MISREPRESENTATION LEADS TO MISHAP

Revealing true intent beneath the facade

By Lawrence Nowosenetz

In his article Time to establish an interfaith solidarity in wake of death of Shireen Abu Akleh’Rasheed Omar (DM 29 May 2022) writes:

 “the freedom struggle of the Palestinian people is not a Muslim struggle, it is an anti-colonial struggle for justice, struggle of reclaiming land, identity and statehood.”  Omar also refers to “the pernicious Zionist propaganda machine that seeks to frame the Palestinian freedom struggle as a religious war between Muslims and Jews.  Quite the contrary is true.”

Is it?

KORANIC TEACHINGS

Koran chapter II verse 91 says:

Drive them from where they drove you out

Islamic teachings provide that lands which become Islamic by  conquest or otherwise, stay Islamic forever and Muslims must expel any non-Muslim rule in a land once governed by Islamic law. The area that was Palestine fell under Muslim rule in  637 AD and with the exception of the Christian crusader period from 1099 to 1187 AD until the British Mandate era in 1923 was a colony under several Muslim empires.  

The Palestinian Authority’s current Mufti Mohammed Hussain stated in the official  PA daily publication  Al-Hayat Al Jadida 13 April 2018:

Palestine, that includes within it, Jerusalem, is waqf land, it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it or ease the transfer of ownership of it to enemies, because it is part of the Islamic public property. Granting ownership over Islamic territory or part of it to enemies is invalid and constitutes treason.”

This sounds a lot like a religious war.

No Compromise. Posing in front of the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Jerusalem’s Mufti Mohammed Hussein asserts that “Jerusalem, is waqf land” and  “it is forbidden by Shari’ah law to relinquish it”. (Ahmad
Gharabli/AFP)

After the Camp David peace negotiations failed, Yasser Arafat was interviewed by an Israeli  Muslim Arab journalist. He asked Arafat why he walked away from the negotiations. His answer was :

Because the Israelis would not give us 100%”.

Similarly in the peace talks with Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seven years later, Abbas also refused to make any land concessions or compromises.

We have all heard the slogan “from the river to the sea Palestine shall be free”. This geographic area refers to the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. It not only includes the West Bank and Gaza but the entire territory of the State of Israel prior to the 1967 Six Day War. The struggle to reclaim land stated by the Omar does not specify what land exactly this entails.

Does he too consider the State of Israel as waqf land? 

In a survey undertaken by the Jerusalem Communications and Media Center published on 6 August 2018, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were asked:

 “Is religion in general an important part of your life?”

The answer was yes by 96.8 in the West Bank and by 99.2 in  Gaza . Even allowing for non-Muslims (a minority)  in this poll, it  indicates the centrality of Islam in the Palestinian street.

Fair enough but are its extremist positions not an impediment to genuine rapprochement and peace?

Head to Head. They came close but not close enough – Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA head Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Jerusalem, Jan. 8, 2008. (REUTERS/Moshe Milner/GPO)

INFLAMING HATRED

Hamas which rules Gaza and has a substantial following in the West Bank is less subtle about its beliefs. Its very name is an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement and is committed to the total annihilation of Israel.  In recent months, Hamas and several groups in the Gaza Strip announced the formation of a new body, called The National Commission to Support the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of 1948. The El Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is a Palestinian armed group, and its name suggests its link to the El Aqsa Mosque being the third most holy site in Islam. The Fatah slogan is:

With spirit with blood we will redeem you Al Aqsa Mosque”.

The fact that the mosque is under the administration of the Jordanian waqf does not seem to make any difference: Israel is to blame.

WAR AGAINST THE JEWS

While a theoretical distinction can be made between Zionists and Jews this is at best tenuous. While not all, most Jews identify with Israel, and Judaism itself is infused with Zionist prayer. Jews are an ancient nation not just adherents of a religion.  Lip service  is paid to the idea that Palestinians have no problem with Judaism. In practice they promote intolerance and hostility.  Palestinians are vociferous about their opposition to Judaisizing Jerusalem. A recent Fatah  video called for Israelis to leave:

 “because you have no history in our Jerusalem, and it is not your homeland.” It also called for “blood” and ended with the chant Allahu Akbar – “Allah is greatest” repeated four times.

(Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, May 28, 2022)

Fatah also  published  a video with a song calling for Jerusalem “to be freed of the Jews”. It  encouraged Arab states to unite and break down borders between them to “redeem” Jerusalem and prepare “the Jews’ graveyard” (Fatah Facebook page, Oct. 13, 2020)

Palestinian terrorists who have randomly murdered Jews inside and outside Israel do not differentiate between Zionist and non-Zionists. They do not ask their victims before carrying out their killings whether  they are  Zionists. The EU  have recently made a finding that  Palestinian school textbooks have for many years incited hatred and promoted demonization of Israel.  By definition Israel is a Jewish State. Palestinian children are conditioned to consider Jews as evil.

Is this too not building a psychological wall obstructing any potential for peace?

Jews are “impure” and “the world’s dogs” appear in the lyrics in girls’ songs to their terrorist relatives
Official Palestinian Authority TV  | Nov 4, 2021

.    

INTOLERANCE OF FREE SPEECH

Western journalists  working in Gaza in recent years have been harassed and threatened by Hamas for documenting cases of the terrorist group’s involvement of civilians in warfare against Israel. The Times of Israel has interviewed  reporters  in the international media revealing how they allow themselves to be intimidated and fail to report on such incidents. This is swept under the carpet. Any illusions that Palestine tolerates public criticism and debate were convincingly shattered by the death of Palestinian lawyer and activist Nizar Bayat. He was an outspoken critic of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority but was labelled as selling out the Palestinian cause for personal gain. He had  a huge following on Facebook.  On 24 June 2021, he was beaten and dragged from his house by 14 members of the Palestinian security forces without an arrest warrant. He subsequently died in a Hebron hospital. The official cause of death was natural causes, but a private autopsy initiated by his family revealed he had forty-two injuries sustained by metal pipes. The PA and Fatah did not respond to calls for a detailed investigation. There was no international outrage and media solidarity. The Guardian – hardly a staunch supporter of Israel – ran the headline in its international edition dated 31 August 2021:

Nizar Bayat’s death highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority”. 

The death in custody of Palestinian political activist and human rights defender Nizar Barnat’s highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority.

A little humility and introspection may well be sorely expected from the writer and those who call for rejuvenating the Palestinian struggle from ‘Israel’s settler colonialism’. Palestine may be in need of democratic reforms to reach liberation rather than anti-Israel slogans. 

Perhaps the moral equation is not so binary. In the words of Bob Dylan:

 “Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now

(My Back Pages 1964) 

There are further risible issues in Rasheed Omar’s article such as the well-known anti-Israel trope: “Zionist Israel’s settler colonialism”. These need to be addressed fully too. Demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel will not  assist in reaching a mutual understanding conducive to peace and co-existence. This raises the question whether the supporters of the Palestinian cause are  committed to this goal or the destruction of the Jewish State.  




About the writer:

Lawrence Nowosenetz is a retired South African advocate at the Johannesburg Bar specialising in labour law; a former senior Commissioner of the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and  served as an Acting High Court Judge in Gauteng. He has served as Chairman of the Pretoria SA Jewish Board of Deputies and in 2019, he immigrated to Israel where he lives with his wife in Tel Aviv. He retains an interest in international law.






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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 12 June 2022

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

Home

Like this content? Please share and tweet it to your friends and followers.

To subscribe via email please send a mail noting your request to: layotland@gmail.com 

Please visit/ join/follow our social media platforms: Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LotLSite/

Twitter: Lay Of The Land – @layoftheland5  

Also available on YouTube @The Israel Brief  – Simply click on the red subscribe button to receive alerts when a new report is posted.



What’s happening in Israel today? See from every Monday – Thursday LOTL’s The Israel Brief broadcasts and on our Facebook page and YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africaand millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Virginia, USA.

The Israel Brief

(Click on the blue title)



Articles

(1)

SIX DAYS IN JUNE

If it took the Almighty six days to create the world; 55 years ago it took the almighty IDF six days to perform another miracle

By David E. Kaplan

Joy in June. These young faces reveal their inspiring achievement – securing the future of the Jewish People.

When the call came to the Jewish world, the Jewish world responded. Young Jews from all over the world, mostly students, downed books to put their collective futures on hold, to focus on  the singular future of a young Jewish state facing annihilation. The thoughts, anxieties and later relief and joy of the very people that lived through it are revealed in these recollections.

SIX DAYS IN JUNE

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

A MAZEL TOV FIT FOR A QUEEN

Celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

By Rolene Marks

Jubilant Jubilee. Wearing hat or crown she carries the weight of her people with style and dignity.

“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service …” said Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday in 1947 on tour in South Africa. She has “more then delivered on her vow” asserts the writer who reveals how this royal family – despite England’s  notorious history of official maltreatment of its Jews – has forged and strengthened personal relations with its Jewish community and with the State of Israel.

A MAZEL TOV FIT FOR A QUEEN

(Click on the blue title)



(3)

GOOD vs EVIL

A drama playing out on the plains of Eastern Europe presented in penetrating poetry

By Charlotte Cohen

Good vs Evil. A tired tyrant looking for answers in the past; a young president looking to a future of freedom.

Venturing into the more intimate battle of wits and values between two adversaries  – Zelensky and Putin – award-winning South African short story writer, essayist and poet, Charlotte Cohen peels off the the layers of the players to reveal their true character.

GOOD vs EVIL

(Click on the blue title)






LOTL Cofounders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

To unsubscribe, please reply to layotland@kenmar11






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


A MAZEL TOV FIT FOR A QUEEN

Celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 2 as the monarch celebrates 70 years of an extraordinary reign.

By Rolene Marks

“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

Princess Elizabeth, South Africa, 1947

We don’t know her thoughts or opinions – a rare feat in in today’s world where everyone is obsessed with sharing everything on social media. She has never given an interview – also a rare feat when most in the public eye are clambering over each other for a few minutes with a camera. We only found out this past weekend what the most famous and respected woman keeps in her chic Launer handbag (besides her lipstick!) and this revelation came courtesy of a beloved fictional bear. When Paddington Bear and her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II took tea last weekend in a clip for the Platinum Jubilee, we discovered that Her Maj keeps a marmalade sandwich safely tucked in there.

While we may now know this delightful titbit, what many don’t know about is the long and sometimes complicated history that the Royal family have with Jews and Israel.

Many have criticized the Queen for never visiting Israel. What many don’t realise is that foreign trips are made at the request of the British Foreign Office wanting to deploy the soft diplomacy and convening power that royalty has. The Queen cannot send anyone to The Tower (although I think she may have been tempted a few times with her family over the last two years!) but the monarch and her family wield an ambassadorial and convening power that is second to none.

The respected historian, Andrew Roberts, once said that the British government had a de facto ban in place on state visits by Queen Elizabeth II to Israel. “The true reason of course, is that the FO [Foreign Office] has a ban on official royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the FO Arabists. It is, therefore, no coincidence that although the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither has ever been to Israel on an official visit,” said Roberts, addressing attendees at a gala dinner in London.

The Queen at her coronation.

The Queen has received Israeli dignatories including former President Shimon Peres who was awarded an honourary knighthood in 2008. Peres was knighted with the Grand Cross of the order of St Michael and St George.

For 30 minutes, Peres spoke to the Queen about Israel’s history and current situation and gave the Queen two gifts: a letter written by her father, George VI, upon the official recognition by Britain of the state of Israel, and two silver candlesticks in the shape of pomegranates.

The former President described their meeting as:

 “friendly and informal; the Queen asked me a lot of questions on Israel. I was very moved to be the representative who received this honour for the state of Israel. The whole ceremony was not for me as an individual but a mark of respect for the country. I felt I was a shaliach mitzvah (emissary dispatched to do a mitzvah).”

Mr. Peres spoke to the Queen about the suffering of the town of Sderot and said that “the British learnt from the bible and we learnt from the British democracy.”

Arise, Sir Peres. The Queen knights Shimon Peres

Even though the Queen has never visited Israel, she has had strong ties with the Jewish community (even hiring a Jewish mohel to perform a royal circumcision) and has met with Holocaust survivors on many occasions.

One such meeting was at an event marking 60 years of liberation of Bergen Belsen. The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l who was present, later recounted: “When the time came for her to leave, she stayed. And stayed. One of her attendants said that he had never known her to linger so long after her scheduled departure. She gave each survivor – it was a large group – her focused, unhurried attention. She stood with each until they had finished telling their personal story.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, spoke of meeting the Queen and Prince Philip in his memoirs and how they took a keen interest in his work and Jewish traditions.

Over the years, members of the Jewish community have been honoured at investitures for their work and contribution in a variety of fields including Holocaust and Jewish education. WIZO’s founding mother, Rebecca Sieff, was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) as has former WIZO UK President, Lorraine Warren and other WIZO Presidents from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries.

The late Prince Philip was well known for his politically-incorrect gaffes which some attribute to an attempt to make people laugh and put them at ease. While the foreign office forbid royal visits to Israel, the Duke of Edinburgh visited in a private capacity several times for a very honourable reason. His mother, Princess Alice, who is buried in Jerusalem, has been honoured by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Amongst the Nations for saving the lives of a Jewish family during the Holocaust.

In recent years, two future kings, Prince Charles and Prince William have visited the Jewish state.

Prince Charles represented Her Majesty at the funeral of slain Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin and has supported Jewish causes and visited Israel in recent years.

Prince Charles, once ridiculed for his propensity to prefer conversing with plants than politicians and intellectuals, has said that he prefers to regard himself as the defender of faiths rather than of the faith, that being the Church of England which the monarch heads. To this end, he works hard to promote coexistence between the faiths. The Prince of Wales counted Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as a close friend and lamented his passing. He has also written personal messages in several books including Lily Eberts, “Lily’s Promise”.

The Prince of Wales talks to Holocaust survivor, Lily Ebert.

Prince Charles is patron of World Jewish Relief as well as the Holocaust Memorial Trust, a patronage that once belonged to the Queen but as the monarch hands over more of her patronages to members of her family, the heir to the throne has received this one. He is also patron of the Jewish Museum, JLGB for Jewish youth across Great Britain and numerous others. To coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Prince commissioned portraits to be painted of several Holocaust survivors accompanied by a documentary on the BBC. The Prince gave a very moving speech the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz hosted by Yad Vashem and met privately with survivors, away from the prying eyes of the media. He gave a notable private donation to The Peres Centre for Peace. His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall visited Auschwitz, representing the Queen to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla) lights a candle of remembrance at Auschwitz.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall is also known to enjoy a hora or two. During her visit to Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre in East London to celebrate the organisation’s 80th anniversary, the Duchess danced with delighted residents.

It was a lovely, wonderful experience, I think I’m dreaming,” said Abraham David, who danced with the duchess. “She put her hand out to mine and wanted to dance — I couldn’t believe it. I won’t sleep tonight I’m so excited.”

Having a Swinging Time. The Duchess of Cambridge dances to Hava Nagila at a Jewish Community Center in East London in 2019.

Prince William was the next king in waiting to visit Israel albeit without his lovely wife Catherine (Kate Middleton) who had recently given birth to their third child, disappointing many Israeli fashionstas (okay, me) wanting to catch a glimpse of what she would be wearing but mother duty comes first and we understand. The Prince struck all the right notes visiting the Kotel, Yad Vashem, the grave of his late great-grandmother, met young innovators, took a stroll with Eurovision sensation Neta, and even played volleyball on the beach and football with young Israelis and Arabs – all without breaking a princely sweat.

Prince William plays volleyball in Tel Aviv

The prince also proved that he could navigate some tough political terrain, shuttling between Israeli and Palestinians leaders, without going “there”. Royals are above politics.

Prince William at the Kotel (Western Wall)

On a state visit to Poland, Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge visited Stutthof Concentration Camp. It would be a life-changing experience for the Duchess. The Royal couple met Holocaust survivors, Manfred Goldberg and Ziggy Shipper who both came to England after the war as Windermere children.

The Duchess of Cambridge photographs Holocaust survivors.

Since this seminal meeting, the Duchess has dedicated herself to Holocaust education and has taken photographs of survivors for the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition, included them in her book “Hold Still”, engaged with survivors and young educators via Zoom, met with Windermere child survivors, attended Holocaust Memorial Day events and more.

Judge and TV personality, Rob Rinder, who accompanied the Duchess when she met with Windermere survivors tweeted in response to a royal fan “She was – truly – amazing .. Anybody with doubts about the future & purpose of our Monarchy should spend an hour with her. Quite extraordinary.”

Hosting a garden party at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen recently, fascinator firmly fixed, umbrella in hand, the Duchess made a beeline for her good friend Manfred, who along with his wife was a guest. “Manfred,” Catherine said, “It’s so lovely to see you again. How are you?” The two shook hands, whilst Manfred replied: “It’s my pleasure and privilege to see you again.”

The Duchess of Cambridge is delighted to see Manfred Goldberg at Buckingham Palace.

When I saw your name on the guest list I thought ‘yes!’ I am so happy to see you! Are you keeping well?” asked the Duchess. The pictures of the delighted trio were beamed around the world to the happy reaction of many young people who knew exactly who Manfred was and his story of survival. This is the power of royalty. Through their work, generations are learning the stories of the Holocaust because the platform to tell them does not come bigger than the royal family. The Cambridges have spoken publicly about how they are talking to their children about the Holocaust so that it is never forgotten.

The Duchess of Cambridge marks Holocaust Memorial Day

While the history of the royal family, Jews and Israel may have had its awkward moments in  history, it looks like the future seems extremely positive.

The young princess who made that sacred, lifelong vow in South Africa on her 21st birthday has more than delivered and the joyous celebration this past weekend as she marked her Platinum Jubilee is proof of the love and respect she commands through duty and service to her people, Commonwealth and realms.

 The Queen and her heirs at the Platinum Jubilee

We lift a glass of the best kosher champagne and toast to Her Majesty, the Queen on the remarkable achievement of 70 years on the throne. Mazel Tov, Ma’am, the future you have ensured, is in good hands.

MAZEL TOV !!!






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

The Israel Brief- 07-09 May 2022

The Israel Brief – 07 June 2022 – Has the past year been the safest for the south of Israel? Congressmen demand PA hand over fatal bullet that killed Abu Akle. Saudi Israel ties warming? One Republic headed to Israel.



The Israel Brief – 08 June 2022 – UNHRC report blames Israel. Amb Erdan VP of UNGA. Covid numbers increase. IDF open combat units to women.



The Israel Brief – 09 June 2022 – Israel welcomes IAEA censure of Iran. UK rejects UNHRC report. Bennett in UAE. Liberia to open office in Jerusalem






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

SIX DAYS IN JUNE

If it took the Almighty six days to create the world; 55 years ago it took the almighty IDF six days to perform another miracle

By David E. Kaplan

When Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran in May 1967 to Israeli shipping, it also opened the minds and hearts of Jews around the world who knew that war was coming. In the weeks that followed – before, during and immediately following the cessation of hostilities  – over 5,000 – mostly young people from Jewish communities across the globe, put their lives on hold to volunteer in Israel.

Unlike the earlier wars of 1948 and 1956, this time it was not to hold a rifle but the metaphoric rake, not to grab a grenade but the teat of a cow as they mostly served on kibbutzim taking the place of those who were in uniform. It kept the wheels of Israel’s still a very much agrarian economy turning.

The Volunteers of the Six Day War – 50 Years Later – Featuring former Director Solly Sacks, who takes a look at those volunteers who came from abroad to Israel in 1967 to assist the State of Israel during and following the Six Day War.

Leading the pack of countries from where volunteers came was England with 1,295.One of those volunteers was 23-year-old Barry Kester, who was articled in a West End accountancy practice and due to take his finals in December of that year. That was all to change Barry writes on his blog:

On the 20th May 1967 I was at Wembley Stadium cheering on my beloved Spurs as they defeated Chelsea in the F.A. Cup Final.  Had anyone told me on that day, that just a couple of weeks later I would be in Israel working on a kibbutz close to the Golan Heights, I would have thought them crazy.”

Following England in the largest number of volunteers was Southern Africa with 861. For a region with a small Jewish community – never more than 120,000 Jews in South Africa and 5000 in then Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) at its peak – the figure of 861 Southern Africans represented an extraordinarily high percentage. It also repeatedly matched with the over 800 volunteers who came from this same region in 1948 to fight in Israel’s War of Independence.

Responding to the Call.  Young adults, probably students, volunteer on a kibbutz in 1967.

Capturing the atmosphere at the time –  from the anguish in the build-up to the war to the jubilation following the overwhelming victory –  are the contemporaneous accounts and later recollections of people that lived through it. Apart from people I have interviewed over the years, we are fortunate to have letters written by many of these young people that were collated by the late Muriel Chesler in her book, ‘A Shield About Me’. In it, she writes:

 “I was in Cape Town during the Six Day War and thought the end of the world had come.”

She was hardly alone experiencing those apocalyptic thoughts!

Joy & Jubilation. Young men and woman in the IDF following victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.(Terry Fincher/Express, via Getty Images)

RESPONDING TO THE CALL

I was petrified of having to inform my accountancy firm of my decision to go,” recalls Solly Sacks of Jerusalem then living in Johannesburg. As head of Bnei Akiva, he would serve on the screening committee of his group. “People were shocked and tried to dissuade me,” but Solly would have none of that and by the time “I arrived at the third floor of the Fed [South African Zionist Federation] building, it was crowded with hundreds of people. I was unable to get out of the elevator.”

Having ensured that most of his youth movement group were booked or had already left for Israel, “I managed to ensure that the remaining few of us got on that last flight.”

One in his group is the founder of Carmit Candy Industries Ltd., Lenny Sackstein. Back in June 1967, Lennie was a 21-year-old law student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). 

Studying was a serious business. You attended classes wearing a tie, submitted papers on time, and passed your exams or you were history.”

Having a Field Day. Volunteers from abroad being driven early in the morning by a tractor  to the fields on a kibbutz in 1967.

However, history was precisely what Lenny and his fellow volunteers were about to make!

On Thursday, the 11th June, Sackstein presented himself to Professor Ellison Kahn, the dean of the Faculty to advise him he was off to Israel as a volunteer.

He looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Sackstein, if you do not present yourself at class on Monday, you will be removed from the course for the year.”

A Fruitful Experience. Young volunteers from abroad picking fruit in a kibbutz orchid in 1967.

Having discharged his duty as dean, Kahn then went on to say, “Well done Sackstein! Can I assist you in any way?

The Jewish community was united.

Lenny arrived with his group to Kibbutz Shluchot in the Beit She’an Valley in northern Israel .in 40-degree heat – a far cry from Johannesburg’s crisp winter. Welcoming them, the kibbutz representative said:

 “Freirim; vot you come for? Ve have already von ze var.”

Hearing this, the 40-degree temperature “was nothing in comparison to my blood pressure.”

The upbeat in Cape Town was no different.  In May 1967, Sidney Shapiro – who would later become Director of TELFED, the South African Zionist Federation in Israel – was then a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Being National Vice-Chairman of the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and Chairman of the Student Jewish Association (SJA), he felt it was only natural that it fell on him to make the appeal on campus for volunteers. “We called a meeting during the day at the SJA centre in Mowbray hardly expecting too many students to pitch during lecture time.”

In High Spirits. Volunteer Gerald Abelson from Cape Town (top) on the ladder picking fruit at kibbutz Gadot.

How wrong he was!

The SJA hall was bursting at the seams with students piling into the garden and into the street. There I was, standing in front of these hundreds of students ready to read from a prepared speech, when I was suddenly caught up in the excitement and set aside my notes and spoke from the heart.”

Sidney had reservations about volunteering as “I was in my final year. However, I got caught up in my own words and volunteered.”

The excitement peaked when “some of the students grabbed the podium, turned it on its head and the next thing, students began throwing money in it.”

Sidney, like many Jewish students throughout South Africa, would have good reason to be apprehensive – not only because of the impending danger in Israel, but “we had to break the news to our parents. I knew I would be flying out on the first plane available, which meant not completing my degree that year. As difficult as this was, I knew there was no way that I could not have volunteered. My parents understood.”

In 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, Michael Cohen, Vice-Principal of Bialik College, Melbourne, recounted the atmosphere in Cape Town in the period leading up to the war when he was undertaking postgraduate studies in History at the University of Cape Town. “The local Zionist offices were flooded with applications from would-be volunteers; meetings were held in synagogues and at other venues to raise money for Israel, whose very survival was under grave threat; and potential volunteers, of whom I was one, were taken to outlying Jewish-owned farms to learn to drive tractors in preparation for work on Kibbutzim. The aim was to replace young Israelis who were being called to arms.”

On arrival in Israel, “we were sorted into groups after interviews. A select number of us, mainly those who had youth movement leadership experience or spoke Hebrew, were dispatched to Jerusalem to work as non-combat members of the Israeli army. We were accommodated in East Jerusalem, at the Jordanian Police School next to Ammunition Hill in tents while the girls were located in nearby hotels. Our task was to collect the ‘booty’ left in retreat by the Jordan army. We joined with Israeli soldiers, and each day we were transported to locations in the West Bank where we loaded equipment – barbed wire, army boots, large bombs in canisters and other items – into trucks.”

Later relocated to Shech Jerach in the Sinai Desert, “our duty was to collect the hundreds of abandoned Egyptian armed vehicles. I recall, on one occasion, being given a gun and being asked to accompany a group of Egyptian prisoners on the back of a truck to a nearby army base. My anxiety levels were exacerbated by the fact that I did not know how to use the weapon! I chatted briefly with one of the prisoners whose English was passable and who told me about his family back in Egypt. Those Egyptian prisoners who had earlier escaped, making their way to the Suez Canal in an effort to return home, and who had survived on water from the radiators of abandoned Egyptian armoured vehicles, quickly gave themselves up to our forces when they discovered that Egyptian soldiers returning to Egypt were being shot to prevent news of Egypt’s defeat spreading.”

UNDER FIRE

Not a volunteer but a conscript in the Israeli army was 31-year-old Ian Rogow, a former South African, fighting fiercely on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He recounts the battle in this letter to his family in Cape Town:

On Monday, 5th June, my company was moved after dark to the front where kibbutz Ramat Rachel, east of Jerusalem, forks the border with Jerusalem. That night we took a terrible hammering, and the shells of heavy 120mm mortars and long-distance artillery beat down on us like hail storms.

It was a long night and the machine gun and rifle fire found only brief moments of respite during the dark hours.

Homecoming. The war over, Ian Rogow returns to his wife Pearl and kids in 1967 after having fought at kibbutz Ramat Rachal, Mar Elias and the Jordanian front.

I shall carry with me to the end of my days, the memory of the long, drawn-out, sibilant whistle that so ominously precedes the explosion of a mortar shell. At first, you’re frightened as hell, and you strain to push your whole body into your steel helmet like a snail retreating into its protective shell as you dig into mother-earth tighter, and wish your trench was deeper, and you think of God and pray. But you have to fight back, and soon you condition yourself against hitting the dirt with every bone-chilling shriek of an incoming shell.

By the time dawn broke, Ramat Rachel was safe and by nightfall, we were in Bethlehem; white flags flying from the rooftops and the Royal Jordanian army not in sight. The next day we were in Hebron, and here too, the white flags fluttered prominently from every roof-top.”

Preparing for the Worst. High school boys digging trenches in a Tel Aviv street on the eve of the Six Day War.

The remaining danger, Ian writes were:

 “unseen snipers. We lost many a life to the bullet of a rifle fitted with a telescopic sight and triggered by a well concealed finger.”

Ian concludes this long letter of further wartime encounters through Gush Etzion with:

Let our political successes match our military victory as some small compensation for the heavy price we paid – so as not to let down those who gave their lives for the gain we have made by the sword.”

One of the many South Africans who fought in the Six Day War was the late David “Migdal” Teperson. No surprise here – he held the exclusive honour in the IDF of having participated in every war from 1948 to Protective Edge – most in combat. It was only from the Second Lebanon War, he was no longer allowed in the frontline but could bring supplies by truck “to my boys.”

On the 5th of June 1967:

 “we were lined up under our camouflage nets, amongst the trees at the side of the road in company formation. We had orders not to move around too much so that we would not be spotted by the Egyptian air force. At daybreak, we saw our airplanes fly over us, flip their wings in salute, and continue towards the Sinai. Suddenly a dispatch rider on a motorbike came charging down between our columns shouting, “switch on your radios.” As soon as we did, we heard the password “red sheet” and the orders “move, move, move”! We launched our attack against the Egyptian forces in Sinai.”

Migdal’s division was ordered to break through a fortified stronghold at Rafiah, situated between the Gaza strip, Sinai and Israel. For Migdal, it felt like déjà vu. Following the War of Independence, the 1956 war and “now again in 1967 – this was the third time I was fighting in the same area.”

His division’s objective was to cut off El Arish. “We captured close to 800 Egyptian prisoners of war, who we kept in a temporary stockade. I had taken prisoners of war around the same position in 1948 as a corporal; in 1956 as a platoon commander, and now again, in 1967 as number 2 company commander.”

While waiting to move on and listening to the Israeli news, “we heard that east Jerusalem, and the Western Wall had been captured by our paratroopers. On hearing the news, the boys cried, especially the old soldiers who had fought in the 1948 war.”

Migdal would fight all the way to the Suez Canal and remained there after the ceasefire.

HOME FRONT

Capturing the atmosphere at home are revealed in these letters to family in South Africa that appear in Muriel Chesler’s book.

A week before the war, Raie Gurland writes on the 28th May 1967,  to her family in Cape Town:

Blankets, sheets, towels and hot water bottles were collected. No-one refuses. We all give and more. It’s like caring for a child in danger – Israel is our child and we want to protect her. How extraordinary to be in a country expecting war. The stillness and partially empty streets – its ominously frightening, and I often feel butterflies in my tummy, but then it passes.

Journalists, like vultures are flocking in from the four corners of the earth with the prospect of disaster. The panic at the airport is over and most of the tourists have left….

No job is too menial or too small. Rabbis – with a special dispensation concerning the Sabbath – were digging trenches at the school yesterday, driving delivery trucks and writing out instructions – all on Shabbat!

….I would not be anywhere else – as a Jewess, this is where I belong.”

Dig This! Digging trenches on kibbutz Gan Shmuel in northern Israel before the Six Day War.

Capturing what a young wife must be feeling not knowing of the whereabouts or fate of her soldier husband are these two letters by Avril Shulman to her parents in Cape Town.

On the 9th June, she wrote:

I am so proud to be the wife of a sabra. In the last three weeks, I have lived a lifetime. Even as I write, I do not know where Amnon is or how he is. I hope and pray and wait.”

Avril had to wait until the 20th June when she again wrote to her parents:

It was two o’clock in the morning and there was a knock at the front door. I jumped out of bed, daring to hope, and on opening the door, there stood a hunk of man dressed in an Israeli uniform with Egyptian boots, a Russian gun, and a South African tog bag, covered from head to foot in Sinai dust, but looking very familiar. The reunion is something I cannot describe.”

On the 9th June, Muriel receives a letter from her sister Pat Slevin, a resident of Eilat.

It seems it’s all over bar the jubilation and the heartache of the families who have lost loved ones, and the pain and suffering of the wounded.

Who could have thought on Monday morning when the Egyptian tanks crossed the border, that on Friday morning I would be writing to you like this! Last night at 10 o’clock, we received the news of Egypt’s consent to a cease-fire; this morning at 7 o’clock Syria’s, and at 8 o’clock, the telegram from our Southern commander that our men were on the banks of the Suez Canal. I’m privileged to have been here and to have lived through this moment in Israel’s destiny.”

Fifty-five years on from the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, the nation is strong. Israel is a vibrant democracy in a neighbourhood of autocracies. Its economy is booming and its universities are churning out graduates that will spearhead our small country into a big future.

While the history of this land may read like a chronicle of ‘War Stories”, the Israel of 2022 is a resounding ‘Success Story’.


_____________________



List of countries from which volunteers came and their number as at the 5th July, 1967.

England                   1,295

Southern Africa          861

France                        607

USA                            301

Belgium                      285

Argentine                    277

Spain, Germany, Switzerland & Austria  262

Canada                        236

Scandinavia                135

Uruguay                       117

Australia                       111

Italy                              110

Holland                           90

Brazil                              68

Chile                               66

Venezuela                      55

Other Latin countries    164

Total                          5,043





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

GOOD vs EVIL

President Zelensky  is leaving his mark not only on Ukrainian but world history inspiring all across this fragile planet that sometimes to survive and sustain your humanity, one needs to unify, defy and fight.

It means many will die.

Little wonder the Ukrainian leader has made the 2022 TIME list of 100 most influential people. With relentless determination, Zelensky has galvanized the tailor, the truck driver, the housewife, the schoolteacher, the engineer, hi-tech entrepreneur and greengrocer to become soldiers as they fight for their homes and freedom.

Verbally voyaging into the more intimate battle of wits and values between the two adversaries  – Zelensky and Putin – award-winning South African short story writer, essayist and poet, Charlotte Cohen peels off the layers to reveal the WORD – the word that is a NAME.

(Lay of the Land editor, David E. Kaplan)


A WORD – A NAME

By Charlotte Cohen

A single word imprints perception and relativity  

The difference between honour and horror

Between freedom and captivity

Humanity and brutality  


Often deserving of the hatred and anger

Stemming from extortionate cruelty and danger  

Even offering justification for the killing of an abuser

One still earns the egregious classification of  ‘murderer’


But those who brutally and remorselessly

Kill anyone at random – including themselves 

Caused by inveterate irrationality and hatred

With which they have been indoctrinated

– Or even for a gratuity or family security

Are described by what almost gives legitimacy

To fanatical iniquity:  That word is ‘terrorist’

Now often ascribed with a sense of normality


Yet one single person   

Living and languishing in luxury

Never getting his own hands dirty

With no indoctrinated hatred – but rather fixated

On self-love, land acquisition and addictive power 

Can decree the destruction of a country

And order massacre and mass murder

With one word:    

‘War’.


Names also leave an unchanging word image:

And just as Adolf Hitler epitomises evil     

To the diabolic list of heartless and vicious

Persecutors, oppressors , tyrants and villains 

We can now add that of Vladimir Putin.

And to leaders who gained worldwide respect and fame 

Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela ….

`            We can also now attach another name:


Out of Ukraine devastated by Putin

Arose a man of extraordinary talent and diversity

Suddenly thrust with the horrific responsibility

Of a not-sought-for war forced upon him

And though he did not expect it

He never neglected to meet it                                                        

A man of intelligence, conscience, spirit and heart 

Of principle, resolution and tenacity –

He never gave in or gave up

Or abrogated his duty

Volodymyr Zelensky’s name will remain in history

Making commitment and courage his own story

So as a word-name reflects a representation

Of how a mental image will be retained:   

           ‘Putin’– who mistook the word ‘sin’ for ‘win’

 a cruel pitiless despot,  a tyrannical dictator

   ‘Zelensky’ –  a hero, an inspiration

a champion, a protector,  a warrior, a victor





About the Poet:

Charlotte Cohen is an award-winning short story writer, essayist and poet, whose work has appeared in a wide variety of South African publications since the early 1970’s.





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

Lay of the Land Weekly Newsletter- 06 June 2022

Unveiling the contours and contrasts of an ever-changing Middle East landscape Reliable reportage and insightful commentary on the Middle East by seasoned journalists from the region and beyond

Home

Like this content? Please share and tweet it to your friends and followers.

To subscribe via email please send a mail noting your request to: layotland@gmail.com 

Please visit/ join/follow our social media platforms: Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LotLSite/

Twitter: Lay Of The Land – @layoftheland5  

Also available on YouTube @The Israel Brief  – Simply click on the red subscribe button to receive alerts when a new report is posted.



What’s happening in Israel today? See from every Monday – Thursday LOTL’s The Israel Brief broadcasts and on our Facebook page and YouTube by seasoned TV & radio broadcaster, Rolene Marks familiar to Chai FM listeners in South Africaand millions of American listeners to the News/Talk/Sports radio station  WINA, broadcasting out of Virginia, USA.

In addition this week:

31 May 2022Rolene Marks speaks to WINA’s Rob Schilling about the CNN Report blaming Israel for the killing of journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh and talks about the importance of Jerusalem Day.

31 May 2022- Radio Modi’in- Amiad Taub interviews the city’s resident and media woman Rolene Marks for a talk on advocacy abroad, immigration to modi’in and social struggles.

The Israel Brief

(Click on the blue title)



Articles

(1)

THE CURIOUS CASE OF CNN

Who are the so-called ‘experts’ CNN quotes accusing Israel of a “deliberate” killing of a journalist?

By Rolene Marks

Twisting Truth. Priding itself on its “reliable Sources” was not to evident in its reportage of death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

What strangely happened when respected reliable news network CNN dispensed with its professed professional journalism to recklessly or intently malign the Jewish state without any proof other than quoting proven prejudicial “experts” that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deliberately targeted and killed Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh?  The writer breaks it down.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF CNN

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

LITHUANIAN JEWS ARE STILL AVOIDING THEIR COUNTRY’S HOLOCAUST DISTORTION

What a shame that those who work to reveal Lithuania’s large-scale participation in Holocaust crimes are being sidelined

By Dr. Efraim Zuroff

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

By not inviting certain internationally renowned researchers to address the 2022 “Fifth World Litvak Congress” in Vilnius in May, the hosts lost a golden opportunity to publicly confront the false narrative of successive Lithuanian governments, which minimizes the role of local collaborators in the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jewish community during the Holocaust. WHY?

LITHUANIAN JEWS ARE STILL AVOIDING THEIR COUNTRY’S HOLOCAUST DISTORTION

(Click on the blue title)



(3)

CELEBRATING JERUSALEM EVERY DAY

Each new morning brings fresh delight and insight

By Jonathan Feldstein

Vista and Visions. From afar, a breathtaking kaleidoscope of cultural diversity all within a labyrinth of surprise and bountiful beauty.

While I am not a prophet, this year I felt like a prophet of doom,” the writer joked with friends advising “we should hold off plans until after the war starts.” Such was the collective fear of a repeat war on Israel’s annual Jerusalem Day celebrations! Despite the gloomy ‘forecast’ – peace prevailed! From the balcony of his apartment with a view of the iconic sights of three major religions, the writer celebrates Jerusalem every day.

CELEBRATING JERUSALEM EVERY DAY

(Click on the blue title)




LOTL Cofounders David E. Kaplan (Editor), Rolene Marks and Yair Chelouche

To unsubscribe, please reply to layotland@kenmar11





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

The Israel Brief- 30 May-02 June 2022

The Israel Brief – 30 May 2022 – Jerusalem Day March. Travel warning for Turkey. Israel and UAE to sign free trade agreement. Suriname to open Embassy in Jerusalem.



The Israel Brief – 31 May 2022 – Historic agreement signed. Appeal for Israeli sentenced to death delayed. Calls to outlaw extremist groups. Israel export natural gas.



The Israel Brief – 01 June 2022 – Israel strengthens ties with Africa. Would be stabber neutralised. UN names journalism programme for Shireen Abu Akle. Remembering the Farhud.



The Israel Brief – 02 June 2022 – Pride march in Jerusalem. EU envoy says terror against Israelis expected. Gantz in India. Mazel tov, Your Majesty.





31 May 2022 – Rolene Marks speaks to WINA’s Rob Schilling about the CNN Report blaming Israel for the killing of journalist, Shireen Abu Akle and talks about the importance of Jerusalem Day.




 Radio Modi’in- 31 May 2022- Amiad Taub interviews the city’s resident and media woman Rolene Marks for a talk on advocacy abroad, immigration to modi’in and social struggles.





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

CELEBRATING JERUSALEM EVERY DAY

By Jonathan Feldstein

This week, Israel and Jewish and Christian friends all over the world celebrated Jerusalem Day, 55 years on the Biblical calendar (the 28th of Iyar) corresponding to the day on the secular calendar in June of 1967 when Jerusalem was miraculously reunified during the Six Day War.  Indeed, the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to all of Jerusalem for the first time in 2000 years is yet another fulfillment of the many promises God made to the Jewish people, and many prophesies that continue to play out before our eyes right here in the Land.

For Jews and Christians, there is no place more central or significant to our faith than Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the place that Kings built, prophets prophesied, where the Temples stood, where Jesus preached and was crucified, and much more.  Jerusalem is mentioned several hundred times in the Bible. It’s the only place by name that God specifically tells us to pray for, and to be guardians on the walls of. 

Sadly, not everyone understands that and the significance of Jerusalem to us today.  Not only doesn’t everyone understand that, but some people deny the significance of Jerusalem to Jews and Christians, deny that there was ever a Temple on the Temple Mount, and talk about Jerusalem being “defiled” by Jews and Christians, and “Judaized”.

David Rubinger’s iconic photo showing Israeli paratroopers (from left: Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri) standing in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, June 7, 1967 .(Photo credit: David Rubinger/GPO)

This narrative is not only not Biblical, but it undermines the very foundation of Judaism and Christianity. It is the mother of all replacement theology, to erase actual Biblical history and our deep roots in Jerusalem as Jews and Christians to the Holy City. 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre sacred to all the Christian faiths as the site of the Resurrection of Jesus following his Crucifixion. (CC-BY-SA Anton Croos)

This is all the more reason why we need to celebrate. Last year, Hamas and other terrorists used the occasion of Jerusalem Day to start an 11-day war, launching over 4000 rockets at Israeli communities.  As bad as that is and was, I prefer to look at the cup half full.  Yes, we have our challenges, but there are far more blessings. In fact, our cup runneth over.

While I am not a prophet, this year I felt a little bit like a prophet of doom, joking with friends that we should hold off plans until after the war starts.  My daughter, with a two-week-old baby, nervously told my son-in-law that if there is a war, he has to tell the army he can’t go and be among the first 5000 reservists called up as he was a year ago. Thankfully, no major war or conflict broke out and Jews were able to march and celebrate throughout the city.

Being a Jew in Jerusalem, I feel the blessings every day. From the balcony of my apartment, I can see the golden dome on the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount . I am overcome with joy and emotion that 17 years ago, my youngest son was born in Jerusalem. He is named for two relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust and no doubt prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem.  I suspect that they could never have imagined how that has become a reality today as a thriving diverse city that is the capitol of the State of Israel.  As overjoyed as they would be seeing a young man carrying their name, born in Jerusalem, who is finishing high school and preparing to go serve the country as a member of the IDF, they would be speechless to know that now, I also have three grandsons born in Jerusalem, representing another generation of Jewish life thriving in Jerusalem.

But don’t believe me. This month I had conversations with two dear Christian friends who live in Jerusalem and have been part of life here for decades.  We discussed modern and Biblical history, the blessings that they experience being here, and the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and why we celebrate today.  Chris Mitchell is the veteran head of the CBN Jerusalem bureau for more than two decades.  He’s reported on thousands of aspects of life here and is well known to Christians around the world.  He’s a journalist with the highest of integrity who speaks about being at the intersection of history and prophesy. Hear his invaluable insight here.

Orthodox Christian worshippers take part in the Good Friday procession, along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Old City, on 22 April 2022. (AFP)

John Enarson works on a theological basis to help Christians understand the significance of Jerusalem to them.  He has had the privilege of living and raising a family in Jerusalem and speaks with unwavering moral clarity rooted in Biblical tradition.  Together, Chris and John offer extraordinary personal testimony and insight about living in Jerusalem and the significance of how and why celebration of Jerusalem Day is so important.  

Yesterday, I was watching a TV talk show broadcasting from Jerusalem with the Old City as the backdrop.  The panel was discussing the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification, in light of current events including the annual “flag march”, as well as the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.  This is particularly relevant given that last year on the eve of Jerusalem Day, Hamas used this as an excuse to launch rockets at Jerusalem (to “protect” Jerusalem!), beginning an 11-day conflict during which terrorists fired more than 4000 rockets at Israeli communities.  I suppose that “protecting” Jerusalem means different things to different people.

Organized by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Abrahamic Reunion, and the Tantur Institute for Ecumenical Studies, a multi-faith prayer in Jerusalem welcoming Jews, Christians and Muslims. (Courtesy Abrahamic Reunion)

One of the panelists talked passionately about the significance of Jerusalem’s reunification and our celebration. She spoke ardently, as a proud Israeli. Before my mind could ascribe any political association, she described herself growing up in a (left-wing) kibbutz environment and noted that even for her, celebrating Jerusalem and not caving in to Hamas threats was a priority. 

That’s when it hit me. 

The reunification is indeed a national thing. Jerusalem’s reunification is not something I take for granted.  Years ago, I was moved to hear from a friend’s father, Moshe, how that very year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to Jerusalem to celebrate its reunification.  For him, it was like a heart transplant, bringing a new pulse to the State and people of Israel, one for which we waited and prayed for nearly 2000 years. 

Cobbled street through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, Jerusalem

Today, too many do take Jerusalem’s reunification for granted.  That’s wrong. Jerusalem is our heart.  Its reunification is fulfillment of a Divine promise on which we could bank, and is now fulfilled. Even if it took two millennia.

Not everyone looks at the significance of Jerusalem’s restoration from the same perspective. Some look at it as just part of modern history, some as fulfillment of a Divine promise, some as one of the greatest things to happen in the State of Israel, and some, a combination of all these.  But remembering Moshe’s moving words, along with the passionate comments of the “left-wing” woman on TV, things clicked in a way that haven’t before.  That’s part of the beauty of living here. It’s not just academic.  I live in my own Petrie dish.  I am part of the experiment and can observe the outcome all at the same time.

The Church of All Nations also known as the Basilica of the Agony  on the Mount of Olives next to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Our joy and celebration should be unbridled. No exceptions. This year, thank God, it was, more or less. But we don’t have to wait once a year to celebrate Jerusalem. Like our heart, it’s part of who we are, central to Judaism and Christianity. Let’s celebrate Jerusalem every day.



About the writer:

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





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

THE CURIOUS CASE OF CNN

CNN report accuses Israel of deliberately killing journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh – but who are the experts whose commentary they are peddling?

By Rolene Marks

Mark Twain once said that a lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on. When it comes to the mainstream media’s reporting of the now decades long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, this description fits as snug as a pair of bespoke boots.

There are many who feel that perhaps we are overreacting or fracking for offense in every broadcast and headline; but the way that the narrative around this conflict is framed has a direct impact not just on how people view Israel; but if the Jewish state is continuously painted in a negative, brutal light, it impacts on Jewish communities around the world who bear the brunt of people’s ill-informed anger. I believe in this direct correlation so strongly that I am basing my doctoral dissertation on it.

The latest iteration is news network, CNN. Several days ago, the channel broadcasted an insert that featured “experts’ who stated that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deliberately targeted and killed Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh. The facts did not matter, only their opinions.

As soon as this regrettable incident took place, the IDF requested a joint investigation with the Palestinians who summarily refused, a stance they still hold. They have also refused to cooperate with possible US investigators. IDF officials have said that it is possible the fatal bullet could have been fired from one of the soldiers but it is difficult to tell without a ballistics report after examination of the bullet. The Palestinians are still refusing to hand over the bullet and the coroner who conducted the autopsy on Abu Akleh, a Palestinian himself, said that his findings were inconclusive. This is why a joint investigation is needed.

Reprehensible Reporting. Some of CNN’s  reportage on the death of Shireen Abu Akleh  was nothing less than an anti-Israel ‘hit job’ taking the Palestinian narrative of a complicated conflict and falsely presenting it as “evidence” of Israel’s culpability.(Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Would Israel deliberately target a journalist? The other question we need to ask is what possibly does Israel, who enjoys a free and open press, unlike the Palestinians, have to gain by murdering a journalist bearing first hand witness to this conflict. Israel has an open, democratic press and is committed to ensuring that journalists can work freely and unimpeded. War correspondents who cover conflict zones understand the risks.

CNN however, had different ideas.

I remember the day this event took place very clearly. News alerts coming in spoke of “a heavy exchange of fire between Palestinians and Israeli Security Forces engaged in counterterror operations in Jenin”. Jenin in the West bank, is a hotbed of incitement and terror activity. Terrorists who have killed Israelis in the recent wave of terror have come from Jenin. The news then broke that a journalist had been fatally shot.

City of Terror. Jenin, where Abu Akleh was struck by a fatal bullet has been for decades a hotbed of violent terrorist activity as reflected in this photo of terrorists displaying in public their weapons in April 2002. (AFP)

No sooner had this happened, then footage started to circulate.

The footage clearly shows Palestinians wearing bullet-proof vests and firing automatic weapons, including one gunman who leans around a corner and indiscriminately shoots, at which point bystanders can be heard saying, “they’ve hit one, they’ve hit a soldier, he’s laying on the ground.” The IDF confirmed that no Israeli soldiers were hit or injured in the melee.

Judge for yourself:

CNN trotted out their “expert” eye witness who claimed that there “had been no conflict, we were standing around, joking with journalists”.

The next “expert” up to bat was “explosive weapons expert” and “security consultant and British army veteran”, Chris Cobb-Smith. Cobb-Smith based his findings on images provided by CNN that showed strike or bullet strafe marks on the nearby trees. Cobb-Smith is reportedly able to ascertain that Abu Akleh was not killed by a “random shot” but was “targeted.”

Now if I was asking Cobb-Smith questions, and I am not a lawyer, I would ask him:

 a) was he or has he been in a position to examine the fatal bullet because  it is  still in Palestinian custody and has yet to be handed over for ballistics testing as per the IDF request

b) could bullet strafings or marks on the trees not be assigned to either side given that he hasn’t examined the fatal bullet or any of those fired and the Palestinian coroner who conducted the autopsy, has said it is impossible to draw conclusive findings who was responsible.

Chris Cobb-Smith’s credentials are dubious to say the least. Some of his highly questionable activities include:

Contributing to an Amnesty International report alleging that the IDF had used white phosphorous during Operation Cast Led in 2009. Amnesty International make no secret of their view of Israel and the IDF.

Up to his old Tricks. The security consultant“expert” Chris Cobb-Smith who provided CNN with his findings alleging Abu Akleh was “targeted” by Israeli forces  was the same expert who misled in a report to Amnesty International  falsely alleging that the IDF had used white phosphorous during Operation Cast Led in 2009. Amnesty International makes no secret of their distaste of Israel and the IDF.

He met with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in 2009, in June 2015, and in 2018 and participated in a workshop held by PCHR at the Institute for International Criminal Investigations on “the procedures of criminal investigation into international crimes”. The PCHR is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which has been designated a  terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.

I would also ask Cobb-Smith how he could give expert opinion when he has already been on record supporting an agenda against the IDF for Amnesty International who have a clear agenda against the State of Israel.

Smell a rat?

LTG Aviv Kohavi Adresses Shireen Abu Akleh Investigation

CNN also featured “former parliamentarian and member of the Palestinian Fatah Party in Jenin,” Jamal Huwail, who also backed claims that Israel deliberately targeted Abu Akleh and other journalists.

Missing from his “expert testimony” was the fact that he lauded the terrorist who murdered four people in a car ramming and knife attack in Beersheba on March 22 as a “lone lion” who had “sounded the alarm of this criminal Zionist occupation.” The terrorist was an ISIS sympathizer.

Targeting Truth. How far has journalism sunk when CNN features unrefuted “experts’ who state that the IDF deliberately targeted and killed Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh?

The Palestinian Authority have said they conducted their own investigation and concluded the IDF deliberately targeted Abu Akleh. These findings were released two days after the CNN expose. Anyone else “shook”, as the kids say?

Israel is a democracy and holds the importance of a free press as sacrosanct.  News networks around the world need to be held accountable for their role in spreading disinformation that has dangerous and sometimes deadly consequences. This is possible and we can all play a role in it. It is time for the truth to strap on its best pair of boots and go walking. And this needs to happen sooner rather than later.





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