One stunning result of Jeffrey Goldberg’s provocative recent Atlantic article on Israel and Iran is that it motivated an extraordinary invitation from Fidel Castro. Goldberg’s thoughtful reporting on his visit to Cuba (see, for example, his blog post, “America’s Absurd and Self-defeating Cuba Policy“) substantiates my point that Goldberg has been slandered as being right-wing.
Of special interest in this episode to Jews was Fidel’s chastisement to Iran and Pres. Ahmadinejad for Holocaust-denial, antisemitism and threats against Israel. Although still critical of Israel, Fidel has made it clear that he holds no brief for antisemitism, as Goldberg recalls:
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. …
It’s gratifying to see Fidel opine with such understanding on Jews and Israel, but this is something of a departure for him (see these remarks he made two and a half years ago). Unlike many (or most?) Communist leaders, he’s never traded in antisemitism as a policy, but Cuba’s long been hardcore in its anti-Israel statements and actions—even once having sent troops to Syria. Evidently, his recent broadside against antisemitism has had a positive effect on Hugo Chavez, his disciple who is the strongman of Venezuela and has been flirting with antisemitism.