Wednesday, December 11, 2013

'Ancestry, Guts And Other Musings From A Prague Winter'

I rarely state "this is a must read", but in this case, this is a must read for anyone following the news, especially through the lens of biblical prophecy. As they say, 'the only thing we learn from history, is that we don't learn from history'. So true. Below is the first part of the article - I recommend opening the link and reading this in full: 

 To visit Prague from Jerusalem in the dying days of 2013 is to grapple with a potent historical concoction.

Days before we leave, the leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has publicly branded my country the “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region” and declared that we Israelis “cannot be called human beings.”

Evidently unperturbed by the vicious rhetoric, deaf or indifferent to its echoes from the genocidal days of Nazi-dominated Europe, world leaders have later that very same day entered negotiations with Khamenei’s representatives. And they have emerged not long afterwards with what gives every appearance of being a shoddy, inadequate accord that, for the first time, legitimizes Iranian enrichment of uranium — paving the way, at improbable best, for Iran to become a nuclear threshold state; at more likely worst, for Iran to defy the tired, indulgent international community and became a full-fledged nuclear power.

The deal is dreadful, the timing and the celebrations among the foreign ministers in Geneva frankly sickening. Khamenei publicly dehumanizes the Jews on Wednesday. By early Sunday, the world’s powers have signaled that he may gain the tools to expedite our destruction, and have warmly embraced his foreign minister for deigning to accept their capitulation

And so to the capital of the Czech Republic, 75 years after the Czechs were betrayed by the world’s powers in slightly different constellation, a young nation handed over to the Nazis. Take this, just don’t come after the rest of us. Please, Herr Hitler.

When they’d first negotiated their parameters a mere two decades earlier, Czechoslovakia’s strategists had worried about how to protect so small a country in so treacherous and central a geostrategic position — for their new republic, at the seething heart of post-World War I Europe, was just 600 miles long and 150 miles wide at some points, barely half that at others. These, their diplomats had argued, were barely defensible borders. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry reading back over those discussions, when you’re living in a country nine miles wide at its narrowest point.

In the event, a combination of British and French perfidy, and their own uncertain leadership, meant the Czechs did not so much as attempt to defend themselves in the face of Hitler’s rapacious ambition. They had Europe’s 6th largest army at the time. It was deployed and eager for battle. The order never came.

Bill Clinton’s secretary of state Madeleine Albright, born in Prague a year before Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Hitler that doomed her native land, bitterly charts the despicable sellout in “Prague Winter,” a fine and fascinating book that melds personal memoir with Czechoslovakia’s 1937-48 story. She writes, of the 1938 Munich surrender, and the British prime minister’s inability to recognize Hitler’s evil, that “in Chamberlain’s universe, people might be flawed, but they worried about their souls and did not set out to do monstrous things.”
Flash forward three-quarters of a century, sit in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, and pray that it would be false, false, false, to substitute Obama’s name for Chamberlain’s in that sentence.
Two thousand Jews live in Prague today — officially. Unofficially, there may be as many as 10,000. A large proportion apparently prefer to eschew formal affiliation with the community. Why on earth would they do that, when officials argue that Prague is perhaps the best place in Europe to be Jewish these days?
Part of the answer is written on the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue, founded by one of my illustrious Horovitz ancestors almost 480 years ago. The nearby Old-New Synagogue is the oldest in Europe — dating back to the 13th century, replete with a wooden, Star of David-topped chair named for the community’s preeminent 16th century scholar and mystic Rabbi Judah Loew, widely known as the Maharal of Prague — and the oldest still in use outside of Israel. They don’t pray in the Pinkas shul anymore. They lament. For on its walls are inscribed the names of 80,000 Czech Jews murdered by the Nazis.
The endless rows of Jews’ names were first rendered in the late 1950s. But after the Soviet Union was allowed to crush Czechoslovakia’s bid to break free of Communist domination in 1968 — the second betrayal — Moscow had the memorial destroyed.

The Pinkas shul was re-opened and re-closed intermittently over the next few years, a barometer of Moscow’s moods, before the Soviet Union collapsed and funds were raised in 1989 to begin rewriting the wall-register of the dead. Tomas Kraus, the executive director of the Federation of Jewish Communities here, recalls that the process “was still continuing when I took president Clinton here in 1994.” It took four years, 1992-96, in fact, to re-inscribe the names, the dates and the victims’ places of birth — about as long as it had taken the Nazis to kill all those rabid, inhuman Jews in the first place. Think how much more quickly it could be achieved now, in the nuclear era of push-button genocide.

Kraus chats with me in his office on the third floor of Prague’s “Jewish Town Hall,” the headquarters of what for hundreds of years was the ghetto, the city’s “separate Jewish entity.”

Jews here over the centuries, at the mercy of their national hosts, suffered their characteristic horrors interspersed with periods of relative calm. For more than 300 years, from the early 1400s through to 1787, they were barred from burying their dead anywhere outside the designated Jewish cemetery. An estimated 12,000 tombstones remain in the Old Jewish Cemetery now, including that of Rabbi Loew, but the body count is far higher — perhaps 200,000. Hopelessly short of space, the community laid its graves one on top of the other; ten deep in places. The level of the ground inside the cemetery walls is markedly higher than on the road alongside.

Unique among former centers of Jewish life in Nazi-occupied Europe, Prague’s Jewish ghetto survives to this day in part because it escaped bombing by the Allies, but mainly because the Nazis apparently intended to maintain the site as a “Museum Of An Extinct Race” — a memorial to the proud genocide that finally rid the world of the historical scourge of Judaism.

You visit the cemetery, with its desperate mash of crammed and crumbling tombstones. You read the names of the Nazis’ victims in the adjacent Pinkas shul. You head next to the Ceremonial Hall, which presents in nauseatingly excessive detail the activities of the Prague Jewish Burial Society. You watch the flow of politely interested gentile tourists, and you imagine them thinking to themselves, “Ah, how interesting, so these were the Jews. Ah, I see, this is how they lived.” And you have to suppress the urge to scream that, “No, we’re not all dead. We’re still here.” Still thriving, actually. And still threatened.

The 20th century’s two betrayals resonate, profoundly, in the psyche of the modern Czech Republic, Kraus believes. But 1968 had an inevitability. The US had liberated its third of the former Czechoslovakian Republic at the end of World War II, and gone, ultimately leaving the country under Soviet domination, and Moscow was not about to allow it to break free. In 1938, by contrast, the Czech boasted alliances, treaties, solemn pledges of military assistance. All of which proved empty.
For the reviving Czechoslovakia after World War II, Israel’s insistent 1948 fight for life, such a contrast to their undignified surrender a decade earlier, was particularly admirable. There were also Jews in high places in the new Czech leadership, returned refugees from Moscow and London. Misidentifying modern Israel as a potential Communist foothold in the Middle East, Moscow too smiled upon the nascent Jewish state. All that together helps explain Czechoslovakia’s affirmative response to beleaguered Israel’s War of Independence pleas for military assistance — in the form of crucial fighter planes, arms, spare parts, and the training of pilots.
Decades later, perceived parallels of small gutsy nations surrounded by enemies again help explain why today’s Czech Republic is arguably Israel’s biggest supporter in Europe; it was the only European country to vote with Israel, the US, Panama and four Pacific island states against the accession of “Palestine” to the status of nonmember observer state at the UN in 2012. (It might also be construed as slightly hypocritical if a country that after World War II expelled from its territory some three million ethnic Germans — who had roots there going back hundreds of years — were to enthusiastically join the conventional European chorus of criticism of Israeli policy on the Palestinians.)
Watching from his perspective in Prague as Iran closes in on the bomb, wondering whether the international community will stand firm or allow itself to be brushed aside, Kraus sensibly cautions that “it’s no longer an East vs. West world, and it’s difficult to judge what will happen.” But he allows himself to offer one simple historical lesson — “that you must not give in, you must not bow in front of a powerful aggressor. If the Czechs had fought back, we don’t know how many casualties there would have been. The country probably would not have survived. But appeasement didn’t stop the war.”
No. It did not require hindsight to realize that appeasement would not stop Hitler. Just the kind of willingness that Chamberlain lacked and Churchill possessed to honestly assess a deeply unpalatable reality. And not only did appeasement fail to stop the Nazis, it also made matters a great deal easier for them. Losing no time and no lives in the conquest of Czechoslovakia, they commandeered the Czech army’s invaluable weaponry, and rolled murderously forward.

Also in the news:

 Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said yesterday that Iran has built up a terror infrastructure in Central and South America from which to attack Jewish and Israeli targets in the region and as a base for attacking inside the United States.
“The Iranians use diplomatic mail in order to transport bombs and weapons,” he said in a meeting with visiting Guatamalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, himself a former intelligence chief in his country. “We know that there are states in South America like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia where the Iranians have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shiite Muslim populations.”
Yaalon pointed to the indictment of two Iranian nationals in Federal Court in New York two years ago for allegedly plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington and said the Iranians were using drug routes to smuggle weapons into the United States.
“They built this infrastructure,” said Yaalon, “for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews or Israeli interests. But it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States.”

 It was literally a question of life and death, and the answer by Secretary of State John Kerry puzzled the congressman.
Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., wanted to know why the Obama administration did not even ask for the release of pastor Saeed Abedini, the American imprisoned in Iran, while negotiating a nuclear deal.
“They (prisoners) would become pawns to the process and it could prolong it, it could make it more risky or dangerous,” said Kerry.
More dangerous?
Smith had already noted, “But he is at risk right now of death. He’s been transferred to an even more ominous prison. He’s in a cell with known murderers. He woke up with a knife next to his face.”
The 33-year-old pastor was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for spreading Christianity in Iran. He was convicted of attempting to undermine the government and endangering national security by persuading youth to leave Islam.
‘Nothing could be done’
Smith said Kerry’s State Department had told Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, “there was nothing that could be done,” leaving her “shocked and dismayed.”
Naghmeh said her husband had been beaten until the pain became so great he couldn’t even stand.
Smith said Naghmeh Abedini will testify before his subcommittee Thursday that she “was devastated to learn that the administration didn’t even ask for my husband’s release when directly seated across the table from the leaders of the government that hold him captive.”

Russia will create forces in the Arctic in 2014 to ensure military security and protect the country’s national interests in the region, which President Vladimir Putin has named among the government’s top priorities.
Russia is returning to the Arctic and “intensifying the development of this promising region” so it needs to “have all the levers for the protection of its security and national interests,” Putin said on Tuesday at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board.
He ordered the ministry to complete the formation of new military units and infrastructure in the Arctic next year.
"I would like you to devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic," the president said in televised remarks.
Russia is reinstating its military base in the Novosibirsk Archipelago (New Siberian Islands), which had been abandoned by the military in 1993, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The islands “have key meaning for the control of the situation in the entire Arctic region,” Putin told the top military brass.
This year, Russia has also started restoring its Arctic airfields including one called “Temp” on Kotelny Island near the city of Norilsk. It is also overhauling urban facilities in Tiksi, Naryan-Mar, and Anadyr.

Russia has begun testing a new radar designed to detect highly maneuverable aerial targets – including cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles – at a range of up to 3,000 kilometers (over 1,800 miles), allowing it to cover most of Europe.
The new-generation over-the-horizon radar, dubbed Container, was put on trial duty near the town of Kovylkino in Russia’s republic of Mordovia on December 2.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the radar will allow Russia to expand its monitoring range and control over the situation “to the west.”
“I am ordering the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces [Maj. Gen. Alexander Golovko] and other related command structures to ensure that the new radar becomes fully operational by the end of 2015,” Shoigu said at a Defense Ministry meeting Monday.
The deployed Container radar is part of the 590th separate radio-technical unit, which includes a command post, a transmission and reception antenna and a communications and data-management unit.
Russia is planning to deploy a network of Container-type radars to provide early detection of airborne threats over its entire territory and beyond its borders. Specific dates, the number of radar stations, their location and other details have not been disclosed.

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1 comment:

Stephen said...

well, now bulls are running out of time. we are down to just 4 MONTHS
until 4 11 14.....this is 12 11 13.

stocks were down but I want to see
more, ALOT more.

Scott, any news out on the current
KERRY trip to the M E ??

Please respond.


Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>