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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Desmond Tutu Vs. Israel: An Old Story

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

An old saying has it that “liberalism is always being surprised.” That is the only possible explanation of Jewish expressions of “surprise” and “shock” that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in late October urged the South African Opera troupe to cancel its engagement to perform “Porgy and Bess” in Israel.

Turning a blind eye to Tutu’s disparagement of Israel and indeed of Jews generally is, to be sure, not exclusively a Jewish failing. Just a few months ago, on the occasion of the Anglican clergyman’s 79th birthday, President Obama lauded him as “a moral titan – a voice of principle, an unrelenting champion of justice, and a dedicated peacemaker.”

In this year alone Tutu has demonstrated his dedication to peace, justice, and principle in the Middle East in particular by speaking up for Hamas and supporting the “Freedom Flotilla” of Islamist jihadists and “internationalist” do-gooders (people who confuse doing good with feeling good about what they are doing) who last spring tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

He has also repeatedly endorsed the activities of the BDS (Boycott/Divest/Sanction) movement. This reincarnation of the Nazis’ “Kauf nicht beim Juden” campaign of the 1930s constantly invokes Tutu’s “authoritative” condemnation of Israel (where Arabs and Jews use the same buses, beaches, clinics, cafes, and soccer fields, and attend the same universities) as an “apartheid” state. Advertisement

But his fulminations against Jews have a long history, so well-documented that one wonders how the “surprised” Jewish leaders or President Obama can possibly be ignorant of it, especially now that the latter has a “director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism” named Hannah Rosenthal, who has shown herself adept even at spotting that evanescent phenomenon called “Islamophobia” at a distance of ten miles.

Here are just a few examples of the “moral titan” Tutu on the Jewish question:

On the day after Christmas 1989, Tutu, standing before the memorial at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis, prayed for the murderers and scolded the descendants of their victims. “We pray for those who made it happen, help us to forgive them and help us so that we in our turn will not make others suffer.” This, he said, was his “message” to the Israeli children and grandchildren of the dead.

Moral obtuseness, mean spite, and monstrous arrogance do not make for sound ethics and theology. Neither Tutu nor the Israelis he lectured can “forgive” the Nazi murderers. Representatives of an injured group are not licensed (even by the most sanctimonious of preachers) to forgive on behalf of the whole group; in fact, forgiveness issues from God alone. The forgiveness Tutu offers the Nazis is truly pitiless because it forgets the victims, blurs over suffering, and obliterates the past.

Tutu is always far less moved by the actuality of what the Nazis did (“the gas chambers,” he once said, “made for a neater death” than apartheid resettlement policies) than by the hypothetical potentiality of what, in his jaundiced view, Israelis might do. His speeches against apartheid returned obsessively to gross, licentious equations between the former South African system and Jewish practices, biblical and modern.

“The Jews,” Tutu declared in 1984, “thought they had a monopoly on God” and “Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” Tutu has been an avid supporter of the Goebbels-like equation of Zionism with racism. He has alleged that “Jews think they have cornered the market on suffering” and that Jews are “quick to yell ‘anti-Semitism’ ” because of “an arrogance of power – because Jews have such a strong lobby in the United States.”

Jewish power in America is, in fact, a favorite Tutu theme. In late April 2002 he praised his own courage in resisting it. “People are scared in [America] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful. Well, so what? Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”

Tutu has repeatedly declared that (as he once told a Jewish Theological Seminary audience) “whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can’t ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people.” Certainly Tutu has never judged Jews by the standards he uses for other people. Although South African and American Jews were more, not less, critical of apartheid than the majority of their countrymen, Tutu in 1987 threatened that “in the future, South African Jews will be punished if Israel continues dealing with South Africa.”

Process, Loss and History

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Process, Loss and History

South African Projections:

Films by William Kentridge

The Jewish Museum, NYC

Until September 19, 2010

 

 

New York has gone through a William Kentridge craze this year. There have been scattered exhibitions in galleries throughout the cities, in addition to lectures and live performances.  From the blockbuster Five Themes show at the MoMA, the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Kentridge’s directed-and-designed multimedia version of Shostakovich’s The Nose, the South African artist has been a dominant voice on the New York art scene. For those who missed the incredible MoMA retrospective-or for those who simply wish for another Kentridge fix-a final salvo can be caught at the Jewish Museum’s exhibition of part of Kentridge’s Nine Drawings for Projection series.

 

 Though all of the pieces in the Jewish Museum’s exhibition were on display at the MoMA earlier this year, there is something to be gained by seeing them again in this smaller, more intimate setting. The very broadness and inclusiveness of the MoMA exhibition could be overwhelming: though the overall impression was incredibly powerful, some of the individual pieces could get lost. The Nine Drawing for Projection are amongst the most personal and moving pieces in the artist’s oeuvre, and the concentrated focus of the current exhibition allows these works the time and space to make their impact. It is a shame, however, that only the earlier works in this series-”Johannesburg” “Mine” “Monument” “Sobriety, Obesity, and Growing Old”-are on view. While they are thematically cohesive, the series as a whole is severely weakened by the absence of “Tide Table” and “Stereoscope”-in my opinion, the mature culmination of the elements raised in the earlier pieces.

 

 

William Kentridge, Mine, from Drawings for Projection (video still), 1991, 16mm animated film transferred to optical disk.  The Jewish Museum, New York; Purchase: Mr. and Mrs. George Jaffin Fund, Fine Arts Acquisition Committee Fund, and Lillian Gordon Bequest.

 

 

The context of the Jewish Museum exhibit highlights different aspects of the artist than the MoMA exhibition. William Kentridge is seen primarily as a South African artist. He first came to international attention with his highly political works made in the wake of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indeed, the struggles of the emerging South Africa are in his blood. His paternal grandfather was a member of parliament; his maternal grandmother was the first female barrister in the country’s history; both his parents are attorneys who played prominent parts in the struggle against apartheid. Though most of his family has emigrated, Kentridge still lives and works in Johannesburg and his work is deeply affected by the landscape and history of his birthplace-as is evident in this exhibition. From “Johannesburg: Second Greatest City in the World after Paris” to “Tide-Table” (not on view in this exhibit),the short films are intertwined with references to his country’s saga. “I have been unable to escape Johannesburg,” the artist acknowledges. “In the end all my work is rooted in this rather desperate provincial city. I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake.”[1] Yet within the overtly political content of the Nine Drawings, the Jewish Museum draws attention to the more sublimated-but equally important-aspect of the artist’s identity: his Judaism.

 

The Nine Drawings are in some ways the most overtly Jewish of the artist’s works. In this series of short films, he introduces his two invented characters – Soho Eckstein, business tycoon in a pinstripe suit and Felix Teitlebaum, bohemian dreamer, often depicted in the nude. These characters and the relationships between them become archetypes for the emotional and political struggle of the country as a whole, yet their names set them firmly within the South African Jewish community, of which Kentridge is a part. Indeed, the artist used himself as the model for both characters and they share his slightly portly build and “Ashkenazi Jewish nose”-to use Kentridge’s own, unselfconscious description.

 

 

William Kentridge, Monument, from Drawings for Projection (video still), 1990, 16mm animated film transferred to optical disk.  The Jewish Museum, New York; Purchase: Mr. and Mrs. George Jaffin Fund, Fine Arts Acquisition Committee Fund, and Lillian Gordon Bequest.

 

The presentation of Soho in the early films as rapacious, gluttonous, heartless and money-grubbing thus treads an uncomfortable line, sliding perilously close to Der St?rmer-like stereotypes of hook-nosed Jewish capitalists. In an interview with Lilian Tones, Kentridge admits that “initially [he] would always conceive Soho as an other, as an alien, very much based on images of rapacious industrialists from Russian and early Futurist propaganda drawings, of George Grosz and German Expressionism.” Yet the introduction of Soho’s anti-establishment antagonist, Felix, serves to counter the shadow of stereotype.  “I find that very disarming,” says Norman Kleeblatt, chief curator of the Jewish Museum. “You ‎see Jews play both roles.” ‎And as Soho and Felix engage in a primal struggle that evokes Goya’s powerful images of war, the film becomes about universal human dualities. Indeed, Kentridge ultimately came to see Soho and Felix as “two different sides of one character rather than two fundamentally different characters” -and both as doppelgangers of himself.

 

In interviews, Kentridge has openly questioned why his two characters have Jewish names, and whether they are meant to represent or comment on the Jewish community. Leaving the question open, he says that the characters-complete with their names-came to him in dreams months before he created his first film.  As such, their Judaism may simply be part of the artist’s familiar surroundings. As Kentridge’s alter-egos, they partake of his environment. Yet, in these most personal of the artist’s works, the political and personal are intertwined. As Kentridge says “the films are about space between the political world and the personal, and the extent to which politics does or does not find its way into the private.”[2] So on another level, these films can also serve as a personal, idiosyncratic metaphor for Jewish life in South Africa.

 

 The duality of Soho and Felix-one formally clothed, the other unclothed; one civilized, the other natural; one part of hierarchal society, the other an outsider; one a businessman, the other a dreamer-can be seen as embodying the paradoxical position of Jews in South African society. On the one hand, many Jews-Kentridge’s family included-arrived as refugees to South Africa. They came as the oppressed and felt the precariousness of their position. This drove many of them (Kentridge and his family at the forefront) to take part in the struggle to end apartheid. Indeed, one can sense the shade of the Holocaust in Kentridge’s presentation of apartheid, especially in the imagery of showers and barracks of Mine. On the other hand, Jews benefited from the racial hierarchy. Many were actually granted refuge because of their skin color: when other countries were closing their doors to Jews, South Africa was allowing them in to help boost the white population. Kentridge grew up in an affluent Jewish community that reaped the benefits of being part of the white elite minority. In Kentridge’s own words “a central irony exists for South African Jews. Our Passover ceremony every year commemorates the Jews as slaves in Egypt. And there was always an understanding that here we are in South Africa talking about having been slaves in Egypt, yet in the present we are certainly not slaves In the present, we are absolutely not part of those most oppressed. We are part of the privileged whose lives are made comfortable by an immediate sense of the society we are living in. That remains an uncomfortable irony to ‎ live with.”[3] Guilt and the weight of racial violence permeate the Nine Drawings, a sickness within.

 

William Kentridge, Johannesburg, Second Greatest City after Paris, from Drawings for Projection (video still), 1989, 16mm animated film transferred to optical disk.  The Jewish Museum, New York; Purchase: Mr. and Mrs. George Jaffin Fund, Fine Arts Acquisition Committee Fund, and Lillian Gordon Bequest.

 

Yet ultimately, with all the contradictions, tensions and discontinuities, these films are about the words that flash at the end of Stereoscope: “Give/forgive.”  They are united by a sense of hope and reparation. Kentridge’s idealism, expressed in political activism, is perhaps embodied most powerfully in his conception of drawing.  Kentridge sees “the activity of drawing [as] a way of trying to understand who we are.” Though he is primarily a draftsman, he stands in opposition to the carefully measured space and proportions of a Renaissance artist. Drawing for him is a chaotic, developmental process, in which an image arrives in the work. This is reflected in his favorite drawing medium-the impermanent, endlessly moveable and changing charcoal. His conception of drawing is emphasized in his stop-gap animations, where the process is extended through time, every change preserved in a moment of film. Even as history is recorded, the ephemeral nature of the material is emphasized: it is primarily the movement of the eraser that creates the animation, the images emerging, changing, transforming, the shadowy blots of the eraser’s former movement preserved in the changing frame. Each object contains its whole history, a falling woman embodying every stage of her fall.

 

Kentridge’s method of working dovetails perfectly with his subject matter: the animations are histories of changed drawings, with all their failures and resurrections, and they deal with the history of post-apartheid South Africa, with all its failures and possibilities.  Contingent, always on the verge of being erased-but therefore also preserved from the permanence of evil. “Everything can be saved, everything is provisional,” Kentridge says. “A prior action is rescued by that which follows. A drawing abandoned is revived by the next drawing.” In conceiving of his art as process rather than object, in focusing on time rather than space, Kentridge’s work is hopeful. All failure and contradiction are subsumed within an ever-changing picture, a broadening understanding. 

 

              It is this unity of form and content, medium and message that gives Kentridge’s work its power. His overt politicism does not descend to propaganda because it is sublimated by his personal artistic language. History and loss, records and restoration: these are both the thematic and visual/material thrust of the work.

 

[1]As quoted in William Kentridge: Drawings for Projection, Four Animated Films. Johannesburg: Goodman Gallery, 1992, n.p.

[2]Interview with Lilian Tones, February 22, 1999,  http://artarchives.net/artarchives/liliantone/tonekentridge.html

[3]Interview with bell hooks, Interview. September 1998.

Brooklyn Food Co-op May Consider Israel Boycott

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

A Brooklyn food co-op that once boycotted products from South Africa because of its apartheid policy may consider doing the same to Israeli products in the coming months.

During an open forum at the Park Slope Food Coop’s January meeting, Hima B., one of the co-op’s 15,000 members, said, “I don’t know whether or not we carry Israeli products but [if we do] I propose that we no longer carry them.” Linewaiters’ Gazette, the co-op’s newspaper, reported that Hima was advised to pursue her suggestion through the Agenda Committee, which determines the items for discussion for each meeting.

Hima is apparently not alone in her sentiments. In the same Linewaiters’ Gazette issue, another member, Imrana Sayed, wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that “the Coop should print a list of products which are made in Israel, so members like me who care about this issue strongly have a choice not to purchase those items.” A third member, Carol Wald, wrote that consideration of a boycott is necessary “in light of the continued occupation of Gaza and this (most recent) ruthless war waged against its citizenry.”

The co-op, which includes many Jews ranging from Reform to chassidic, currently carries four products from Israel: sweet peppers, persimmons, paprika, and marshmallows. It carries approximately 10,000 items in total.

News of the proposed boycott has angered many Jews and bloggers. On Vosizneias.com, one anonymous commentator wrote, “I urge all Jews to immediately renounce their membership in this coop. [A]bsolutely disgusting.” Rabbi Andy Bachman of Park Slope’s Beth Elohim said his congregation might deny the co-op usage of its facilities for future meetings if it votes to boycott Israeli products.

At the same time, however, some pundits claim that the Forward, which first broke the story, and the blogosphere are making much ado about nothing. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Ben Harris, who belongs to the co-op, wrote that one woman’s proposal during an open forum is far from a boycott in the making. The co-op’s strict rules, he wrote, do not allow members to discuss anything during their meetings unless it goes through several hurdles of procedural rules.

According to Gersh Kuntzman, editor of The Brooklyn Paper, “Stray comments at a Park Slope Food Coop general meeting don’t become Coop law until – and please believe me because I know this from personal experience – extensive debate, discussion and more mudslinging than at an organic composting facility.”

Allen Zimmerman, a general coordinator at the co-op, told The Jewish Press that Hima has not yet submitted an item to the Agenda Committee. And yet, although he hopes the matter won’t come up for a vote, he believes that it may well come to that stage at some future meeting. But its potential for passage is not great, he said.

Asked to describe the general mood among co-op members, Zimmerman said he has heard sentiments both for and against the boycott. Ultimately, though, he is “very doubtful that it would pass.”

As for his personal view, Zimmerman said, “No one in Gaza will be happier if the co-op doesn’t sell red peppers and no one in Israel will feel worse if the co-op doesn’t sell red peppers . All you can possibly do is give yourself some symbolic satisfaction and hurt the rest of your family . We’re part of a cooperative group of all kinds of Jews, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus – you can’t imagine how many religions come together here and work fairly harmoniously together. I don’t want to see disharmony brought to the cooperative.”

Title: In A Good Pasture

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Title: In A Good Pasture

Author: Dvora Waysman

Seven people from different parts of the world come together at an Israeli absorption center, to learn Hebrew and about life in their new country.  We meet them in the newest book by Dvora Waysman, In A Good Pasture (Mazo publishers).The absorption center is in Nazareth Illit and the author tells us that it is in this same place that she and her family spent the first five months of their Aliyah, many years ago. But she is quick to inform us that, notwithstanding the authentic setting, the book is a work of fiction.Lola and Ronald from England, Lee from America, Anna from Shanghai, David from South Africa, Jose from Spain and Freda from Australia, are as different as the countries they hailed from, and everyone a story in themselves.

Beautiful aristocratic Lee; why did she leave Las Vegas and New York for Israel?

Lola didn’t leave anything to the imagination, talking and laughing incessantly, the total opposite of her largely silent husband Ronald.

Anna, withdrawn and bearing the weight of a survivor on her shoulders, wore her loneliness on her sleeve.  Handsome David from South Africa was a typical playboy.  What brought him to Israel?

Freda was a little naive but very anxious to learn.  Jose a first class gentleman was the hardest to fathom.  What secrets lay behind his brooding visage?

As the story unfolds we become very caught up in the lives of each one − and without our even realizing it the land of Israel is unfolding before us, and we see it through the loving eyes of the author.  The Galilee, the Israeli coast and then Jerusalem, ah Jerusalem, what magic Dvora Waysman weaves.In A Good Pasture has the intrigues and pathos that one finds whenever real life situations are involved, and the reader’s attention will be held until the last page.

 

Dvora Waysman is an Australian-born writer now living in Jerusalem. She is the author of 10 books including The Pomegranate Pendant soon to be a movie; she is a syndicated columnist and a teacher of Creative Writing. She is also the grandmother of 18 Israeli children.  Her new novel In as Good Pasture will be published this year. Her e-mail: ways@netvision.net.il; website: www.dvorawaysman.com

Birthright Trips For Non-Jews

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

      Israel is about to turn 60 and the silence, outside of the Jewish community, is deafening. To date I have seen virtually no mention of the milestone in anything but Jewish publications.
 
      Israel’s monumental achievement, the fact that this tiny country with its neighbors hell-bent on eliminating it has somehow managed to survive, does not seem to be much of a story outside the Jewish world. Some would say this is appropriate. Israel is, after all, a Jewish state. Why should anyone else care?
 
      But on another level the fact that no one seems to be celebrating along with the Jews speaks volumes of our failure. Israel, it seems, has lost its ability to inspire all but Jews and evangelical Christians. These two groups see Israel’s creation and survival as possessing world-historical meaning. But to the rest of the world Israel is a country that is in the headlines because of bombs and battles. So the world is saying, no offense to you Jews, but what does your anniversary have to do with us?
 
      But wait a second. The anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was commemorated recently not just by African-Americans and not just in the United States but around the world – including in Israel. And this is because the movement that King led, while focused primarily on the plight of blacks in the South, was seen as a global cry for freedom and justice.
 
      The civil rights movement portended an end to racism and irrational prejudice in every corner of the globe. Thus, it has significance for people everywhere. But was Zionism at one time not viewed in the same light? Was it not also a movement by an oppressed people, persecuted in every land in which they resided, to find a home where they could live in peace and freedom? Has it now become a movement that speaks to none but Jews alone?
 
      I believe we Jews have unwittingly contributed to the insular and exclusivist mindset that has made Israel a Jewish-only project. And sixty years into the project, we must start thinking differently.
 
      Two great mistakes have been made by the global Jewish community with regards to Israel. The first was to portray Israel as a modern entity with negligible historical roots. The second was to portray Israel as a Jewish-only entity with little relevance to the rest of the world.
 
      Mistake number one is captured by a conversation I had with a businessman who told me a few months back that he was concerned that Israel’s emphasis on its 60th birthday might feed Arab propaganda that Israel is a modern entity – created by European-Jewish colonialists – that has usurped Arab land. Instead of calling this Israel’s 60th birthday party, he argued, why not have a different motto, something along the lines of “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” that captures the uninterrupted nature of the Jewish people’s attachment to its ancestral homeland?
 
      He had a point.
 
      Every few years I travel to South Africa for book tours. Black South Africans, while receptive to Jews, can be ambivalent about Israel. To them Israelis seem like white people who colonized the darker-skinned inhabitants of a land not their own. The parallel to apartheid South Africa creates immediate sympathy for the Palestinian side.
 
      I respond by telling my African hosts that the parallel between the two stories is really the reverse. Like black Africans in their land, the Jews were the original people who inhabited ancient Israel. Then the Romans came, colonized the land, decimated the Jewish population, and exiled the Jews to Europe and other parts of the Empire. But the Jews never lost a connection to their ancestral home, prayed every day to return, and a sizable Jewish minority remained even after the exile. Then, two thousand years later, when the opportunity and resources presented themselves, we began to reconstitute ourselves as a sovereign entity.
 
      The second mistake, making Israel something of only Jewish concern, is captured in the most successful and visionary Jewish program of our time, Birthright Israel. Birthright is nothing short of a miracle, and one of the reasons I so revere my friend Michael Steinhardt and his counterpart Charles Bronfman is because of their foresight in seeing just how inspirational the modern Jewish state could be to disaffected Jewish youth.
 
      But why stop there? Israel has the power to inspire non-Jewish youth as well.
 
      The Jews are history’s most influential people, having given the modern world its three foundations: God (universal brotherhood), the Ten Commandments (law), and the Messiah (progress aimed at perfecting the world). Those ideas were all born in the very soil of Israel, the world epicenter of faith and spiritual transcendence.
 
      But that’s not how the modern world sees it. India and Tibet have become the place of pilgrimage for Westerners seeking enlightenment. Just look at the level of sympathy the world rightly has for Tibet’s struggle against China versus the seeming lack of sympathy for Israel’s struggle against terrorism. That’s because the world feels it has a stake in Tibet’s welfare.
 
      The Dalai Lama has successfully portrayed his homeland as a place from which light shines to the entire earth and not just Buddhists. Should we not portray Israel in the same authentic light?
 
      I believe that of all the presents we can give Israel as it turns “Three Thousand Plus Sixty,” none would be more helpful than to inaugurate a Birthright for non-Jewish youth program that would seek to bring 50,000 non-Jewish students from around the world to Israel every year. Campuses are the venues where Israel is most attacked in the West today. Why not expose non-Jewish students to how stirring Israel is and give them a stake in its future?
 
      I’m supposed to be leading a press and media Birthright Trip to Israel for Mayanot this summer. Many of my non-Jewish colleagues in the media have practically begged me to attend. Birthright alumni from all over the globe will tell you the same. Their non-Jewish friends are envious of the transformative trip to Israel that right now is the preserve of Jewish youth alone.
 

      As for the cost, churches all over the U.S. would contribute, as would non-Jewish philanthropists and foundations sympathetic to Israel. And it would be the best PR Israel ever had.

 

 

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach hosts a daily radio show in the United States and has just published “The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him.” Visit his website, www.shmuley.com.

Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama’s Chicago church published an open letter from a Palestinian activist that labels Israel as a “racist” and “apartheid” country and claims the Jewish state worked on an “ethnic bomb” that kills “blacks and Arabs.” The letter, discovered by the Sweetness and Light blog, was published on the “Pastor’s Page” of the Trinity United Church of Christ newsletter reserved for Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose anti-American, anti-Israel remarks landed Obama in hot water, prompting the presidential candidate to deliver a major race speech last week.

“I must tell you that Israel was the closest ally to the white supremacists of South Africa. In fact, South Africa allowed Israel to test its nuclear weapons in the ocean off South Africa. The Israelis were given a blank check: they could test whenever they desired and did not even have to ask permission. Both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs,” wrote the letter’s author, Ali Baghdadi.

The June 10, 2007, newsletter, which is still available on Obama’s church’s website, identifies Baghdadi as an Arab-American activist, writer, and columnist who “acted as a Middle East advisor to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, as well as Minister Louis Farrakhan.”

The piece is titled “An open letter to Oprah,” referring to the talk show giant Oprah Winfrey, who last year accepted an invitation to visit Israel offered to her by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Winfrey had been a member of Obama’s church but left in 1986.

Referring to Israel, Baghdadi writes, “Arabs have always supported the dismantling of this racist government” and states that Palestinians face “genocide and ethnic cleansing . . . every hour of the day.”

Baghdadi states, “For many centuries, Jews escaped the discrimination and death they were subjected to in Europe, and found safety and refuge among us.”

He doesn’t mention the more than 800,000 Jews who were expelled or left Arab countries under threat of violence after Israel was founded in 1948.

Dollars for Terrorists

Just days after it was announced that the U.S. would transfer $150 million directly to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s government, members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Abbas’s Fatah party, were told they would receive cash grants, WorldNetDaily has learned.

According to Palestinian militant sources familiar with the issue, earlier this month 20 members of the Brigades leadership in Ramallah complained to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that they did not have enough money to pay their bills, including, for many of them, rent for their apartments.

Last week, according to the sources, Fayyad told the complaining Brigades leaders he would provide them with a one-time grant of $3,000 each, or $60,000 to the Ramallah-based Brigades leadership.

The sources said that after Brigades leaders in other West Bank cities, including Hebron and Nablus, heard of the grants, they also demanded pay increases.

The sources estimate that at least $350,000 in grants to Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades leaders were pledged by Fayyad since last week. Some of the Brigades leaders serve in Fatah security forces while others only work in the Brigades.

Fayyad’s purported grants to the Brigades came after the U.S. announced that it would transfer $150 million directly to accounts controlled by Fayyad, marking the first time in eight months America has transferred money directly to the PA rather than to nongovernmental agencies.

Revenge Feared

Israeli security officials fear the possibility of a massive revenge attack in Israel, abroad or both, following the assassination last month of Hizbullah’s arch-terrorist, Imad Mughniyah.

The terror leader was at the top of Israel’s most wanted list and was responsible for a series of deadly attacks against the U.S. and Israel, including involvement in the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied that Israel was involved in the assassination, but Hizbullah has directly blamed the Jewish state and threatened retaliation.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

Title: South African Journeys

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007


Title: South African Journeys

Author: Gita Gordon
Publisher: Judaica Press

 

         Gita Gordon’s fictitious tale of pre- and post-Holocaust migration of European Jews to South Africa is enthralling. An education in the nuances of how the Dark Continent’s Jewish population established itself, South African Journeys is filled with engaging characters, believable and familiar situations, and life lessons about the nobility of the Jewish spirit.

 

         Several disparate lives converge as Jews who fled the Kishinev pogroms meet up with Yiddish-speaking mail-order brides (one of whom plays bait-and-switch), as well as emotionally scarred survivors of Hitler’s war against the Jews. Life circumstances and some shady characters present them all with a challenging array of betrayals and opportunities to advance in life. Characters in the book either practice integrity based on Torahdik values or abandon all decency. Their choices move the story along.

 

         Each character is entirely believable. Heroes, heroines and villains speak realistic thoughts and make easily understandable choices. When an adolescent escapes a deadly ambush in his Russian town and flees to South Africa, we shudder with him when his first employer, an uncle and fellow Jew, manipulates the situation. Despite the teen’s agony at having lost everyone in his immediate family to brutal slaughter, his uncle places him in servitude in a remote town. The orphan overcomes the multifaceted horror by learning how to thrive with his Basuto clientele, dressed in colorful blankets.

 

         As European Jewish females fleeing impending spinsterhood seek their fortunes in the colorful and baffling land of Tabletop Mountain with its many-hued ethnic groups, readers will groan over courtship’s familiarly awkward situations.

 

         Searches for missing relatives, competitions for social prestige that backfire and the beautifully budding loves and accomplishments of quiet, determined men and women make for hypnotic reading. The author’s graceful transitions between time periods, people, places and situations give readers a vivid sense of witnessing the entire drama firsthand.

 

         Many lives are affected by the religious Batya, the sweet-natured sole survivor of a warm, loving and principled family murdered by Nazis. Or is she perhaps not the sole survivor? Read the story to figure out the answer familiar to far too many Jews of the 20th and 21st centuries.

 

         One of the subtleties of South African Journeys is the inevitability of consequences for the choices made by its characters. Those consequences depict justice served with beaming smiles for the brave and honest, comeuppances for the self-serving and superficial. The values of a Torah-based life subtly save more than a few characters in this book. As the story concludes with a resolution for every complication therein, readers will wish that real life could be written by Gita Gordon. This is a legend to be savored from beginning to end.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-south-african-journeys/2007/09/25/

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