Of Mice and Men

December 13, 2013 by Ron Weiser
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Dr Ron Weiser writes on Iran and Nelson Mandela…

Dr Ron Weiser

Dr Ron Weiser

Iran – it is too late to now bemoan the deal that world leaders have made with Iran. What will happen once the 6 months of the interim arrangement have passed is the real issue at hand.

The crucial question is whether the underlying strategy is “good cop/bad cop” or simply just a cop out?

Are the USA et al in synch with Israel and playing a tactical game with Israel being the “bad cop” that keeps the pressure up on the Iranians to comply not only with the interim deal they have already made (no growth in nuclear capability for an easing of the sanctions), but also to move to the supposed next step – a decrease in nuclear capability for the current ease in sanctions to continue and with more easing to come……..

Or have world leaders simply decided it is all too hard and this interim agreement is the beginning of the end of sanctions no matter what the Iranians do?

Somehow President Obama does not engender the confidence one would like to believe will result in the Iranians reducing their nuclear capabilities.

This will present PM Netanyahu with a huge headache, soul searching and some decisions to be made.

On Iran there is a consensus within the Israeli government coalition and support from those in opposition such as the Labor Party and its new leader Isaac Herzog – Iran must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons.

Of course having a consensus is one thing – deciding how to use that consensus is quite something else

That is why contrary to popular belief, Israel’s most favoured option is for the sanctions to work.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry seems to have more energy than he was previously given credit for – and somewhat more insight.

He knows, as the current Palestinian leadership know and understand full well that “settlements” are not the issue but merely a convenient public relations tool that somehow works largely on those Jews in the Diaspora who seem to never have a good word to say about Israel’s behaviour and conduct.

“Settlements” are not the issue in Israel either.

But security is. Security is the real deal breaker.

Whenever Israel thinks about ceding territory, it is not the principle of giving up territory per se that gives Israelis pause. The hesitation comes from the question of whether such territorial concessions bring Israel more or less security.

The big dilemma for PM Netanyahu is that Kerry gets it.

I cannot recall any American in the past that has gone to greater lengths to address the security question.

General John Allen – the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan – leads a very large team of security experts who have devised a plan they believe will ensure Israel’s security should a Palestinian State come into being.

Some of the leaked details of the plan appear to go further in Israel’s favour than past suggestions, but of course the devil is in the detail – and in what is not being leaked.

The Americans are playing their most favourite game of recent years, the one especially popular during Obama’s first term – applying pressure to Netanyahu’s coalition in order to try and change its makeup.

Kerry is creating problems for Netanyahu inside his coalition because if the security questions are indeed being addressed in a serious and credible manner, then the differences between the approaches of Lapid and Bennett will become more critical.

And the marked divisions inside the Likud between Netanyahu and a significant number of his MK’s will come more to the fore.

All of this may force Netanyahu to do something he never likes to do and avoids for as long as possible – that is, to make a decision.

Of Nelson Mandela

There have been many articles written about Nelson Mandela and his attitude to Jews and Israel. In my opinion, when analysing his views, it is important to understand the context and the times of specific policies and comments.

To me it seemed that his opinions and public statements which varied over his lifetime, always reflected his viewpoint on how events affected him personally, rather than on how they affected the world and those outside of Sth Africa.

Although he was a powerful figure for change in Sth Africa, his world outlook was rather naive and unsophisticated.

Perhaps due to his circumstances and imprisonment, that is quite understandable.

His later life attitudes to peace and reconciliation did not translate into Sth African policy towards Israel for example.

He did not speak out when the infamous Durban Conference became THE platform for anti-Semitism.

On the campaign to tar Israel with the false apartheid brush, he usually spoke in a double negative so that one could not claim he said Israel was an apartheid state, but neither could one claim that he did not infer it eithe

He visited Australia during my term as President of the Zionist Federation, not too long after 13 Iranian Jews were arrested on trumped up charges in Iran.

There were a group of us assembled when he walked into the room.

I will never forget that entrance, physically large but with an even larger presence – he simply had that indefinable charisma, gravitas, aura, modesty, smile, gentleness and an apparent total lack of ego – all wrapped into the one person.

Yes, I was much moved.

And yes, he charmed me.

And yes he convinced me he was sincere.

Which is why I wrote earlier about his naiveté.

He was complimentary of Sth African Jewry and spoke of their contribution to Sth African life in general and to reconciliation.

He unequivocally condemned anti-Semitism.

Mandela is the only person I have ever heard who convinced me that he personally could be both a true opponent of anti-Semitism and at the same time an opponent and/or serious critic of Zionism, at least as he understood it.

He explained that he supported Arafat because Arafat had supported him, but stressed his support for the State of Israel.

He was as unclear as it was possible to be on what that meant – the real differences between Zionism and the State of Israel as he saw it – but he was quite clear on his view that Israel’s misconduct began from her establishment and earlier, and not merely from 1967.

Mandela certainly did not want to throw even one Jew out of Israel, but he seemed to be supporting a binational state with a Jewish minority.

He was convinced that not a single Jew would be harmed in such a state, nor would Jewish observance or rights be in any way impeded.

He seemed either blind or oblivious to the general human rights violations in the PA and surrounding Arab countries. It was all just dismissed with a wave of the hand.

Mandela also assured us, with what seemed like total conviction, that the Iranians would give the 13 Jews a fair trial.

He told us that the Iranian Justice system was fair.

Mandela seemed absolutely sincere in these beliefs and having recently come from Iran as he told us, being directly and personally promised as such by the Iranian leadership.

And that was it, end of story for him. He was given a personal assurance by people he respected and therefore he believed it.

Whilst doubting the credibility of his assurances, I do not think anyone in the room doubted his sincerity in his own belief in them.

Mandela was a great symbol and a very impressive man.

It is quite something to have someone espouse the views he did, or have the blind spots he sailed through and yet have me in quite some degree of awe – I guess it was that sort of quality that made him unique.

 

Ron Weiser is the Immediate Past President of the Zionist Federation of Australia and Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW.

 

Comments

5 Responses to “Of Mice and Men”
  1. Paul says:

    The article by the Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW is that of an even handed adjudicator. But the Zionist Council is an advocacy organisation and even-handedness is as inappropriate with regard to Israel as it is with a career criminal and an honest cop.

    The issue is not one of good/bad cop. The issue is that Obama has betrayed Israel and sneaked around the sanctions when they started having an effect, thus betraying not only Israel, but the Saudis and, bearing in mind Iranian bases in Venezuela, the American people.

    The effort to create dissension within the Israeli cabinet is not clever politics but a display of contempr by Obama for democracy. His team of security advisors is an insult to the IDF which has managed to win wars while the US has succeeded in losing every war it engaged in since the 1950s. Telling Israel what it needs for its security when Obama only sent 20000 men to Afghanistan when his generals asked to 30000 to match the Iraqi surge and then talking to the Talibaan behing Karzia’s back demonstrated Obama’s duplicity. If US, UN or NATO troops guard Israel’s borders, they will only provide a shield behind which terrorist can function as they do in Lebanon.

    If you write an article take a position rather than merely space.

    With regard to Mandela, yes he was an admirable person and yes he transformed a brutish bigoted South AFrica, but he was also inactive for a long time. He also headed an organisation that would have resorted to more terror than it did had the state not stopped the ANC activities. In supporting the PA, he pretended that it would be tolerant and ignored evidence. His own tolerance for Jews were based on his debt to them and his tolerance to whites was based on his realisation that without them his country would go down the gurgler like the rest of Africa. He achived a lot and he was flawed. The real transformation in his country was that the ruling elite merely changed its skin colour.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Don’t get me wrong, Ron Weiser is a most dedicated Zionist, just like thousands more. Question is , when ascending to leadership heights, the most important thing is to check thoroughly your constituency and make sure that in public fora “the” Leader expresses all positions he/she is suposed to represent. Personal musings are interesting, but in this case , they are best kept private, in one’s diary, modestly considered as highly relevant ONLY to the author’s inner confidence. Publicly, I expect Ron Weiser to be also a bit of a Otto Waldmann as well, IF at all possible…………….

  3. Gil Solomon says:

    Ron,

    I am sorry to say that in your 1,346 word article, I have read one of the most wishy washy, down the middle, no rights, no wrongs and in part, dubious assessments.

    You don’t appear to be able to come down one way or another on any issue, let alone and heaven forbid stick your neck out and take a stance on anything, be it good, bad or indifferent. If the best you can do is just give everyone’s standpoint and avoid offering constructive criticism of anyone or any issue, what is the point of writing anything?

    The following are some of the issues I regard as dubious.

    You ask if the USA could be in sync with Israel, playing a game of good cop, bad cop re. Iran. What in your wildest dreams gave you any impression that Netanyahu may be in sync with Obama and playing some game?

    Your reference to Obama “not engendering confidence” would be the understatement of the year. He may be supplying Israel with military hardware but is quietly pulling the rug from under the Jewish country. The current occupier of the Oval Office has demonstrated that if push comes to shove, he will not take military action and the Iranians understand this perfectly. This “President” watched in real time as US Consular officials in libya were being slaughtered by Islamic fanatics and did not lift a finger even though special forces teams were in the region and could have been on the ground within half an hour or so. Instead, he blamed the riot on some absurd anti-Islamic video that was aired three weeks prior, in spite of the fact that Libyan officials said the video had nothing to do with it.

    In response to your comment that “contrary to popular belief, Israel’s most favoured option is for the sanctions to work”, why do you believe this was never the case? Time and time again Netanyahu asked for the sanctions to be not only maintained but intensfied.

    In relation to sttlements, whether Kerry “gets it” or not is not the point. In addition you give this man credit for insight!
    For God’s sake, realise this.
    The Obama Administration has its own agenda where clearly if Israel fell or was pushed under a bus, no one in this Administration would lose any sleep over it, not even those Obama adoring American Jews. This Administration pressured Israel into releasing murderers and still not one concession from Abbas. Not even that the indoctrination of Arab children in hate would cease! I don’t see where the forced apology to Turkey has paid any dividends either.

    Moving on to your awe of Mandela.
    You state “he unequivocally condemned anti-Semitism’, very well and good but on the other hand and in your words “he SEEMED to be supporting a binational state with a Jewish minority.” You take the soft approach about what he “seemed” to support. As you have an excellent command of the English language, did he or did he not support a binational state with a Jewish minority?

    You also state that he was blind or oblivious to the general human rights violations in the PA and surrounding Arab countries. You say he assured “us” that the Iranian justice system was fair and that 13 Jews would get a fair trial.

    No doubt Mandela was a sincere and decent man but the few quotes I have described above taken from your original piece makes me wonder how, in the context of his knowledge of the Middle East, could you have been moved or charmed by him let alone hold him in some degree of awe. I haven’t here even bothered to go into Mandela’s support of Arafat.

    On a general note, in these times of rampant anti-Semitism and total political confusion emanating from a divided world Jewry, many of our so called “leaders” need to fade away as their use by date has long gone, buried in an avalanche of confusion and mixed messages to which they can no longer convey a coherent Jewish response.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Gil, kol hakavod. You touched comprehensively all necessary points. A perfect account and analyssis.
      Trouble ( actually not all that important ) is that you are not likely to receive any reply from the far too important author.
      Never mind, the main thing is that you placed in the open the relevant facts and comments.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    A brilliant piece.

    I loved the romantic interlude about Mandela: ” I was charmed, moved, he was so sincere.”
    Just the way Ron knew how to detect sincerity. It moved ME to me back………teeth.
    The effect Ron Weiser has on you…………

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