Winston Churchill and the Jews

While Winston Churchill’s attitudes toward Jews, and Zionism, were complicated, and changed over the course of his long career, he tended to be supportive of both—even during the 1930s and 40s, when many leading British statemen felt differently. During a visit to Germany in 1932, Churchill—then out of office—confronted Hitler’s press secretary about Nazi anti-Semitism, and rejected his apologetic response. Crowds in Tel Aviv cheered when Churchill became prime minister in 1940; yet, despite some moving rhetoric, he did little to help Jews caught in the grip of the Third Reich. Lee Pollock delves into all this and more. (Audio with pictures, about one hour.)

Read more at Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Center

More about: History of Zionism, Mandate Palestine, Philo-Semitism, Winston Churchill, World War II

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy