IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF HERZL

Musings and thoughts from the 125th anniversary of the World Zionist Organisation and Congress recently held in Basel, Switzerland

By Rolene Marks

It doesn’t matter where I am in the world or what I am doing, if I hear the opening strains of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, my heart swells and my eyes tear up. The feeling of pervasive pride is visceral. It is not just that I am a proud Israel, it is the knowledge that the words have sustained Jews in our darkest times – and also our greatest triumphs. Whether it be the scenes of Jews singing in Bergen-Belsen after liberation or Linoy Ashram standing proudly on the podium as she receives Olympic gold, I get the feels.

So you can imagine what I felt last week in Basel, Switzerland as I joined my WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) delegation and over a thousand others as we stood in the Stadtcasino, 125 years after the first Zionist Congress and sang the anthem of the country that had been but a dream a century and a quarter before.

Members of WIZO delegation

Over a hundred years ago, when a young journalist called Theodore Herzl, recognising the growing threat of antisemitism and motivated by the sham trial of French Jew, Alfred Dreyfus, wrote an article and then two books called The Jewish State and Altneuland, where he presented his vision of what that would be. Herzl recognised that this state could only manifest in the ancestral and historical homeland of the Jewish people – Eretz Yisrael, then called Palestine. The Romans, seeking to wipe out any reference to Jewish history and culture had named it thus. 

“The Jews who will it shall achieve their State. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and in our own homes peacefully die. The world will be liberated by our freedom, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind,” Herzl said.

Herzl also famously said, “If you will it, it is no dream”. And so they gathered in Basel, laying the foundations of willing a Jewish state. From these seeds would spring forth the World Zionist Organisation, the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Just a couple of years later, the Women’s International Zionist Organisation would be founded. All of these organisations, would help prepare the land and the ingathering of the exiles for what would be the fulfillment of the Zionist dream – a Jewish state.

“Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word- which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly- it would be this: “At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it,” mused Theodor Herzl.

Dr. Theodor Herzl.

Herzl, like Moses millennia before him, would lead his people to the Promised Land – but never enter it himself. Herzl died on the 3 July 1904, in Edlach, a village inside Reichenau an der Rax, Lower Austria, having been diagnosed with a heart issue earlier in the year, of cardiac sclerosis. A day before his death, he told the Reverend William H. Hechler: “Greet Palestine for me. I gave my heart’s blood for my people.” He certainly did.

Herzl’s vision would come to life with the birth of the modern state of Israel in our ancient, ancestral homeland. The Jewish people had come home.

In Basel some 125 years later we would gather to celebrate this vision and pay homage to the man who inspired hope in so many. And gather we did from the four corners of the world, 1 400 Zionists, representing different communities and ages and holding many different opinions. We were all there – the organisations, the social media personalities, familiar faces, those whose opinions veered to the right, those firmly in the centre and those to the left. In the city that birthed the modern Zionist movement, we debated, argued, agreed and discussed.

A stand out moment for me was the honouring of Druze Sheikh, Mowafaq Tarif and the presence of Emirati Sheikh Ahmed Ubeid Al Mansur.

 WIZO delegates with Sheikh al Mansur

Yaakov Hagoel, the chairperson of the World Zionist Organization, said of Al Mansur, “Herzl never dreamed that the day would come that a brave Arab leader would participate in a Zionist Conference together with thousands of Jews from all over the world whose goal is to strengthen and develop the independent and sovereign state of Israel.”

This gathering in Basel was not just a prime opportunity to pay tribute to Herzl or to discuss the challenges facing the Jewish world like rising antisemitism, the Iranian threat or how we will contribute to the fight against climate change; but also allowed us a moment to stop and take stock and marvel at the miracle that is the embodiment of our dream – the state of Israel.

In the presence of our President, Isaac Herzog, whose own family story is a reflection of Jewish history and First lady, Michal, we took a moment to look back – and forward to the future – of what Israel has achieved in a matter of a few decades. When Herzl envisioned a state that would see “the world be liberated by our freedom, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness and whatever we attempt there for our own benefit would redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind”, I don’t think even his wildest imagination could see what we have achieved.

In that hallowed halls, in the presence of the President and in the company of those who from generation to generation take up that promise to keep building, singing Hatikvah has never sounded so sweet.

 In the footsteps of Herzl on the balcony of Les Trois Rois Hotel

Standing on the balcony of “Les Trois Rois”, where the iconic visionary once stood I contemplated what he must be thinking as he watched on from high in the heavens.

How proud he must be. His will is no longer a dream. It is a reality. And it is ours.



Herzl and I reflect





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).

107 Years Late for Dinner: How I Uncovered My Grandmother’s Lost Identity

By Grant Gochin

(*First appeared in the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” blog)

Dinner between cousins was scheduled for Shabbat on Friday, May 14, 1915. How was I to know that the Shabbos meal never took place? Without warning, Russian forces launched a genocidal mass deportation of Baltic Jews into the depths of Russia. Families were torn apart, lives were destroyed, and communities of Jews devastated.

The first inkling I had was on my grandmother’s deathbed. Her final lucid words to me were: “I wish I knew my name. I wish I knew who my family was.” We thought we knew her name – Bertha Lee Arenson. We were wrong.

My grandmother had been adopted. She had a genetic brother and maternal cousins. I knew her youth had been traumatic; nothing more. A deathbed plea for her own identity from a beloved grandmother is nothing a grandson can turn away from. The search for my grandmother’s identity became my life’s mission. It was the only act I could still perform on her behalf. There were clues to her real identity, but in a then-pre-internet age, they were not viable.

Throughout the years-long research, MyHeritage was critically important in tracing the family connections.

Uncertain country of origin

My grandmother had not known her country of birth. At times, she had claimed she was born in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and even Russia.

I hired 6 different researchers in five different countries.

Her date of birth had been randomly imposed upon her, yet she remembered her mother’s first name had been Sirella, her father Jankel, and their last name approximated Novosedz. Novosedz just means “new settler” in Russian – it was not a hint of any value. I had little to work with.

 Jankel and Sirella Novosedz. (personal archive)

The discovery of my grandmother’s identity was accidental, a series of random searches where the puzzle pieces fit. Sirella was the diminutive of Sire Elke.

Jankel was the abbreviation of Iankel Ber. Novosedz was Lithuanian. Bertha Lee was actually Brocha Leya. Her fictional date of birth, December 7, 1912, was actually July 10, 1911. My grandmother was Brocha Leya Novosedz, born in Birzai Lithuania, to Sire Elke Garrenbloom and Iankel Ber Novosedz. The Garrenblooms and Novosedz families were both well-established, prosperous families, living in Lithuania for hundreds of years. It was a good marriage!

Birth record for Brocha Leya Novosedz

Lankel, my great-grandfather, worked for Baron Von Fredrichshof on the Fredrichshof estate in Riga. Sirella’s family, the Garrenblooms, were a prosperous family in Raguva, Lithuania. The children were well cared for, education was primary.

Deportations

Jankel, Sirella, and all of their relatives were deported into Ukraine in a mass deportation of Jews from Lithuania and Latvia on Saturday, May 15, 1915. The Russian-instigated deportations were sudden and brutal. Immediately, and sometimes even before the Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, Lithuanians plundered their possessions. Ordinary people’s lives were utterly destroyed simply because they were Jews.

From being a wealthy successful family, they were placed on cattle cars and transported into the Russian hinterlands without food or means of survival. My grandmother was 4 years old. Her younger brother Moshe was two. Criminals indeed! The Shabbat dinner obviously never happened.

In Ukraine, Sirella, her sister Sonia, and their mother Esther sold candy at the roadside trying to eke out pennies to survive. Sonia (mother of the South African national hero Esther Barsel) swept the cemetery, begging for crumbs.

Pogroms and prison

These were the times of massive pogroms in Ukraine. Jews were forbidden from trading in grain. They were not allowed to possess food, they were not allowed to trade food, they were not supposed to remain alive. Jankel was thrown into prison for the crime of trying to feed his family. He was beaten and starved. He contracted typhoid in prison from the torturous and filthy conditions in which he and other Jews were held. On the very morning of his death, prison guards threw his almost lifeless body outside of the prison so they would not have to deal with yet one more dead Jew. He died that same day.

Pogroms against Jews in Ukraine were considered a “national good.” They were planned with the approval of local authorities. Often Jews would know their intended date of murder and rape. They were helpless against the hordes and officials that sought their eradication.

Sirella died of deprivation and illness while Jankel was imprisoned. Brocha and Moshe were made orphans, fending for themselves, living with their Aunt Sonia and their grandmother Esther. They were exhausted, starved, and persecuted. How could children understand that they were made orphans just because they were born Jewish?

Sonia and Esther took the children and relocated to Kharkov where Sonia met and married a Ukrainian Jew, Joseph Levin.

Holodomor

Stalin and Lenin imposed their first Holodomor on Ukraine in 1922. There was no intention that disposed Jews should survive. Sonia and the children somehow made their way back to Lithuania in hopes of survival. There is no trace of Esther.

Officials in the newly independent Lithuania cared just as much for Jewish wellbeing as Stalin. The newly created Lithuanian government tried to prevent the return of Jews. Nonetheless, Sonia and her wards reached Raguva to live in the old Garrenbloom home.

Sirella’s siblings Sarah, John, and Abraham had previously emigrated to South Africa. Sonia reached out to Sarah. She told her that she could no longer care for their sister’s children, and to send rescue.

Rescue

Sarah’s husband, Abraham Arenson, was dispatched to Lithuania to collect the children. This was simultaneous with the Ochberg Orphan rescues (the rescue of Jewish orphans from the Ukrainian pogroms who would otherwise have starved to death).

When the Novosedz family was deported in 1915, a Lithuanian friend entered their home in Birzai and removed Esther’s gold watch (see the photo above), and some silver serving pieces. They held these few remnants in safekeeping on the slim hope the Novosedz family would survive.

While Lithuanian officials did not want Jewish children inside Lithuania, they also did not want Jewish children to survive anywhere else. Abraham had to smuggle the children out of Lithuania. Along with the children, he packed Esther’s gold watch and chain, and the silver saved from the Novosedz home. Abraham stated that when he found the children in Lithuania, they were starving, wearing only rags, and were living on the streets.

South Africa

Abraham brought the children to the safe haven of South Africa. Abraham and Sarah transformed my grandmother, Brocha Leya Novosedz, into Bertha (Bee) Lee Arenson. Her relationship to the Garrenbloom family remained. The Garrenblooms knew nothing of Sirella’s husband’s family, Novosedz. That connection was destroyed. The Arenson family was poor. At age 14, Brocha was removed from school and sent out to work. Russians and Lithuanians had ensured her life opportunities were taken from her.

Esther Garrenbloom with her grandson Moshe (Morris) and granddaughter Brocha. Photo taken in Ukraine in about 1919. (Source: personal archive).

Traumatic memories

Brocha and her brother Moshe’s memories were so horrific that they psychologically blocked them out. Their adoptive parents tried to protect them by reinventing their identity. All memories of Lithuania and Lithuanians were so traumatizing that Sarah and Abraham forbade Lithuania from ever being mentioned in the home (PTSD was unknown at that time). It was only on my grandmother’s deathbed that she referred to her past for the first time. When she expressed her terminal losses, I was simply unable to not try to discover her identity.

There had been Novosedz survivors from the 1915 deportations, but they too were murdered by Lithuanians during the Holocaust. No Jews were intended to survive in Lithuania, they were supposed to be completely eliminated, and so the ethnic cleansing by Lithuanians was almost total. Just 0.04% of Lithuanians rescued Jews during the Holocaust, a miniscule number. The only reason any Jews survived in Lithuania was because Lithuanians hadn’t reached them yet. Had my grandmother not been smuggled out of Lithuania as an orphaned child, Lithuanians would have murdered her also.

Cemeteries ransacked

For decades I searched for clues. The Garrenblooms had been from Raguva, the cemetery in Raguva Lithuania should have offered clues. After WWII, Lithuanians dug up the cemetery in Raguva looking for gold fillings on “rich Jewish skeletons.” They stole the Jewish gravestones for use as building materials. Thus, there were no clues coming from the dead.

 Brocha Leya Novosedz became Bertha Lee Arenson who
became Bee Smollan. Born July 10, 1911, in Biržai, Lithuania.
(personal archive)

Birth record

It was an accidental search that led to the discovery of my grandmother’s birth record and began to unravel the mystery of her descent. The Novosedz family was a storied family from Birzai, Lithuania with a traceable history back to the 1700s. Even before the arrival of Nazis into Birzai, Lithuanians chopped off the heads of rabbis and displayed them in storefronts for the entertainment of the local population. Lithuanians raped Jewish girls, and murdered Jewish families, leaving only scraps for Nazis to finish off. Lithuanians ended the known survival of the Lithuanian Novosedz family.

Upon her death, my grandmother entrusted to me with her grandmother Esther’s gold chain and watch. She gave me the napkin rings and cutlery taken from her childhood family home in Birzai.

Through MyHeritage DNA testing, I found a Novodesz cousin — Cantor Daniel Singer of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York. His Novosedz family came to America before Lithuanians, Russians and Nazis seriously began to murder Jews.

On July 10, 2022, Daniel Singer and I met in person. Two Novosedz cousins breaking bread on Shabbat, 107 years and 7 weeks late for dinner. We used the cutlery last used by the Novosedz family in Birzai in 1915. The table décor included the Novosedz napkin rings. The candles in the candelabra were given to Brocha as a wedding gift by Sirella’s sister, Sarah. July 10, the day of our reunion, is both Daniel’s birthday and my grandmother’s Brocha Leya Novosedz birthday. It is also Daniel’s grandfather William’s birthday.

Despite the annihilationist efforts of Lithuanians, Nazis, and Russians to eliminate all Jews, two remnants of the Novosedz family remain alive to represent our Jewish people. Today, Lithuania celebrates the murderers of our Jewish families as their national heroes. A simple dinner between myself and Daniel proves they did not have a total victory. 3.6% of us survived and have gone on to bring incredible benefit to the world.

My grandmother has her name back. Her family is now known. I have given her back some of what was so brutally taken from her. Dinner is ready. There is life and joy and family at our Shabbat table. They tried to murder all of us. Lithuanians and Nazis did not win. Let the Shabbat dinner begin.



About the writer:

Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo. He is the Emeritus Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations, and Emeritus Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty five years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Personal site: https://www.grantgochin.com/





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- 04 September 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 Africa and 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)

PLANE LIES

The heaven reveal Jordan’s concern for Palestinians is a lot of hot air

By David E. Kaplan

Soft Landing Rough Ride! Political uproar once these Palestinian passengers from Israel disembarked in Cyprus.

No sooner had the plane carrying Palestinian passengers on the first flight from an Israeli airport touched down in Larnaca, Cyprus, there were sparks – not on the runway – but between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. With Jordan accusing the Palestinians of betrayal and treason, will this welcomed first flight be destined to be the last?

PLANE LIES

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

A CRY TO THE HEAVENS

Testimonies of terror  in Lithuania during the Holocaust

By Grant Gochin

Burning Reminder. Hard for Lithuanians to deny its ugly past when reminded by photos like this of a synagogue burning.

This is a tough article to read but it MUST be read. While the ashamed in today’s present Lithuania try suppressing a dark history of complicity in the past, testimonies of survivors give voice to the mass of the brutally murdered Jews. Amongst these testimonies is the writer’s cousin, Sheyne Beder, who witnessed the cruel murder of the rabbi of Birzai – set alight and then shot. The murderers were Lithuanian!

A CRY TO THE HEAVENS

(Click on the blue title)



(3)

“WHAT THE WORLD SAYS ABOUT ISRAEL IS UNFAIR, UNTRUE AND UNACCETABLE”

Tribute to the passing of Freda Keet whose inimitable “VOICE OF ISRAEL’ carried from Jerusalem across the globe

By David E. Kaplan

Broadcast News. Foreign journalists, diplomats and opinion-makers all tuned in to listen to Freda Keet’s ‘The Voice of Israel’

Those older enough, may well remember hearing the eloquent voice of investigative journalist, war correspondent and anchor of Israel’s English news service – Freda Keet – during the country’s tumultuous years from 1963 to1985. This former Rhodesian (today Zimbabwe), impacted global opinion-makers at a critical time in Israel’s history. While the sound of her voice is no more, her message resonates no less today.

“WHAT THE WORLD SAYS ABOUT ISRAEL IS UNFAIR, UNTRUE AND UNACCETABLE”

(Click on the blue title)



LOTL Co-founders 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 CRY TO THE HEAVENS

Testimonies of terror  in Lithuania during the Holocaust

By Grant Gochin

(*Appeared first in The Times of Israel)

There were very few survivors from Lithuania.

In the villages, there were almost none. We know what happened in some locations because we have testimonies from some survivors.

Yakov Zak testified about the Lithuanian Holocaust:

The rabbi of Kelmė, Kalmen Benushevits, who had escaped to Vaiguva at the outbreak of the war, had been brought together with the Jews from Vaiguva. He had been forced to kneel next to the pit the entire day. He had quietly whispered a prayer, watching while the Jews were shot. After all the Jews were shot, he was shot as well.”

And:

 “The mystic religious melodies of the yeshiva students, their rabbis and leaders were eternally silenced. The town was ruined down to the foundations; the Jewish community of Kelmė was ruined forever. Peasants also related that while the yeshiva students were being taken to be shot, they did not weep. Like stone statues, they moved slowly, with their eyes raised to the sky, murmuring prayers.”

A past Lithuanians wish to Forget. Lithuanian militiamen in Kovno round up Jewish women. Kovno, Lithuania, June-July 1941

What is little known and seldom discussed is the particular cruelty and contempt that Lithuanians displayed towards observant Jews during the Holocaust. Frequently, Jews were tied by their beards to horses and dragged to their deaths as a form of public entertainment. They were beheaded, and publicly tortured. Everywhere, Torah scrolls and religious books and objects were destroyed and burnt.

My own cousin, Sheyne Beder of Birzai Lithuania, testified: “One day, shortly after Dr. Levin was shot, the Lithuanian murderers carried out the popular rabbi of Birzai, Rabbi Bernshteyn. He was taken to the Shirvenas Lake. There the rabbi was forced to duck underwater several times. Then the murders explained to the rabbi that he, Bernshteyn, was guilty of all the sins that Jews had committed against the world, and that he was responsible for the sins of all the Jews of Birzai. They set his beard on fire, burned his body with irons and finally shot him”.

For Lithuanians, the blood sport of torturing Jewish clergy was particularly entertaining. After starving and torturing the Jews, Lithuanians would take pleasure in murdering children in front of their parents and raping daughters in front of their fathers. By humiliating and destroying clergy in front of their congregations, spirituality and entire belief systems were upended, leaving only the human shell of the Jews left to murder.

Dvoyre Lazarsky of Ariogala Lithuania and Frida Praz of Vaiguva Lithuania, testified:

The rabbi of Raseiniai, Rabbi Katz, was not in the camp. He sat in his home and studied day and night. With a broken heart, he observed the annihilation of his congregation. But he could not help them. The heavens, to which he shouted and pleaded for mercy from the depths of his heart, remained mute. Lithuanian partisans once came to the old man’s house. They found him sitting and studying. They ordered him to get dressed and go along with them. He categorically refused to go along and announced that he knew where they were taking him, and that he was ready to be shot in his home. The murderers spared him two times, and went away. The third time, two partisans came and forced the rabbi to leave his house. Dvoyre personally saw the rabbi being taken away in the direction of Jurbarkas, to Zhuvelishkiai. The rabbi went slowly, marking his steps, his head bowed down low to the ground. The murderers took the rabbi to Zhuvelishkiai, and there they shot him.”

Escorted to their Death. Thousands of Jews were transferred to locations outside Kovna by Lithuanian militiamen as seen here 25 June 1941 leading Jews to the Seventh Fort, Kovno. Jews brought here were brutally abused and then shot by Lithuanians and Germans.

The government of Lithuania states “No partisan ever murdered a Jew”. The Lithuanian government has an entire government agency dedicated to Holocaust fraud. They constantly report how many Lithuanians were benevolent to Jews. A testimony from Elke Flaks, born in the town of Krazhiai is an example of Lithuanian benevolence:

When they arrived at the pit, Rabbi Kremerman held his youngest child in his arm. In his other hand he held a book, and he recited something for the children. The murderer permitted the rabbi and the children to say their confession before death, and ordered them to undress.”

Lithuania had the highest murder rate of Jews in all of Europe. It was safer to be a Jew in Nazi Germany, than it was to be a Jew in Lithuania. The participation of local Lithuanians in the Holocaust was massive, in some places, estimates indicate that 50% of the population participated. Not a single Holocaust perpetrator has ever been punished by the Government of Lithuania. Deliberately.

Khonon Reif, born in the town of Tirkshliai testified:

The last Jew brought to the marketplace was the town rabbi, Kalmen Magid. The bandits made the men line up in rows. The director of the Lithuanian gymnasium, Miltsius, placed the rabbi in front of all the Jews, cut off his beard with a pair of scissors and cut a crucifix into the hair on his head. Rabbi Kalmen Magid stood with his head bowed, weeping. All the Jews wept with him. The Lithuanian population of the town and from the surrounding countryside had assembled to watch this show, and they enjoyed it thoroughly. When they were finished with the rabbi, the murderers pulled out the town doctor, Khayim Lipman. He was from Kaunas. His parents and brother were sent to Russia as bourgeois in the spring of 1941. The Lithuanian murderer ordered the doctor to point out the Communists among the Jews. Dr. Lipman responded that there were no Communists among the Jews of Vekshniai. The Lithuanian murderers began to entertain the Lithuanian public. They forced the Jews to dance around the rabbi and clap their hands, and to fall down and get back up. If any Jew collapsed, the Lithuanians doused him with cold water and forced him to get back up and dance again.”

Reif  further testified:

Finally the Lithuanian murderers forced the rabbi to get onto a horse, and then they forced the assistant rabbi, Rabbi Bloch, to pour a bucket of water on Rabbi Magid’s head. On a nearby hill next to the study house, stood the entire Lithuanian intelligentsia of the town, dressed in their holiday clothes, along with simple peasants. All of them watched as their Jewish neighbors were tormented, and they enthusiastically clapped as if they were watching a circus.

The German ordered all the Jews to line up, and each one had to pass by him. The German asked the happy Lithuanian “intellectuals” as each Jew passed him by: “Communist?”

The Lithuanians answered each time, “Yes, Communist!” At this, the German would strike the Jew with his whip. The Lithuanians would begin to applaud. The show at the marketplace and then at the synagogue yard lasted for more than three hours.”

Killing in Kovno. Crowd views the aftermath of a massacre at Lietukis Garage, where pro-German Lithuanian nationalists killed more than 50 Jewish men. The victims were beaten, hosed, and then murdered with iron bars. Kovno, Lithuania, June 27, 1941.

Khane Pelts testified:

In one group were the town rabbi, Rabbi Yitshok Bloch, his brother Reb Zalmen Bloch, Rabbi Azriel Rabinovitz, Rabbi Pinchas Elfand and several other pious Jews with long beards. Together with them were many students of the yeshiva. It was told that at the grave, Rabbi Zalmen Bloch gave a speech to the Jews, telling them that they should die proudly for the glory of God’s name, repenting for the sins which the Jewish people had committed over the course of many years. Yitshok (Iske) Bloch (not a relative), also made a final speech. He was a Revisionist. He said to the murderers: “You are sprinkling the trees with our blood, and the floors will be washed with your blood in revenge.” Iske Bloch was sliced into pieces with knives. The rabbis’ beards were torn out along with pieces of flesh, and then they were shot”.

Malke Gilis testified about the daughter of a Rabbi:

Mrs. Elfant, born in Yelok, daughter of the rabbi in Yelok. As Mery Shlomovitz relates, Mrs. Heni Bloch (nee Blekhman) had begun to give birth at the pit. The Lithuanian murderers threw the unfortunate mother into the pit while she was still alive. The little, half-born child was dragged along after its mother as she was thrown into the pit. The Lithuanian murderers were doubled over with laughter at this tragic scene. Mery saw this incident with her own eyes, while she was standing not far from the pit.”

Yente Alter (nee Gershovitz) testified:

All day long on Thursday, June 26, 1941, the men continued to be tormented in various murderous ways. The town rabbi Shmuel Fundler and Shmuel Gershovitz had half their beards shaved off by the Germans, who chased them around the yard together with the rest of the men. The torture of the men became a daily program for the German murderers and their loyal assistants, the Lithuanian partisans.”

Continuing she testified that:

there were lootings virtually every day. Any Lithuanian who wanted to, looted openly and freely. While Jews worked, partisans would torment, bully and mock their religion. They had a weakness for teasing, mocking and tormenting religious Jews. Once at work in the courtyard and park of the Polish Count Oginsky, Rabbi Shmuel Fundler was forced to get into harness instead of a horse. The rabbi could not withstand this, and suffered a heart attack. He lay dead on the spot. This was July 2 or 3 1941.”

Complicit in Mass Murder. Lithuanian collaborators guard Jews before their execution at Ponary, outside Vilna. June–July, 1941.

No government has ever created and implemented such a sophisticated Holocaust revision program, as Lithuania. It is the only government in the world ever to go to court in order to defend the good reputation of someone who was a mass murderer of Jews.

Lithuania had a miniscule Jewish survival rate of 3.6% – the lowest in the world. Only 0.04% of Lithuanians have been proven to have rescued Jews. Due to the intense pleasure Lithuanians derived from murdering Jewish clergy, almost none survived.

Every aspect of Jewish life became a target for dehumanization by creative Lithuanian perpetrators, and their Nazi enablers. Mass rape of young Jewish virgins was common. Rape is an act of violence and humiliation. In one well known case, it was combined with the destruction of personal identity and religion. Every component of their victims identity was stripped from them prior to their murder. JewishGen describes the events as follows:

People still talk about one particular grave in which 74 high school girls were shot. This is what happened: The Nazis and their local collaborators selected these girls from the school, used them for their own pleasure and then brought them to the mass grave sites to be killed. But then, for a brief moment, a miracle happened. A priest arrived and told the girls that he would convert them to Christianity, and thereby save them from being shot. Was this a sincere gesture on the part of the priest to save the girls? Or was it merely the commander’s cruel deception of the priest and the girls? These are still unanswered questions. It soon became clear to the girls that no such miracle had occurred when they saw the murderers making the preparations to execute them. And when the girls began to resist, they began shooting. One of the girls was able to grab hold of a half drunken murderer and began choking him. She was immediately fended off by another one of them who split her head open with his rifle. In this way everyone was killed on the spot and tossed into a mass grave. They say that this particular girl who put up a fight was tall and strong. Her name was Rochale Tsin. This is how all the girls were killed. Today they lie in the first grave by the entrance at the Koshan Memorial.

Jews were also incarcerated in their beautiful shuls, starved there for weeks, then often set on fire. Lithuanians did this to dehumanize us and to inspire doubt in our God, and destroy our souls, before murdering our bodies. It was a Chilllul Hashem of the worst kind; a desecration of God’s name and presence that ended 600 years of flourishing Jewish life.

Continuing Lithuanian Holocaust revisionism and their heroization of the murderers, is dehumanization of Jews. It is Holocaust triumphalism. Does this not compel us to demand justice?

On September 14, 2022, Cantor Dudu Fisher (of Lithuanian descent) will join with Cantor Daniel Singer (also of Lithuanian descent) to present the documentary, ‘Baltic Truth’. The documentary will address the massive fraudulent cover up of Lithuanian Holocaust crimes by the current government of Lithuania. Fisher and Singer are among two of the greatest Litvak cantors in history. They will implore the heavens, as did Rabbi Katz for mercy, from the depths of their souls. They will commemorate and memorialize our Jewish brothers and sisters, who were murdered with such delight and enthusiasm by their Lithuanian neighbors.

Burning Reminder. While Lithuania tries to erase its ugly history of Nazi collaboration, it’s hard to shake off the past when staring at photos like this of Nazi officers and Lithuanian locals looking on as a synagogue burns, Lithuania, June 1941. (Photo courtesy German Federal Archives)

Following in the spirit of the testimony of Khonon Reiff that “….Rabbi Kalmen Magid ordered everyone to recite the Jewish confessional prayer, and did the same himself,” cantors Fisher and Singer will too recite the Confessional Prayer ordered by Rabbi Magid, since we are all that remain to give voice to our brethren.

___________

Please note that should you be in New York on 9/14/22, and wish to participate, tickets are available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/baltic-truth-narrated-by-broadway-star-dudu-fisher-ft-live-concert-tickets-407980730347

We want you to know that Lithuanian Diplomats have been invited to attend.

We respectfully ask you to consider signing this petition presented by one of the documentary sponsors, The Israeli American Civic Action Network: https://israelusa.org/act/stop-european-union-holocaust-distortion/



About the author:

Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo. He is the Emeritus Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations, and Emeritus Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty five years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Personal site: https://www.grantgochin.com/





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- 29 August – 01 September 2022

The Israel Brief – 29 August 2022 – Live from Basel, Switzerland celebrating 125 years of Zionism.



The Israel Brief – 31 August 2022 – Soldier dies in rare training accident. Back to school! Jews of Russia mourn Gorbachev. Wrapping up the WZC in Basel.



The Israel Brief – 01 September 2022 – Travel warning for Uman. PM Lapid and Pres Biden speak. Eyal Haddad buried in Beersheba. 2.5million Israeli children head back to school.






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).

PLANE LIES

The heaven reveal Jordan’s concern for Palestinians is a lot of hot air

By David E. Kaplan

Anything that could ease the lives of West Bank Palestinians should be welcome. Or so one would think!

Apparently not so for Jordanians if Israel is doing the ‘easing’ and the Hashemite Kingdom  feels they are losing out economically.

Literally go figure, for this brouhaha is all about money not morality!

Jordan reveals its true colours as self-interest trumps any interests of the Palestinians.

Instead of West Bank travelers, when flying abroad, having to take the cumbersome, bureaucratic, time-consuming and costly route of going through the ever-crowded Allenby Crossing into neighbouring Jordan for international flights out of Amman, now have a much simpler and far less costly option.

Sparks Fly. A partial view of the international Ramon Airport located some 18 kilometers north of the southern Israeli Red Sea resort city of Eilat sparks crisis between Jordan and Palestinians.  (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

They can fly out from Israel!

Compounding the Allenby Crossing is that it is not open 24 hours a day thus forcing many travellers to pay to stay in a hotel nearby before their flight. There are also travel costs and crossing fees that make the journey via Jordan an added financial burden.

The alternative is Israel’s offer of its relatively new international Ramon Airport near Eilat. Opened in 2019, tourists from abroad holidaying at Israel’s all-year sunshine resort now fly directly to Ramon Airport. The first group of West Bank Palestinians flew last week from Ramon Airport to Cyprus aboard a plan belonging to the Arkia Israeli Airlines.

Hopefully it will not be the last, but it might be if Jordan gets its way.

So why is Jordan upset? According to Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, some 255,000 Palestinians enter Jordan every year with each passenger spending at least 350 Jordanian dinars during his or her visit to the kingdom. Here’s the revealing truth:

Jordanian travel and tourism agents say that 45% of their clients are Palestinians.

Easing the lives of the Palestinians is the last thing on Jordan mind.  First thing on its mind is not to lose out on this revenue. Hence Jordan is sadly in sabotage mode.

The rhetoric from Jordanians – across the board from government officials to activists on social media – has been threatening, frightening and scrapes away the false façade of caring for the wellbeing of Palestinians. The tone and tempo indicates also a callous disrespect towards Palestinians.

Several Jordanian activists launched a hashtag on Twitter titled “Palestinian normalization [with Israel] is treason”, #palestiniannormalizatioistreason, accusing the Palestinians of “stabbing Jordan in the back”. Ironically, many Palestinians feel it is Jordan that has stabbed them in the back, and have been reminding Jordanians on social media was it not their country that signed a peace treaty with Israel!

Where then is the “treason”?

This menacing reaction from Jordan permeates from the top. Chairman of the Tourism Committee in the Jordanian Parliament (National Assembly), Majed al-Rawashdeh, said that Israel’s decision to open Ramon Airport to the Palestinians posesto the kingdom:

“a great economic and social danger”.

Really? Israel offers a solution to ease Palestinian travel and Jordan seeing it causing “social danger”!

First Flight May Be Last. Making history, West Bank Palestinians fly to Cyprus from Ramon Airport Arkia flight to Cyprus from Ramon Airport, August 22, 2022. (photo credit: COGAT)

It gets even more vicious and libelous. Al-Rawashdeh added that the move was a “political decision par excellence” by the Israeli government to harm Jordan’s economy. The extent of this Jordanian parliamentarian’s lying was astounding when he claimed that the recent crisis of severe overcrowding at Allenby Bridge that saw thousands of Palestinian passengers stranded on the Jordanian side of the border crossing, was deliberately created by the Israeli government so that they could start flying from Ramon Airport.

In full throttle, Rawashdeh even castigated his own government for not taking any measures to thwart the Israeli move, and suggested that Jordan revoke the temporary (Jordanian) passports of Palestinians who travel through Ramon Airport.

Then steps in Jordan’s former Minister of Information, Samih al-Mayaita who accused the PA of collusion with Israel in opening the airport to Palestinian passengers. His Tweet read:

Yesterday, the first flight from the Israeli Ramon Airport arrived in Cyprus carrying Palestinians from the West Bank. Flights will continue to other countries at the expense of Queen Alia Airport and transit through Jordan. [This is] an Israeli move to serve its own interests in agreement with the Ramallah authority, which provided a service to Israel at the expense of Jordan.”

The Jordanian narrative is now of an Israeli plot in collusion with the PA to damage Jordan’s economy.  Can this hysteria get any more absurd? It can and does, and adding fuel to the fire is the Jordanian media.

Prominent Jordanian columnist Maher Abu Tair also accused the PA of being in cahoots with Israel to open Ramon Airport to the Palestinians. He writes:

The Ramallah Authority was complicit with the occupation. The rhetoric of the officials in Ramallah was soft and they did not prevent the Palestinians from using the airport.”

With venom creeping into the now offensive rhetoric, the Jordanian columnist referred to the PA as that “miserable Ramallah Authority” who would not “dare prevent travel and tourism agencies from promoting travel through Ramon Airport.”

Smooth Landing, Political Uproar. Palestinians at Larnaca International Airport after arriving aboard the first flight from Israel’s Ramon airport, in Cyprus on August 22, 2022 (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

He continues:

Most Palestinians travel by land to Jordan, and from Jordan they travel with the Jordanian airlines from Queen Alia Airport to Turkey and other countries. This means that opening Ramon Airport to them will negatively affect Jordan.”

This rhetoric was leading somewhere – a call for action.

That came from Jordanian parliament member Khalil Attieh who said that he would exert pressure on the Jordanian government to ban any Palestinian who uses Ramon Airport from entering the kingdom.

Long delays and Overcrowding. According to Palestinian sources, about 7,000 passengers cross daily from Jordan to the West Bank and from the West Bank through Jordan, reaching up to 10,000 passengers per day on holidays.

My message to the Palestinians is that anyone who uses this airport will not be permitted to enter Jordan. In addition, travel and tourism agencies that cooperate with this issue should be subjected to legal measures. The Palestinians need to know that they either chose Jordan that has always stood with them or the Zionists …….”

Where this will now lead for Palestinians travelling abroad is very much up in the air!





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).

“WHAT THE WORLD SAYS ABOUT ISRAEL IS UNFAIR, UNTRUE AND UNACCETABLE”

Tribute to the passing of Freda Keet whose inimitable “VOICE OF ISRAEL’ carried from Jerusalem across the globe

By David E. Kaplan

Backtrack to a time when Israel was struggling to survive.

The Jewish state faced multiple enemy states waging war as well as multiple terrorist groups attacking Jews on planes, ships and murderous infiltrations across Israel’s borders. All this, while struggling to establish a viable economy and absorbing Jews from all over the Diaspora. It was in this vulnerable and fragile milieu, that anxious Jews around the world would tune in to listen to the English service of Kol Yisrael – the ‘Voice of Israel’

Radio Royalty. Foreign journalists, diplomats and opinion-makers all tuned in to listen to Freda Keet broadcasting to the world in English on ‘The Voice of Israel’.

Those older enough, may well remember hearing the unmistakable commanding but eloquent voice of Freda Keet – born and bred in the former Rhodesia, today Zimbabwe – who passed away this August in Israel.

As well as an investigative journalist and war correspondent, Freda anchored the English radio news during Israel’s tumultuous years from 1963 -1985. She was one of a handful of journalists granted permission to travel to the Suez Canal during the War of Attrition (1967-1970) and again in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. Following her retirement from fulltime broadcasting, Freda became deeply concerned about the growing crises with Israel’s public relations, and went on to  lecture widely – at her own expense – across the world, particularly throughout the United States. In 2002, I interviewed Freda for Telfed Magazine on how the media had changed and its implications for Israel.

Look, with radio it was very different. There was no TV in Israel in the early days and everybody used to be glued to their radios for news. We all recall how passengers sat quietly in a bus while the news came on. Radio was king and the English service was well respected – foreign journalists, diplomats and opinion-makers all tuned in. We made a huge impact.”

How familiar her voice was  – even in lands that had been at war with Israel – is revealed in this chance meeting she had following the 1967 Six Day War, when as a war correspondent, she crossed over into the liberated sector of Jerusalem that had been occupied by Jordan and visited the Russian Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives.

 “It was unbelievable. The Mother Superior, who had never seen my face, knew all about me from my voice on Kol Yisrael. She, and all the nuns, used to listen to the English news. We were truly a bridge to the outside world.”

Broadcast News. Investigate journalist Freda Keet taking notes to later use in her international radio broadcast on Israel’s national news service, Kol Yisrael.

In a talk she presented in 2014 at Beth Protea, the South African retirement home in Herzliya in central Israel, she spoke about her youth growing up in a vibrant Jewish community in Bulawayo:

Looking back, I can see quite clearly that everything I became, or did in my life came from growing up in Bulawayo. My Judaism, my commitment to Israel, my love of theatre – I started acting very young in school productions – so looking back now,  not only was it an amazing life,  it molded the person I am. I grew up in a home full of books; all very left-wing and we grew up on these books. My father had come from Belarus and had actually fought in the Russian Revolution; my mother was from Lithuania. They met in Bulawayo. My Dad had earlier settled in South Africa and rumours spread that  gold had been discovered in Rhodesia, so he rushed up to Rhodesia; he never found gold. Instead he found my mother.”

Freda was the product of that lucky strike!

Most influential said Freda, was belonging to the Jewish youth movement Habonim. “It was my or should I say our lives. I remember the Sunday mornings, the scramble to get dressed and always spending hours,  looking for this thing called a ‘woggle’ – that platted piece of leather that held together your blue and white scarf. I thought about it later…. We used to stand by this little palm tree – simbolising the land of Israel –  that never grew an inch in all the years I knew it,  and which we used to recite the Habonim pledge:

“The upright shall flourish like the palm”.

The palm may never have grown in all those years, said Freda, but she and all those idealistic youngsters did as did Israel.

When later as a roving goodwill ambassador for Israel, Freda carried the symbolism of that palm tree with her. “I travel constantly. I’m on the road morning, noon and night, spending my life at airports and I always wear something like a scarf or a broach that identifies me as an Israeli.”

Maybe a throwback to the impact of the Habonim ‘woggle’ – holding it all symbolically  – like a scarf – together!

Zionism in Africa. All in their youth movement uniform, Southern African Habonim in the 1950s. Note the scarf and woggle on each member fondly referred to by Freda Keet.

Freda, who dedicated her life to Israel outreach, explained in the 2002 interview about the unique Israeli word of ‘Hasbara’ (loosely meaning public relations):

Israel’s obsession with Hasbara is understandable. Foreign to any other nation’s lexicon, the need for Hasbara is tied in with the history of the Jewish people. Being a pariah people reviled and abused for over 2000 years, we finally made it into the ranks of the family of nations. We have paid a price, an appalling price, for this membership.”

Freda stressed three reasons why Hasbara should remain an obsession.

Firstly, for the dignity and honour of the Jewish people.  What the world says about us is unfair, untrue and unacceptable. We are obliged to fight it. Secondly, the war that was once against Israel has become much wider. Today, it’s a war directed at the Jewish people worldwide and we are obliged to fight it on their behalf.”

The third reason, asserts Freda, is:

for our survival. If initially the strategy of the Arab world was to delegitimise the State of Israel, they have now gone way beyond that. We are now defending an attempt to delegitimise the very existence of the Jewish People in their land, in effect, to delegitimise Jewish history. The plan is to eat away at the roots, the very bedrock of this nation. The message is clear. What is taught to Arab children, appearing on Arab websites and TV networks, is that Jews have no historical belonging in this land.”

Freda articulated this point by citing Arafat’s behaviour at the Camp David talks.  “With his back to the wall, Arafat had to come up with a reply to the offer made by Israel. Arafat’s response was, ‘I can’t negotiate with the Jewish people over Jerusalem. There is no historical evidence linking these people to Al Kuds. There is no evidence linking the Jewish people with our land of Palestine.’ True, this diatribe is not new. We’ve heard it all before. But to have said it before the President of the USA and that it hardly solicited a ripple of protest was staggering. If the Arabs can be so brazen in the articulation of these lies eating away at the very legitimacy of the Jewish people to this land, then the whole existence of this country is a fake and a bluff and therefore unacceptable to the family of nations. The disappearance of the State of Israel will become an absolute matter of course. It is for our sheer survival that we have to fight back by whatever means possible.”

CRISS-CROSSING AMERICA

On the lecture circuit, mainly in America where she had become  a familiar figure to thousands of Christians, she was often asked:

Why is the world so obsessed with Israel?” A classic example of this obsession was the case Freda cited at the time of “the UN Geneva Convention of Human Rights, which passed into International Law after WWII. “It has met only once – not to address the massacres that took place in Africa’s Rwanda or Burundi, or in Europe’s backyard of Bosnia and Kosova. The only occasion it saw fit to assemble for Human Rights violations was to condemn Israel.”

Trains Planes and Automobiles. Freda Keet used to crisscross the US addressing audiences on Israel.

Opening today’s papers in August 2022, an Israeli can be justified in asking what has changed since Freda’s observations nearly two decades ago in 2003. The editorial in The Jerusalem Post (29 August 2022) reads:

Despite  the critical refugee problems taking place around the world as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and the Ethiopian-Tigray conflict – to give just a few examples – only the Palestinians merit an ongoing UNSC monthly spotlight….”

The obsession with Israel is unrelenting!

In answer to the obvious question of “Why?”, Freda replied:

They attack Israel because it’s easy. Israel is the equivalent of a cheap date. There are no consequences. Attacking Israel exacts no price. You can’t attack any other country because they all belong to geographic blocks and the members protect each other. You cant raise the issue of Tibet because you would offend the Chinese. Zimbabwe is taboo at International Conferences. There was recently a meeting at the UN where Zimbabwe was on the agenda, but South Africa insisted that it be removed. So if you cant discuss Africa because it will annoy the Africans, can’t raise violations in Muslim countries because it will offend Muslims, what are you safely left with? Israel! It will not annoy anyone.”

Bringing Israel to Jews Abroad. Lecturing overseas, Freda Keet addressing a synagogue in the USA.

Freda amusingly reveals how easy it is to misread a situation. “I share a birthday with VE Day, the 8th of May marking the end of the war in Europe. I recall when I was very young the Church bells in Bulawayo ringing on that day and I always thought it was to celebrate my birthday. It was a knock to my pride to discover later it was not.”

Freda did not need church bells to herald her presence. For that she had her unique voice.

The woman who was “The Voice of Israel’ and thereafter for over two decades waged an unrelenting public relations campaign for Israel abroad leaves a lasting legacy. Her eloquence and passion won her a huge Jewish and non-Jewish international following.

If Israel “radio was king” Freda Keet was its queen.


Freda Keet addressing Beth Protea on growing up in the Jewish community of Bulawayo, Rhodesia, today Zimbabwe. This clip was filmed by Dave Bloom as part of his Zimbabwe Jewish Community project started 20 years ago with a website www.zjc.org.il  (currently being rebuilt) and a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/zimjewishcommunity






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- 28 August 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 Africa and 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)

MUNICH METAMORPHOSIS

Images from ‘blood on the tracks’ to ‘love on the tracks’

By David E. Kaplan

Hanna in Heaven. Hanna Minenko proudly parading the Israeli flag in Munich after taking bronze.

While most Jews and particularly Israelis have historically negative images of Munich being once the capital of the Nazi movement and the Olympic setting for the mass murder of Israeli athletes in 1972,  this month in Munich the Israeli flag was proudly paraded following its athletes winning medals at the 2022 European Championships.

MUNICH METAMORPHOSIS

(Click on the blue title)



(2)

MY FAVOURITE GENTLEMAN

Remembering a pioneer, Lay of the Land contributor, a gentleman and my friend.

By Rolene Marks

Flying High. He took Israel’s national airline El Al all the way to the Supreme Court and won 

Making legal history in Israel, Jonathan Danilowitz didn’t just fight for what is right in the courtroom but also in the battlefield of public diplomacy. With the Jewish state facing a tsunami of hate, this former South African became a tireless advocate for Israel and Jewish issues and an inspiration to others – including the writer – in the battle against the purveyors of lies, distortions and irrational hatred.  

MY FAVOURITE GENTLEMAN

(Click on the blue title)



(3)

THE LAST SHABBAT SUPPER

The day  – 80 years ago this week – my great grandfather ‘died’

By Jonathan Feldstein

Painful Portrait. The writer’s great grandparents, the Birnbach’s, murdered in Poland in 1942.

It was the foresight of his great-grandparents to start getting their children out of Poland in the 1930s that the writer is alive today and can reflect from Israel that fateful terrifying ‘last’ Shabbat in 1942 when the remaining family – like all the Jews in Kańczuga – were rounded up and shot. While the bullets were German, the jeers from the those who lined up to celebrate or just watch, were Polish!

THE LAST SHABBAT SUPPER

(Click on the blue title)


LOTL Co-founders 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- 22-25 August 2022

The Israel Brief – 22 August 2022 – Hizbollah threatens Israel. Berlin police open investigation into Abbas’s comments. Bull in a bank. Complaining Bella Hadid.



The Israel Brief – 23 August 2022 – Victory over Ben and Jerry’s. Russian FM condemns Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Abbas in Turkey. First Israeli flight over Saudi Airspace.



The Israel Brief – 24 August 2022 – PM Lapid rejects meeting with Norwegian FM. Bennett appeals to Biden to not sign Iran deal. 19 envoys want clarification on NGO issue. Rocket kills Palestinian child.



The Israel Brief – 25 August 2022 – PIJ Commander charged with terror. Suspect arrested in connection with murder of young woman. Static and Ben-El split. Gal Gadot visits residents in south.





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).

MY FAVOURITE GENTLEMAN

Remembering a pioneer, a Lay of the Land writer but most of all, a wonderful gentleman and friend, Jonathan Danilowitz.

By Rolene Marks

We make a living by what we get; but we make a life by what we give”. These were iconic words once spoken by Winston Churchill. Jonathan Danilowitz epitomised this. Jonathan lived his life dedicated to helping others; and he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy.

Fought for Change. Jonathan Danilowitz fought to earn partnership benefits for gay and lesbian people in Israel.

I used to tell Jonathan he was my favourite gentleman. And he was. His quiet dignity, integrity and the elegant way that he carried himself was the embodiment of being a gentleman. In the wake of his death, the tributes coming in from all over the world were a testament to the great legacy that he leaves behind – but seldom drew attention to. This was his way of doing things – quietly making an enormous impact without wanting or needing the spotlight on him.

Born in Krugersdorp, South Africa, Jonathan made Aliyah to Israel in 1971.

Jonathan was a pioneer and made his mark in the world with his customary grace and dignity. 

Jonathan’s first job was working for El Al, the national airline as a flight attendant and would later become an in-flight manager. He would make his mark not just through sterling on-board service to his passengers; but would change the landscape for Israel’s LGBTQ+ community.

In one of Israel’s most widely publicized legal cases which made history with the precedent that it set, Jonathan sued the airline in 1989 in the Tel Aviv Regional Labour Court to receive an airline ticket for his longtime partner. For many that may seem a trivial issue to take to court but the reality for same-sex couples was very different.

The suit was filed as a response to El Al’s agreement with the Histadrut labour federation that entitled employees to two free tickets a year, one for the employee and one for his or her “spouse”. At the time this excluded same-sex couples and Jonathan fought for the right to have his same-sex partner recognized as his common-law spouse so that he would enjoy the same civil rights as his colleagues.

Flying High. The man who took Israel’s national airline all the way to the Supreme Court and won – Jonathan Danilowitz.

The case would eventually go to the Supreme Court in 1995.

The Supreme Court agreed with the National Labor Court ruling in 1992 against El Al, saying the national airline’s discrimination against Danilowitz and his partner was illegal and obliged it to grant equal benefits to LGBTQ+ partners. This ruling is considered to be a landmark case in the history of Israel and is featured in the Supreme Court Museum in Jerusalem.

Reflecting on his trailblazing legal victory in his book “Flying Colours”, Jonathan wrote:

 “Deep down inside, I harbour a chip of pride that I played a small role in the way the world views homosexuality. ‘Gay Pride’ – I savour the true meaning of those words.”

Book of Revelations. Writing of his experiences with pathos and humor, Jonathan Danilowitz cracks open the closet and many other doors in his intimate yet revealing book ‘Flying Colours’ that deals with issues ranging from Apartheid to airlines, Israel and the struggle for gay rights.

Jonathan didn’t just fight for what is right in the courtroom but also in the battlefield of public diplomacy. Jonathan, or Jonny as he was known to so many of us was a tireless advocate for Israel and Jewish issues, taking on some of the most preposterous invective with his usual aplomb. He took great pleasure in supporting many of us. I was so honoured to have Jonny in my corner, cheering me on, especially on those days when facing the tsunami of hate just became too much to bear. He would remind me exactly for what I was fighting for and I have no doubt I was not the only one.

I clearly remember attending a protest with him and how he relished being in the trenches.

Along with all of Jonny’s amazing activism, he still worked tirelessly for LGBTQ= rights and served as Chairman of Aguda, Israel’s LGBTQ= task force. In 2020, he was awarded Tel Aviv’s Yakir Ha’ir in 2020 in recognition of his struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Jonathan was a pioneer, a trailblazer and activist but more than that he was just a wonderful human being who enriched the lives of all of us who knew him.

“He was a life lived to its fullest, a friend to all, a loving and loved being who will be sorely missed” says cousin, Vanessa Fisher.

He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace Jonny, you remain my favourite gentleman.





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).