» 2012 » March

Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: March 2012

The death of Hilton Kramer produced a surprisingly fair-minded obituary in the New York Times, especially since after leaving the paper, he wrote a regular column in the New York Post that was devoted to a critical look at the paper’s flagrant omissions. In the “Arts Beat” column, however, NYT writer John Williams wrote about what he considered the most “provocative” of Kramer’s articles for the paper when he was arts editor, “The Blacklist and the Cold War.” It is a piece that stands up remarkably well even in our time, and reveals how sharp and prescient a critic Hilton Kramer was. Kramer’s article became must reading.  He argued forcefully that the treatment of the blacklist was meant to acquit the radicalism of the 1960s by portraying that of the 1930s as innocent, “altruistic, and admirable.” Moreover, Kramer pointed out that there was a “myth of Communist innocence,” and that one could regard “both Stalinism and the blacklist as threats to democracy,” and see both HUAC and the Communist Party “as plagues to be resisted.”

Williams reports that the piece “generated an avalanche of letters pro and con,” and among the scores the paper ran — Mr. Williams cites the names of only eight people — I am one of them, and am listed among well-known leftists who attacked Kramer’s letter, including Michael Meeropol (the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,) and left-wing historian Eric Foner,  among others.

Let us skip from 1976, when Kramer’s article appeared, to the year 1987, and the Second Thoughts Conference in Washington D.C., convened by David Horowitz and Peter Collier. At the plenary session — at which besides Hilton Kramer the speakers included Marty Peretz, Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz  and Peter Collier and David Horowitz — Kramer said the following:

“How times have changed. In 1976, when I wrote ‘The Blacklist and the Cold War,’ it was praised in a letter to the editor by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., and attacked in a letter by Ron Radosh. Now, I am regularly attacked by Arthur Schlesinger, and supported by Ron Radosh.”

I recall that line received a very big laugh from the audience.

Readers already have the link above to Hilton Kramer’s article, as well as his revisiting the original article in his new introduction.  It was Kramer’s article that led me to first consider writing about how the blacklist was treated in the popular media, and appropriately, I published my piece in the pages of The New Criterion. You can read my article, “The Blacklist as History,” here.  Eventually, my wife and I wrote a full-fledged account of the role played in Hollywood by the Communists, in our book Red Star Over Hollywood.

I owe my desire to look anew at the role in our culture played by the far Left in America to the pioneering article that Kramer wrote in 1976. He was the first person to address this head on, and he did so at a time when those who said the opposite of what Kramer argued, such as the playwright Lillian Hellman, were being applauded and even lionized. That is why Hilton Kramer will be deeply missed. Few critics of our culture and of our politics were as sharp and brilliant as Kramer.

At the beginning of this month, I wrote what I called a “swan song” for the old New Republic. I was wary of the direction the magazine would take: was I wrong, too pessimistic? The current issue of the magazine gave me hope that perhaps I was. Its cover story was written by the always intelligent and perceptive Paul Berman, a man who has emerged as one of the best critics of radical Islam in our day. Titled “The Thought Police,” Berman’s article reviews the important new book by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea addressing how extremist governments in the Muslim world are using terms like “blasphemy” and “apostasy” to advance a very dangerous move to power.

Just as I was having second thoughts, I looked at TNR’s website today and found a column by a writer named Rochelle Gurstein. The magazine identifies her as a new regular monthly columnist and author of a book titled The Repeal of Reticence, which the description on Amazon shows to be a serious cultural history. I will get to her analysis after pointing to commentaries that correctly point to what is going on.

To begin, let us look at some intelligent commentary about the issues surrounding Treyvon Martin’s sad death. Roger L. Simon perceptively addresses them in his latest column,  and Victor Davis Hanson addresses them with his usual brilliant prose in a column called “Obama’s Demagoguery” posted at NRO. The real point about the Trayvon Martin case — which David Horowitz also points out with a first-rate comment — is this:

If the demonstrators were merely calling for an investigation, that would be proper. But the cries for retribution, and the accusations of racism which dominate the public demonstrations are not. And that goes for the statement of the president as well. Not willing to be separated from his racial constituency, even when they are behaving badly, Obama has lent his prestige to the insinuation that the crime was inspired by the victim’s race. Otherwise there would be no reason to mention the fact that “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Everyone who has a son should be concerned by the loss of this life. By making it racial, the president is establishing guilt without evidence, and indicting non-black America as well.

Victor Davis Hanson calls attention to the following clear demagoguery that our president is now engaging in which has the effect of calling out the racial lynch mobs:

The dispute went national and was soon further sensationalized along racial lines. Others, mostly non–African Americans, countered that the facts were still in dispute and information was incomplete, while noting that just a few days earlier in Chicago ten youths were murdered and at least 40 others shot. Most of those victims and shooters were African Americans, but the carnage did not earn commensurate national attention from black leaders. President Obama himself, who had been silent about the slaughter in his adopted hometown, weighed in on the Martin case and, unfortunately, highlighted the racial undertones — lamenting that the murdered Martin looked just the way his own boy might, had he a son. The latter statement was true but also, of course, true of some of those murdered in Chicago. And given that the black minority currently commits violent crimes against the white majority more frequently than do the nation’s 70 percent whites against its 12 percent blacks, the president’s evocation of race in the Martin case seemed inappropriate to many.

As we all know, Geraldo Rivera caught hell for advising African American and Latino young men not to wear hoodies. Rivera, says Thomas Sowell, is right. He points out that the hoodie is for many young African American men worn as a symbol of identification with neighborhood gangsters. As Sowell writes:

There is no point in dressing like a hoodlum when you are not a hoodlum, even though that has become a fashion for some minority youths, including the teenager who was shot and killed in a confrontation in Florida. I don’t know the whole story of that tragedy any more than those who are making loud noises in the media do, but that is something that we have trials for.

So what we know so far is that the death of Trayvon Martin is not a simple matter in which we all can agree that a white racist murdered him because he was black. Last night I saw his friend, an African American named Joe Oliver, appear on Sean Hannity’s television program to point out that George Zimmerman is not a racist and in fact regularly tutored African American youngsters over weekends at his home. And the gated community in which he lives may not even be overwhelmingly white, and has many minority residents.

Yet the mob has rushed to judgment, and unfortunately the president has encouraged them without even waiting for the legal system to investigate what happened and to act accordingly with its findings. Now, the old line race hustlers and demagogues — led by the hack Al Sharpton and joined by the New Black Panther Party, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and others — are inciting the African American community to action as if this were a 1940s-style Southern lynching.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

How Peter Beinart Serves Israel’s Enemies

March 26th, 2012 - 7:57 am

There are many offenses being made against reason, truth, and sincerity by Peter Beinart. PJ Media readers are already aware of many of these. But since the publication of his new book (of which I purposefully will again not provide a link), Beinart has been exposed as a demagogue, a faker, and — most importantly — a person who has no regard for the truth and no regard for the facts. That is why Jeffrey Goldberg, himself a well-known opponent of Israeli settlements, wrote that he will not discuss the book:

To be completely blunt, I’m not that interested in debating Peter’s new book, which I’ve just finished reading, because I find his recounting of recent Middle East history one-sided and filled with errors and omissions.

So now, dear readers, here is another list of the most recent and up-to-date responses to Beinart, posted after his appearance last night at the J Street convention — which they chose not to broadcast on live streaming, but at which he undoubtedly was received as a conquering hero, or as J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami calls him: “the troubadour of our movement.”

Frankly, it is rather remarkable to me how Beinart can show his face in public anymore after the rather devastating critiques of his new book have appeared.

Perhaps the single most comprehensive and scathing review, by Bret Stephens, appears today on the website of Tablet Magazine. The piece is titled “Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy,”  and Stephens systematically demolishes his arguments. It is appropriately a very long review, the size of which is necessary in order to take up in detail Beinart’s main arguments. So you will have to trust me and read the entire piece. To give you a taste, here is one important paragraph:

The real problem for Beinart’s argument is that, in word and deed, Palestinians have repeatedly furnished good reasons for the Israeli (and American) right to argue against further territorial withdrawals, at least until something fundamental changes in Palestinian political culture. I supported disengagement from Gaza as editor of the Jerusalem Post. But it’s hard to argue that the results have been stellar in terms of what a Palestinian state portends. Last year’s murder of the Fogel family, horrifying as it was, wasn’t nearly as disturbing as the public celebration of the killings among Palestinians. By contrast, when a Jordanian soldier murdered Israeli schoolgirls on a little island in the Jordan River in 1997, the late King Hussein personally begged the forgiveness of the bereaved Israeli families. (Alas, by still another contrast, Jordan’s justice minister has demanded the imprisoned soldier’s release, calling him a “hero.”)

None of this appears to disturb Beinart much, except to prompt some glib and equivocal acknowledgment that Israelis live in a less-than-super neighborhood. Indeed, to read Beinart is to appreciate how much mental slovenliness can be contained by the word “but.”

Stephens concludes that Beinart’s book is written in a “a spirit of icy contempt and patent insincerity.” And so it is.

Next, take twenty minutes and watch the weekly sermon at New York’s Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, spoken by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, a bona fide New York Upper West Side liberal. It is highly ironic that Rabbi Hirsch speaks at the synagogue that honors the name of its originator and Peter Beinart’s self-proclaimed hero, the late Stephen Wise. The temple has not put the Rabbi’s text online, but one should take the time to hear the passion of his delivery, and to hear how he feels Beinart has besmirched both Judaism, Zionism, and, above all, the name of liberalism.

The blogger who humorously calls himself “Challah Hu Akbar” provides a list of virtually all those who criticize Beinart from virtually every perspective, from the left to the right. By today, of course, he will have to add many more, since they are appearing as fast as possible. Almost all are worth your time, but I would particularly urge you to read those that dissect Beinart’s careless playing with the truth.

The most important of these, second to the take-down by Stephens, appeared on the pages of the The New York Sun. Rick Richman reveals how Beinart tries to attack the Revisionist Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader in the early days of the Irgun and a favorite target of the Labor Zionists in the pre-Israel yishuv and in Israel’s earliest years. It is one minor point, but this too shows just how careless and dishonest Beinart is.

Beinart writes in his book that “understanding what Netanyahu doesn’t like about Jews requires understanding what Vladimir Jabotinsky didn’t like about Jews.” To show what he supposedly dislikes about Jews, Beinart misstates and distorts a quote from Jabotinsky to use as proof that the Zionist leader did not like Jews carrying a “moral message to the world.” Richman shows that Beinart probably did not read Jabotinsky’s essay from which the excerpt in his book is taken, and hence “egregiously misstated the theme of the essay; he even misinterpreted the two-sentence quote.” What Jabotinsky actually meant, Richman writes, is the following:

Looking only at the paragraph in isolation, in a secondary source, Mr. Beinart mistakenly assumed Jabotinsky was endorsing an amoral “contemporary code of morality.” Had he read the entire essay, he would have realized Jabotinsky was observing that even in the best countries, even in the most civilized circumstances, contemporary morality disregarded Biblical injunctions and was not sufficient to protect an oppressed people.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

The residents of Havana and the Cuban people who live elsewhere in the prison island are anxiously awaiting the visit next week of Pope Benedict XVI. It is the first papal visit to Cuba in a decade, and those who most look forward to it are Cuba’s beleaguered dissidents, who have bravely sought to peacefully organize against the dictatorship. For their efforts, they have regularly been sent to serve lengthy prison terms in conditions of utter brutality.

It is their hope, above all, as the leading dissident doctor Oscar Biscet wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, that it is “a unique opportunity for the leader of the Catholic Church to leverage his considerable prestige and influence to support the oppressed and help the Cuban people claim our liberty and establish democracy.”  Indeed, it is such an opportunity. But the question is simply this: Will the pope avail himself of this opportunity, or will he pass it by, content instead with the decision of Cuba’s rulers to suddenly allow the official Catholic Church to exist and Cuban Catholics to openly proclaim their faith?

Dr. Biscet knows what the stakes are from personal experience.  He had been in prison himself since 1999, and was released last March as a result of the intercession on his behalf of the Church leadership in Rome. Cuban prisons, Biscet wrote, include the following practices:

The prison system in Cuba flagrantly violates the minimum requirements for prisoner care established by the United Nations. During my years in prison, I personally witnessed prisoners left for 12-24 hours with their hands and feet handcuffed behind their backs, stripped naked in groups without any regard for human modesty, tortured physically and psychologically with tasers, beaten to death for requesting basic medical attention, and kept for months in cells without ventilation, natural light, drinkable water or restroom facilities.

As a result of writing that article, Havana’s secret police turned up at Biscet’s home, summoning him to report to their headquarters.  By the time this is posted, Biscet may well again be back in prison, out of the way in order to prevent the pope from being bombarded by such reports that besmirch the regime. As Biscet noted, personal ruin is most often what “the regime inflicts on anyone who offers an alternative voice.” In still Communist Cuba, freedom of speech is a luxury to be practiced only by the bravest and most outspoken.

When Fidel Castro took power in 1959, Cuba quickly made it known that religion and its open practice was to be banned. As in the Soviet Union of the 1920s, churches and synagogues were closed, and the faithful had to practice in secret. Fidel Castro, brought up in Jesuit schools, proclaimed Marxism as the only public faith, as religion was scorned as not scientific and antithetical to Marxism-Leninism. Now, with Communism almost collapsed everywhere, recognizing the Church as a legitimate body allows the regime breathing space in tough times, giving the oppressed populace removal of a grievance. The Castro brothers hope will allow them to stay in power.

Hence, the regime no longer preaches the once popular doctrine of “liberation theology,” meant to offer support to a regime-friendly religious façade that helped the rulers proclaim to the gullible abroad that some religion was allowed to exist.

So now, Fidel and Raul Castro say they are Catholic. Officially, the pope is coming to Cuba to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the patroness saint of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, a Caridad. The regime has announced that a new seminary is opening, as well as a Catholic cultural center. But all these actions taken by the regime, as Conrad Black wrote,  mean that any “celebration of the triumph of any…redemptionist and expiatory impulse would be, to say the least, premature.”

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

The Follies and Illusions of Peter Beinart

March 19th, 2012 - 4:59 pm

Monday’s New York Times ran an op-ed by none other than Peter Beinart, a man who is quickly becoming the poster boy for the anti-Israel movement. I have written about Beinart before. You can find my earlier columns here and here and finally here.  So, in case you didn’t guess, I am not what you would call a fan.

But nothing so far exemplifies his hubris and the simplicity of his understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian issue than Monday’s article, excerpted from his forthcoming book, which obviously the New York Times hopes to make a super best-seller.

Beinart’s short essay reveals the heart of his argument, which is quickly endearing himself to the anti-Israeli American left in particular. Pretending to support a two-state solution, Beinart advances his thesis that Israel’s pro-settler policy is the reason that Palestinians have turned against the Jewish state. Of course, if the current settlements were the cause of their hatred of Israel, he would have to explain why throughout the decades they have consistently turned down every offer made by Israel that would have led to two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian. And he would have to explain why, from day one of Israel’s creation, the Arab states and the Palestinian residents, led by the Nazi ally Grand Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini, pledged to oppose the Jewish state to the last drop of their blood. In their eyes, any amount of territory given to the Jews was a settlement that had to be destroyed.

To advance his agenda, Beinart now argues for a strategy of boycotts and disinvestment not in all of Israel, but just in products coming from Jewish settlers who live anywhere in the West Bank. Of course, such a boycott could never work, and no one but Beinart favors it. It would quickly become a boycott of anything made in Israel, since no one buying any Israeli products in fact knows where it is made in Israel and by whom. It also legitimizes the very idea of boycotting Israel, but this time to be carried out in the name of saving Israel from itself. This is, to use a Jewish term, a good example of chutzpah gone wild.

But because his piece was published in the Times and given its imprimatur, it has more importance than had he published it, for example, in the weekly Jewish liberal paper The Forward. That is why it immediately received an unprecedented response from Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Writing on his Facebook page, Oren posted the following statement:

Peter Beinart’s call (“To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements,” New York Times, 3.19.12) places him well beyond the Israeli mainstream, the moderate left, and the vast majority of Israelis who care about peace. The call for boycotting all products made by Israeli communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines is supported only by a marginal and highly radical fringe. Beinart’s position, moreover, absolves the Palestinians of any responsibility for the current situation, including their rejection of previous peace offers, their support for terror, and their refusal to negotiate with Israel for the past three years. By reducing the Palestinians to two-dimensional props in an Israeli drama, Beinart deprives them of agency and indeed undermines his own thesis. Without an active Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution–irrespective of boycotts–the peace Beinart seeks cannot be achieved.

Oren nails it, and is correct to point out that Beinart’s position is not that of “liberal” Jews, but in fact, the position of a “radical fringe.” And by putting all the blame on the lack of peace on Israel alone, as Beinart does, he reveals without seeming to realize it that in fact he is echoing the position of Palestinian opponents of Israel, not that of Israel’s friends.

Pages: 1 2 3 | Comments bullet bullet

It’s Here: A Review of the New iPad 3

March 16th, 2012 - 11:14 am

I received it from UPS half an hour ago, and I’m thrilled. I’m talking, of course, about the new iPad, which I ordered online from Apple the moment it was announced. You’ve read about it everywhere else, so why not here at PJM? Fortunately, I was not among those who got the iPad 2. I bit my tongue, and resisted spending the dough. Now I am very, very happy.

As you have undoubtedly read elsewhere, the new iPad, which they should have differentiated by calling it the iPad 3 or the iPad HD, lives up to all the hype. So based on a half hour’s experimentation, here’s why I think it is deserving of all the plaudits.

1: It’s all about the resolution. When you compare the screen on a previous iPad to the new one, you can see the difference immediately. It is so sharp that just as they claim, it’s as good or better than most 1080p HD TVs. Photos I have taken and synced to it from my computer are so sharp that it defies the imagination. Goodbye forever to printing one’s photos. If you want to see them, or show them to others, pull out the iPad.

According to Apple, the screen resolution is 2048 x 1536! Compare that to your computer monitor or your TV. It also has a quad-core graphics processor, so it is also much faster.

The same goes for reading newspapers, magazines and e-books. Up till now,  I have been reading books  on the new Kindle. Except for the problem of reading on vacation in the sun — the new iPad cannot escape the same problem one has with viewing an iPhone display outdoors — the print is so sharp on the I PAD that reading is a pleasure, and one can now do it without computer eye strain. And, as with a Kindle, you can change the font to your specification.

The greatest advantage to the iPad is for reading magazines. If you subscribe to many magazines, as I do, the sub usually arrives between four days to two weeks after it has been out. Most magazines give you access to the entire issue if you are a subscriber, and with the iPad, I download the issue the day it is posted and have the entire contents when it is fresh.

2: It maintains the long battery life of the second generation iPad, close to 10 hours without the necessity to recharge. Yes, it is a tad heavier than the earlier model, but still much lighter than the first generation. So in my case, holding it to read, I can feel the difference in weight immediately. That makes it much easier to read in bed at night.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

When J Street Cries ‘McCarthyism!’

March 13th, 2012 - 9:05 am

When J Street cries “McCarthyism,” you can be certain of one thing. They don’t have any good argument for the case they are presenting.

The person whom they charge with “McCarthyism,”– the familiar refrain of the Left used against anyone who makes an argument they disagree with — is Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens. Last week he penned one of his most incisive and cutting weekly columns, a sharp critical take on President Obama’s claim that he can be depended upon to have Israel’s back.

He describes the president’s “disingenuousness when it comes to Israel.” He did it particularly well, more so than others. But what got J Street’s goat — on the eve of its national conference next week — was that he took information from the president’s major supporter, journalist Peter Beinart, who — as Stephens writes — was a liberal hawk “who has reinvented himself as a liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism.”

He uses the figures Beinart brings up in his book — a group of “far left Chicago Jews” — as a group that was important to Obama as he developed views about the state of Israel. In his recent New Yorker editorial, David Remnick used the same group to make much the same point. Calling Obama a “philo-Semite,” he bases his judgement on what he says on the fact that his “earliest political supporters were Chicago Jews,” who Netanyahu thinks are “the wrong kind of Jew.”

Identifying them, he calls the late Rabbi Arnold Wolf a man “most closely associated with the civil-rights movement and other social-justice causes.” A good man, indeed. What irks Remnick and J Street is that in Stephens’ column, the WSJ writer calls Wolf something akin to the opposite. Rather than just a supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr., which is what Remnick calls Wolf, Stephens reports that he was a supporter of the extremist Black Panther Party in the 60s, a man whose group met with the PLO when it backed terrorism, and an opponent of building the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Stephens went on to reveal that the other Jews on the list were all left-wing activists. In other words, the “kind of Jew” that American leftists all like.

So, what we see is that it is fine to single out these people when the list of their names can be used as a mechanism to praise Obama and to get American Jews to back him. It is not alright to use these same people’s names when their political views are more clearly brought to light, and are used to show the disingenuousness of Obama’s claim of having a pro-Israel point of view.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

A Swan Song for the Old New Republic

March 9th, 2012 - 8:50 am

I have fond memories of the old golden days of The New Republic from the early 1970s and especially through the 1980s, when the stale old liberalism was becoming very apparent and the need developed for a way to cut through its verbiage and assumptions. Under the helm of Marty Peretz, TNR slowly but surely moved away from the old shibboleths, breaking new ground and antagonizing the dwindling old liberal/left community. Peretz learned the lesson the hard way. As a funder of something called the New Politics Conference held in Chicago, he witnessed its takeover by extremist black radicals who quickly humiliated its white sponsors and unleashed a surge of old-fashioned antisemitism.

Peretz brought in a slew of independent-minded and brilliant editors and writers, including the then-young Leon Wieseltier as chief of the back books section, and journalists like Mort Kondracke, Charles Krauthammer (yes, he left medicine to go first to work on Walter Mondale’s campaign and then to TNR) Michael Kinsley, Roger Rosenblatt, Fred Barnes, James Glassman, Steve Wasserman, Charles Lane, and many, many others. The list of names could go on and on. All of them have gone on to prominence and distinction in the field of journalism.

Before long, TNR took positions that furiously antagonized its liberal base. In the ’80s, during the Central American wars in which the Reagan administration took on the fight against the Communist revolutionaries in El Salvador and Nicaragua, TNR stood with those opposed to the Sandinistas and the FSLN. Indeed, at a critical moment, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Marty Peretz, openly sided with Nicaragua’s contras, the very armed resistance to the Sandinistas that the liberal community had painted as a bunch of fascist goons. That editorial position enraged many of its editors, who signed a letter to the editor protesting the magazine’s editorial. Before long, whenever TNR took a position opposite to that taken by most self-proclaimed liberals, a new saying emerged in Washington D.C. circles, “even the liberal New Republic says….”

The magazine also soon distinguished itself as the leading journalistic supporter of Israel. Its editors, led by Peretz, understood the centrality to peace and a future in the Middle East that distinguished Israel as a light among nations. That too, as time passed, would enrage so many on the liberal-left, whose leaders turned their back on Israel as they grew to distance themselves from the Jewish state, whose policies they thought had become too conservative.

On a personal level, TNR started my venture into journalism. As a trained academic historian, I never hoped to write for any magazine, least of all one like TNR. One day, out of the blue, Peretz phoned me, having read something I wrote in the very left-wing Nation. He liked it, he said, and asked me to consider writing something for the magazine whose helm he had recently taken. Over the years, I wrote scores of pieces for them. The magazine sent me to Nicaragua on two different occasions to cover the Sandinista takeover. I wrote about Cold War issues and the pro-Communists in the peace movement during the years of peace marches and pressure for unilateral disarmament at home from the Left, and wrote the first piece, with my friend Sol Stern, reevaluating the Rosenberg case.

That 1979 article became one of its all-time best sellers, and led to the eventual book I wrote with the late Joyce Milton, The Rosenberg File. The article, in fact, would never have seen the light of day had it not been for Peretz understanding its importance. It was supposed to have been a featured piece in The New York Times Magazine, but was spiked (after actually being printed) by the late A.M. Rosenthal, who feared offending Judge Irving R. Kaufman, the Rosenberg case judge, who then sat on the very court that judged press cases and before which the paper had one pending.

Now, the announcement that it has a new owner and editor-in-chief appears on top of TNR’s web page, written by the new boss himself, Chris Hughes, the roommate at Harvard of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s co-creator. I do not know Hughes, but reading his own remarks, and reading about him on various sites, I — an old admirer of TNR — am not too optimistic about its future. He will keep it, he says, a “journal of interpretation and opinion,” and pledges “rigorous reporting and analysis” of today’s very important stories. As an internet pioneer, he wants to make it a magazine that in the long run will be primarily read on a Tablet, which is how, in fact, I now read most magazines. He knows that is journalism’s future, and he is clearly right about this.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet

Netanyahu Vs. the Shadow of Annihilation

March 6th, 2012 - 11:58 am

By Ron Radosh and Allis Radosh

There were a few surprises at Monday night’s AIPAC meeting. Throughout the previous two days, AIPAC spokesmen regularly championed the bi-partisan nature of Congress’s resolve to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but by the end of the evening the differences in their approach and resolve were apparent, and so were the sympathies of the more than 13,000 attendees.

First up was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He laid out the many ways in which Iran has acted as a dangerous and terrorist rogue state, and noted that while the Obama administration may share the common goal of stopping Iran from going nuclear, they had not come close to achieving success.It was the failure of Obama’s diplomacy from the beginning of his term that had forced Congress to act and would do so again.

The reason, McConnell said, was that the administration’s policy contained a “critical flaw.” At first, the Obama team tried to negotiate with Iran by extending an open hand in friendship, but two different offers and deadlines to meet with their leaders in September and December of 2009 came and went with no results. Iran just continued to work on getting their bomb. As Congress grew impatient, it initiated a sanctions policy which the president opposed, eventually reluctantly signing it.Congress then handed the president an additional tool “he did not seek or ask for,” that of sanctions against the banks doing business with Iran.

But now, according to McConnell, the president’s current error is to rely too heavily on sanctions alone.  To say “all options are on the table,” McConnell said, might be a good talking point, but it is not a policy. Threats alone, he noted, “have lost their intended purpose.” A red line only works if the definition of that line is clearly spelled out and what the painful consequences will be if crossed. In light of the president’s reluctance to do it, McConnell laid out his plan:

If at any time the intelligence community presents the Congress with an assessment that Iran has begun to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, or has taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon — consistent with protecting classified sources and methods — I will consult with the President and joint congressional leadership and introduce before the Senate an authorization for the use of military force. This authorization, if enacted, will ensure the nation and the world that our leaders are united in confronting Iran, and will undermine the perception that the U.S. is wounded or retreating from global responsibilities.

Pages: 1 2 3 | Comments bullet bullet

After his first round of meetings with President Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that “Israel must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself,” and must remain the “master of its fate.” Continuing, the Israeli prime minister noted: “When it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right, to make its own decisions” — a clear indication that Netanyahu was saying it is up to Israel, not any American president, to decide when Iran has crossed the “red line” after which no option other than force will remove an Iranian nuclear threat.

As journalist Eli Lake pointed out today, the two sides oppose each other and it is rather difficult to see how they will come to any serious mutual agreement. Lake writes that Obama’s goal “will be to assure the Israel prime minister that the United States will use force to delay Iran’s nuclear program if the current round of sanctions don’t work,” while “all the while, Netanyahu’s objective will be to avoid having to make a direct commitment to the president not to order his jets to bomb Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.”

The issue is what the trigger is after which Israel’s leaders believe they have no option available except that of striking Iran. The Obama administration seems to believe that it will occur when Iran already has a weapon, while Israel’s leaders seem to indicate the red line will be way before when Iran already has all the components ready to put together. As Lake puts it: “The Israelis seek to destroy Iran’s ability to manufacture an atomic weapon, whereas President Obama has pledged only to stop Iran from making a weapon.”

To Israel, the time to act is now; to the current American president, it seems the time to act has not yet arrived. How, one wonders, can these two very different assessments be made compatible?

In this context, the speech to AIPAC this morning by Executive Director Howard Kohr assumes great importance. A well-known Democrat with ties to the White House, Kohr — while trying to put the best face on the president’s speech the previous day — presented a tough message to the executive branch.

Pages: 1 2 | Comments bullet bullet