The art of abdicating responsibility for the firing of rockets onto Israeli civilian infrastructure was elevated to a level that only be described as something out of a Monty Python sketch as arch terror group, Hamas, blamed weather conditions for their recent launching. Really, you cannot make this up!
Hamas, who are charged with governing the Gaza strip, are responsible for the recent spate of rockets that have been fired towards Israeli territory in the last couple of weeks, culminating in a tense escalation.
On the 25th of March, a rocket was fired from the Gaza strip, reaching far into Israeli territory and decimating a house on the moshav, Mishmeret, and injuring a family of seven. Thirty other homes were damaged by shrapnel from the rockets. Israel threatened a strong response and bombed strategic targets in the Gaza strip, including leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh’s secret headquarters. No civilians were killed which is testament to the conduct of the IDF to strike with pinpoint precision while doing the utmost, including warning with pamphlets, text messages and phone calls, to avoid any loss of life.
Remains of the house destroyed by a rocket in Mishmeret
The response to this was another barrage of rockets into Israel’s southern communities.
While Hamas would rather have you believe that rockets are self-launching, it cannot detract from the important fact that they are responsible for reigning in rogue elements within the Gaza strip and their inability to control terror groups like Islamic Jihad can plunge the volatile area into another war. Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is a proxy of Iran and the regime, aiming to gain a closer foothold to Israel is looking to Gaza to do this. Iran is using their proxies on both Israel’s Southern and northern borders to provoke a war. Hamas are in talks with Qatar and Egypt with regards to easing the humanitarian crisis in the strip, but other groups are itching for a showdown with Israel.
This places Hamas in a bit of a quandary. They don’t want to engage in a war with Israel (hence the epic excuses for their rockets launching) BUT still want to be seen at the vanguard of Palestinian resistance.
Hamas would also rather distract from growing protests in the Gaza strip. Across this beleaguered patch, the citizens are taking to the street to protest that enough is enough. Enough with high taxes. Enough of high unemployment. Enough of poverty while the leaders of Hamas live the high life and using much needed international aid to fund their terrorist escapades. Journalists and human rights activists have been rounded up and tortured and Hamas goons have invaded people’s homes in attempts to squash these protests. The leadership of Hamas has to show that they are still in control of the strip – and while rockets are a distraction from their internal issues, they are reluctant to provoke Israel into a full-scale conflict, so they hedge their bets carefully when they strike. However, I don’t think that they were ready for Israel’s no-nonsense response……
As Israel approaches a crucial election that could very well be a game changer, Iran is wont to challenge the mettle of Israel. Could this be a tactic to disrupt the upcoming elections?
These dangerous cat and mouse game coincided with the one-year anniversary of the March of Return protests and annual Land Day commemoration. Over the last year, Hamas have encouraged thousands of Gazans to protest at the border with Gaza. These are NOT peaceful protests.
Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, spoke of breaking through the border fence and “ripping the hearts out of the Jews”. Hardly Kumbaya, but rather a sinister call to murder. Sinwar’s words were backed by tires being burnt, creating an ecological disaster, Molotov cocktails and rocks being thrown at IDF troops, animals set alight and the launching of incendiary devices attacked to kites, balloons and kestrels. These incendiary devices burnt thousands of dunnams of valuable agricultural land and fauna and flora and constitute a war crime against Israel.
But it is all about the optics!
Hamas and other terror elements provoke in order to get a response, hopefully one that racks up as many civilian casualties as possible. To this end, Hamas ensured that children are on the front line, and for the anniversary, closed all the schools so that they could participate. I ask you, do responsible adults encourage children to be active in conflict zones? Civilian casualties mean pity, opprobrium for Israel and front-page headlines. With global interest in the conflict waning, Hamas are desperate for column inches. This one-year anniversary march could have ignited the region but thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, Israel and yes, Hamas, disaster was averted. The caveat? Calmer protests for the easing of restrictions on the Gaza strip by both Egypt and Israel. The people of Gaza deserve better than to have violence and conflict inflicted on them by the proxies of a tyrannical regime. In the meantime, IDF troops are maintaining their positions on the border should conflict erupt.
As the situation in Gaza deteriorates into a humanitarian disaster, the time has long since passed for Hamas to accept their role and responsibility for this. Blaming Israel is convenient and easy, blaming global warming and weather phenomenon’s for almost igniting war, is, well, just plain cowardice.
Recollections, Revelations and Remorse from the Descendants of the Perpetrators of the Holocaust
The United Nations designated January 27 – the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau – as a day for member states to honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
With the alarming rise today in Holocaust denial and antisemitism – even in the very lands where the Holocaust happened – LOTL explores the hatred of the Shoah (Holocaust) by interviewing Pastor Jobst Bittner, who heads the movement of the descendants of Nazi perpetrators to openly confront the hatred of the past that it will foster a genuine healing, and hopefully – “Never Again”.
This was a profoundly emotional and moving experience. It takes an enormous amount of courage to delve into the past, especially that of your family and navigate a painful past. To explore this can also bring about great healing. After Apartheid in South Africa came to an end in 1994, there were many attempts through the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ to try bring healing and understanding between victims and perpetrators but too few sat down with each other on a one-to-one basis and shared the experience of the other. Perhaps March of Life sets an example that the traumas of the past, when spoken about and addressed openly, fosters great healing.
Jobst Bittner greets you with a warm smile and twinkling blue eyes. He immediately puts you at ease when he shakes your hand and his presence is reassuring. Bittner, apart from being a Pastor, is the Founder and President of March of Life – a movement of the descendants of the German Wehrmacht, the SS and the police forces of the Third Reich, and who organise memorial and reconciliation marches at sites across Europe where atrocities were committed.
How did it all begin?
The German city of Tübingen was a hotbed of training for the Nazi party. A university town, many of the intellectual elite of the Nazi party would gather in Tubingen where they later created an institute known as the Institute for Racial Hygiene. This “institute” would in time decide who was an “Aryan” and who was an “untermensch” (subhuman); who was a “superior” and who was an “inferior”; and was responsible for the ‘selection process’, which saw millions of Jews and other “undesirables” sent to their deaths.
The March of Life was born is 2007 when Pastor Jobst Bittner and his wife Charlotte decided that something had to be done about the history of the city. Growing up in the post-war generation, Bittner and his wife realised that their parents and grandparents never spoke about the war or their experiences. The past was related by sticking to just the historical facts; never a mention of the experiences of those persecuted by the Nazi regime.
“My parents”, says Bittner, “never spoke of the deaths of six million Jews and this was the same for all of Germany. People pushed aside or repressed their guilt or played it down.”
“But once we realised we needed to take responsibility, at least in our own city, we had to engage with our own family histories – to make it personal. We started training members of our church to take a careful look at their own family history which in Germany is simple because Germans are so thorough and everything was recorded. So we started training our members to ask their families “What happened?” and “What did you do?” I found a term for it – ‘Breaking the Veil of Silence’. It is now a recognized term in Germany because the two decades after the war are known as the decades of silence,” says Bittner. “Most families don’t talk about what really happened, preferring instead to say that “nobody was involved”. But this was not the case. The perpetrators of the Nazi genocide against the Jews were still able to resume normal lives and careers after the war. Many returned to their careers, resumed positions as judges, in government, in the civil service and academia – they simply returned to their normal lives and professions in society.”
The members of Bittner’s church started to research their family backgrounds and each one of them discovered terrible details about the involvement of their own families. One member discovered that his father had been in the Wehrmacht in Poland and active in genocide there. Others were involved in the Ukraine, and in general, it was expressed that “Nazis were somebody else”. The Bittners believe that in some way, every single German was involved. Nobody could say: “I was not involved.”
Someone learned that their grandfather had been a guard at Dachau – but the family made the excuse that he was “just a book keeper” or “just sitting around”. On closer investigation, it was discovered that the system at Dachau ensured that all duties rotated and everyone had the chance to do each “duty”.
Face to Face
Pastor Bittner feels an incredible sense of duty and responsibility to face the pain of the past so that the trauma that affects both descendants and victims of the perpetrators can be healed.
“Traditionally, Germans have played down the magnitude of of the atrocities. We teach them to speak the truth and own up to the past. Yes, my father was involved in the genocide. My parents remained silent and were just as guilty. The vast majority remained silent. It takes something to say my parents were silent as our Jewish neighbours were taken away, dispossessed, sent to concentration camps and killed. They were as much an accessory to the Holocaust as pulling the trigger on a gun. And so a movement was birthed. I wrote a book on the veil of silence. The same silence we saw from perpetrators, we saw from the descendants of the victims. The tragedy is passed down through the generations. The silence of the fathers became the silence of the sons,” says Bittner. “We can understand the silence of the generations of victims; the pain would be too much and the silence was passed down as pain. We realized that as long as the pain was still there through the generations, we have a responsibility to the victims to do something about it. In our experience, when we speak to survivors, we needed to find ways to ask the forgiveness our fathers and grandfathers would not ask. Only then can we start to heal the pain.”
As one could well understand, the eventual meetings between survivors and descendants were extremely emotional. Both parties were extremely touched and opened up their hearts to each other. This created the space for healing.
During the war, “Tübingen had been surrounded by concentration camps,” says Bittner. “Not large but terrifying; and towards the end of the war they were razed to the ground and the surviving prisoners forced on death marches. Over 250 000 people perished in plain sight on the streets of Germany. They were either shot or died from sheer exhaustion. Nobody could say, “I didn’t know”. So what we started to do was to trace the route of one of those death marches from Tubingen to Dachau. This is why we called it ‘March of Life’ – to reaffirm life that the death marches could become a march to sanctify life.”
March of Life is connected to the annual educational programme called March of the Living “which invited me to address 25 000 participants in Budapest. While March of the Living is connected to the survivors, what we say is that we are so closely connected to them because we are the descendants of the perpetrators. “
Before participating in their first march, “we had not met with any survivors and during that march, we received a call from a survivor who asked to walk with us. Rose was a survivor of six concentration camps and liberated from Dachau at the age of sixteen. We considered it an honour, and then Rose asked to bring thirteen more survivors. For some it was their first trip to Germany and many were fearful to hear German, the language of the persecutor. We were at a loss what to do. We knelt and we washed the feet of survivors and at first they did not know how to react but after a while were so deeply moved at the healing taking place at the moment. We started to embrace each other. We thought this is what we can do to bring healing.”
A Movement Is Born
This was one of the most pivotal moments of Bittner’s life and from these deep, emotional roots, a movement was born. Healing for descendants who carry guilt and shame as their heritage is just as important as that of the survivors. As we lose more and more survivors, so the responsibility to teach the next generations becomes ours. While there are many who say we must move on, the importance of memory and bearing witness is so important, especially as antisemitism rises around the world.
March of Life advocates that we cannot be silent in the face of antisemitism and hatred. Delving into the past is painful. But the results are evident. The media started to pick up on this extraordinary story in The Jerusalem Post, and The New York Times and the message started to spread. It grew organically, gaining momentum.
“We were invited to Poland and the Ukraine. By telling our story it encouraged others to do the same. In Poland and Lithuania where they had previously denied involvement, they began to talk. Our message as Germans was if we could face this, so can you. Now we educate – we are in a university town. So historians are considering how the culture of commemorating is done. Memorial events or historic remembering of facts is important but antisemitism is exploding. It has become disproportionate in the last five years. History can only come alive if we make it personal. If not us, then who? In the recent issue of Der Spiegel, we were the main cover story with personal stories but there is so much more to do with people still reluctant to talk about it,” laments Bittner.
Many people are resistant to the descendants telling their personal stories, feeling it dishonours the memory of their parents. Nevertheless, the descendants took a conscious decision to press on and the grandparents started to talk. “They found it easier to talk to their grandchildren than their children,” says Bittner.
Silence Is Not Golden
One could call March of Life a truly pioneering movement. While the government of Germany feels that working through the past is a high priority and share a sense of responsibility for the state of Israel, many ministers resist revealing their family history. March of Life has exhibited true courage to go where many dread – the past; and work closely with Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial museum and education centre. And this has found a welcome response from Germany’s Jewish community, and in 2017, the Jewish Community of Halle in Germany, awarded the March of Life with the Emil L. Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance.
Marches take place all over the world from Germany to Switzerland, Poland, South America and Jerusalem.
The impact is massive, reaching to millions of people.
Pastor Bittner says that despite the fact that they march proudly with Israeli flags and in cities like Paris where security is vital, they have faced no aggression, something “ We don’t take it for granted.” In Austria, they marched at the Mauthausen Death camp and taught seminars. “People revealed symbolic Nazi paraphernalia that had been in their family’s possession for years and some were shocked to discover what they meant. We even had reformed neo-Nazis in our congregation. Bittner believes that “antisemitism will cease to exist once it leaves the church.” They are also present in schools teaching about the Holocaust. “I take some experts from Israel to schools and we are invited on a regular basis and we take survivors. Hearing from a survivor has a profound impact. We have seen this with Muslim students who have never been exposed to this. One story from a survivor is more important than fifty lessons.”
March of Life is a living memorial to history and a testament to the power of dialogue, no matter how painful it is. Silence and indifference propagate hatred. After the Holocaust, Jews took the vow “NEVER AGAIN”. Never again would we allow hatred to rise to the levels that it results in genocide. Never Again would we be silent. Never Again would we allow the wholesale slaughter of our people.
Our gratitude to Pastor Bittner and March of Life – they have given wings to our vow and a tailwind to our voices.
Jester loves to greet people. If donkeys had a public relations spokesman, Jester would be it. A nuzzle of the nose is all the payment he requires. Gali is the beauty queen with her grey coat and elegant black markings. She is also a bit of a maternal figure. Sooty has the longest ears and wiggles them proudly and Chicco has a long memory for kindness. Yalon steals your heart with his large foal eyes and gangly legs and Hope is a movie star with a penchant for a little something sweet. She is also in for a surprise because on Christmas day she will turn 1 year old and there is a party planned in her honour.
These are just some of the 250 cast of characters that call Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land their home.
Gali and her baby Yalon
Nestled in the serene moshav of Gan Yoshiya close to the seaside city of Netanya in Israel, Safe haven for Donkey’s in the Holy Land is more than just a sanctuary for these rescued animals – it is a real community of caregivers and their equine charges and the healing that they receive.
The gentle and noble donkey is an iconic image that had been associated with the Holy Land. From biblical times to today, donkeys are symbolic of peace, conciliation and humility. Donkeys are seared into the imagery of all three of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Kings David and Solomon revered donkeys, Kind David kept a royal she-mule and King Solomon chose to be anointed on one instead of a grander animal like a thoroughbred horse or elephant. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey as a symbol of peace. In Islam it is believed that a donkey who had the power of speech told Muhammad that it was the last in a line of donkeys ridden by prophets and was a descendant of the donkey ridden by Jesus in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which was also called Ya`fūr.
Sadly today, in a region that is often volatile and mired in conflict and conflagration, these humble, gentle creatures are often a casualty.
Donkeys have often been referred to as workhorse, not because of their shared equine features but because of their ability and patience to bear heavy loads. This ability is sometimes exploited by some who use these sweet creatures as construction workers, over burdening them with weight and materials.
In this region that can sometimes be a tinderbox waiting to explode, donkeys have been brutally abused by terrorists who have exploited them to make a political point. During the second intifada (Palestinian uprising) it was not uncommon for terror entities to pack these sweet creatures with explosives and direct them towards soldiers at checkpoints. In the last few months, as Hamas encourages rioters along the border between Israel and Gaza, so too have donkeys been used as weapons. One of the first weeks of protest saw donkeys draped in Israeli flags and set on fire. This outrageous act of animal cruelty and depravity has barely registered in the media. Donkeys are just not “sexy” enough a story.
Thankfully, there is an organization that is dedicated to the well-being and up keep of these humble and noble beasts.
Founded in 2000, Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land is a not-for-profit organization that helps thousands of working donkeys in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
The sanctuary provides life-long care to over 200 unwanted and abused donkeys of all ages but the work does not stop at the sanctuary gates. Safe Haven for Donkeys operates a mobile clinic that treats around 500 working donkeys, mules and horses across the Palestinian Territories as well as a permanent clinic in the city of Nablus. The mobile vet treats injuries such as those from poor harnessing, overgrown hooves and bad teeth are easily treatable and this goes a long way in helping to improve the lives of the animals who work so hard for so little.
Safe Haven for Donkeys has realized that education is just as important and help teach children and adults how to treat these animals with humanity and kindness and through the work with the owners of these animals, the team has made many friends and is treated with trust and respect.
Jester loves to greet visitors
“Our vets circulate and go to a different village every day to ensure that as many are treated as possible” says Abed, a caregiver whose dedication and love for his charges is evident.
The work done by this organization is evident in the happy, braying donkeys who despite all that they have endured, are friendly to the visitors who come to either volunteer or check out the sanctuary. The donkeys just love a cuddle and a scratch – and maybe a good old roll in the sand. After enduring so much abuse, Safe Haven’s over 200 personalities who proudly carry their names on their harnesses, get to live out their lives in peace and serenity in the gorgeous heart of Israel.
For a donkey called Hope and all the cast of characters, Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land is more than just a sanctuary, it is home. It is a veritable heaven for donkeys – and that is worth braying about.
For more information about the sanctuary and to contribute, visit their website:
Heavy is the head that wears the crown – or in this case makes the unenviable decision on behalf of a nation to go to war.
I don’t envy any leader or general who has to make this decision.
Over a period of two days, nearly 500 rockets and mortars were fired by terror factions from the Gaza strip into Southern Israel, sending hundreds of thousands of civilians scrambling for safety in their bomb shelters.
One person (a Palestinian from Hebron) was killed when a rocket hit his apartment in Ashkelon, a 19 year old soldier is fighting for his life, a beloved family pet was killed and 68 people have been treated for injuries as well as the horrific destruction of property.
Bus burns after sustaining direct hit from rocket fired from Gaza, 19 year old soldier was critically injured
At the moment there is an Egyptian-brokered a ceasefire in place and many have opined that we should “obliterate Gaza” “flatten it totally”. I am very perturbed and offended by this kind of rhetoric.
Please allow me a moment to rant. I share the frustration of many that we need to put an end to the terrorist actions of Iranian-backed Hamas and various other terror factions in the strip for once and for all. These terror groups hold both their own and the civilian population of Israel hostage with their thirst for bloodshed. Many have called for an all-out war with our Gazan neighbours and it is easy to be an armchair general from the safety of our homes, far away for the proverbial battlefield. I am not a military expert and I cannot fathom, like many of you, the difficult decisions Israel’s government, security cabinet and Generals have to make. But I am a human being and holding on to my moral compass, my humanity is sacrosanct.
The decision to go to war or “boots on the ground” is profoundly difficult. War is not glamorous or an easy decision to make. For Israelis, this situation is profoundly painful and as much as we would like to deal a death blow to the likes of Hamas, we are well aware of the consequences.
War is fought on the backs of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, lovers, friends and colleagues. Some of them don’t return. War is more violence inflicted on our civilian populations. War is experiencing PTSD (which by the way many of us, including me experience at the sound of sirens). War is going to funerals for those fallen and gone too soon. War is sleepless nights because we worry our loved ones in the battlefield have not contacted us. War is our heart stopping every time our phones ring or whatsapp beeps.
And war is suffering inflicted on the Palestinian civilian population who do not deserve to be punished because of the actions of their leaders. War is women, children, the disabled and vulnerable being used by Hamas as human shields. War is our diaspora communities under threat and more anti-Semitism because Jewish communities outside of Israel are seen as the de facto representatives of the state.
I am proud and grateful for our armed forces and security establishment who abide by the strictest code of ethics and conduct. These brave men and women protect us 24/7 while retaining their humanity in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Who are we to behave in a way that is disrespectful to them and fellow innocents by baying for blood? I am proud of a country that takes our duty to be humanitarians even to civilians belonging to an enemy entity very seriously. This is why we continue to ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered to the beleaguered strip unabated.
I hope this offers an explanation. Some of you may disagree, and that is your right. All I am asking is that in a time of conflagration we do not lose our perspective – or humanity.
My gratitude to our brave men and women of the IDF, IAF, and security services, police, first responders and firefighters for exemplifying the best of us and keeping us safe.
A perverted ‘Pay for Slay’ scheme sponsored from countries abroad environment for terror
It takes a lot to fell a lion. Several weeks ago, a 17 year old terrorist felled one of Israel and the Jewish world’s most recognized activists, the Lion of Zion, Ari Fuld. Ari Fuld, was 45 years old, a father of four, slain while he shopped in a nearby supermarket. Mortally wounded from the stab wound in his back that hit a major artery, Fuld managed to chase and shoot his murderer before succumbing to his wounds.
The Lion of Zion, who roared his support for Israel across social media and inspired legions of activists was no more.
Lion of Zion. Ari Fuld at the Western Wall, Photo, FB
Teenage terrorists are sadly, not a new or unusual phenomenon. Over the last two years this has been a common occurrence. Motivated by a growing hatred that is indoctrinated into them from baby-hood, these killers have claimed many innocent lives.
It is not just the steady diet of hatred that is consumed but a whole industry has grown around terrorism. It even has a fancy name that rhymes – pay for slay. In a nutshell, there is a scale “of benefits” that determine how much of a monthly stipend the family of a terrorist receive.
If you kill a Jew AND get killed then – jackpot – you get the most cash. If you stab a Jew and kill him/her but are merely wounded then second prize, a lot less money.
It is money for jam for aspiring terrorists – and this comes with an instructional “how to stab for maximum casualties” videos.
The pay for Slay industry is growing so much that the Palestinian Authority even hasa name for the millions of dollars in supposed aid that they have re-budgeted to pay their young terrorists – The Martyr’s Fund.
Foreign aid that countries earnestly donate to the Palestinians with the hope that it will go towards improving the lives of Palestinians is re-routed to the Martyr’s Fund to support this “pay for Slay” economy. This is a rough breakdown of how the economy of terror funds are allocated according to an expose published in the Washington Post:
The Washington Post’s analysis showed that in 2017, $160 million was paid to 13,000 beneficiaries of “prisoner payments” ($12,307 per person) and $183 million was paid to 33,700 families in about in “martyr payments” ($5,430 per family), of which:
$36 million is estimated to be paid to prisoners serving sentences of >20 years
$10 million is paid to former members of the security forces
$1 million is estimated to be paid to families of the 200 suicide bombers
$10 million is paid to the families of the Palestinians with life terms, lengthy sentences and in the security forces
Pay to Slay. The PA paid almost $300,000 to Muslim terrorists behind the Sbarro restaurant massacre in Jerusalem with the family of Izz al-Din Al-Masri receiving $50,124 as a reward for his suicide bombing. The dead Israelis included seven children
Economy of Death
Stipends are paid to families of both prisoners and Palestinians killed in political demonstrations that turn violent where protesters are killed by non-lethal riot control methods (such as being hit by a tear gas canister) and to individuals imprisoned for “common crimes”. The fund also pays $106 a month in “canteen money” to all imprisoned Palestinians, including those imprisoned for non-political crimes such as car theft and drug dealing, for prisoners to spend in the prison canteen. This must be where Marwan Barghouti got his money for his chocolate he was eating during his hunger strike…
Families of individuals killed by Israeli security forces are paid stipends of about $800 to $1,000 per month. The families of convicted Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons receive $3,000 or higher per month.
Yossi Kuperwasser, an analyst with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, estimated that in 2017 half of the $693 million that the Palestinian Authority receives as foreign aid, $345 million, was paid out as stipends to convicted terrorists and their families
How many schools, hospitals and other infrastructure that would be beneficial could be built with this money? Asking for a friend….
Instead, this money continues to fuel terror. Incitement to hate and kill Jews is manifesting itself in these ongoing spates of stabbings and shootings perpetrated by teenage terrorists.
Hamas animations encourages stabbings, shootings and car rammings
Winds of Change
Incitement of hatred that motivates children to become stealthy killers and not nation builders falls under the remit of child abuse and the international community is starting to take notice. The United States has started to cut funding dramatically. On 23 March 2018, U.S. President, Donald Trump, signed the Taylor Force Act (named for victim of terror, Taylor Force) into law, which will cut about a third of US foreign aid payments to the Palestinian Authority. This is on the provision that the PA ceases making payment of stipends to terrorists and their surviving families and Australia has followed suit. In July 2018, Australia stopped the A$10M (US$7.5M) in funding that had been sent to the PA via the World Bank, and have decided to send it instead to the UN Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories. The reason given was that Australia did not want the PA to use the funds to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence. Other governments are starting to review their funding as well.
The Lion of Zion may have been silenced but in his memory and for those who have been slain our voices will not be. We say loud and clear the jig is up – perpetuating a cycle of violence and terror is no longer going to be profitable.
As a fellow animal lover I am a great supporter of the work that you do. I too would rather go naked than wear fur. I believe tusks belong on an elephant and the only horny fifty shades of gray I am a fan of are rhinos with their horns intact.
I am a firm believer that we humans need to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves. Our furry, scaly, feathered, four legged, eight legged, carnivore, herbivore, amphibious, flying, nocturnal, diurnal, horned, spotted, striped, maned and all round exquisite animal friends.
We can all wonder at the majestic falcon as it flies and swoops so elegantly as it hunts its prey.
Sadly, these noble feathered predators have now become the prey.
Not content with sending kites, balloons, condoms (yes, you read right) with incendiary devices attached to them, arson terrorists in the Gaza strip have now attached these to falcons with the aim of destroying thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land and nature reserves.
The south has been burning for several weeks, killing wildlife and destroying farmlands. Now many of you think that this is all in the name of “resistance” or “peaceful protests”.
Those who love the land, don’t burn it.
At first “protestors” set fires to rubber tires, creating an environmental hazard. Turkeys choked to death on the fumes. Nobody said a word.
At one “peaceful protest” a donkey was set on fire. The poor, tortured creature was still alive. Nobody said a word.
And now these incredible raptors have been turned into Molotov cocktails. Will you continue to be silent?
Sheer repugnant depravity
We Israelis have become quite cynical when it comes to the silence of the world. We are well aware of the double standards of human rights activists who have excluded us from the family of nations. This past weekend nearly 200 rockets and mortars rained down on our terrified citizens who scrambled for their shelters. The world was silent. Did you know that these weapons are stored and fired from within civilian infrastructure including the zoo?
Continued silence sanctions this behaviour. This is not about being desperate or resistance, this is depraved torture.
You may not like our politics and prefer to stay out of conflicts that involve humans, but I appeal to you, the environmentalists, eco-warriors, animal activists and even my fellow bunny huggers, for the love of G-d, say something, stand up to this abject cruelty against those who cannot speak for themselves -our animals.
I watched Shashi Naidoo’s “mea culpa” (or rather bullied into submission apology) with a great deal of sadness and anger. Referring to her impending and I am sure well-choreographed, visit to “Palestine” for “re-education”, I had awful images of a Siberian gulag circa Stalin’s regime. Naidoo spoke movingly of promoting peace but the irony of saying this surrounded by an organization like BDS (boycott Divestment and Sanctions) who are anti-peace and normalization between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours, favouring that bridges be bombed rather than built, made me feel that perhaps Naidoo is a symptom of something extremely worrying that is brewing in South Africa – the steady erosion of the freedom of speech.
Shashi Naidoo holds joint press conference with BDS
Naidoo was subject to bullying, threats to her life and threats of rape for posting comments on Facebook that were favourable to Israel. If anyone still believes that BDS is a human rights organization, think again. The jig is up. All you have to do is spend a little time on social media to see how BDS and their supporters are trying to intimidate or threaten anyone who has a different opinion to them on Israel and some have used threatening language that even calls for physical harm to Jews or threatened the community with punishment “worse than the Holocaust”.
Shashi symptomatic of something far greater than the bullyboy tactics of BDS and their supporters and their abilities to coerce an uncomfortable apology- she is a symbol of the steady erosion of free speech in South Africa.
This is not unique to her. She joins an illustrious group of international celebrities who have been threatened because of their support for Israel like Sir Paul MacCartney, Alicia keys and even the Argentinian football team who cancelled a friendly warm-up match pre the World Cup with the Jewish State. Argentina’s foreign minister spoke about these threats calling them “worse than ISIS”. Some have stood their ground against hatemongering and some like Shashi are too terrified not to.
Shashi deserves our compassion, as do the many who have to face the juggernaut of hatemongers.
The Media Review Network’s Iqbal Jasset shows me some “love” on Twitter
It is more than just the Israel-Palestine issue or the importing of a far-away conflict into South Africa, it is about the intimidation and witch trial by media. South Africa’s mainstream media has been largely silent. I cannot help wonder if it is fear – or indifference.
The media still fails to draw a correlation between indifference and biased reporting and the rise of anti-Semitism. The constant coverage of only one side is fodder for hatred – and sometimes violence.
The levels of hatred and threats that go unchallenged and allowed to infest social media have spelled the death knell of the freedom of speech in South Africa. Threats are not relegated to an incident here and a post there but rather a growing epidemic that has found a tailwind on social media. It is very easy to hide behind an avatar….
South Africans fought hard and many paid with their lives to end the racist Apartheid regime and birth a democratic country with equality for all and one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.
All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Anti-Semitism is not just a problem for the Jewish community. It is everybody’s problem. Anyone who cares about democracy, equality and is concerned about racism and discrimination in the Rainbow Nation needs to take a stand. Don’t be a bystander and let the hatred flourish.