Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Oren praised the additional sanctions placed on Iran but stated Israel should discuss the sunset clauses of the nuclear deal.

Israel should urge the US to revisit the Iranian nuclear deal and do away with sunset clauses that lift restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program if the Islamic Republic abides by the deal, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said on Tuesday.

Oren’s comments came a day after the US State Department – after getting President Donald Trump’s agreement – certified to Congress that Iran remains in compliance with the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The certification is required every 90 days by law.

Even though Trump reportedly agreed to only re-certify the deal begrudgingly after arguing with his top national security team for nearly an hour, Oren said Trump was “clearly not ripping up the deal any time soon.”

During the election campaign, Trump called the JCPOA the “worst deal ever,” and vowed to tear it up.

While Oren praised the US decision on Monday to slap additional sanctions on some Iranian entities and individuals for support of terrorism and for developing ballistic missiles, he said Israel should enter into discussions with Washington regarding the sunset clauses in the deal.

These clauses sets expiration dates on the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program if it abides by the deal.

Under one such clause, Iran will be able to increase its centrifuges beyond its current limit of 6,000 in 10 years’ time, and in 15 years it will be able to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium beyond its 300-kilogram cap.

If Iran abides by the deal, Oren said the restrictions will be lifted and “you will have a situation where Iran is going to remain the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism; is complicit in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Syrians; is going to try to build bases and ports in Syria, and missile laboratories in Beirut; is attacking in Iraq and Yemen; and is publicly committed to destroying the one and only Jewish state. But that country is going to have all the restrictions lifted from its nuclear program.”

In addition, Oren said, all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains intact.

“Some of it is detached, some unplugged, some mothballed, but it is all there,” he said, adding that Israel should be working with the US “to ensure that the sun never sets on the sunset clause, until there is a different Iranian regime.”

Oren said he has discussed this situation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are already two years into the agreement,” Oren said, adding that the time before the sunset clause kicks in is not that long. He said one remark Netanyahu once said about the deal resonates very true: “Ten years is a young man’s idea of a long time.”

For the Iranian regime, Oren said, a decade is no time at all, “because they are very much in control. There is nothing shaking this regime,” he said, noting that there has not been a single protest against the regime since June 2009 and the green revolution that the government crushed with an iron fist.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Ha’aretz Antidote

What should be done? We need something to protect us from this absurdity. But what?  I remember that until 2014 the home front in Israel had been distributing gas masks kits which contained a sarin antidote.  So we need an antidote, a Ha'aretz antidote..  Here it is.  It consists of three books I’ve read which I believe if Ha'aretz journalists read them, Ha'aretz as we know it would cease to exist.

Unfortunately, the problem is that Asaf Ronel does not have the intellectual courage to read them. So the antidote is for everyone else who wants to remain sane. 

This is for the French who stumbled onto this blog looking for the Israeli who contradicted Macron:

Que faire?? Nous avons besoin de nous protéger de l’absurdité du Haaretz. Mais quoi? Je me souviens que jusqu'en 2014,  l’armee Israelienne distribuait des kits de masques à gaz contenant un antidote sarin. Nous avons donc besoin d'un antidote, d'un antidote Ha'aretz: . Il s’agit de trois livres que j'ai lus et je crois que si les journalistes Ha'aretz les lisaient, le Ha'aretz, d’aujourd’hui cessera d'exister. Malheureusement, le problème c’est qu’Asaf Ronel n'a pas le courage intellectuel de les lire. Donc, l'antidote est pour tous ceux qui veulent rester sain d'esprit.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Strange Death of Europe

In my review of Michel Houellebecq’s Submission,   I asked:  Can a novel wake up a civilization?  And my answer was - I certainly hope so.  

But perhaps a non-fiction book can do even more? The reaction Submisson created in France when it was originally published is now being matched by Douglas Murray’s non-fiction The Strange Death of Europe. Not only it is on The Sunday Times bestseller list but the interview with the author got 96661 hits in one day!   

What is it that Douglas Murray has done right? To quote Orwell -   in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.  Douglas Murray has told the truth eloquently and with the knowledge of the subject unmatched by anybody else, so that after having read the book one can only say – this is so clear, how come no one had done this before? 
Murray shows that the utter mess Europe has got itself into through massive immigration is not the result of some conspiracy, but of politicians never fully understanding the consequences of their actions and then once realizing that something was amiss, doing everything but confronting the truth, constantly lying to everyone and themselves, in order to safeguard their own short term goals, even if it ultimately meant the death of the whole continent, or at least Western Europe.

The ‘tiredness’ felt by Europeans who have lost faith in their own values creates a passivity and  a vacuum easily filled by immigrants whose belief system is completely incompatible by the values Europeans once used to have.

To me living in Israel this European passivity and the belief that nothing can be done is truly   shocking. Despite all its daily problems, we here feel we are alive and masters of our own fate despite the opprobrium by the rest of the world.  

There were times in the book that I gasped and asked myself, how is this possible? Here is one of them:

In the meantime elected officials and bureaucrats continue to do everything they can to make the situation as bad as possible as fast as possible. In October 2015 there was a public meeting on the small city of Kassel in the state of Hesse. Eight hundred immigrants were due to arrive in the following days and concerned residence had a meeting to ask questions of their representatives. As a video recording of the meeting shows, citizens were calm, polite but concerned. Then at a certain point their district president, one Walter Lübcke, calmly informs them that anybody who does not agree with the policy is ‘free to leave Germany’.  You can see and hear on the tape the intake of breath, amazed laughter, hoots and finally shouts of anger. Whole new populations are being brought into their country and they are being told that if they don’t like this they are always free to leave? Do not politicians in Europe realise what could happen if they continue to treat European people like this?

How come Eastern Europe is different? Having lived in the USSR and Yugoslavia, I knew the answer.   

"Why is Eastern Europe so different? Why has its attitude throughout the migrant crisis, towards borders, natural sovereignty, cultural cohesion and many other points  besides been so much at odds  with that of Western Europe? "

"Chantal Delsol noticed the seeds of this difference in the mid-1990s. Spending time in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, she saw that Eastern Europeans 'increasingly considered us as creatures from another planet, even while at a different level they dreamed  of becoming like us. I later became convinced that it was in these eastern European societies that I should seek some answers to our question -- the divergence between us and them led me to the belief that the last fifty years of good fortune had entirely erased our sense of the tragic dimension of life'. That tragic dimension of life had not been erased in the East. And nowhere have the consequences of this been more clearly displayed than in the attitudes of Eastern European leaders, with the support of their publics, to the migration crisis." 

Douglas Murray is not very optimistic about the future.  The last chapter, What will be, is pretty bleak. I, on the other hand, am a bit more optimistic. It seems that the awakening has finally begun and this book is the perfect vehicle to help it accelerate 


Update July 14

I just got a link to the trailer for Darkest Hour (2017) where Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill   during the 1940  War Cabinet  Crisis  between May 25 and May 28 when Churchill stood up to Lord Halifax and saved the West.  Boris Johnson writes about this decisive day in his book The Churchill Factor. 

Churchill on May 28, 1940:

"I have thought carefully in these last days whether it was part of my duty to consider entering into negotiations with That Man [Hitler]. But it was idle to think that, if we tried to make peace now, we should get better terms than if we fought it out. The Germans would demand our – that would be called disarmament – our naval bases, and much else. We should become a slave state, though a British Government which would be Hitler's puppet would be set up – under Mosley or some such person. And where should we be at the end of all that? On the other side we have immense reserves and advantages. And I am convinced that every one of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."

We have reached a very similar point today.

And here is my comment after having seen the movie and read the book:

Update Sept 6 , 2017

Week 18 on the Sunday Times bestseller list

Monday, July 3, 2017

All Four Stanzas By Isaac Asimov

I have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.
The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.
I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas.
This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.
"That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."
I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.
Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.
More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.
So now let me tell you how it came to be written.
In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.
At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message "We have met the enemy and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.
Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.
The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"
After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" --a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.
Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
W hat so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer
On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
"The towering steep" is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.
In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.
During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.
And don't let them ever take it away.
--Isaac Asimov, March 1991