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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fidel Castro, Something Israel Should Learn From Him

Fidel Castro  1926-2016
I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that ranking/rating the late Fidel Castro is probably more difficult than for any leader in recent history, or ever.

Most people either hate/abhor him or they admire and adore him. Very few are willing to admit that they see both sides simultaneously.

Nobody can deny that he was a terrible, cruel and extremely effective dictator. For his opponents he was a horror, a terror, and many Cubans risked their lives to flee Cuba especially in the early years of his rule reign. Cuba, like most of the island states in the area and Central America were (and still are) extremely poor with a small wealthy elite. And as far as I'm aware, people are still fleeing, at least from other countries.

Over a half a century after Castro took over Cuba, there's a big difference between Cuba and its neighbors. Although the Cubans are still living under strict dictatorship rule, which goes against the norms of modern western civil rights, they are healthy, have healthcare, education and food. In neighboring countries, conditions are much worse.

As a Jew I must say that Castro's Cuba was the only Communist country that allowed the Jewish community to function. Jews got special rations to replace pork and lard.

But as an Israeli there's something else I've admired about Castro for years. He didn't kowtow to American pressure. Unlike Israel, Cuba was and still is a very poor country and technologically behind. But that never made Castro think he needed the United States, even though earlier on he had been an admirer. American Presidents came and went while Castro continued his iron grip over Cuba, and even the past decade after he officially gave up his position, things didn't change.

Honestly, every time I hear some Israeli politician or the media preaching/repeating ad nauseum that:
"We can't ______, because the Americans won't allow/like it."
I cringe and then get angry, because we shouldn't pay any attention to what America says. The State of Israel is an independent country, not beholden or responsible to American Government officials. The United States has a long history of abusing its allies, taking them for granted and not backing them when in need. To be honest, the USA needs Israel more than most people realize, and Israel will get more from the USA if we stop acting so pathetic and desperate for approval.

Post-Castro, I hope that the Cuban people will be given more freedom and opportunities to build a stronger economy. And even more, I pray that our Israeli political leaders will behave as leaders and not followers.

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