Archive for December, 2013

Thoughts on Nelson Mandela and Israel

Sunday, December 8th, 2013
Nelson Mandela and Shimon Peres, 2002

Nelson Mandela and Shimon Peres, 2002

The recent death of Nelson Mandela has prompted some interesting discussion. For example, was Mandela a friend or an enemy of Israel? He certainly saw the PLO as a ‘national liberation movement’, but he also said “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.” Mandela saw the world through the lens of his experience, but although he couldn’t help but sympathize with Palestinian Arabs that presented themselves as an oppressed people, he did not embrace their cause of ending the Jewish state.

The subject of Israel’s cooperation with the apartheid regime has come up also. It’s become known that Israel and South Africa shared intelligence about Soviet and terrorist activities, and Israel provided weapons and technology in return for uranium.

It is very easy for Americans to criticize Israel ensconced in our relatively safe (for now) homeland, with our huge resources and strategic depth. Israel does not have these things (and the Obama Administration is doing its best to further damage Israel’s strategic position).

Israel’s leaders have a mission, an overriding moral duty that is tested every day: to preserve Jewish sovereignty, and therefore to protect the Jewish people. Sometimes moral duties conflict, and when this happens, one is obliged to choose. Apartheid was clearly evil, and I don’t doubt that Shimon Peres (the architect of Israel-South African cooperation) was aware of this.

But Peres chose the uranium because Israel needed it to survive. It is as simple as that. Israel’s enemies had massive amounts of non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction. In 1973 — before the deal with South Africa — US President Nixon was moved to resupply Israel’s armies, something which arguably saved the state, when Israel began to deploy its then rudimentary nuclear arsenal. Just the possession of nuclear weapons has added immeasurably to Israel’s strength.

Apartheid is gone and Israel is not. So it seems that Peres made the right choice after all.

As an aside, I can’t resist mentioning that we heard this on NPR:

This is a leader who had, certainly, a profound impact on the world but also a profound impact on Barack Obama as a man. Symbolically, you have these two men who are both the first black leaders of countries that had a history of deep racial tensions. And we know that President Obama saw echoes of Mandela’s legacy in his own story.

It is entirely consistent with NPR’s Pravda-like adulation of Obama to compare him to Mandela, but it’s still shocking (I am waiting for their special Christmas program that will compare him to Jesus). Mandela paid his dues, in struggle and in suffering, while Obama was given everything from a Senate seat to the Nobel Peace prize as affirmative action. Mandela was about reconciliation, while Obama is about punishing his enemies. Mandela was tough but warm, Obama is flabby and cold. Mandela was humble, while Obama is arrogant.

Well, Mandela is gone. I think the world is a worse place without his moral force. If he was indeed an enemy of Israel, would that more of our enemies were like him.

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Obama is different

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

So now it’s clear that the agreement signed with Iran last week isn’t really an agreement, and anyway the ‘moderate’ Iranian president doesn’t intend to stop enriching uranium or dismantle any of his nuclear facilities (see also here).

The only aspect that seems to be a good bet is the weakening of sanctions.

The interim deal, when it is implemented — even the ‘interim period’ has yet to begin because of ‘technical’ issues — will provide some degree of sanctions relief to Iran, worth between $7 and $40 billion, depending on whom you believe. For their part, the US and Europeans will get an excuse to prevent Israel from interfering with Iran’s nuclearization, an important part of the overall obeisance they have chosen to pay to Iran, the terrorist superpower.

This follows other anti-Israel actions such as forcing Israel to apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara affair, pressuring Israel to supply the Hamas regime, leaking confidential information about Israeli military actions to interdict Syrian weapons sent to Hizballah, as well as supporting a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt.

For its next act, the Obama Administration plans to tighten the screws on Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. There is absolutely no American interest furthered by this, unless you consider hurting Israel a goal of  American policy (as Caroline Glick does).

My regular readers know that my wife and I are moving to Israel in September. I don’t call it ‘aliyah’ because we already lived in Israel for almost a decade in the 1980s. One practical reason to move is that most of my children and grandchildren are there. If I were a spiritual person, I would talk about the benefits accruing to the Jewish soul from living in eretz yisrael. If I were younger I might be looking forward to army service. But recently one other reason has become more and more important:

I am infuriated by and ashamed by what my country — the United States of America — is trying to do to the homeland of my people, the state of Israel. I was born and grew up here, and I have always felt at home, even when I disagreed with US policy. The US was on the right side in WWII and in the Cold War, it finally extirpated the vestiges of slavery from its legal codes and to a great extent from its culture, and it was responsible for more technological innovation than the rest of the world combined.

There were missteps, wrong decisions, incompetence, even evil done from good (and sometimes not so good) intentions. There is justice in many of the the complaints of both the Left and the Right — although I emphatically reject the contention of the extreme Left that this country is the primary force of evil in the world. What great nation can claim moral perfection? The British? The Japanese? The Chinese? The Germans? The Arabs? The French?

But in the words of Aaron David Miller, “Obama really is different”. For the first time, really, the US has adopted an anti-Jewish policy. Yes, I am saying this despite the fact that American Jews overwhelmingly supported Obama — and probably still do.

I am quite sure that the officials who have time and again leaked statements impugning the loyalty of pro-Israel American Jews who oppose their policies would respond with some form of “some of my best friends are Jewish.” But of course that isn’t the point: a policy to end the first Jewish sovereign state established after 2000 years of oppression is profoundly anti-Jewish. Even Roosevelt’s polite refusal to take any action to mitigate the Holocaust does not compare.

I don’t accept the excuse that the administration believes that it can prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons with a policy of appeasement. I don’t accept that the administration believes that the PLO state it wants to create will exist peacefully alongside the Jewish state. I believe that administration policy is deliberate and that the desired goal is the end of the Jewish state.

It’s not just incompetence and lack of experience. Barack Obama is a product of Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi. He has chosen advisers and appointed officials who share his admiration for Islam and his antipathy for a sovereign Jewish state. Despite his protestations of support for Israel, his actions have been the reverse.

Yes, Obama and his crowd are “different.” And I would prefer to have as little as possible to do with them.

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