Fidel Castro on Iran and anti-Semitism

This video is about the film Shoah.

From an interview with Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba, by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in the USA:

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 were smooth-billed anis.

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.”

Though I agree with most of this interview, I do have a bit of a problem with this sentence (presuming that the interviewer has reported it correctly). Presumably, Castro argues from the history of the Christian West; as other countries like India or China (were there were Jews historically), or Japan (where there were no Jews historically) have no history of anti-Jewish hatred comparable to it.

In Christian European history, there is a tradition of religious hatred against Muslims. In fifteenth-sixteenth century Spain, Muslims were persecuted along with Jews. However, unlike Jews, Muslims were not maligned as “killers of God”. And few if any Muslims lived in most Christian European countries. So, if bigots would have liked to persecute Muslims along with Jews, that was impossible for lack of Muslims.

In the 21st century, unfortunately, Western bigots blame Muslims for lots of things.

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.

Goldberg analyzes his visit with Fidel Castro: here.

`Orientalism’ and Cuba: How Western media get it wrong: here.

An American imam took an eye-opening tour last month of the Dachau and Auschwitz death camps and said that what he saw was unfathomable – and undeniable: here.

Rhetoric about Iran Repeat of Iraq War Propaganda? Here.

Iran’s presidential aide calls for greater rights for Iran’s “oppressed” women: here.

16 thoughts on “Fidel Castro on Iran and anti-Semitism

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  2. Administrator on September 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm said:

    Chavez to discuss anti-semitic media

    Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez announced on Wednesday that he will meet leaders of the country’s Jewish community later this month who have expressed concerns about anti-semitism in some media outlets.

    David Bittan, vice-president of the Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations, said on Wednesday that the delegation plans to present Mr Chavez with a file of examples from state media, without giving details.

    “We don’t think it’s a government policy. We’re sure measures will be taken,” he said.


  3. Administrator on September 10, 2010 at 8:47 pm said:

    Castro says he was misinterpreted on Cuban economy


    updated 17 minutes ago

    HAVANA — Fidel Castro says his comments about Cuba’s communist economic model were misinterpreted by a visiting American journalist.

    Appearing at the University of Havana on Friday, the 84-year-old ex-president says he meant “exactly the opposite” of the quote contained in a blog by Atlantic magazine reporter Jeffrey Goldberg.

    Goldberg wrote Wednesday that he asked Castro if Cuba’s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries. He said that Castro replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

    See also here.


  4. Administrator on September 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm said:

    Uri Avnery

    Concept and Contempt

    IN THE main thoroughfare, beneath my window, there was absolute silence. Not a single vehicle was moving.

    We were sunk in conversation with a friend of ours, when something unbelievable happened.

    The air-raid sirens started to wail.

    Within minutes, cars started to race down the street at a crazy speed, men were leaving their houses in haste, wearing their reserve uniforms, bearing backpacks.

    The radio, which had been silent, as usual on this day, woke to sudden life.

    A war had broken out. The Egyptians and the Syrians had launched an attack on Israel.

    Yom Kippur, by far the holiest day of Judaism, 37 years ago today (according to the Hebrew calendar).


    SINCE THEN, on every Yom Kippur we remember that fateful day. Impossible not to. It was a watershed in our life and in the history of Israel, a formative event for the entire Semitic region.

    Today, as on every Yom Kippur since, the quiet, the silence in the streets, encourages us to think. As a witness, I have the urge to testify.

    What was the impact of that war on us?

    The first thing to be said: It was a superfluous war.

    That is not, of course, something extraordinary. But for a few exceptions, such as World War II (and perhaps our 1948 war), every war was “superfluous”. World War I, that orgy of death and destruction, was completely superfluous. Until today, historians try to find a logical reason for its outbreak. The motives of all parties were dwarfed by the consequences.

    Well before the Yom Kippur war, the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, was ready to make peace with Israel. Reliable mediators did convey this to the Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir. She ignored the information with contempt.

    Before the sudden death of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Sadat?s predecessor, credible information reached Israel about Egypt?s readiness to make peace in return for the Egyptian territories that were conquered in the 1967 war. I myself brought such a message to Pinhas Sapir, after Nasser had revealed his thoughts to my friend, the French journalist Eric Rouleau, in an off-the-record conversation. Rouleau permitted me to transmit the information in secret to the Israeli government. Sapir, at the time the most important minister and the real boss of the Labor Party, treated the information with complete lack of interest. My legal advisor, Amnon Zichroni, who was accompanying me to the meeting, was as stunned as I. I assume that I was not the only one who conveyed messages.

    Some months before the war, I met with some Egyptians close to their country?s leadership. Following these conversations, I made a speech in the Knesset warning that, unless we immediately started a peace initiative that would return the Suez canal and Sinai to the Egyptians, they would attack, even without any chance of winning. The Knesset did not listen.

    After the war I accused Golda Meir publicly of the murder of 2700 young Israelis and an untold number of young Egyptians and Syrians. Golda, a person with frighteningly narrow horizons, shrugged it off and lived to the end of her days with a clear conscience.


    IN THE first hours of the war, the Egyptians astounded the world when they succeeded in crossing the Suez Canal ? a formidable water obstacle ? and breaking the Bar Lev line, the pride of the Israeli army.

    It was one of the great surprise victories in the annals of war. In spite of the difference in dimensions, some compare it to the start of Operation Barbarossa (the German attack on the Soviet Union) and the bombing of Pearl Harbor (the Japanese attack on the US).

    How was such a surprise possible? After all, the Egyptian army had to concentrate its forces and arrive at the starting positions without being detected. The area between Cairo and the canal is completely bare.

    After the war, Dado invited me to his home and let me have a look at the files. Dado ? Chief of Staff General David Elazar ? was forced out of the army on the morrow of the war because of his responsibility for the “Omission” (the decision not to mobilize the reserves and move the tanks on the eve of the war). I was a friendly magazine editor, and Dado wanted to convince me of his innocence. The files showed that Army Intelligence had all the necessary information ? and far more ? about the Egyptian preparations for the attack.

    For example, an intercepted order by a mufti (Muslim chaplain) of a brigade to break the Ramadan fast, one of the most important Muslim commandments, and start eating at a certain hour.

    An intercepted communication by an Egyptian wireless operator to his brother, a wireless operator in another unit, which included the Muslim prayer before facing death.

    An intercepted message of a shore station to the submarines at sea to break off all radio communications at a certain time.

    And so forth, a wealth of intelligence. According to Dado, nothing of this reached him, the Chief of Staff. The chief of the army Intelligence department, Eli Zeira, suppressed it all.

    Why? Zeira, a person endowed with a lot of self-confidence, was the prisoner of a “concept”: that the Egyptians would never attack without air superiority. But this does not really explain the magnitude of the Omission. Nor do the sophisticated Egyptian attempts at deception. The reason is much more profound: contempt for the Arabs.


    THIS CONTEMPT is one of the curses of the state, and it accompanies us (Jewish) Israelis until this very day.

    It did not exist in the 1948 war, the longest and hardest of Israeli wars. As I well remember, the soldiers at the time respected the enemy. We, the fighters on the Southern Front, had much respect for the Egyptian army (one of whose junior commanders was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser), and the fighters of the Central Front respected the Jordanian “Arab Legion”. The Syrian and Iraqi fighters were also rated highly.

    The respect evaporated in the 1956 war, and for the wrong reasons. The Egyptian soldiers tried to get away when our army invaded Sinai, and there were some who left their boots behind, but that had a simple reason: they received orders to retreat in haste, since the British and the French were landing in their rear and threatening to turn all of Sinai into a death trap. At that time it was the Egyptians who were surprised by the French-Israeli-British collusion.

    But the contempt reached its climax in the 1967 war. After three weeks of mounting existential fear, the Israelis saw their army smashing the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, reinforced by contingents from other Arab countries, within six days. It looked like a miracle. For those who do not believe in divine intervention, there was no miracle: the Israeli military, and especially the Air Force, had meticulously planned the war well in advance, and the plan was executed by the best high command our army ever had.

    This victory was a historic disaster. It was too big, too smashing, too stunning. Israel entered a bout of euphoria that lasted for six years. It was clear to everyone that Arabs can?t fight, that the Israeli army was the best in the world, that it was invincible. Ariel Sharon declared at the time that the army could reach Libya?s capital, Tripoli, within six days.

    What happened on Yom Kippur 1973 was a direct consequence of that victory. The abysmal contempt for the Arabs gave birth to the “Kontsepsia” (as we say “concept” in Hebrew), the Kontsepsia gave birth to the Omission ? two words that became the symbols of the war. The contempt created the belief that the Egyptians would not dare to attack the Bar Lev line, a string of fortified positions that were thinly manned on Yom Kippur by second-grade units. (Two generals objected to the creation of the Bar Lev line to start with: the tank general Israel Tal, who died this week, and the infantry general Ariel Sharon, who lives on in a coma. “Talik” and “Arik” proposed keeping mobile forces well to the rear, ready to counter any Egyptian breakthrough with a massive counter-attack.)


    THE WAR started with outstanding Egyptian (and Syrian) successes and ended with an Israeli military victory. The Israeli army was not yet corrupted by the occupation (another disastrous result of the 1967 victory), and most of its commanders were of a quality that can only be envied today. But politically, the war ended in a draw.

    Talik, who took part in the cease-fire talks at Kilometer 101, told me that the Egyptian commander, Abd-al-Ghani al-Gamasy, offered to start direct peace negotiations at once. Talik rushed to Golda Meir, but she forbade him to go on. She had promised Henry Kissinger that all negotiations would go through the US. The peace with Egypt was held up for four more years, until Sadat started his historic initiative behind the backs of the Americans.

    The war returned to the Egyptians their self-respect. I visited the Ramadan War Museum (that?s how the Egyptians call this war). A great effort was made there to visualize the canal crossing realistically with sound and light effects. The hundreds of Egyptians who packed each performance several times every day were filled with pride.

    This pride made it easier for Sadat to go on his historic mission. When I landed in Cairo, several days after his coming to Jerusalem, the city was plastered with posters: “Anwar Sadat, Hero of War, Hero of Peace!”

    Immediately after the war, Yasser Arafat started out on his long quest for peace, which led 20 years later to the Oslo agreement. He once told me how he arrived at his decision: when he realized that the big surprise successes of the Arab armies at the start of the war ended in a military defeat, he drew the logical conclusion that there is no way of realizing the Palestinian national aims by war, and that a peaceful settlement was the only solution.


    THESE CONCLUSIONS are as right today as ever:

    Hubris leads to disaster.

    A concept based on contempt for the Arabs will lead to a historical omission.

    Every war in this region is superfluous: after every war we shall achieve ? in the best case ? what we could have got before the war.

    There is no military solution, not for the Arabs, not for us.

    There are many heroes in war. But the real glory goes to the hero of peace.

    As the Jewish sages said almost 1800 years ago: “Who is a hero? He who turns his enemy into his friend.”



  5. Administrator on September 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm said:

    Chavez wins US citizens’ freedom

    IRAN: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has interceded to secure the release of two US citizens from prison in Tehran, Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras said on Thursday.

    Mr Porras said the Venezuelan government had been approached for help by friends and supporters of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were convicted of spying but maintain that they were hitchhiking and entered Iran by mistake.

    The two were released on Wednesday after a $1 million (£650,000) bail-for-freedom deal.


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  9. Not Just Iranians Involved in AMIA Case in Argentina

    Buenos Aires, Jun 17 (Prensa Latina) Argentine President Cristina Fernandez requested to accuse the Iranians involved in the terrorist attack against the Israeli-Argentinian Mutual Association (AMIA) as the Agentinians accused of covering up.
    The president expressed her opinions about the case, which is still unsolved by justice after 19 years of the deadly attack, in her Twitter account, in which her comments about a meeting she held with the AMIA leaders on Thursday at the Pink House.

    “It is essential that the accused Iranians testify, said the president about the citizens with this nationality, accused of being the masterminds behind the horrendous crime, and without Iran’s collaboration, there will be no statement,” she said.

    Her Government sealed a memorandum of understanding in January with Iran, for a commission of Argentinian magistrates to question the citizen of that country accused of being the brains behind the attack.

    However, the president highlighted that those who are accused of covering up in the AMIA case are not Iranians. They are Argentinians and live in Agentina, she said, and recalled later that the trial for covering up began on February 15, 2000, but the public trial has not been held yet.

    In the conversation that held with the leadership of that Israeli organization, Cristina Fernandez said that it would be good to request, with the same strength and publicity of other requests, the beginning of the trial for covering up.

    The car-bomb attack against the AMIA central office in 1994 caused the death of 86 people, including the terrorist, and wounds to 300.



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