The Jews of Sub-Saharan Africa Are Blazing New Trails with High-Tech Farming

South of the Sahara Desert, there are a number of small communities that either claim ancient Jewish descent (like Ethiopian Jews and the Lemba of Zimbabwe) or whose ancestors came to Judaism via Christianity in recent times (like the Abayudaya of Uganda). Recently, several of these communities—scattered across ten countries—have joined together to make use of the latest innovations in agriculture. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

An unusual experiment in data-driven agriculture is underway in the Abayudaya Jewish community in rural Uganda: a pilot poultry farm. From the moment chicks arrive at a day old until their sale at day 36, nearly every move and morsel they take ends up charted on a carefully cultivated spreadsheet. . . . [F]ounded in 2021, the AMC Pilot Broiler Farm is now on its way to upscale to over twenty times [its original size] after the purchase of the Jewish community’s first-ever owned piece of land of approximately six hectares.

The Times of Israel was recently invited to Uganda to witness the next steps of the poultry project—which, with a profit margin of 15-20 percent for each batch of chicks is an unqualified success—and meet Sam Muwalani and Allan Zilaba, the dreamers who are determined to take their Abayudaya communities off the charity train. “Inspired by Jewish values, we empower people in poverty to be more self-reliant and self-sustaining,” the two wrote in a prospectus on their agricultural project’s vision.

[When], during the COVID-19 epidemic, community members lost their jobs and started to go hungry—and then to starve—the already disadvantaged African Jews’ needs dramatically increased.

Historically, the majority of Abayudaya are farmers, cultivating yams, peanuts, cassava, and more. However, this is the first time that data are driving their methodologies and decisions. In a country in which families still make their own charcoal using millennia-old techniques, “new” can be a bit unnerving.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: African Jewry, Farming, Technology, Uganda

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law