Ask a random sampling of people when the Cold War ended and most will say 1989. A few may say 1991, when the soviet union finally dissolved. But was it in fact last month, when Fidel Castro, one of the only remaining figureheads of that era, finally admitted that the Cuban model doesn’t work? He said this to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, in the same interview when he broke from the Orthodox Soviet line and affirmed Israel’s right to exist and instructed Goldberg to make sure that Iran’s Ahmadinejad hears it. From one dictator to another. Well, it looks like one dictator used the High Holiday season for doing teshuva.
Needless to say, Israel’s leadership was all over this interview, claiming Castro as a friend of Israel and thanking him for his words. This from Israel’s top two – Netanyahu and Peres.
The problem, of course, is that not only does this reek of desperation, but a severe lack of judgment. Castro describes the dire fortune of Jews throughout the ages and suddenly he, according to Netanhayu, “has a deep understanding of Jewish history.” What about Cuba’s small Jewish community? Where has Comrade Fidel’s deep understanding been over the past 50-odd years, when Cuba’s Jews didn’t have the right to pray in assembly?
The desperation of Israel is mirrored by Castro’s own desperation – for longevity, for statesmanship. Before jumping on his bandwagon, Israel’s leadership would do well to think about Castro’s motivations behind his words.