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View Full Version : Fidel to Ahmadinejad: 'Stop Slandering the Jews'


Stinky Fred
09-09-2010, 11:12 AM
This is absolutely amazing. No further comment.

http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...he-jews/62566/
Fidel to Ahmadinejad: 'Stop Slandering the Jews'
Sep 7 2010, 12:06 PM ET

A couple of weeks ago, while I was on vacation, my cell phone rang; it was Jorge Bolanos, the head of the Cuban Interest Section (we of course don't have diplomatic relations with Cuba) in Washington. "I have a message for you from Fidel," he said. This made me sit up straight. "He has read your Atlantic article about Iran and Israel. He invites you to Havana on Sunday to discuss the article." I am always eager, of course, to interact with readers of The Atlantic, so I called a friend at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig, who is a preeminent expert on Cuba and Latin America: "Road trip," I said.

I quickly departed the People's Republic of Martha's Vineyard for Fidel's more tropical socialist island paradise. Despite the self-defeating American ban on travel to Cuba, both Julia and I, as journalists and researchers, qualified for a State Department exemption.

I was aware that Castro had become preoccupied with the threat of a military confrontation in the Middle East between Iran and the U.S. (and Israel, the country he calls its Middle East "gendarme"). Since emerging from his medically induced, four-year purdah early this summer (various gastrointestinal maladies had combined to nearly kill him), the 84-year-old Castro has spoken mainly about the catastrophic threat of what he sees as an inevitable war.

I was curious to know why he saw conflict as unavoidable, and I wondered, of course, if personal experience - the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 that nearly caused the annihilation of most of humanity - informed his belief that a conflict between America and Iran would escalate into nuclear war.

The morning after our arrival in Havana, Julia and I were driven to a nearby convention center, and escorted upstairs, to a large and spare office. A frail and aged Fidel stood to greet us.

We shook hands, and he greeted Julia warmly; they have known each other for more than twenty years. Fidel lowered himself gently into his seat, and we began a conversation that would continue, in fits and starts, for three days. His body may be frail, but his mind is acute, his energy level is high...

...Castro opened our initial meeting by telling me that he read the recent Atlantic article carefully, and that it confirmed his view that Israel and America were moving precipitously and gratuitously toward confrontation with Iran. This interpretation was not surprising, of course: Castro is the grandfather of global anti-Americanism, and he has been a severe critic of Israel. His message to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, he said, was simple: Israel will only have security if it gives up its nuclear arsenal, and the rest of the world's nuclear powers will only have security if they, too, give up their weapons. Global and simultaneous nuclear disarmament is, of course, a worthy goal, but it is not, in the short term, realistic.

Castro's message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, was not so abstract, however. Over the course of this first, five-hour discussion, Castro repeatedly returned to his excoriation of anti-Semitism. He criticized Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and explained why the Iranian government would better serve the cause of peace by acknowledging the "unique" history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence.

He began this discussion by describing his own, first encounters with anti-Semitism, as a small boy. "I remember when I was a boy - a long time ago - when I was five or six years old and I lived in the countryside," he said, "and I remember Good Friday. What was the atmosphere a child breathed? `Be quiet, God is dead.' God died every year between Thursday and Saturday of Holy Week, and it made a profound impression on everyone. What happened? They would say, `The Jews killed God.' They blamed the Jews for killing God! Do you realize this?"

He went on, "Well, I didn't know what a Jew was. I knew of a bird that was a called a 'Jew,' and so for me the Jews were those birds. These birds had big noses. I don't even know why they were called that. That's what I remember. This is how ignorant the entire population was."

He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. "This went on for maybe two thousand years," he said. "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything." The Iranian government should understand that the Jews "were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God. In my judgment here's what happened to them: Reverse selection. What's reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation." He continued: "The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust." I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. "I am saying this so you can communicate it," he answered.

Castro went on to analyze the conflict between Israel and Iran. He said he understood Iranian fears of Israeli-American aggression and he added that, in his view, American sanctions and Israeli threats will not dissuade the Iranian leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons. "This problem is not going to get resolved, because the Iranians are not going to back down in the face of threats. That's my opinion," he said. He then noted that, unlike Cuba, Iran is a "profoundly religious country," and he said that religious leaders are less apt to compromise. He noted that even secular Cuba has resisted various American demands over the past 50 years.

We returned repeatedly in this first conversation to Castro's fear that a confrontation between the West and Iran could escalate into a nuclear conflict. "The Iranian capacity to inflict damage is not appreciated," he said. "Men think they can control themselves but Obama could overreact and a gradual escalation could become a nuclear war." I asked him if this fear was informed by his own experiences during the 1962 missile crisis, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. nearly went to war other over the presence of nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba (missiles installed at the invitation, of course, of Fidel Castro). I mentioned to Castro the letter he wrote to Khruschev, the Soviet premier, at the height of the crisis, in which he recommended that the Soviets consider launching a nuclear strike against the U.S. if the Americans attack Cuba. "That would be the time to think about liquidating such a danger forever through a legal right of self-defense," Castro wrote at the time.

I asked him, "At a certain point it seemed logical for you to recommend that the Soviets bomb the U.S. Does what you recommended still seem logical now?" He answered: "After I've seen what I've seen, and knowing what I know now, it wasn't worth it all."

I was surprised to hear Castro express such doubts about his own behavior in the missile crisis - and I was, I admit, also surprised to hear him express such sympathy for Jews, and for Israel's right to exist (which he endorsed unequivocally).

After this first meeting, I asked Julia to explain the meaning of Castro's invitation to me, and of his message to Ahmadinejad. "Fidel is at an early stage of reinventing himself as a senior statesman, not as head of state, on the domestic stage, but primarily on the international stage, which has always been a priority for him," she said. "Matters of war, peace and international security are a central focus: Nuclear proliferation climate change, these are the major issues for him, and he's really just getting started, using any potential media platform to communicate his views. He has time on his hands now that he didn't expect to have. And he's revisiting history, and revisiting his own history."

zulater
09-09-2010, 11:28 AM
to quote Ron white." Who'd a thunk it?"

tony hipchest
09-09-2010, 11:31 AM
wow. amazing read, that almost humanizes one who is regarded as a monster.

it almost reminds me of saddam husseins deathbed confessions.

zulater
09-09-2010, 11:34 AM
wow. amazing read, that almost humanizes one who is regarded as a monster.

it almost reminds me of saddam husseins deathbed confessions.

I never really viewed Fidel as a monster, maybe if I had been older for the Cuban Missile crisis I might have, but to me he was always an eccentric, though brilliant tin pot dictator .

Stinky Fred
09-09-2010, 11:43 AM
wow. amazing read, that almost humanizes one who is regarded as a monster.

it almost reminds me of saddam husseins deathbed confessions.

It is an amazing revelation and insight into the mind of a despot that seeks to "edit" his legacy. The message, never the less, offers clarity from an unlikely source. Perhaps now, even Ric might see the light.

Its interesting that he isn't "justifying" Israel per se, but rather saying that they have been cast to oblivion and abused like no others, and to stop slandering them. Sage advise from one who took humankind to the brink, and learned.

I edited a lot of the article. It ends with Fidel asking the author if he wants to go see the dolphins. Apparently the visit got even weirder from there.

Stinky Fred
09-09-2010, 11:46 AM
I never really viewed Fidel as a monster, maybe if I had been older for the Cuban Missile crisis I might have, but to me he was always an eccentric, though brilliant tin pot dictator .

Talk to the Cubans that escaped to South Florida. Fidel and his regime are typical of what socialism does when unchecked. That is why many of us grimace at the bho regime.

chacha
09-09-2010, 12:26 PM
that was a great article you posted StinkyFred, trying to compare our President to Castro-not so great

Stinky Fred
09-09-2010, 01:00 PM
that was a great article you posted StinkyFred, trying to compare our President to Castro-not so great

Thanks Chacha.

Let me break it down for you. I was not comparing our "president" to Fidel. Aside from a stupefyingly dim electorate elevating a remarkably unqualified and unaccomplished socialist hack to the highest office in the land, there isn't a comparison to be made, at least not a good one. Yes, both became "presidents". There the comparison ends. Fidel led a violent revolution and conquered an entrenched dictator, then became one himself. Fidel would probably be among the first to point out that bho isn't fit to carry his Nikes. Please do not take anything I have said as "praise' for Fidel.

The point I made was that modern Cuba is typical of what socialism does when unchecked. It is not an isolated instance. The 20th century is littered with hundreds of millions of victims of socialism. The very holocaust Fidel references was at the hands of socialists. That Fidel astutely points out the holocaust at all is all the more remarkable because it serves to indict his own brand of "government".

bho is a socialist. That isn't arguable. My comment reflects the concerns that those familiar with socialist history have with a socialist occupying the White House. Surely you can understand that.

tony hipchest
09-09-2010, 01:20 PM
never mind stinky fred, chacha.

thats just him being social.

Stinky Fred
09-09-2010, 02:18 PM
never mind stinky fred, chacha.

thats just him being social.

You calling me a socialist?


























:chuckle:

ricardisimo
09-09-2010, 04:03 PM
I don't know that anyone ever accused Fidel of being a stupid man... not even his worst enemies. I'm sure he knows his history a hell of a lot better than most current or former world leaders. However, Ahmadinejad need not go all the way to Cuba to get clarity regarding the Holocaust or the value of a Jew's life. His immediate predecessor in the Iranian presidency, Mohammad Khatami, put it about as succinctly as anyone anywhere could have, when asked about Ahmadinejad's revisionism: "The death of even one Jew is a crime." (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-a-lesson-from-the-holocaust-for-us-all-472334.html)

I do find the "even Ric might see the light" comment illuminating, indeed. Rev's legacy is alive and well, I see. Just as I cannot criticize US policy without being told to leave the country, I cannot comment upon Israel's obscene criminality without the usual tired charges popping up. Strange how no one calls me anti-Anglican for criticizing the UK's actions in Northern Ireland. Odd, that.