Cuba and Israel
The Cold War is pretty much over, although North Korea remains America’s foe, as we are learning from the reaction to a film that SONY was planning to release.
In 1956, during the height of the Cold War, the United States and the USSR were able to join to undo the victory that Israel, with the aid of Great Britain and France, had won against Egypt. Eisenhower and Khrushchev together forced Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, which it had just conquered. Things began to change when John Kennedy became president. Kennedy ended the embargo against arms to the Middle East. Relations between the United States and Israel continued to warm up, and during the Six-Day War in 1967, America was on Israel’s side. The Communist world had pretty much joined the world of Islam at the time of the Bandung Conference, which took place in Indonesia in 1955.
The USSR recognized Israel officially in 1991, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. China did so in1992. On the other hand, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea remained totally opposed to Israel’s existence. The Cold War was ending—a bit at a time. When countries became less committed to opposing the United States, their opposition to Israel grew milder.
In September 2010, Fidel Castro, no longer in power, made a remarkable statement in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.
Fidel said that Israel had the right to exist as a Jewish state. Despite the fact that Fidel Castro had ceded power to his brother Raul, he remained, and remains, one of the most honored leftist leaders in the world. An important and respected Communist had said that Israel should exist. Mysteriously, the interview never gained much attention. Cuba officially remained Israel’s enemy.
If the Cold War between Cuba and the USA has ended, isn’t it time for Cuba to recognize Israel? One would especially think this should be the case in light of the 2010 interview in The Atlantic. If Cuba did so, Venezuela might reconsider its hostility to Israel. Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was actively anti-Israel. Chavez and former Iranian president Ahmadinejad visited each other frequently. Chavez expressed support for Iran’s nuclear program. After Chavez died, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, has not changed Venezuela’s policies concerning Iran, but has sounded less strident. One could imagine that if Cuba recognized Israel, Venezuela would no longer feel compelled to support Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The country that might benefit most if Cuba recognized Israel would be the United States. Among the reasons that so many leftists hate America is that they consider it a tool of Israel. If an admired leftist country like Cuba changed its policies and accepted Israel’s existence, the United States would be less isolated and less of a target of leftist hatred.
Would Iran change its policies? That is something of a possibility. President Rouhani is less strident than Ahmadinejad, his predecessor. Iran has been suffering from sanctions that have been imposed because of its nuclear efforts. Maybe Rouhani could follow Cuba’s lead. Maybe.
The world would become a safer place if Cuba recognized Israel. Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.
This article appeared on Arutz Sheva on December 19, 2014.