Translate

Friday, April 19, 2019

A surprise in Prague


Having spent as a foreign student 6 years in the USSR, not much in the history of Communism should come as a surprise to me. Yet I was completely shocked by the size of this monument to Stalin I had never heard of, the photo of which is displayed in Prague’s Museum of Communism.  The actual monument was unveiled in 1955 and destroyed in 1962.







Although Czechoslovakia was under the Nazis from March 1939 till the end of WWll, and under Soviet domination from 1948 till the Velvet Revolution of 1989, it has been free (as the Czech Republic since 1993) for the last 30 years! So all this is now history.  All the youth I saw in the Museum of Communism and the Cold War Museum have been born in freedom. I have become a dinosaur! I remember August 21, 1968, the day of the invasion!  







Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Why I voted Bibi



They say that this election is not about issues but a referendum on Bibi.   

But issues do matter and in my mind there is only one issue to which all other issues are dependent on. Israel has to protect itself from an Iranian nuclear attack.  The issues of education, housing and corruption would be irrelevant in the rubble after a nuclear exchange.  

Iran hardly figured in the pre-election discussion. So it is not the obvious “Bibi fatigue” that is prevalent but the “Iranian nuclear threat fatigue” that dominates. However, Iran has not vanished and we were just reminded of it by president Trump last night when he designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist group. Isn’t it odd that the US is more concerned about Iran than Israel?

Out of the 4 leaders of Blue and White, Lapid and Gantz supported Obama's deal which was a disaster. Ya'alon changed his mind and now says that at this point, and in the foreseeable future, there is no existential threat facing Israel.  Gabi Ashkenazi along with Meir Dagan prevented Bibi and Barak from attacking Iranian nuclear sites in 2010. Then the breakout time was 6 months, now it is 3 months. By the time the Iran Deal expires the breakout time will be 0.

So the referendum should be on the person who is best prepared to preempt Iran if Iran goes for breakout.  The leader(s) who prevented Netanyahu in 2010 from attacking the Iranian nuclear sites, or Netanyahu who already proved that he can make a decision of this importance?  Take your pick.  I have.

Why is it so crucial to stop Iran from ever getting the bomb?  Norman Podhoretz explains

“Now I will give you my answer to this. That's' Bernard's answer to the question.   My answer to the question is to imagine a scenario which most people are horrified. I've tried this in speeches all the time, people shy away from it. Imagine that Iran gets the bomb. OK and the Israelis are sitting there and asking  themselves, do we wait for them to hit us and then retaliate out of the rubble or do we preempt it first?   The Iranians are asking themselves the same question. Do we wait for the Israelis to hit us or do we hit them first. We've never had a hair trigger situation like that since the invention of nuclear weapons. If you just imagine the rulers of Iran asking  themselves  that question. Somebody is gonna beat the other to the punch. And I can't see that unstable situation lasting for very long, maybe even as along as a few weeks or months”

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The election campaign ad Netanyahu should have used




Transcript: 

Peter Robinson:
Norman Podhoretz,  in an interview in Arutz Sheva, how is it pronounced?  - 

Norman Podhoretz:

Aruttz Sheva 

Peter Robinson:

Quote, quoting you .. If Iran gets the bomb it is hard, if not impossible, to see how a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel could be avoided". Close quote. 
Now you know the answer to that . The Soviet Union had the bomb and we had the bomb and we sat facing each other for four and a half decades and did not engage in a nuclear exchange.

Norman Podhoretz:  

I will give you Bernard Lewis's answer to that question, and then I will give you my own. Bernard Lewis points out that deterrence worked with the Soviets and the Chinese because the Soviets were not  suicidal and they knew that if they launched a first strike there would be a second strike tha    which would annihilate them   --- mutual assured destruction 

Peter Robinson:

And it worked 

Norman Podhoretz  

Mutual Assured Destruction can't  work in relation to Iran because these are people who are in love with  death 

Bernard Lewis:
For them it is not a deterrent, it is an inducement      

Peter Robinson:

Truly? Truly?

Norman Podhoretz:  

Now I will give you my answer to this. That's' Bernard's answer to the question.  My answer to the question is to imagine a scenario which most people are horrified. I've tried this in speeches all the time, people shy away from it. Imagine that Iran gets the bomb. OK and the Israelis are sitting there and asking themselves, do we wait for them to hit us and then retaliate out of the rubble or do we preempt it first?   The Iranians are asking themselves the same question. Do we wait for the Israelis to hit us or do we hit them first. We've never had a hair trigger situation like that since the invention of nuclear weapons . If you just imagine the rulers of Iran asking themselves that question. Somebody is gonna beat the other to the punch. And I can't see that unstable situation lasting for very long, maybe even as along as a few weeks or months.

Peter Robinson:

And you would agree, here is what I find so striking. 

You  will hear it said among people who are not deep students of this situation that the notion that  glorious death is an inducement to the radicals in the Muslim world, not a deterrent,  and here I sit across the man who has devoted his life to the study of Islam, who is universally regarded as the greatest living historian in the world of Islam, and he says, yes as a matter of fact, that's exactly right, it is an inducement, deterrence would not work. You confirm that?


Bernard Lewis 

Yes I would do, yes, with those who are committed believers in the old sense.  


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Denial or fear to explicitly acknowledge the danger we are in?

 
Caroline Glick presenting the New Right platform

Last night I attended a pre-election meeting at BGU at which representatives of various parties explained their platforms and it was moderated by the Times of Israel's senior analyst Haviv Rettig Gur.  
The question I intended to ask was:
Professor Bernard Lewis, who by the way was here at BGU some 13 years ago,  wrote: "In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) , would have no meaning.  At the End of Time, there will be general   destruction anyway.  What will matter is the final destination of the dead-- hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement..."
So, according to Bernard Lewis, Iran cannot be deterred. Why is this not  being discussed in the election campaign?   Only two Israeli politicians ever quoted Bernard Lewis - Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN GA in 2012 and Michael Oren in his LA Times article in 2015. Why is this a taboo subject? 
I was told by the moderator that my question was too long so I shortened Bernard Lewis's quote to its very essence.
The answers I got were not to the question I asked. Some said that there is a consensus in Israel on the Iranian threat. True, there is a consensus that there is a threat from Iran.  But few seem to understand the implications of the MAD doctrine having no meaning when it comes to Iran. It is the character and therefore magnitude of the threat that matters. The representative from the Blue and White party quoted Gantz's statement  that he will never permit a nuclear Iran, but he never explained WHY it is imperative to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. There was also a comment that it would be a disaster not only for Israel but for the whole world. I could not agree more.
But that was not what I asked. Nobody explained why Bernard Lewis, one of the most renowned scholars of the Middle East,  is not being quoted nor why there is no discussion in the campaign about his warning. The nearest to answering my question was Caroline Glick who said that this was a strategic issue and difficult to discuss.  It still does not explain why nobody, including her, ever quotes Bernard Lewis on MAD.  
Meretz and Labor kept emphasizing the "real issues" , i.e. education, housing, corruption -- however,  all this would have no meaning after a nuclear war, so I am afraid we all live in denial. Some have probably heard of what Bernard Lewis said but think that he is wrong since no Iranian mullah would be willing to sacrifice himself, they only send their followers to do so. Others probably believe that the very possibility that Iran gets the bomb is very slim so why bother what they would do if they do get it.  
I think we are in deep shit. We are either living in denial or are just too scared to explicitly acknowledge the danger we are in.  Would quoting Bernard Lewis help? I think it would, but there is nothing we can do to change minds on this.   

*****

Bernard Lewis and Norman Podhoretz on Iran and MAD

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Political antisemitism



Paul Johnson





Infectious antisemitism

Regarding the editorial “Political antisemitism” (March 29), the debate over the hyphen in “antisemitism” is not essential. The meaning as defined from the very start was as “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” The intended scope was limited to Jews alone.

Historian Paul Johnson put it best: “It is widely assumed… that antisemitism is a form of racism or ethnic xenophobia… But if antisemitism is a variety of racism, it is a most peculiar variety, with many unique characteristics. In my view as a historian, it is so peculiar that it deserves to be placed in a quite different category. I would call it an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive. It is a disease to which both human individuals and entire human societies are prone.”

MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC
Beersheva



And some of  the Paul Johnson's books which I found excellent ...