The Anti-Israel Bullies Come for the Literary Festivals

In Britain, activists and celebrities have turned their ire on summer literary festivals, succeeding in getting some of them to drop the sponsorship of the investment company Baillie Gifford. Howard Jacobson comments:

Ask what Baillie Gifford has done apart from cough up money from which all writers benefit and you enter the political equivalent of “I know this guy who knows this guy who knows this guy who knows this guy . . .” It has “links,” in other words, and a link when you are playing holier-than-thou can be as tenuous as you like providing a bit of it dislodges in Israel. Oil, too, but the oil argument against Baillie Gifford has been a long time brewing. It’s the link that ends up in Israel that wins the game for whoever finds it.

The extent of the blackmail exerted on festivals, and on writers wondering whether or not to capitulate to it themselves, is hard to gauge. . . . Few, at either end of the bullying—and there can be no denying the bullying—want to say anything that will end in their being yoked into an unflattering conflation with, say, genocidal Zionists. It’s tough enough in these censorious times to write a book, get it past the sensitivity police, find someone to publish it, and then go out into the world to talk about it, without having to submit your solidarity credentials too.

Art eludes the mind of an activist. The best art doesn’t have an agenda, the activist has nothing else. Art finds the language it needs in the course of expressing itself. It is exploratory, self-contradictory, provisional. The minute art makes up its mind, it’s no longer art.

Read more at New Statesman

More about: Anti-Semitism, Howard Jacobson, Literature, United Kingdom

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy