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I love a fabulous frock.  I love a sexy shoe even more and just having passed awards season which is a feast for the senses, I have been in fashion heaven.

This year’s fashion feast provided the perfect opportunity for a galaxy of female stars to accessorise their haute couture from the various spring collections with a side of self-righteousness. While I agree wholeheartedly that Time’s Up and admire the solidarity (and hey, who can go wrong with classic black?) and the advocacy for issues like gender parity and exposing misogyny, I cannot help but think our venerable women’s movement HAS to stand for more. And this also means respecting the wardrobe choices that other women make.


Even the poor Duchess of Cambridge did not escape criticism for her sartorial choices having being beaten up by many in the media for her choice of emerald green gown at the BAFTA awards and not solidarity black. Way to beat up on a pregnant woman! Some women have chosen to express their feminism by wearing vagina dresses. Can one wear labia after Labour Day?

Sartorial pontification aside, there are many women’s issues that desperately need our attention.

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day and this brings with it a perfect opportunity to highlight the status of women around the world. Hollywood sexcapades have dominated the headlines in recent months and while it is very necessary to expose misogynists, rapists and appalling salary disparities, some of our sisters around the world endure this without the benefit of the media spotlight.

There are very important conversations taking place on the global stage with regards to racism and sexual inequality and harassment and we need to include our international sisters.

Terror organization Boko Haram kidnapped over 100 schoolgirls last week. There was radio silence from the media. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign barely registers a concerned response anymore. In Ghouta Syria, hundreds of women and children are dying as the bombs rain down. In Gaza, Hamas have shut down a TV channel aimed at women, a platform where they could talk and express themselves. ISIS have kidnapped Christian women, raped them and sold them into sex slavery. Across Africa and the Middle East, women are subject to honour killings and female circumcision. The media has been relatively silent. These women don’t enjoy the benefits of having the platform that social media provides to raise awareness of their issues. We need to. #MeToo has to become #Mysistersaswell.

In the United States, Jewish women are being excluded from the Women’s March because our national liberation movement, Zionism, is anathema to some, including the leaders of the march who support notorious anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan without sanction.  Jewish women are continuously marginalized from the conversation, a worrying phenomenon as anti-Semitism escalates around the world, wearing its new outfit, anti-Zionism.


Jewish women were excluded from the 2017 Chicago Dyke March for proudly including a Magen David (Star of David) on their flag.

In 2018 women are still being marginalized, excluded, persecuted and denied opportunity.

We women need to ensure that our movement becomes less about the obsession about frocks and catchy hashtags. We have already proven that we can make a magnificent difference when we mobilise.

If we can use our powerful voices and fashion choices to demand equal pay and an end to sexual harassment, then we can and should use them to speak on behalf of our sisters throughout the world who have been silenced.  We cannot allow them to vanish in obscurity and become a case of #MeWho?



Poles Apart – by Dr Tessa Chelouche M.D

Poland was once home to a thriving Jewish community who had been there for hundreds of years. During the Holocaust, these communities were decimated.  The  Polish government have recently made moves to pass legislation that abdicates the Poles of any responsibility in their role in carrying out the Final Solution which brought about the murder of over 6 million Jews across Europe. While there were many righteous Poles who saved the lives of Jews and Poles were victims, many, far too many were complicit in aiding the NAZI killing machine. The question we are asking is – should Israeli youth visit Poland and in particular Auschwitz?

Roro’s Rantings is proud to welcome guest blogger, Dr Tessa Chelouche MD, Co-Chair, Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust, UNESCO Chair of Bioethics (Haifa) Co-Director Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust who responds to the following opinion editorial in the New York Times:

Do Israeli studentsneed to visit Auschwitz?

Dr Chelouche’s response:

Poles Apart!

By Dr. Tessa Chelouche

I take issue with Shmuel Rosner’s article in the New York Times of February 14, 2018 questioning the issue – embedded in his title – “Do Israeli Students Need to Visit Auschwitz?”

The trigger to raising this issue is the current conduct of the Polish government in passing a law that would whitewash any frank and open introspection of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. In other words, it’s an all-German issue – Poles were victims like the Jews!

With this new disturbing state position, do we Jews still promote and facilitate our younger generations to visit the Polish sites of our extermination in the Holocaust?

I think so – more than ever.


Firstly, I preface my response by offering some personal background.  I am an Israeli mother of three adult sons, all of whom have served in the army and continue to do so. I am married to a sixth generation Israeli, whose family history is woven closely with the history of the country that precedes the Holocaust and the Second World War by generations. I am a family physician who has developed over the past twenty years a second academic career in studies of Medicine and the Holocaust. I am the co-Chair of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics’ Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust and am co-director of the Maimonides Institute of Medicine and the Holocaust. I have taught this subject at medical schools and academic institutions in Israel and worldwide for the last twenty years and have published on this subject in academic journals.

I would object to some of Rosner’s statements.

Not “trips”

The new Polish law has nothing to do with the Israel-Holocaust relationship. The debate over the Polish law has no impact on the way that the Holocaust is remembered in Israel today. We certainly do not need a law, Polish or other, to remember the Holocaust. Israel is a living testimony to the Holocaust. The Holocaust survivors are a living testimony and those who did not survive, a testimony to their remembrance.


Each year thousands of Israelis, young and not so young, visit Poland. These are not “TRIPS”. These are educational excursions that are journeys in the real sense of the word. I object to Rosner’s use of the terminology because it is factually wrong and trivializes the visits.

These annual excursions are not the pinnacle of Holocaust education in Israel nor do they resemble any form of” pilgrimage”. It is incorrect that young Israelis process the Holocaust as a crucial part of their religious and/or national identity. These educational excursions to Poland do not contribute to the misconception that the Holocaust is the main manifestation of Judaism. Israelis do not need the Holocaust to remind them of their Jewish roots; they live their Jewish roots daily. Most Israelis today have no roots in the Holocaust.  Are they any less Jewish? Of course not.

Jews do not need to visit Poland to remind them they are Jewish!

It is clear from those who participate on these well-organized visits that they return understanding that their journey was beneficially educational and contributed to their awareness of their responsibility to the country and to their fellow citizens.

They would not describe the experience as defining their persona as Jewish or Israeli.

Life in Israel is sufficient to make them connect with the country or as Rosner writes with “Jerusalem”. Our children in Israel grow up with a sense of identity that no other children in the world have and which they form long before they make the excursion to Poland. However, participants will often confide that the program made them acutely more aware of the importance of serving their country and community. It makes them ask more questions and reflect more critically.


Contrasting with Israeli youth, I can understand how their diaspora peers may perceive the Holocaust and the “March of the Living” as the basis for their Jewish identity. The Israeli excursions are far less about flag-waving ceremonies and far more about education and entail a great deal of self-reflection and critical discussion. However, this is all more of a reason to encourage the youth from the diaspora to visit Poland because in many ways it provides the only connection that they have to their Jewishness – unfortunately!

What the diaspora does not achieve due to lack of proper Jewish education, the excursions can make up for.

Regarding Rosner’s contention that the excursions perpetuate the myth that Israel was born in the ashes of the Holocaust, I regret that there is not enough space here for detailed refutation. There is some clear validity to the argument that the modern State of Israel came into being – at least in part – due to the events of the Holocaust. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, announced the formation of the state of Israel, declaring, “The Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the reestablishment of the Jewish State, which would solve the problem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gates to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality in the family of nations.”

Whatever the dimensions of the dispute, the excursions to Poland as an educational instrument, serve to enlighten the participants and not brainwash them about historical “myths.”

I find Rosner’s assertions on memory troubling.  A healthy society is always defined by memory however we may try to deny it. Memory does not diminish the significance of our current values and sense of identity. In fact, the exact opposite is true. We are all products of our past and our collective memory. Israeli children are brought up with memory – memory of the Holocaust, memory of wars, and memory of terror attacks. This is our reality, not only our memory. George Santanyana is well known for his statement: “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” In my opinion, and why I take issue with Rosner’s position on memory is that in today’s world there are many parallels with the origins of the Holocaust and we would be better people, and a better world, if we learnt some of these lessons. One of the ways to learn these lessons (and of course not the only one) is to take people to Poland. “Auschwitz” is not “sacred” as Rosner cynically postulates but is the symbolic icon of the evil of humanity. Educational visits to Auschwitz, and other related places to the Holocaust, allow for informing and relating past events to people in the present and serve to remind us all of our own moral vulnerability.

About Dr Tessa Chelouche:



Dr Chelouche was born in South Africa and made Aliyah to Israel in 1977.

She graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University Medical School in 1984. She subsequently specialized in Family Medicine at Tel Aviv University and has been practicing as the director of Primary Care Medical Practices since 1987. She has teaches Family Medicine residents for the Family Medicine Program at Tel Aviv University.

For the past 17 years Dr Chelouche has been teaching and lecturing on the subject of “Medicine and the Holocaust.” She has published numerous articles on the subject in international medical and law peer-reviewed journals, and has presented many presentations and lectures at national and international medical ( and other) conferences on various aspects of the involvement of medicine and the Third Reich. Dr Chelouche has participated in conferences involving the three major Holocaust memorial institutions in Israel: Yad Vashem, The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, and Beit Terezin.

Since 2004 Dr Chelouche has been a lecturer and co-director for an annual undergraduate semestrial course on “Medicine and the Holocaust” for second to third year medical students at the Technion Institute Medical School in Haifa.

In 2013 Dr Chelouche co-edited the publication of “Casebook on Bioethics and the Holocaust” which was published under the auspices of UNESCO Chair of Bioethics in Israel.

Dr Chelouche firmly believes in the promotion of medicine and the Holocaust as an academic discipline in medical centers throughout the world. She is affiliated to The International Center for Medicine, Law and Ethics at Haifa University. She is a champion of the Center for Medicine After the Holocaust, Houston, founded by Dr Sheldon Rubenfeld and participated at the First International Scholars Workshop on Medicine After the Holocaust organized by the center in 2015. Since 2015 Dr Chelouche has been the Co-director of the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust, founded by Dr Stacy Galin. Dr Chelouche serves on the scientific committee of the Second International Scholars Workshop on Medicine After the Holocaust which will be held in Israel in 2017.


Ringmaster in the theatre of the absurd

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South Africa – Ringmaster in the theatre of the absurd

South Africa is the “ground zero” of the BDS movement. It is no coincidence that that BDS sprung into the global conscience at the 2001 UN Conference against Racism in Durban. This was hugely symbolic because if you are going to launch a movement with the accusation of Apartheid as the central charge, then where better than South Africa?

Relations between Pretoria and Jerusalem have been steadily cooling over the last decade or so. The ANC-led government has firmly sided with the Palestinians, effectively removing the Rainbow Nation as any kind of affective and honest mediator in a lasting peace agreement between Israel and her neighbours. This comes at a time when bilateral relations between the State of Israel and many African countries are opening up and flourishing.

South Africa has adopted an increasingly hard line against the Jewish state, with the ruling ANC party adopting a resolution last month at their conference to downgrade the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv to that of a “liaison office”.

The same ANC conference that included a delegation of Hamas representatives. Hamas is recognized internationally as a terror organization and not the representatives of the Palestinian people. South Africa faces many domestic challenges such as state capture scandals, economic woes and a crippling water crisis in Cape Town which will soon become the first dry city in the world. Why all the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is it a means to detract from their own problems?


Capetonians line up for water

Last week we saw further evidence of this when the African state used their opportunity to address the United Nations Human Rights Council to excoriate Israel. South African diplomat, Clinton Swemmer, told the Council, “Israel is the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state. We remain deeply concerned at the denial of the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people, in the absence of which no other human right can be exercised or enjoyed.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council with its obsessive focus on Israel at the expense of other conflicts and human rights violations has in short become the theatre of the absurd.

Calling Israel an “apartheid state” is a fallacious statement to say the least. Is there racism in Israel? Yes. Racism is abhorrent in Israel just like anywhere else in the world and it needs to be fought whenever it rears its ugly head. The fundamental difference is that the apartheid was a system of state legislated laws that deemed the country’s white population as racially superior to any other population group. The apartheid laws governed every aspect of a person’s life, from where they could live, work and receive and education to the use of transport and ablution facilities. Every aspect of apartheid was designed to humiliate and discriminate against South Africa’s non-white population, and comparing Israel to that racist regime denigrates the suffering of the victims of apartheid and belittles them yet again. Apartheid is unique to the South African experience.

There is a danger of South Africa calling Israel an apartheid state. While we know that this is completely false narrative, designed to give a tailwind to the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and other detractors of the Jewish state, it does have impact. The apartheid analogy is the central charge around which BDS has built their campaign to de-legitimise the State of Israel. They are well aware that by comparing the Jewish state to apartheid South Africa, the former will be treated like a pariah in the family of nations. South Africa, by giving the stamp of approval to their accusations, allows this false narrative to flourish the greater global consciousness.

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Discrimination in South Africa during the Apartheid years

The enormous tragedy here is that South Africa and Israel share a lot in common and the Jewish state is perfectly poised to help combat some of the great challenges the country is facing. Both countries have overcome tragic histories; both countries are mosaics of multi-culturalism and both countries face challenges posed by water shortages. As Israel is lauded over ground-breaking advances in water technology, so South Africa is committing water suicide by refusing the help offered. It would appear that many in the South African government would rather their constituents suffer than accept the help available.

Despite all of this, there is a massive groundswell of support for Israel in South Africa. King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu nation spoke out about the importance of bilateral ties between the two countries and how South Africans could benefit. A sentiment echoed by the African Christian Democratic Party’s, Rev Kenneth Meshoe and many others who advocate for closer ties and have excoriated the ANC-led government for its short-sightedness and downright venom.


South Africans show their support for Israel

It would be in South Africa’s best interest to retire from its role as ringleader in the theatre of the absurd and get down to the serious business of contributing towards a more positive future. For both countries.

Rolene Marks is a broadcast and print journalist who serves on the executive of World WIZO and is a member of Truth be Told, a rapid response team to biased media and can be heard daily on Your Afternoon with Howard Feldman on Chai FM, a Johannesburg based radio station.

Doing the Diplo-Tango

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Doing the Diplo-Tango

Diplomatic relations between Israel and South Africa have always been a bit tenuous.  It is a story of shaky alliances, distrust in parts, and a lot of speculation.

Mandela and Peres embrace

It is a relationship that certainly garners its fair share of column inches and discussion.

The relationship between Israel and South Africa goes back to the earliest days of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

South Africa was among the 33 states that voted in favour of the 1947 UN Partition Plan that would move to establish of a Jewish State in Palestine, and was one of only four Commonwealth nations to do so. This vote would have hopefully led to the establishment of an Arab state as well, but a coalition of Arab states unfortunately declined, preferring to declare war on the fledgling Jewish state.

On 24 May 1948, nine days after Israel’s declaration of independence, the South African government under Prime Minister Jan Smuts, a long-time supporter of Zionism, granted de facto recognition to the State of Israel. This was just two days before his United Party was voted out of office and replaced by the pro-Apartheid National Party.

South Africa was the seventh nation to recognise the newly declared State of Israel. At the zenith of its communal history, South Africa had 110,000 Jews, a figure which included more than 15,000 Israeli citizens.

The accusation of Israel supporting South Africa during the Apartheid years has sadly become commonplace today. Mainly dredged up by detractors who conveniently forget that many other countries, including those in the Arab world, not only supplied weapons but also the fuel on which the Apartheid machine ran. It was Nelson Mandela who made the following comment about South Africa and Israel’s relationship, “Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities.” Mandela enjoyed close relationships with many Zionist leaders including Natan Sharansky, famous human rights icon and Soviet dissident and famously spoke about admiring Menachem Beginand the way he led Israeli fighters against the British, “I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”

South Africans showing their support outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria

So why has this relationship taken a downward turn?

Post-Apartheid, the relationship between these two states has become decidedly more complicated. Could it be because of historical alliances between the ANC and the PLO? Are there elements within the government and lobby groups who are pushing their agendas to subvert any relationship between the two countries? Why is South Africa, who shares many similarities and challenges with the Jewish state, singling her out for opprobrium at the expense of other serious conflicts in the world, including a collapsed economy as a neighbour and a genocide stricken continent?

Is this all a ploy to distract from domestic issues?

Officially, the South African government support a Two-State solution for Israel and the Palestinians. There are elements within the ruling ANC party who would prefer that South Africa adopts a policy of boycotting the Jewish state. The ANC will convene at its elective conference on the 16th of December and high on the agenda (besides the potential new leadership) is whether the Embassy in Tel Aviv should be downgraded.

There Are No Winners!

A downgrade of the Embassy, while mildly upsetting to Israelis, will far more undermine South Africa.

First, the continuing flagrant bias demonstrated by South Africa in the absence of any semblance of impartiality, undercuts any significant role that South Africa envisaged for itself in brokering a peace deal in the Middle East. When South Africa emerged out of the dark Apartheid past, the country was respected as the benchmark on conflict resolution. Sadly, over the years the African state has demonstrated remarkable bias – hardly a component of conflict resolution – against the state of Israel, and actions like the proposed downgrading of ties, only reinforces the fact that they no longer have a role to play.

In an interview for the website politicalanalysis.co.za, ANC NEC International Relations subcommittee member, Ebrahim Ebrahim, expressed that should a decision be made to shut down the Embassy in Tel Aviv, South Africa would have to shut down their mission in Ramallah as well.  So really, if you look at this, it is a situation where there clearly are no winners.

Only losers.

Trade between the two countries, while modest, is still very important at a time when South Africa’s economy is so precarious.

Can South Africa really afford to lose more trade and investment?

I don’t think so.

South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane signs a guest book with former President, Shimon Peres

Israel in the Vanguard

The Israeli economy is robust, with the shekel currently holding the position as the second strongest currency in the world and comes at a time when South Africa’s fellow Brics partners as well as other major emerging economies like China and Latin America are expanding ties with the Jewish state.

And it not just trade but the wealth of knowledge and help that Israelis bring with them in the fields of cybersecurityagri-techfintechbio-techmedicine and all the many other fields where Israel is fast becoming a world leader. Many ordinary South Africans who couldn’t give a hoot about politics in a region that they have no ties to because they are more concerned with feeding their own families, will lose out.

Groundbreaking Israeli water technology could provide much needed solutions to South Africa’s crippling drought problem.

Why is the South African government so hellbent on importing conflict into the country?

Israel’s Regional Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi meets with South Africa’s Environment Minister, Bomo Molewa

How would this affect Israel?

There is no doubt that a diplomatic snub like this would make Israelis bristle, but will this affect the economy and cause a great change in policy? No.

This could affect the levels of tourism between the two countries. Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims as well as members of the Jewish community visit the Holy Land every year and this could create obstacles.

Israelis visit South Africa as well, many for business but a significant number for leisure.

Israel also has a large South African expat community who depend on services offered by the Embassy and downgrading will affect them as well as undermine the constitutional rights of those living in South Africa’s to practice and enjoy their religious rights.

It would be prudent of the South African government to consider the well-being of their citizens and how the downgrading of the Embassy in Tel Aviv not only affects their daily lives but also greatly changes the status of the country from once lauded benchmark to future laughing stock.

Pallywood –industry of lies

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Pallywood Industry of lies

It is news so fake that it has birthed an industry! In fact, there is a term for this kind of drivel – Pallywood. It is a combination of what you get when you mix Palestinian news manipulations with a healthy dose of Hollywood special effects.

If the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences had a special category for this, it would take a clean sweep of gold Oscar statues every year. Could you imagine the acceptance speeches! In all seriousness, in era where social media has created citizen journalists and armchair generals and the term “fake news” is flung about without the responsibility of proper journalism, media consumers are buying the lies and this is propagating a lot of anti-Israel sentiment – sometimes resulting in violence.

This is not a new trend, in fact it has been around long enough to create real damage. And it does. Nobody wants to be seen to not be supportive of human rights and those responsible for the staging of these “news stories” know this and capitalize on people’s good intentions.

Listed below, are some notable episodes of Pallywood.

Mohammed Al Dura – a bloodless libel?

This was the story that brought the term “Pallywood” to global conscience. France 2, who screened the “footage” of the event claimed that he had been killed by IDF troops. Al-Dura became the global symbol of Palestinian resistance. The image of the little boy Mohammed cradled in his father’s arms as he lay dying was shocking. This picture was shown for days on Arab and international TV stations and was cited as inspiration by both Osama bin Laden and the killers of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.

Even the IDF at the beginning, thought that they were responsible. Except many notable facts were conspicuously missing. During a later investigation it was found out that France 2 had omitted to show the last few moments of the raw footage. It was discovered that not only was Al-Dura not shot by IDF troops but that he in fact moved his hand. He was not in fact, dead.

State-owned France 2’s raw footage, as shot by Palestinian cameraman Abu-Rahma, shows no sign of blood on the wall, ground, or barrel in the area where the Al-Duras were situated. Reporters brought to the scene on October 1, however, were shown large blood stains in the vicinity of the barrel.

Is this the case of a bloodless libel? And did Mohammed in fact die or was the body shown to the media that of another al-Dura child?

Phillipe Karsenty is the founder of Media-Ratings, a group that monitors the French media. He was the one who questioned France 2’s account of the events.  “Everyone in France knows the footage is a hoax,” he told The UK Independent. Conceding that the Israeli report could not be considered impartial, he added: “The governments of Hollande and Sarkozy have always known that the footage was faked. This report brings the hypocrisy into the open. The damage caused by the Al Dura hoax still reverberates around the world today.



The incredible case of the dead man who sprung to life

Not since the days of the bible have we seen such miracles happen in the Holy Land. The dead seem to spring to life again! The Pallywood industry would have you believe that the body counts are higher than they are and fail to mention, as was evident during Operation Protective Shield in 2014, that the clear majority of those killed were Hamas operatives. Only in the Middle East do the dead run alongside the stretcher that they are carried off in. Miracles!

About six minutes into this clip, you can view how miracles occur in the Holy Land when a “corpse” suddenly springs to life and jumps off his stretcher.



The great Hamas electricity crisis of 2008.

Poor Hamas. In 2008 there was such a crisis with electricity that they had to conduct a parliamentary meeting by candlelight. As this took place during the day, wouldn’t it have been more simple if they had just opened the curtains to let the light in? But then how would they have been able to tug on your heartstrings and make you believe that once again the evil Zionist occupiers had usurped the electricity?

In 2008, roughly 2,200,000 liters of diesel fuel were being transferred through the Nahal Oz fuel terminal to the Gaza Strip power plant weekly. This power plant is capable of supplying 30% of the total electricity requirements of the Gaza Strip. The remaining power needs are supplied by Israel and Egypt unlimited quantities of cooking gas, 800,000 liters of diesel fuel for transportation and 75,000 liters of gasoline were transferred weekly.

The gasoline and diesel fuel transferred by Israel is designated primarily for use by ambulances, water pumps, the sewage system, for the operation of generators at various institutions such as hospitals, schools and clinics, for agricultural use, transportation, school buses, food trucks, garbage collection, public transportation, shipping boats, food plants, bakeries, and so on.

It had become apparent that the Palestinians were staging an energy crisis while instigating strikes and protests. Images of closed filling stations, long lines of people and vehicles waiting many hours to fill their tanks, were all part of a planned Hamas media campaign being conducted at the expense of the civilian population – a crisis caused by their failure to pump available fuel supplies from the Nahal Oz Palestinian fuel depot.

This is not the first time that Hamas has used the civilian population of Gaza for well-coordinated photo opportunities. They have summarily exploited their elderly, women and children to be human shields in every conflagration with Israel and are proud of the fact that in doing so they prey on the heartstrings of the media consumers who are not aware of their intentions. But hey, if the truth got out how else would they be able to marshal outraged human rights activists into angry protests against Israel?


Shooting the breeze – literally!

You have heard the term “fake it till you make it”?  Well, if you are bored and looking for a hobby, why not practice your incredible combat skills against an unarmed….erm….room?

The clip below demonstrates how you can play pretend battle scene and quite literally shoot the breeze! It is like a scene from a movie – only without the A-list cast. Imagine if all this energy was spent on education and improving social welfare rather than stirring up people’s anger?

UNESCO – they can fake history!

The earth is flat. The moon is made out of green cheese.  The tooth fairy takes away your baby teeth and replaces them with money (well, that one may be true!). Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted 24-6 to give preliminary approval to a resolution that denies Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall. These are the holiest sites in Judaism, where King Solomon’s majestic Temples once stood. This is not the only account of resolutions that nullify Jewish connections to iconic holy sites. Other resolutions include nullifying Israeli claims to Jerusalem and Hebron. The former took place on Israeli Independence Day as if to add further insult to injury. Failing to win military wars against Israel, Palestinian leaders have resorted to diplomatic warfare and expanded the remit of Pallywood to claim international institutions as a new stage. Tired of distorted history and flagrant anti-Israel sentiments, both the USA and Israel will most likely pull out of UNESCO. Perhaps the new Director General may flex her muscles but the resolutions remain consigned to history books and the worry is new generations who will believe it. Institutionalised anti-Semitism at its worst.

As media consumers, we can demand of journalists and media outlets that they report responsibly and factually. We also need to be a little bit more discerning when it comes to our news. Sadly, there are many who have just drunk the Kool Aid and believe all that is presented to them as if it were facts. It is important to be cognisant that believing the soundbites that Hamas regularly feed the media is in fact, supporting terror. Fake news can be fatal – the anger generated by faux news reports has resulted in violence and an uptick in terror attacks.

By being responsible consumers of news, we can relegate Pallywood to the garbage heap of failed ideas – which is exactly where it belongs.

Anti-Semitism and the African landscape

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Anti-Semitism and the African lanscape

The history of the Jewish people and that of many African countries is more similar than it is different. There are some striking parallels – tribal allegiances, love of the indigenous land and a shared history of persecution and colonialism. In the fledgling days before the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought to end the British mandate that effectively colonized their ancient land.

It was with philosophy that both the founder of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl and Israel’s former foreign minister, Golda Meir, recognized that the Jewish state was the natural partner to help beleaguered African countries.

They recognized the shared desires of the African people as well as the Jews to live free in their homelands and respected the national liberation movements of the time, sensing a mutual desire to that of their own Zionist ideals. Zionism after all, is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.


Golda dances a hora in Africa

But today, much like in many other parts of the world, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on the continent. A continent that has suffered more than its own share of discrimination and persecution.

From the north to the south

Many would be surprised to find out that there once were thriving Jewish communities in many countries across the continent and while communities are sparse in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, they once flourished.

The Lemba of Southern Africa, the Igbo of Nigeria, Ethiopan Jews, the Abuyudaya of Uganda and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi of Europe, many of whom settled in Africa to escape persecution and who can forget the Mizrahi Jews of Arab countries, who were forced to flee Islamic rulers.

Due to rising anti-Semitism and poverty, these communities barely exist anymore. Outside of South Africa which has the largest community on the continent, there were communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zimbabwe. While many left for Israel, others left for Europe or elsewhere.

The continent’s massive poverty rates and political turmoil in the late 20th century led to some African national leaders blaming Jews for the problems of their countries which they claimed, “are operated by a conspiracy against the African race”. Anti-Semitism in Africa includes false rumors and allegations that the AIDS pandemic, was bioengineered by either the US, the United Nations or “the Jews” in a plot to exterminate millions of black Africans and that the disease is a part of the “Jewish” or “white Europeans’ maneuvers against Africa” or a continuous practice of “racial genocide”. African nations are prone to accept unreliable anti-Semitic reports and revisionist history that the slavery of black Africans in the new world was because of “Jewish merchants working for European colonial masters”. According to social scientists, these theories are appealing to some impoverished and downtrodden people without enough education to know the “Jewish conspiracy” myth is false and unprovable.

The South African story

In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Jewish community has not been spared. This is particularly troubling considering that the contribution made by the Jewish community during the Apartheid years was significant in the fight to end the racist regime. One famous example was that out of the 13 Rivonia trialists, 5 were Jewish.

Who can forget the inimitable Helen Suzman, the lone voice of opposition in parliament to the Apartheid government? Jewish and a woman to boot! Some of the greatest names to enter the pantheon of anti-Apartheid activists, be it through political, cultural, religious or civil action, include Johnny Clegg, Rabbi Isaacson, Joe Slovo, Arthur Chaskalson, Nadine Gordimer, Gill Marcus and Albie Sachs to name but a few. The founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela, Sisulu and Thambo were intimately involved with Jews, having worked alongside many throughout their legal careers. Mandela famously visited Israel with “his” Rabbi Cyril Harris and met with then Prime- Minister, Shimon Peres. Mandela famously refers to Menachem Begin and the Irgun as the basis on which he hoped to model the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:

“I read The Revolt by Menachem Begin and was encouraged by the fact that the Israeli leader had led a guerrilla force in a country with neither mountains nor forests, a situation similar to our own.”


When icons meet – Johannesburg, 2002

I think that these great stalwarts of human rights would be greatly hurt to witness the appalling invective levelled against South Africa’s Jewish community.

Good Jew, Bad Jew

Manifesting more as anti-Zionism rather than traditional anti-Semitism (although the two cannot be separated) the clarion call seems to be “Jews are welcome, Zionists are not.” Or are they? Over the past few years, anti-Semitism is manifesting on the Southern tip of the continent much like it is all over the world. Social media platforms have become new battlefields and threats of violence and subsequent incidents have increased.

There seems to be a division between who is termed “good” or “bad” Jew. Good Jews apparently are not Zionist and identify as Jewish by “cultural ties”, not those awful traditional, Israel loving kind. There have been atrocious incidents of anti-Semitism ranging from the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement and their cries of “shoot the Jew” at a conference hosted by the South African Zionist Federation to the appalling tweets from populist Black Land First leader, Andile Mngxitama and a whole host of incidents and issues in between.

Many look to Europe or the USA as the barometer on how anti-Semitism manifests but if we ignore the South African model, we do so at our peril. It would appear that when BDS and their supporters in South Africa sneeze, their global network catches a cold. This is not to say that anti-Semitism in South Africa is restricted to BDS and the far left but the far right, perhaps emboldened by the alarming rise of their counterparts in the USA are rearing their ugly, neo-Nazi heads as well.


Wits Campus Johannesburg 2016 amidst “fees must fall” 

The consequences of rising anti-Semitism in South Africa are worrying. This could mean the marginalizing of a minority group that has played a vital role in not just the fight against the injustice of the past but continues to punch far above its size in helping to build a new country. It would also result in many of South Africa’s Jews leaving for safer pastures – and along with them, investment and employment opportunities for many of the country’s impoverished.

South Africans fought against Apartheid and many paid a painful price. After the struggles of the country’s dark past, do we really want to see this vicious cycle of discrimination and racism rise again?

Silence is no longer an option and the message that Jews are just as much a colour in the Rainbow Nation as any other community needs to be heard. Loudly.