Why One of Martin Luther King’s Most Trusted Colleagues Cared So Much for Jews and Israel

Yesterday, America celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Shalom Goldman takes the occasion to remember another outstanding figure of the civil-rights movement: Bayard Rustin, who was one of King’s foremost advisers and influences. Like King, Rustin was a friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish state; he also was a frequent contributor to Commentary, and would later help found—along with, inter alia, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick—the anti-Soviet Committee for the Present Danger. Goldman finds the roots of Rustin’s sympathy for the Jews in his devout Quaker upbringing:

Bible lessons, led by his grandmother, were Bayard’s earliest educational experience. As a child Rustin was taught to respect all religions and to sympathize with the oppressed. “My grandmother,” Rustin recalled in his later years, “was thoroughly convinced that when it came to matters of the liberation of black people, we had much more to learn from the Jewish experience than we had to learn out of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

Rustin’s public advocacy for Israel was a constant in his career, but it emerged more forcefully in response to the Black Power movement of the 1960s. Some of that movement’s leaders embraced the Palestinian cause and declared Israel a pariah state. Rustin, one of the pioneers of the struggle for civil rights, condemned this move and hostility to Jews and Israel, especially as manifested in the Nation of Islam and in the Black Panthers.

Rustin traveled to Israel twice, in 1969 and in 1982. That first visit was to a conference at Hebrew University on technology and human development. He toured the country and met Prime Minister Golda Meir. As Rustin’s biographer Jervis Anderson noted, “Of the many Israeli leaders Rustin met, Golda Meir captivated him most. She likewise was enchanted by him. . . . If he wasn’t already a Zionist before their first meeting, then he surely must have become one during the long and animated political discussions they held in her office.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Commentary, Golda Meir, Martin Luther King, Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, Philo-Semitism

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security