas “to halt all executions because they are imposed without fair trial” and “must follow international human rights law when seeking to impose the death penalty.” She expressed concerns about allegations of “ill-treatment and torture during interrogations” of people who were sentenced to death.

The South African jurist’s appeal fell on deaf ears as Hamas’ sole aim is to bring down the state of Israel and will kill all who stand in its way. Now South Africa is complicit in murder.

Those who support murderers are guilty as accessories!

The same HAMAS with whom they were proudly signing a MOU that states 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,” only weeks earlier fired nearly 500 missiles into Israel in under 24 hours – one of which blew up a bus.

These missiles were fired not at military but civilian targets; one a direct hit on a home in Beersheba in which a mother and her three children had evacuated moments before to the home’s bomb shelter. Had they not, they would have been killed as many more innocents will likely be killed because of South Africa recklessly and shamefully providing blanket ‘legitimacy’ to terrorism and murder.

With South Africa having one of the highest incidences of rape in the world, its mollycoddling of Hamas is kin to supporting the rapist and punishing the victim!

How else do you explain the ANC’s deathly silence to Hamas’ deadly behavior, but plenty to say when it comes to Israel, as evident at its December 2017 Congress, when rather focusing on its country’s enormous challenges – called for a highly publicised downgrade of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv. This resolution too was included in the MOU signed by the ANC’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Jackson Mthembu, and Hamas’ cofounder Mahmoud Al-Zahar which promises that “the ANC Parliamentary Caucus will use the oversight powers of South Africa’s parliament to ensure that resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office, is implemented by the South African government.”

Shaming Mandela

While on their one week visit to South Africa where they also met with the SACP (South African Communist Party), COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions), and the MRN (Media Review Network), these Hamas murderers committed the ultimate desecration when they were escorted by their ANC hosts to one of South Africa’s most iconic sites for commemorating the Apartheid era – the prison cell on Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

How contrived to choreograph to a global audience of linking prisoners in Israeli jails for crimes of murder and attempted murder to one of the 20th century’s greatest icons, Nelson Mandela.

How foolish and debasing of the Mandela legacy for the ANC to be part of this diabolical charade!

South Africans of any moral standing should cringe at the desecration of hearing Hamas’ al-Zahar standing inside Mandela’s cell, saying of his fellow murders in Israeli jails:

 “Allah willing, you will get out of your prisons and rule the country, just like Mandela got out of prison and ruled this country.”

How much more frightening can it get when he declared that that this was his message “to every mujahid who wages jihad for the sake of his land and his country.”

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A Call To Arms. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Al-Zahaar calls for Jihad from Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.

While Mandela supported a Palestinian state, he did so with the proviso that it was to be alongside a secure Jewish state. Hamas on the other hand, believes in destroying the Jewish state. It is about time South Africans and notably the ANC face the facts and read what Hamas leaders themselves say:

  • Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal, both of whom have in the past been welcomed in South Africa, have stated repeatedly that “Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it,” and that “we shall not relinquish the Islamic waqf on the land of Palestine, and Jerusalem shall not be divided into Western and Eastern Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a single united [city], and Palestine stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and from Naqoura [Rosh Ha-Nikra] to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south.”
  • And the very man with whom they signed the MOU, Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that any talk of the 1967 lines is “just a phase until Hamas has a chance to regain the land…even if we [Hamas] have to do so inch by inch.”

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    Ominous Signs. Khaled Meshal stands during the singing of the National Anthem at a rally in his honor on October 21, 2015.

This is the same man who from Mandela’s cell has called for a violent Jihad “to regain the land inch by inch”.

This is the same week that the Johannesburg municipality has recommended renaming one of the city’s prominent roads, Sandton Drive, after the Palestinian airplane hijacker Leila Khaled sending shivers to South Africa’s Jewish community.

This will surely go down in South African history for Jews, as ‘A Week of Infamy’.


Feature picture credit: Afro-Palestine Newswire Service