Primo Levi, Zionist

The influential philosopher and fanatical Israel-hater Judith Butler has favorably cited Primo Levi’s public criticism of the Jewish state’s war in Lebanon in the early 1980s to make him into a literary saint of anti-Zionism. But such a reading of the Italian-Jewish novelist and Holocaust memoirist requires ignoring what he had earlier written on the subject, explains Alvin Rosenfeld. Levi’s first encounters with Zionism came in Auschwitz, and later with the Jews he met while wandering Eastern Europe after the war:

[When] Levi first came to know young Zionists [he] was fascinated by them, so much so that he devoted an entire novel, Se non ora, quando? (If Not Now, When?) to telling their story. His narrative follows the exploits and wanderings of a small group of young Jewish partisans, who during the war lived in the forests and fought the Nazis and their allies. Following war’s end, they were determined to get away “from this Europe of graves” and make their way to the Land of Israel, where they would be “men among men” and work to reclaim “the honor of our submerged people.”

In addition, writes Rosenfeld, Levi was disturbed by the emergence of anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Zionism after World War II. In particular, like a number of other Europeans of the left at that time, he spoke in defense of Israel on the eve of the Six-Day War:

On May 31, 1967, . . . Levi gave a speech in the main synagogue of Turin, his native city, which was soon afterward published under the title “More than Any Other Country Israel Must Live.” . . . No other country, [Levi declared], is asked “to cease to exist,” but precisely such an end was being envisioned for Israel. Moreover, with Egypt in the lead, several Arab armies were preparing for the country’s liquidation. Levi’s response was that Israel “must survive.”

Why? Because, like every other country, “it has the right to live,” but, beyond this reason, “everyone should remember that the generation that created Israel consists almost entirely of people who escaped the massacre of Judaism in Europe. . . . For this reason, I say, Israel is not like other countries; it is a country to which the whole world is indebted, it is a country of witnesses and martyrs, of the insurgents of Warsaw, of Sobibór, and of Treblinka.”

Levi saw “the relationship of every Jew, even if he is not a Zionist, to the state of Israel [as] obvious and profound.”

Read more at Fathom

More about: Holocaust, Jewish literature, Judith Butler, Primo Levi

The Assassination of a Nuclear Scientist Is a Reminder That Iran Has Been Breaking the Rules for Years

Nov. 30 2020

On Friday, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the chief scientist behind the Islamic Republic’s nuclear-weapons program, was killed in what appears to have been a carefully planned and executed operation—widely thought to have been Israel’s doing. In 2011, Fakhrizadeh was given a new position as head of the Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research (known by its Persian acronym SPND), which was a front for Tehran’s illegal nuclear activities. Richard Goldberg explains:

Last year, the State Department revealed that SPND has employed as many as 1,500 individuals, including nuclear-weapons scientists [who] “continue to carry out dual-use research and development activities, of which aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-delivery systems.”

How could Fakhrizadeh and SPND continue to operate during the 2015 Iran nuclear deal when the deal was premised on Iran’s commitment to an exclusively peaceful nuclear program? Indeed, the existence of SPND and the discovery of Iran’s nuclear archive [by the Mossad in 2018] paints a picture of regime that never truly halted its nuclear-weapons program—but instead separated its pieces, keeping its personnel fresh and ready for a time of Iran’s choosing.

That reality was deliberately obfuscated to sell the Iran nuclear deal. Iran-deal supporters wanted the world to believe that the ayatollahs had left their nuclear ambitions in the past. . . . We now know Iran lied to the International Atomic Energy Agency, [which is charged with policing Tehran’s compliance], and to the participants of the nuclear deal. Today, the IAEA is again investigating Iran’s concealment of undeclared nuclear material, activities, and sites.

President-elect Joe Biden can no longer pretend that the Iran deal prevented the Islamic Republic’s nuclear advancement. It did not. Nor can Biden’s incoming secretary of state or national security adviser—both of whom were instrumental players in putting the deal together—pretend that Iran can return to compliance with that flawed deal without addressing all outstanding questions about the archive, SPND, and its undeclared activities.

Read more at New York Post

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