Castro Has a Message for Ahmadinejad About the Jews

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Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth (via a third party)? Photo: Castro: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images; Ahmadinejad: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Imagine your typical Atlantic reader — new model neocons like Ross Douthat or tender-hearted brownstoners like Jonathan Safran Foer, right? You probably didn't picture Fidel Castro. Well, okay, maybe you saw the headline. But Castro does read it. In fact, after Mr. Ex-Jefe caught Jeffrey Goldberg's article "Point of No Return" about Iran and Israel, Goldberg got a personal invite to Havana for a little tête-à-tête. There, after some self-deprecating humor and a few anecdotes ("This was how my face looked when I was angry with Khrushchev"), Castro got down to business. For the "grandfather of global anti-Americanism," and a vocal critic of Israel, his message to Netanyahu was unsurprising: Security will only come once you and everybody else gives up their nukes. His message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, was much more stern.

During a five-hour conversation stretched over three days, Goldberg says Castro repeatedly returned to his "excoriation of anti-Semitism" and asked that his message — that Ahmadinejad needed to stop his anti-Semitic rhetoric if he wanted peace for his country — be communicated to the president of Iran, who is exactly the person people picture when they imagine the typical Daily Intel reader:

He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. "This went on for maybe two thousand years," he said. "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything." The Iranian government should understand that the Jews "were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God. In my judgment here's what happened to them: Reverse selection. What's reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation." He continued: "The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust." I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. "I am saying this so you can communicate it," he answered.


Fidel to Ahmadinejad: 'Stop Slandering the Jews' [Atlantic]