Jacob Heilbrunn

Fidel Castro Is Pro-Israel

It's become fashionable to dump on Israel. For self-respecting intellectuals, bashing the Jewish state is pretty much de rigueur. But even as Israel has come into bad odor in Europe and elsewhere, it turns out to have an unlikely friend: Fidel Castro.

In an utterly fascinating post, Jeffrey Goldberg recounts his invitation to visit Cuba's maximum leader for life. Goldberg got the call because of his much-discussed piece in the Atlantic about the likelihood of a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Apparently, Fidel, intent on polishing up his image in his dotage, or sincerely worried about nuclear war (or perhaps a combination of both), now says that he was wrong to urge Nikita Khruschev to consider launching a nuclear strike at America during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

Castro explains to Goldberg that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, should lay off Israel. Goldberg writes,

He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism.

"This went on for maybe two thousand years," he said. "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything."

The Iranian government should understand that the Jews "were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God. In my judgment here's what happened to them: Reverse selection. What's reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation." He continued: "The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust."

I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. "I am saying this so you can communicate it," he answered.

No doubt Ahmadinejad, as Tehran hastens its work on a nuclear weapon, will take Fidel's admonition to heart.