The American Jew Who Created the Nuclear Submarine

Since 1958, the U.S. military has employed submarines powered by onboard nuclear reactors, which have numerous advantages over those with conventional engines. Similar vessels were later developed by the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and other maritime powers. Responsible for this technological breakthrough was a Jewish immigrant to America named Hyman Rickover. Rich Tenorio tells his story:

Rickover was born Chaim Godalia Rykower into an Orthodox Jewish family in 1899’s Poland. The Rykowers left an increasingly anti-Semitic climate at the turn of the 20th century and young Chaim, age six, arrived at Ellis Island with his mother, Ruchia, and sister, Faiga. Abram, the family patriarch, had arrived beforehand but never received news that the rest of the family had reached Ellis Island. Lacking financial support, Ruchia, Chaim, and Faiga were detained for ten days. Deportation appeared imminent. Yet an acquaintance from Poland miraculously recognized them and summoned Rykower’s father, ensuring their stay in the U.S., under Americanized names.

When the family—including baby daughter Hitel—relocated to the sizable Jewish community of Lawndale, Chicago, serendipitous circumstances connected Rickover with Congressman Adolph Sabath, a fellow Jew who got him into the Naval Academy.

By 1947, Rickover had served aboard multiple types of vessels, seen his leadership ability expand during World War II, and was working to develop a nuclear-powered submarine at the Manhattan Project site of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. His superior and supporter, Admiral Earle W. Mills, grew disillusioned with the rate of progress and relocated Rickover to an office space where the plumbing from toilets was still visible.

Despite working in what was once a women’s bathroom, Rickover persisted in the project, and in five years’ time came up with a viable plan that, as Tenorio writes, included everything “from the production of material to shield the reactor to splitting atoms that would generate heat to power the turbines.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewish History, Jews in the military, Technology

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood