By Norman Greene
LA JOLLA, California — No matter what else is discussed, “Iran is the main issue in the Middle East…everything else is irrelevant,” stated Caroline Glick, Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post before an audience of over 500 gathered at Congregation Beth El by the San Diego Chapter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Can a nuclear Iran be contained? “Absolutely not,” she stated because “we are dealing with a death cult” that fervently believes in a life beyond this one where Islam will rule. All Iran’s nuclear efforts are “to advance Iran’s messianic quest.” There is no parallel with the history of U.S./Russia’s nuclear competition or standoff, because the Soviet Union believed in nothing…no hereafter.
Glick, born in Chicago, received her B.A. from Columbia, her Masters from Harvard, made Aliyah in 1991 and served in the IDF for five years before embarking on a many faceted career that has seen her as an adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a member of the team negotiating with Yasser Arafat’s PLO, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. and currently the lead columnist for Israel’s Makor Rishon newspaper, as well as her current Jerusalem Post position. She is a frequent speaker and TV commentator, as well as an author and syndicated columnist.
Her San Diego presentation Tuesday evening, July 20, was both rapid fire, detailed and impassioned.
Glick reported three consequences of a nuclear Iran: Middle East de-stabilization, a political realignment of Middle East nations and a Middle East nuclear arms race (Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Jordan) that she stated had already begun. As a result, “Egypt and Jordan will abrogate their peace treaties with Israel. Fatah, which has no authority to make peace, will abandon any efforts. All of the U.S. Persian Gulf Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain) will move away from the U.S.”
In discussing sanctions against Iran, which she says has dominated U.S. discourse, Glick stated that they have been on the table since early 2000 and that “none will have the slightest effect on Iran’s nuclear program. Even if 70 million Iranians have to starve, the regime doesn’t care.”
As far as “regime change” is concerned, Glick says there is no chance of that happening in the foreseeable future. Still she feels: “It is good to keep the regime busy with the opposition, no matter the moral quality of that opposition.”
Drawing a bleak picture, Glick was very clear that “the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program is the use of military force. She reiterated that “seven years have been wasted by feckless politicians without the guts to take action.” There has been a complete failure of U.S. policy beginning with the last two years of George Bush’s presidency (“when he seemingly lost his will”) and continuing with Barack Obama’s first year of appeasement efforts that have totally failed, said the Chicago native.
The U.S., she said, “has fallen asleep on its watch – a terrible thing.”
An attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities “would not be to protect Israel” she bluntly stated. It is in the fundamental interest of the U.S. to protect the flow of Middle East oil. While noting that the U.S. military has the power, she stated that a U.S. attack on Iran was “not going to happen” even though the U.S. needs to project its power in the Middle East. She noted that Israel hasn’t attacked because of U.S. pressure.
Referring to anti-missile systems development, she said that such programs do not constitute a viable program. They are ” a failure of imagination” in the face of a threat to world security. She noted that Iran’s satellite launching long-range missiles endanger not only Israel, but also Europe and all other Arab nations.
Glick discussed Israel’s role in the equation and stated that Israel, which was founded to prevent another Holocaust, has the capacity to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, but is hampered by the U.S. threat to withhold re-supplying Israel should an attack occur. “Obama has not given Israel any assurances to resupply if war were to happen.”
As such, Glick was extremely critical of the Obama administration. Quoting Winston Churchill: “The U.S. always does the right thing after exhausting every other possibility,” Glick exhorted her audience to show their support for Israel and the Free World by contacting all their representatives and political candidates to openly stand behind Israel against Iran. The U.S.’s lack of meaningful action she attributed to the backlash against Bush’s Iraq war.
Glick warned that Israel has been “carrying the rest of the world for quite a while now and there is fatigue, a fear of making mistakes, the wearing effects of the condemnation of the rest of the world.” She said the distortions of Jew-hating groups attempting to delegitimize and isolate Israel is real and paralyzing. “There is need to hear the voices of reason in the U.S..”
Glick worries about the loss of young Jews in the Diaspora, which she blames on the emphasis in Jewish education since the 90′s on the Holocaust at the expense of teaching Zionism. “The Holocaust is a German story, not a Jewish Story,” Glick stated. ” It focuses on the Jews as victims, not as actors who are ‘doing’ things.”
“To be a Jew, you have to do something – to build and to ‘do’–instead of holding a whiny discourse” Glick stated. “If you are damned if you do or don’t, it’s far better to ‘do’ ” she added.
Glick was welcome to the podium by Julian Josephson, San Diego chair of the Friends of IDF, Executive Director Nir Ben Zvi and Charles Wax who made the formal guest speaker introduction. A brief IDF film showed that since the organization was founded in 1981, it has provided support for Israeli soldiers, veterans and their families through scholarships, recreation facilities as well as social welfare, spiritual and bereavement programs. The message delivered is that “soldiers know they have strong backing from Friends of the IDF worldwide.”
Greene is a freelance writer based in San Diego
By Norman Greene
SAN DIEGO–My hands are bloodied. My eyes are ringed with dark circles. My house is in shambles. And I am exhausted. Why? It’s all because of my children’s last Chanukah present, some eight months ago.
We had been a five dog, one cat family for a very long time. We hadn’t exactly planned it that way, but that’s what happened. One by one, after long lives, our dear animals passed away. The last was Maverick, a Maltese Poodle who looked like an English Sheep dog. He was my favorite. But on August 4, 2008, he left us.
For a year and a half, our house felt empty. My wife was happy, but I was not.
Growing up. I always had a dog. There was Rusty and CoCo who were an integral part of our family in those formative years. Sometimes I thought my parents loved them even more than me. They had no pedigrees, but they exuded love and obedience.
Skip to a number of years later. One week before our daughter was born, and probably because she was a week late in her arrival, Roberta and I adopted our first dog, Brandy Alexandra. The middle name was a slight bow to my Father who wanted a name for his late brother Al…not my most favorite uncle. Brandy was a little, scraggly love machine. She adored our baby and then her brother. We never had to buy toys for either offspring, because they had the best toy in Brandy. (Saved me a fortune over the 13 years Brandy was with us.)
After Brandy came Morgan, whose sister, Maxie, was my mother’s dog. This is probably telling tales out of school, but together, having no shame, they produced Mandy, who came to live with us. Morgan was a very attentive father, constantly licking Mandy’s ears and before you knew it, they had Maverick. I feared that with such inbreeding, Maverick would never go to Harvard, but he was the most intelligent of the four dogs.
As things worked out, we inherited Maxie. Then our daughter moved home from the East Coast with her dog, Brindle. Voila! We were a five dog family with one poor suffering Siamese cat.
In mid-2009, despite warnings that my wife would move out if I came home with a new canine, I began to look for a rescue dog. My daughter flooded me with books on Portuguese Water Dogs, French Poodles, Briards and some exotic breeds that all looked as though they would be too complicated and too high strung.
In early October, my daughter asked me to pick her up to help with some errands. She wanted to drive to North County. I immediately became suspicious and loudly proclaimed that I didn’t want a puppy. I wanted a housebroken, year or two old dog. “We are just going to look,” she said, as my wife of 40 years began to pack her bags. “I’ll miss you,” I said, as I found my car keys.
So we drove to Fallbrook where a breeder had a pair of Standard Poodles, one chocolate and the other snow white. They had 13 four week old puppies, three black, two white and the rest every shade of apricot. They were cute.
“Which one do you want?” the breeder asked me, and then proceeded to tell me that the sizable deposit my son and daughter had given him was non-refundable.
Four weeks later, we brought home cognac colored Remy Martin, named to honor his French heritage and the first cognac I had ever tasted at 18 years of age.
We were advised to “crate” train Remy. This meant that our daughter in law provided us with a cage in which Remy would sleep at night. Within the first few days, he was house broken. What an intelligent animal! Of course, it also meant that at 3 a.m. and at 6 a.m., I had to let him out of the crate to do his business on our back lawn. I never remember getting out of bed in the middle of the night with either of our two children. Guess I was not a liberated father in those long ago days.
At eight weeks when we brought him home, Remy could be held in the palms of my hands. Within two weeks, he had doubled in size. Each morning, he was two inches longer. Today, at nine months, he can comfortably rest his head on our kitchen table and take anything off our kitchen counters. If he doesn’t stop growing soon, I’ll have to teach him how to smoke in the hopes of stunting future growth.
Remy is adorable, except when he destroyed an expensive, new pair of my Italian shoes and the spiked heel of one of my wife’s. Fortunately, she didn’t care for those shoes anyway. Nordstroms was kind enough to send the remains of mine back to the factory where miracle of miracles, they were able to rebuild them even before my credit card bill to pay for them came in. You gotta love Nordstroms. They only charged me $10.
Next, just as I was emerging from the proverbial doghouse, Remy chewed up a kitchen cabinet at the base. “Do something. This is ‘your’ dog,” my wife fumed.
“Oh, it’s just that he is going into puberty,” our trainer told us.
I bought an electronic collar at Petco for Remy, but even on blast, it had no effect, none at all. I returned it and sought help on the internet. A new collar arrived this week with four times the amount of stun power, but not in time to save the torn skirt on our living room couch, a floor to ceiling screen in our den, or an antique night stand next to my bed that he lovingly chewed in the eight minutes he was out of my sight.
You may be wondering about my bloodied hands. Well, a playful Standard Poodle’s baby teeth are very, very sharp. Judging by the condition of my night stand, the permanent set are not dull either.
Remy is boundless energy incarnate. Lately, my athletic wife has been taking him for long walks when I feign exhaustion. Except for the destruction, and the food and vet bills, I think she is slowly falling in love with Remy. One day, she may even forgive our children for this unwanted, but much loved, Chanukah gift. Other than “an eye for an eye,” there must be something in the Torah about that.
Greene is a freelance writer based in San Diego
By Norman Greene
My wife Bobby and I were spending eight days in Paris this fall bemoaning the precipitous decline of the American dollar and generally enjoying the French escape from their recession. Actually, if there was a recession in Paris in September, you couldn’t prove it by me. The shops, boulevards, restaurants and concert halls were filled with French speaking buyers. You could tell they were seriously in pursuit of material things by simply viewing the packages and bags they were carrying. In the French department stores, I thought there might be an early holiday sale underway judging by the vast numbers of shoppers and the constant ringing of cash registers.
In the midst of all this observation, our French cousin Beatrice called to invite us to a Wednesday night concert. We were delighted to accept. Beatrice has a good ear for music and a better eye for alerting us to special events. Because of the timing, we were instructed to take the Metro to a little visited arrondissement (district in Paris) where the Theatre de la Vieille Grille is located.
So we braved the Metro and with only two changes in trains arrived at a fairly bleak little square.
We had no trouble finding Beatrice seated under a tree in this businessman’s district far from the tourist crowds. But we could find no familiar sights to help us gain our bearings.
Well, some Champagne at a sidewalk café helped while we waited for Beatrice’s friend Sophie to arrive and then we four walked a block or two to a tiny restaurant not listed in any tourist guide. I am sure neither Zagat nor Frommer’s ever heard of the place, which strongly resembled a neighborhood bar. In fact, after settling into our chairs, I noticed there were mainly swarthy male customers in the establishment. The only three women in the small room were all seated at my table.
Cousin Christophe arrived and dinner was served. We had to rush in order to be at the theater in time for the concert. While half way through my meal, it belatedly occurred to me that we were in an Arab neighborhood, but the food was excellent, albeit with a heavy Middle Eastern emphasis. My French cousins seemed unphased by anything but the passing of time and Sophie, who is of Jewish Moroccan decent, was serenely happy because her meal was vegetarian and didn’t violate her practice of kosher dining.
As we walked to 1 Rue du Puits de l”Ermite, I kept an uncharacteristically nervous look out for any unsavory characters. The others chirped away unaware of my paranoid discomfort. We soon arrived at the theater on a deserted side street. It was little more than a store front. The owner evidently knew cousin Beatrice and after hugs and kisses, we were all introduced. As for me, I was just anxious to get off the street corner and into the safety of the theater.
Once inside, I wasn’t so sure that this whole thing was a such a good idea. The theater was a makeshift affair with four or five rows of uncomfortable seats squeezed into a very small space. There may have been room for 30 – 40 people at the very most. No U.S. fire department would have ever allowed this one exit, fire trap to house so many people, so crammed in together.
Beatrice seemed to know half the people in the house as she explained to me that the evening’s program had undergone an emergency change of plans. The lead singer was taken ill, along with a few of the musicians, but not to worry, there was a plan B.
“Spilkes,” the band to perform that evening was being augmented by two singer/musicians from another band called “Les Gares.” Eleonore Biezunski, who became the lead singer for the evening and played the violin with great aplomb, also performs with a another, older group called “Les Shtetlstompers.” Samuel Maquin, presumably the leader, played the Klezmer and a few other instruments. The fourth musician for the evening was a Jewish American, Brian Bender, who spends two months of every year in Paris picking up gigs, played a trombone, the piano and also sang. He was the only one to speak English, although he sang in Yiddish. Sadly, I didn’t catch the percussionist’s name. I think they had all practiced together for about an hour before the performance. What troupers! Oh well, we already had paid for the tickets.
What kind of a concert was this? Why a Klezmer Concert in a small theater in an Arab neighborhood in Paris, France, of course. Was I nervous about all of this? You bet I was.
Beatrice’s pleasure radiated throughout the small, cramped room. The music began and it was nothing short of marvelous. All of the young 30 something performers knew their stuff. Their program mainly in Yiddish was varied and spirited. The audience, which must have been solidly Jewish, responded with great enthusiasm. Encores were demanded and delivered.
Amidst this euphoria, it occurred to me that the sounds of the music and singing were being carried loud and clear up and down the city block. I wondered if Arab gangs might be gathering outside to storm the place or to merely pick us off one by one as we exited. I made a commitment to myself to quickly leave once the performance was over and not to linger on the sidewalk.
This was not to be the case, though. Beatrice had to embrace each of the musicians who congregated with many of the audience members on the sidewalk after the performance. Each performer was very generous with his/her time and took pains to chat with us all. In all of the rush of enthusiasm, I almost forgot my concerns about possible French Arab terrorists lurking in the shadows. I say almost, but not quite.
While stories of growing anti-Semitism in France swirl around the world, Beatrice and Sophie seemed totally oblivious to them. They are happy to be French and Jewish and able to enjoy a fabulous evening of Klezmer music that would have made even Molly Picon, Fanny Brice or Fyvush Finkel smile.
I smiled, too, but couldn’t quite shake the paranoia.
Columnist Greene is based in San Diego