December 21, 2018

Trump & Syria

President Trump’s announcement on withdrawing US troops from Syria seems to have taken everyone by surprise, not least General Jim Mattis who is resigning as his Secretary of Defence.
The simple explanation is that it’s simply another election promise he wants to deliver, at the end of an impressive ticked list unmatched by any president in living memory – let alone just halfway through his first term. But to bring back troops from harm’s way and cut America’s losses in blood and treasure one would have expected the first priority would have been Afghanistan, a total basket-case of a campaign where, after 17 years of American engagement, the Taliban still hold more territory than when it all started. Syria has much more strategic value, which is why Russia, Iran and Turkey are so heavily invested there.
OK, so Trump has fired from the hip as usual, the optics are poor and the signalling to Russia, Iran and what’s left of ISIS is bad … but what’s good about this decision?
Well, for one thing it reduces the chance of World War III blowing up on Israel’s doorstep. It’s been terribly worrying to see US, Russian and Israeli warplanes whizzing about in such a cramped airspace, with the most sophisticated S300 antiaircraft missiles deployed on hair-triggers down on the ground where Iranian fanatics pray three times a day for the apocalypse which will usher in the messiah of their ‘Hidden Imam’. The whole scenario looked like a prologue for Armageddon.
Then there is the reality that the existence of 2,000 US servicemen in Syria was only ever symbolic and would never have made much difference on the battlefield. Israel has never wanted American soldiers to die on its behalf – all we ever wanted was America to give us whatever planes and other weaponry and spare parts we needed to defend ourselves, and the all-important QME (qualitative military edge).
I can still remember quite vividly the desperate figure of Golda Meir begging President Nixon for an arms airlift during the heat of the Yom Kippur War and how not one single European country allowed those transport planes to refuel on their territory.
Then there is the Trump ‘deal of the century’ peace plan. It has been said that he would exact a high price for his embassy move to Jerusalem. Well, with this withdrawal – which will be seen by many as abandoning Israel to its fate with Putin and Khomeini on the northern border – the deal calculus may change.
Lastly, I look at Russia and Iran. Putin always wanted a warm water port for his navy and now has it on the Syrian coast at Tartus. This is next to Latakia, on which he’s established a Russian air base. No force of 2,000 or even 200,000 American troops was ever going to dislodge Putin from these prized bases. As for Iran, it’s clear to me that the most effective way to dislodge them from Syria as well as Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza, is to bankrupt the evil regime at home. And the best means of achieving that is through Trump’s crippling sanctions.
The irony is that those European countries which in 1973 refused landing rights to US planes resupplying Israel in her desperate hour of need are the same as those now protecting Iran from Trump’s sanctions. Britain, France and Germany should hang their heads in shame for the Faustian deal they’ve done with the devils in Tehran.
Trump’s knee-jerk decisions may be questionable, but Europe’s considered policies are truly shameful.

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December 14, 2018

Genocide of the unborn

This picture of 'unborn' Amiad Yisrael wrapped in his burial tallit is truly heartbreaking. It is a tragedy for his parents and all of Israel. But the picture must also convey a message to all of us.
The message is that these rabid Arab beasts have gone way beyond the idea of driving us out of our land. Now they don’t even want us born into it.
This and other brazen attacks, including today’s killings in Jerusalem, show very clearly that we are still dealing with the same PLO as before they were gentrified by the Oslo Accords. The difference is that they no longer fear our soldiers or our people. Goldstone probes, prisoner releases and the sacred cow of human rights have worn down our deterrence at every level. Where the IDF used to have news reporters embedded with their units – now they have lawyers. Soldiers have to think twice or three times before defending themselves, whilst their fanatical opponents exploit those vital milliseconds to their most savage advantage.
I have always thought that the fundamental difference between Left and Right is that leftists do not accept that there is such a thing as pure evil in this world. It’s really no more complicated than that.
Unlike realists on the Right, leftists always react to evil acts by blaming anyone or anything other than the perpetrator. For the common killer or rapist the ‘justification’ is usually a broken home, poverty, drugs or abuse by their stepfathers. For suicide bombers and terrorists it’s usually about their hopelessness under grinding poverty and lack of education or civil rights under Western domination or Israeli 'occupation'.
It’s nearly 20 years since 9-11 and leftists have still not internalised the lesson that there is indeed such a thing as pure evil in this world. Evil that cannot be justified at any level. That a so-called human being could stand at an airline departure gate in a queue with smiling families, young children and infants knowing full well that he would be turning them into human bombs within less than an hour. It is the lowest level of evil you can possibly imagine. And yet the 9-11 hijackers were educated middle class men mostly from rich, unoccupied and unoppressed Saudi Arabia.
The same pure evil exists in Tehran, where the ayatollahs call Israel ‘a one-bomb country’. Given a window of opportunity they would not hesitate to seize the moment to incinerate 8 million people – the devil may care if they are Jews or Muslims. It still beggars belief that a US president gifted 150 billion dollars to such genocidal fanatics let alone with the support of 5 major world powers who still oppose Trump’s new sanctions.
And the same evil exists within our homeland, as we end this awful week of killings by our so-called peace partners. The leftists sipping their lattes in Tel Aviv will blame the settlers, the occupation, the right-wing Likud or Jewish Home parties, the Nation State Law … anything but the killers themselves. It’s time they woke up to the stark reality that pure evil exists, can never be justified and must never be trusted to live among us.

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December 02, 2018

Chanuka 1944

I thought on this first night of Chanuka I would share this extract of my late father's book about his time in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Nieder-Orschel.

The book is called the Yellow Star and was recently republished with a foreword by Colonel Richard Kemp.
It's available at Amazon and other online sellers.

Here is the extract, from December 1944 ......

When writing the little diary in which I entered the Hebrew dates and festivals, I discovered with great delight that Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, the festival on which we commemorate the recapture of the Temple from the mighty Greeks by a handful of faithful Jews, was only a few days ahead. I decided that we should light a little Hanukkah lamp even in Nieder-Orschel, and that this would go a long way towards restoring our morale.
Benzi was immediately consulted because he had become the most reliable and trusted person in the block. Even those at the other two tables—the “intellectuals’ table,” where the doctors, lawyers, dentists, architects, and businessmen ate, and the “free table,” where the non-believers sat—even they came to Benzi to settle their quarrels, which were mostly about the distribution of their rations. Benzi would stand no arguments at his own table. He cut every loaf into eight portions and shared it out indiscriminately. He who complained, received the smallest portion.
“If you are dissatisfied,” Benzi would shout angrily, “go and join another table, where they have scales and judges.”
Nobody ever left our table.
Benzi was enthusiastic about my idea. “Yes, we should get a Hanukkah light burning,” he said. “It will boost our morale and lighten the atmosphere. Work on a plan, but be careful.”
Two problems had to be overcome: oil had to be “organized,” and a place had to be found where the lighted wick would not be seen.
There was no lack of oil in the factory, but how could we smuggle even a few drops into our barrack in time for Monday evening, December 11, the first night of Hanukkah?
We knew, of course, that Jewish law did not compel us to risk our lives for the sake of fulfilling a commandment. But there was an urge in many of us to reveal the spirit of sacrifice implanted in our ancestors throughout the ages. We who were in such great spiritual as well as physical distress felt that a little Hanukkah light would warm our starving souls and inspire us with hope, faith, and courage to keep us going through this long, grim, and icy winter.
Benzi, Grunwald, Stern, Fischhof, and I were in the plot. We decided to draw lots. The first name drawn would have to steal the oil; the third would be responsible for it, and hide it until Monday evening; and the fifth would have to light it under his bunk. I was drawn fifth.
Grunwald, who was to “organize” the oil, did his part magnificently. He persuaded the hated Meister Meyer that his machine would work better if oiled regularly every morning, and that this could best be arranged if a small can of fine machine oil was allotted to us to be kept in our tool box. Meister Meyer agreed, so there was no longer the problem of having to hide it.
On Monday evening after Appell, everyone else sat down to his much-awaited portion of tasteless but hot soup, while I busied myself under the bunk to prepare my Menorah. I put that oil in the empty half of a shoe polish tin, took a few threads from my thin blanket and made them into a wick. When everything was ready I hastily joined the table to eat my dinner before I invited all our friends to the Hanukkah Light Kindling ceremony. Suddenly, as I was eating my soup, I remembered we had forgotten about matches.
I whispered to Benzi.
“Everyone must leave a little soup,” Benzi ordered his hungry table guests, and told them why.
Within five minutes, five portions of soup were exchanged in the next room for a cigarette. The cigarette was “presented” to the chef, Joseph, for lending us a box of matches without questions.
And so, as soon as dinner was over I made the three traditional blessings, and a little Hanukkah light flickered away slowly under my bunk. Not only my friends from the “religious” table were there with us, but also many others from the room joined us in humming the traditional Hanukkah songs. These songs carried us into the past. As if on a panoramic screen, we saw our homes, with our parents, brothers, sisters, wives, and children gathered round the beautiful silver candelabras, singing happily the Maoz Tzur. That tiny little light under my bunk set our hearts ablaze. Tears poured down our haggard cheeks. By now, every single inmate in the room sat silently on his bunk, or near mine, deeply meditating. For a moment, nothing else mattered. We were celebrating the first night of Hanukkah as we had done in all the years previous to our imprisonment and torture. We were a group of Jewish people fulfilling our religious duties, and dreaming of home and of bygone years.
But alas! Our dream ended much too soon.
A roar of “Achtung” brought our minds back to reality, and our legs to stiff attention. “The Dog”—that skinny little Unterschaarfuehrer—stood silently at the door, as he so often did on his surprise visits, looking anxiously for some excuse, even the slightest, to wield his dog-whip. Suddenly he sniffed as loudly as his Alsatian, and yelled:
“Hier shtinkts ja von Oehl!” (“It stinks of oil in here.”)
My heart missed a few beats as I stared down at the little Hanukkah light flickering away, while “The Dog” and his Alsatian began to parade along the bunks in search of the burning oil.
The Unterschaarfuehrer silently began his search. I did not dare bend down or stamp out the light with my shoes for fear the Alsatian would notice my movements and leap at me.
I gave a quick glance at the death-pale faces round me, and so indeed did “The Dog.” Within a minute or two he would reach our row of bunks. Nothing could save us . . . but sudddenly . . .
Suddenly a roar of sirens, sounding an air raid, brought “The Dog” to a stop and within seconds all lights in the entire camp were switched off from outside.
“Fliegeralarm! Fliegeralarm!” echoed throughout the camp! Like lightning I snuffed out the light with my shoes and following a strict camp rule, we all ran to the open ground, brushing “The Dog” contemptuously aside.
“There will be an investigation. . . . There will be an investigation,” he screamed above the clatter of rushing prisoners who fled out into the Appell ground.
But I did not worry. In delight I grabbed my little Menorah and ran out with it. This was the sign, the miracle of Hanukkah, the recognition of our struggle against the temptations of our affliction. We had been helped by God, even in this forsaken little camp at Nieder-Orschel.
Outside, in the ice-cold, star-studded night, with the heavy drone of Allied bombers over our heads, I kept on muttering the traditional blessing to the God who wrought miracles for His people in past days and in our own time. The bombers seemed to be spreading these words over the host of heaven.

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