"THE MASS MEDIA MANIFEST AN OPEN ANTI-SEMITISM. The government is openly partial towards the Arabs while it promotes contempt for the Israelites."
So wrote Cuban prisoner of conscience Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet—a Christian—to Coretta Scott King on January 20, 1999. Such courageous accuracy is typical from Dr. Biscet, who has been ripped from his family since November 1999.
A recent example of Cuba’s hostility to Israel is a March 30 story in Granma International, "Cuba demands an end to the isolation and hounding of Arafat."
Castro’s mouthpiece refers to "the genocidal actions of the Israeli army" and its "bloody offensive against the Palestinian territories and the headquarters of the Palestine National Authority." In case Cuba’s position on the Arab-Israeli conflict was unclear, Granma clarifies: "Cuba reiterates its full support for the heroic struggle of the Arab peoples, in particular that of the Palestinians, against Israeli occupation and aggression, and declares its solidarity with their resistance and defiance."
Lest "solidarity" be construed as mere proclamation, Irving Louis Horowitz notes in the Spring issue of The National Interest that "Training and arming Palestinians from the PLO forces [by Cuba] is ongoing."
Granma’s lead story for April 4 shows a photograph of an anti-Israel protest with the poster "SHARON=HITLER." The caption below the photograph reads, "The poster says it all. It is a certainty that crosses the world."
This is of course repellent, but Communist Cuba’s hatred of Israel isn’t a new development.
After the 1967 Six-Day War, Cuban ambassador to the United Nations Ricardo Alarcon referred to Israel’s "aggression against the Arab peoples" and "surprise attack in the Nazi manner." Leave aside the imminent Arab aggression that impelled preemptive self-defense by Israel; leave aside Hafez Assad’s remarks soon before the Six-Day War about Syria’s readiness "to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland." (Alarcon is now president of Cuba’s one-party national assembly. A March photograph shows him wearing French cuffs. Like its Soviet predecessor, the Cuban nomenklatura has no problem with certain bourgeois items.)
Yasser Arafat visited Cuba in November 1974. It was a logical event given Castro’s deployment of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks to aid Syrian belligerence against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Arafat was awarded the National Order of the Bay of Pigs during his visit. The November 24, 1974 edition of Granma features a photograph of Castro and Arafat smiling hand in hand.
By this time Castro’s anti-Zionism was so rabid that it erupted arbitrarily. Historian Robert M. Levine observes in Tropical Diaspora: The Jewish Experience in Cuba, "Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist proclamations became routine, issued even in settings with nothing to do with the Middle East."
Hundreds of Palestinians received training in Cuba during the 1970s to promote their objective of national liberation, i.e., Israel’s obliteration. Those who dispute the identity between Palestinian liberation and Israeli obliteration should consider Article 22 of the 1968 Palestinian National Charter, which states that "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence." A recent map from the Palestinian Authority replacing Israel with "Palestine" demonstrates that Article 22 still animates Arafat and his ilk.
The Cuban embassy in Beirut was Arafat’s headquarters when Israel launched Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982 to eliminate PLO bases in southern Lebanon. Cuban advisers had been in the PLO bases since the late 1970s after Castro met with George Habash of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Reciprocally, the PLO aided the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Sandinista-PLO alliance began in the late 1960s when they perpetrated airplane hijackings together and tried to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein in 1970.
In 1988, Cuba published The Other Face: The Truth about the Secret Relationships between Nazism and Zionism by Mahmud Abbas (now secretary general of the PLO’s executive committee). Abbas disputes the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis and argues that Zionists murdered more than the Nazis. The book’s cover connects the swastika with the Star of David.
Since private publishers don’t exist in Cuba, the publication of The Other Face constituted state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Cuba has sponsored anti-Semitism elsewhere by disseminating books like Zionism: The Fascism of the Star of David and Symposium on Zionist Interference in Latin America.
What David J. Kopilow wrote in Castro, Israel, and the PLO (1985) remains true: "Cuba plays a leading role in the international campaign against Israel."
While Castro’s hatred of Israel is too flagrant to deny and too proximate to ignore, Jewish organizations in America do just the latter.
The Anti-Defamation League recently released a report on "Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media, February 2001-February 2002." Cartoons in Egypt’s state-sponsored newspapers equating Zionism with Nazism certainly warrant condemnation; but why no report or press release on similar vulgarity from the most anti-Zionist regime in the Western Hemisphere?
At least the Anti-Defamation League doesn’t glamorize the regime that exalts the Arab brownshirts. The B’nai B’rith and American ORT, on the other hand, respectively feature photographs of Castro and the murderous Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who considered Zionism "reactionary."
Jews in Cuba must endure the daily demonization of the Jewish homeland, but Jewish organizations in America can speak out. The silence of the oppressed is understandable. The silence of the free is not.