Roro on CNA (Channel News Asia) Israeli Efforts to Develop Alternative Energy Solutions

Israel is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels and hydrogen looks like a great alternative. Watch some of the groundbreaking developments here:

The Eternal Scapegoats

This article is featured in Lay of the Land:

Recent alarming statistics report that 2021 was the most antisemitic year in over a decade and with sham reports such as the one issued by Amnesty International this week, it’s about to get worse.

There are some things that we can be absolutely certain of -death, taxes and if there is any kind of international upheaval, Jews will be blamed. It is not a new phenomenon; it has been a fact throughout the ages. Jews have been blamed for the plague, financial crashes, stealing the blood or organs of non-Jews, running the world, poisoning the wells and so many more ugly catastrophes throughout history.

If we were running the world, we are doing a pretty shoddy job of it – especially in the media department.

It comes as no surprise that a recent report conducted by the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) as well as the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) have found that 2021 was the most antisemitic year in over a decade.

Rolene Marks, Co-Founder of Lay of the Land discusses rise in antisemitism on i24 News

There is hardly a day that goes by without reports of the latest antisemitic assault – verbal or physical. In the report published by the WZO and JAFI it was noted that at least 10 incidents happen per day. These are incidents that we know about – what about those that aren’t reported or fail to make the headlines?

It has come as no surprise that Jews are routinely scapegoated. In the last two years as the global pandemic raged around the world, this latest iteration of antisemitism has seen Jews blamed for the invention of Covid-19 in order to create the vaccines and ultimately profit from them. The internet is filled with conspiracy theories involving Jews and flyers espousing these very tropes have surfaced in Florida, Illinois, California and other states. Routine comparisons between green passports, vaccine mandates and lockdowns to the Holocaust are an everyday occurrence and have even surfaced in the upper echelons of various governments. Germany has instituted a crack-down on any protests that involve wearing yellow stars that resemble those that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust so that they could be identified. No, the requirement to Netflix and chill is NOT comparable to Anne Frank’s experience of having to hide in a cramped attic away from the Gestapo! Lifesaving vaccines are NOT the equivalent to Mengele’s experiments and a green pass is not the equivalent to having to wear a yellow star! Let’s all say this as one – the Holocaust is only comparable to the Holocaust and nothing else!

In May 2021, Israel engaged in Operation Guardians of the Wall, an 11-day defensive military campaign to protect citizens against an onslaught of rockets and projectiles fired from terror entities in the Gaza Strip. Every time there is a flare up between Israel and Hamas-led terror entities, the conflict is imported around the world and Diaspora communities become targets. This is not the first time this has happened but the language was much more extreme. There were more recorded violent attacks and threats of violence including calls to “Fuck the Jews, rape their women” in London and hardly a community was left unscathed.

 Hitler made his views about Jews as a race well known in this quote on the front page of the book, Maus.

The tsunami of hatred has not abated – it has only become more mainstream.

Israel’s decades long and complex conflict with her Palestinian neighbours is increasingly seen through the lens of race-driven identity politics. The dangerously myopic lens where Israelis are seen as white Jews versus Palestinians, who are people of colour, and on the spectrum of so called white privilege, Jews are seen to be at the pinnacle.

Identity politics can be extremely dangerous and this past week we have seen this manifest in two destructive incidents.

Amnesty International, the once venerated human rights organization demonstrated yet again their obsessive hatred of Israel by releasing a report that condemns Israel since its inception as practicing apartheid both internally by “successive administrations” and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They go as far as to reinvent the definition of apartheid and abdicate Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of any and all responsibility in the conflict. By their definition, Israel as the nation state of the Jews should be dismantled and by their call for a ban on arms sales, left (almost) unable to defend ourselves. The US Department of State and Jewish organisations across the spectrum including JStreet, the ADL and others roundly reject this dangerous report.

This obsession with painting Israel as a pariah state is not new for Amnesty International. In fact, it was one of the main protagonists at the UN Durban Conference against Racism in 2001, which saw the NGO advocate for the campaign to paint Israel as a pariah state, guilty of the crimes of Apartheid and to be excluded from the family of nations.

It is not just in the NGO forum but in the mainstream media as well.

Remember when actress Whoopi Goldberg (she of the culturally appropriated last name) was famous for her iconic roles in the movies Ghost, Sister Act and others? No? Neither do I. Instead this once beloved thespian is now more famous for being one of the panel of highly opinionated women on the ABC network show, The View. The show is famous for its format of co-hosts screaming at each other about the topic of the day but it was the show on Monday that really took the cake.

A big Whoopsie! Whoopi Goldberg’s comments about the Holocaust and race discussed here.

During their “Hot Topics” sessions the ladies decided to discuss the famous Holocaust-based graphic novel, Maus, been removed from the school curriculum in Tennessee for “sexual content and strong language”. A discussion about the Holocaust ensued. “Let’s be truthful about it,” she said. “The Holocaust isn’t about race… It’s about man’s inhumanity to man, that’s what it’s about.” When another panelist suggested that it was “about white supremacy”, Goldberg – who is not Jewish, and whose birthname is Johnson – forcefully responded: “These are two white groups of people… Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other. It’s a problem.”

Part of a bigger campaign? Dr Einat Wilf connects the dots on these events in this tweet.

Oof! Goldberg apologized after a conversation with Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL and to date ABC has suspended her and Yad Vashem has invited her to visit for educational purposes.

But the lingering damage is dangerous. In today’s world where identity politics is rife and Jewish identity diluted because of perceptions about privilege and race, the combination of this and the propensity to scapegoat Jews and their nation state for the ills of the world, is a damning indictment on society with very, very worrying consequences.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Ire

This is featured in Lay of the Land:

Harry Potter star and Gringotts Goblins create an uproar to rival the Dementors

I think we can all agree that over the last two years, the world has gone slightly mad. We are scarcely into the first month of 2022 and I fear it has gone full tilt off its jolly rocker!

I never thought Harry Potter movie stars or Goblins would ever make their way into my writing repertoire; but here we are. Far from it being the stuff of fantasy, a series of extraordinary events have occurred in the last few weeks that beggars closer inspection and debate. We need to don our own metaphorical sorting hats to sift through what is genuine antisemitism – and what are desperate for attention social justice posts driven by naiveté and agendas rather than knowledge.

The year had barely got off to a start when news broke that Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies shared a post in solidarity with the Palestinians on her Instagram page to her 64 million followers. This immediately resulted in an uproar on social media and a pile on between supporters on both sides. The verbal smack downs could put a Womping Willow to shame!

From Screen to Scream. An uproar on social media followed Emma Watson’s shift from the labyrinths of  Hogwarts into the quagmire of the Middle East with an Instagram posting to her 64 million followers.

Now let me be very clear – there is nothing wrong with showing solidarity with the Palestinians. Most Israelis want our neighbours to have better leadership and living conditions and nowhere in the post was there any anti-Israel sentiment expressed. It must also be made clear that Watson “sold” her Instagram feed to an unnamed “feminist collective”. Watson is a vocal supporter of feminist issues; but the reasons for the uproar are pretty simple – but can have quite destructive consequences.

The post in question contained the strapline “Solidarity is a Verb” – (well, actually it is a noun) but grammatical error aside, the meaning behind it was very clear. Don’t just talk about solidarity – demonstrate it by being activists.

You don’t need to be a wizard to figure out why famous celebrity muggles are jumping on to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict bandwagon.

Being seen to be “activists” on social media drives up their credibility as “social justice warriors” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is well known enough to offer them high returns on very little investment. In other words, no in-depth knowledge about the facts and complexities of this decades old conflict need be known to raise the ire of their followers, who themselves have little, if any knowledge.

Get Real.  The Israel-Palestine debate is confusing enough without the social media rants of  ‘graduates’ from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

If genuine concern was a factor, we would be exhausted with images of virtually all conflicts in the world.

Celebrities with massive followings have a responsibility to those followers. Unless they are well versed in the nuances and complexities of the conflict, they would be better served to not engage in this kind of activity. They could use their incredible platforms to talk about solutions or engage in constructive and productive dialogue but instead, the kind of activity seen by the likes of Watson, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and others; only sows more division and hate that sometimes results in dire consequences. Over this past weekend, a dangerous hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas was just one more example of the consequences of the spreading of hate and misinformation. I did notice that the usual protagonists like Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood experts on the Middle East had nothing to say about the Texas synagogue hostage situation. Reeks of hypocrisy.

If we thought that we had enough of Harry Potter shenanigans, we were wrong.

The year started with a drubbing for Harry Potter author and creator, JK Rowling.

Former late night talk show host turned podcaster, Jon Stewart, who is Jewish made the following comments on a recent podcast talking about the Harry Potter movies:

“It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s**t, she did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f*****g underground bank.”

Stewart also implied the story deliberately stereotyped Jews, saying:

JK Rowling was like, ‘can we get these guys to run our bank? It’s a wizarding world, we can ride dragons, you can have a pet owl, but who should run the bank? Jews.’

The comments referred to the portrayal of the Goblins who run Gringott’s Bank for Wizards. It is important to note that JK Rowling neither directed nor designed the production of her movies; or described what Gringott’s Goblins specifically look like in her books. Now I know that for many, the Goblins look like horrific, antisemitic stereotypes straight out of the pages of Der Sturmer circa 1933; and we are still portrayed like this today; but it certainly was not Rowling’s intentions at all.

This has many asking the question if the portrayal of the Goblins was intentionally focused to look like Jews- or is there so much internalized antisemitism that people view Jews as Goblins.

One example of a tweet supporting the UK Jewish community from JK Rowling

In fact, JK Rowling has been a vocal advocate against antisemitism, when few, if any high profile figures have been. JK Rowling was extremely supportive to British Jewry during the horrific period when the UK Labour party openly engaged in antisemitism. The author took to social media platform Twitter to express her outrage at Labour party members supporting then-leader, Jeremy Corbyn; and showed her solidarity with a community that felt an increasing sense of fear.

To allege that Rowling would do anything antisemitic is preposterous so what could be the reason behind this latest attempt to “cancel” this hugely successful author?

Rowling has expressed very strong views about her belief in biological gender. It is important to note that she has also advocated for the rights of the transgender community but it hasn’t stopped many, including Harry Potter movie stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint  publicly distancing themselves from Rowling and accusing her of being a “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). Talk about casting an invisibility spell! One does wonder what kind of careers they would have had without the massive movie franchise…..

Rowling wrote a lengthy explanation in this essay:

This latest attempt to cancel Rowling by the Wokerati is not just worrying because it has created false accusations of antisemitism; but also because it seems if one charge is not enough, the purveyors of cancel culture will just keep reaching for others until something sticks and the target is rendered canceled. What is particularly interesting is that the UK left-leaning publication, The Guardian, published a poll asking readers to vote who they thought the most influential person of 2021 was. The answer was overwhelmingly JK Rowling. The Guardian responded by removing the poll quicker than the flick of a wand and the chant of “Evanesco”!*

It is dangerous when opposing activists use Jews and the accusation of antisemitism as the proverbial political football to try and cancel the other, in this particular case, JK Rowling for her views on biological gender.

The Write Stuff. The year started with a drubbing on social media for Harry Potter author JK Rowling who has been a vocal advocate against antisemitism in the UK.  (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Emma Watson and JK Rowling scenarios are interesting studies in how we perceive and react to antisemitism. No doubt there will be many reading this article who will vehemently disagree with me and that is absolutely welcome.

It is my opinion that we have to be careful not to use the label of antisemitism so liberally for then everything is antisemitic and the veracity of true hate crimes goes unnoticed or unchallenged.

Sometimes goblins are just goblins. When it comes to antisemitism, it is better to examine closely than to sip irresponsibly from the goblet of ire.

*In preparation for this article, the author spent far too much time reading about Harry Potter spells.