The City of Jaffa is in The State of Israel!

Open letter by Stephen Schulman

During Ramadan, South Africa’s online newspaper, The Daily Maverick published a food article by Cape Town writer Ayesha Mukadam entitled, “Celebrating Ramadan by Sending ‘boeka’ Plates around the World.”

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Careless With Cuisine. Founder of ‘Boeka Without Borders’, writer Ayesha Mukadam chooses to deny Israel’s existence in her food article.

A Cape Muslim Afrikaans word for breaking one’s fast at sunset during Ramadan, “Boeka”, explains Mukadam, “is synonymously celebrated in the Cape with the sharing and exchange of boeka plates with neighbours, family and friends.”  

Not possible during Covid-19, the writer laments “It is the first Ramadan that I can recall, where no boeka plates are being exchanged. I missed this Cape tradition that is inherent to my culture and upbringing.” 

To compensate, Mukadam created an Instagram platform and invited people during the month of Ramadan while under lockdown, to share their “virtual boeka from across streets, neighbourhoods, countries and oceans.”

Amongst those sharing is Basel Agbaria from Jaffa, Israel, who Mukadam describes is from Palestine.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-21-celebrating-ramadan-by-sending-boeka-plates-around-the-world/

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Sea’ing Is Believing. Famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah and the whale and King Solomon, Israel’s ancient port city of Jaffa with neighbouring Tel Aviv in the background (left).

A Lay of the Land contributor, Stephen Schulman replies in an open letter to The Daily Maverick and its writer:

Dear Ayesha Mukadam,

I read your article about your site in The Daily Maverick, the online publication bringing news and views from South Africa, on “boeka” a Cape Muslim Afrikaans word for iftar – breaking one’s fast at sunset during Ramadan. In it, you declared your purported aim of using food in the Muslim month of Ramadan as a means of connecting and bringing people of all faiths together – a most laudable initiative in these turbulent and troubled times.

Mention of the Cape brought back many memories. Growing up in the 50’s on the Lower Main Road in the suburb of Claremont, Cape Town where my parents once had a shop. We lived in amity and mutual respect with our many Muslim customers and neighbours. Whilst we did not partake of “Iftar”, we were well aware of the Muslim faith, its beliefs, practices and customs. Cape Town had its own particular cuisine and I can still taste those marvelous samoosas that have no equal anywhere in the world!

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Taste Of Tradition. Celebrating Ramadam by ‘sending’ beoka plates around the world.

Tolerance of all faiths was the accepted and unspoken norm – an absolute sine qua non. In my student days, I worked part time at a Claremont dry cleaner with its large Muslim staff many of whom I remember well. There was friendship, harmony and cooperation for we could not see it otherwise!

I note that in your article, you referred to the city of Jaffa as being in Palestine. Your correspondent Basel Agbaria resides in Israel (NOT Palestine) in Jaffa, an historic town close to Tel Aviv that is located next to the sea and has a mixed population of Muslims, Christians and Jews who peacefully co-exist and where iftar is practiced openly and freely.

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Nasreen Khan shares this boeka meal from Seychelles with her siblings and parents in Ladysmith. (Photo: Nasreen Khan / @msnasreen)

You have intentionally omitted the word Israel and supplanted it with Palestine. There is indeed a Palestinian Authority on the West Bank but it spews out antisemitic hatred and bankrolls terrorists. Bethlehem that once had a thriving Christian majority and mayor, after relinquishment of Israeli control to the Palestinians, has seen its residents emigrate in droves, leaving a rapidly shrinking Christian minority – presently only one eighth of the population. Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with its avowedly Jewish genocidal aims also persecutes Christians, many of whom fear for their lives.

No ‘boeka’ there, I’m afraid!

How unfortunate and tragic that in the Middle East, tolerance has been long swiftly defenestrated and replaced with hatred and persecution. Those days in Walmer Estate, so fondly recalled by Nadia Kamies where all faiths lived side-by-side and come Ramadan, Muslims would share Boeka with their Christian neighbours, here, in the countries bordering Israel (NOT Palestine), are sadly extinct. In Syria, in the ongoing civil war, more than half a million of its citizens – have been slaughtered by their co-religionists. In Iraq, the Sunnis and Shiites share a mutual hatred while the Christians are caught in the middle. Jewish communities in the Middle East that existed long before the advent of Islam, are long gone.  Most of these inhabitants were disenfranchised, expelled or having fled for their lives.

I live in Israel (NOT Palestine), a country of 9,000,000 citizens, a state that is a member of the United Nations and whose blue and white flag, amongst all the other nations, proudly flutters at their New York headquarters, a state whose name appears on any reputable atlas, a sovereign state recognized by the community of enlightened nations. It is also the sole democracy in the Middle East, where Jews, Muslims and other faiths live and work side by side. Israel is an oasis where the freedom of worship is guaranteed by law. A national radio broadcasts for its Muslim listeners, official times of beginning and ending the daily Ramadan fast.

Your blatant disrespect for my country and denial of Israel’s existence and its centrality to our faith is an insult to the Jewish people and their religion and makes a mockery of your so-called respect for all faiths.

How sad that your professed aim of bringing people together is marred by bigotry and bias and how hollow your words of creating “community and solidarity… among people of different religions and nationalities” sound.

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Stuart Coffey shares this Thai pineapple fried rice with a friend in San Diego, US. (Photo: Stuart Coffey / @stucoffey)

I suggest that next time you cook up your site that “is centered around the universal value of sharing food to connect and unite”, that you dispense with the ingredients of hatred and denial and liberally spice it with tolerance and a genuine acceptance of the rights of others and other nations to exist. If so done, dear Ayesha, it would be truly palatable for us all.

With best wishes,

Stephen Schulman,

Israel

 

 

About the writer:

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

 

 

 

*Title Picture: The Jaffa clock tower dominates Clock Square, a landmark at the entrance to the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv. Photo by JekLi/Shutterstock.com

Afternoon Prayers

By Gina Jacobson

Whenever I read an article or see a BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) headline crying that Israel is an apartheid state, I think about a moment I had a while back, while I was traveling home from work on the bus.

The drive is quite scenic and meanders through forests and fields and I often sit by the window just taking in the unique beauty around me.

Well, this day, we came to a stop about halfway home and I noticed a truck pulled over on the side of the road. While there was nothing particularly unusual about that, something else caught my attention. It was then I saw a man get out of the truck. He had something rolled up under his arm and as he looked around, I realised what it was.

The driver of the truck was Muslim, and it was time for late afternoon prayers.

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Prayer Time. Muslim man gets out of his lorry and prayers peacefully in a street in a suburb in Jerusalem.

He found a spot just behind his truck on the shoulder of the road and laid his prayer rug down. He then proceeded to kneel and go about his afternoon prayers. Nobody disturbed him; nobody told him that he couldn’t.

Think about that for a moment. A Muslim man, in Jewish state, taking time out of his workday to pray. No one stopped him. No one harassed him. No one even batted an eye.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. The only place where people of all faiths are free to practice their religion without condemnation or harassment. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist – all are welcome and receive equal rights that are protected.

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Common Sight. Muslims praying in street in the Old City, Jerusalem.

These are rights that are enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the country features high on the Freedom House index on democratic values and freedoms.

Apartheid was a system of laws of racial discrimination that governed every aspect of a person’s life and was unique to South Africa.

What is “Apartheid” about a country where you are not only free to practice your own religion; but you also have equal opportunity for citizenship, employment, schooling, voting rights, representation in government and serve in the army ?

And if you’re still not convinced, why not pop on over to the Old City of Jerusalem, see the Jews praying at the Kotel (Wailing Wall) , watch the Muslims retire for prayer five times a day as they are summoned by the muezzin and listen to the church bells ring out across the hills and valleys. This is something that is so unique to Jerusalem – and Israel.

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Muslims pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque or what Jews refer to as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Catch a train and see a microcosm of Israel’s citizens or visit any university campus. You get the picture…

The accusation from Israel’s detractors that the Jewish State is an Apartheid practitioner is nothing but a cheap ploy to try and get the global community to isolate her.

I have one thing to say to Israel’s detractors who are accusing the Jewish state of having Apartheid policies. Once you have done all of this and seen for yourself, the reality on the ground, then you can confidently tell me this is an “Apartheid” state. I’ll wait….

 

 

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Gina Jacobson is a mom, a wife, a dreamer. She loves coffee and when she’s not reading, she’s writing.

Where Is BDS When Christians And Yazidis Are Murdered?

It takes its cue from an indifferent world – A shameful Silence

 

By David E. Kaplan

 

Last year, writes Raymond Ibrahim, “Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and 2019 is expected to be worse.”

Raised in the USA to Egyptian parents, Ibrahim today is a widely published author and Middle East and Islam specialist.

He was the first to expose in 2012, an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”

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“Destroy All Churches In Gulf,” Says Saudi Grand Mufti. Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, stressed that since the tiny Gulf state was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, it was necessary to destroy all of the churches in the country.

Raymond Ibrahim is sounding ALARM BELLS about the plight of Christians in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Too few hear them ringing!

Writing this March in the Gatestone Institute, Ibrahim reveals that in 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors USA in its recently published World Watch List 2019 (WWL) of the top 50 nations where Christians are persecuted.

This translates on average, to 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.

Why the deafening silence?

Additionally, in 2018, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned”, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”

In 2018, 215 million Christians faced persecution and the prognosis according to Open Doors, is that this year – 2019 –   over 245 million will suffer – a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith.

This means that “One in nine Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.”

Worse for Woman

Another frightening trend is the “shocking persecution against women.”

“In many places,” reveals the report, “they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman! Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.”

Last year’s WWL provided more specific numbers:

At least six women every day are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim man under the threat of death for their Christian faith…”

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Worst Offenders

Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Sharia.

In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist” because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion.”

Similarly, in Somalia, (ranked #3),

Al-Shabaab’s primary aim is to rid Somalia of all Christianity. In 2014 when their leader Ahmed Godane died, they appointed a new leader.

Despite Pope Francis’ statement that Africa is a continent of hope and his call to engage in dialogue against the attacks that have recently occurred, there is not enough being done currently to protect Somali’s Christians. When they are not allowed to express their beliefs to the government without being killed or to celebrate holidays and customs publicly that are Christian, they are being stripped from their basic human rights from society.

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Take Note BDS SA. Nigeria accounted for more than half the worldwide killings of Christians in 2015. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

Being forced to hide their beliefs from the country and having to live in fear is not an acceptable way to live. Pope Francis is correct in saying that meaningful dialogue is important to solving this problem, but in the meantime, these Christians are being killed regularly, and a change needs to be come soon.

In Iran (ranked #9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” While worship is permitted under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.

“There are many reports,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, “that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power. For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.”

It has become increasingly common for authorities to arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles.

Under Pakistan‘s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.

Only recently, Pakistan’s supreme court struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that freed her after nine years on death row and ignited countrywide protests from Islamist groups.

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What’s Changed Since The Roman Circuses? Protestors in Pakistan screaming support for death penalty for Christian woman.

Christian farm labourer Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of five, was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010. She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.

In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), and Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.

While in Egypt, President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, have left Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.

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Is The World Illeterate. ISIS Killing Christians in Egypt Read more at https://www.themonastery.org/blog/2017/03/our-favorite-prey-isis-killing-christians-in-egypt/#xz2dsE8wa4LMr6oS.99

Some recent examples:

In December 2017, a gunman opened fire in Cairo at a church and a nearby shop owned by Christians. Eleven people died as a result of the attack.

In July 2018, a mob attacked Christians in a village in Minya, when Muslim residents were angered by a Facebook post they believed to be blasphemous.

Many Christian girls and women have become the victims of sexual harassment, abduction and rape. In just one month (April 2018), at least seven cases of abduction were documented.

In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people.

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Beach Barbarism. In 2015, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians – constructive workers that had been kidnapped – were beheaded by ISIS on the beaches of Sirte, in Libya,

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.

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Beware Of Reporting The Truth. In 2015, ISIS burned twenty media activists to death in Iraq’s northwestern city of Mosul. The victims were executed on charges of leaking security information to “hostile parties”. “The horrific execution was conducted in front of dozens of people in al-Houd, including some family members of the victims.

Home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnapping of girls by Islamist extremists, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims.

“Michael Jones” – not his real name – a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told The Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.

“You hear President el-Sisi speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said ‘Jones’.

“Then you have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices.”

BDS – are you hearing the cries and calls for salvation or are you callously ignoring?

The Yazidis – “We harmed nobody”

This ancient faith that has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community is facing extinction. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in the Iraqi heartland.

Facing extinction – they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.

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Horrors The World Ignores. Yazidis fleeing their towns for Mount Sinjar as Islamic State forces advanced on them. “They raped me every day, twice or more,” recounts Bafrin from the village of Kocho. “I was just a child; I can never forget it.” Over 400 men, the entire male population of Kocho, were rounded up, shot or beheaded. Old women were killed and dumped in mass graves, younger ones sold in markets as sex slaves, boys turned into child soldiers. (Photograph: Rodi Said/Reuters)

The Yazidi narrative reveals surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history, but the worst, Yazidis today will say, is ISIS “that is trying to eradicate our faith and culture.” Acknowledged by the United Nations as genocide, the ISIS campaign may have dealt “the most brutal blow.”

On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Thousands were imprisoned or killed, and close to 100,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar. The UN referred to the attack as “a genocide”.

Women have paid the highest price when ISIS attacked. Close to 7,000 women have been sold as sex slaves. They have been brutalised by ISIS fighters, many of them repeatedly victims of sexual assaults. They were forced to convert to Islam, and many were forcibly married off to ISIS fighters. Women who tried to escape were often punished with gang rape.

Thousands of women and children, down to the age of nine, were repeatedly sold in slave markets in Syrian cities where ISIS had a strong presence. Boys from the age of seven years and upwards were separated from their mothers and put in camps where they were brainwashed and trained to become child soldiers.

In an appeal to the world, a priest, Sheikh Ismael Bahri, catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists and wails:

All humane countries of the world must see our situation. We’ve not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection.”

While the Yazidis’ plight has moved some countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany that offered refuge to a limited number of victims, notably the women brutally enslaved by ISIS, most the world remains silent.

“We feel threatened here, we don’t have a future here,” cried out Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis’ presence is also dwindling.

Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay in Iraq.

“We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves,” the Yazidis’ religious leader, Baba Sheikh says. “The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing.”

Wake up world – the Yazidis are an “Endangered Species”!

 

Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned – video

 

Feature picture: Yazidi Kurdish women chant slogans during a protest against the Islamic State group’s invasion of Sinjar city, in Dohuk, Iraq, August 3, 2015. (AP/Seivan M. Salem)