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Israel and the Conservative Movement in America

A brief history

by ,
March 10, 2014

Editorial note: The following is the text of a talk given at the National Summit to Reassess the US-Israel “Special Relationship” held in Washington, D.C., on March 7.

As is the case in so many other ways, the conservative movement’s
position on the state of Israel isn’t what it used to be. Just as what
we call the Old Right,
the pre-[William F.] Buckley right was anti-interventionist and good on
civil liberties, so the conservatives of the 1940s and 1950s were
hostile to Israel. A good example of this is a letter from the
neoconservative guru Leo Strauss to the editors of National Review: he was objecting to an article in the November 17, 1956 issue of the magazine that contained the following sentence:

“Even the Jews, themselves the victims of the most notorious
racial discrimination of modern times, did not hesitate to create the
first racist state in modern history.” 

It is unimaginable that such a sentence would ever find its way into the National Review
of Rich Lowry, because he represents a movement that has been
thoroughly co-opted and corrupted by, first, the cold war, and secondly
our endless “war on terrorism.”

The conservative movement of the 1940s and 50s openly challenged the entire
conception of the Jewish state: this argument was made in several books published
by the pioneering conservative book publisher, Henry Regnery, who issued a whole
series of books reporting on the dispossession of the Palestinian people and
calling into question the whole Zionist project. Nejla Izzeddin’s The
Arab World
 (1953), is noted by the Kirkus Service as follows:

“The writer is also, if perhaps naturally, violently against the
creation of the state of Israel which she feels was prompted more by
international power politics than by humanitarian principles and
represents an American and British threat to the Arab world.”

Regnery also put out Freda Utley’s Will
the Middle East Go West?
which expressed a viewpoint just as fresh
today as it was back in 1957: “Freedom and justice for Israel,” she
wrote, “depend on freedom and justice for the Arabs.”

That same year Regnery even put out a book of photographs depicting life in
Palestinian refugee camps, entitled They
Are Human Too
, as well as a novel about Palestinian refugees. And then
there was What
Price Israel?
, by Alfred M. Lilienthal, which made what was back then
the mainstream Jewish argument against the idea of a specifically Jewish state.

On the other hand, we see the same reversal on the left, albeit in
the opposite direction. In the beginning, in 1948, the left was very
much pro-Israel. Henry Wallace made support for Israel a major issue in
his presidential campaign that year as the candidate of the leftist
Progressive party, which had the fulsome backing of the American
Communist Party.

The Soviet Union was initially sympathetic to the Israelis, with
Andrei Gromyko arguing at the UN in favor of the creation of a Jewish
state in Palestine. And this wasn’t just talk: the Soviet bloc provided
the arms that made the establishment of Israel possible. Indeed, the
Czech Communist government was single-handedly responsible for arming
the Haganah, and the Irgun. Soviet propagandists even commented
approvingly on the Stern Gang when they blew up the King David Hotel.
What’s more, 200,000 emigrants from socialist countries in Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union came to Israel to fight the British in the
war for independence. A US arms embargo prevented all but a trickle of
aid from reaching the Israelis.

Harry Truman was not inclined to support Israel, but was persuaded by
the challenge coming from Wallace and the left to recognize its
existence. Yet the Soviets were the first to recognize Israel as a
specifically Jewish state: in the original copy of Truman’s declaration,
the word “Palestine” is still used and the phrase “Jewish state” is
crossed out.

What happened to change things into their exact opposite?

What happened was the cold war. When the arms embargo favoring the
Arabs was repealed by the US, the Israelis began to warm toward the
West. Although the Soviets had allowed Jews to emigrate to Israel, the
huge numbers of applicants from the Soviet Union itself made them
nervous: after all, who would want to leave their workers paradise? When
the Korean war broke out and the Israelis sided with the UN, the
Soviets dropped their support for Israel, started selling arms to Egypt
and Syria, and initiated a series of show trials targeting Jews in the
Soviet bloc: the infamous “Doctor’s Plot” and the Slansky trials in Czechslovakia

On the right, the big turnaround was also due to the cold war. The
shift can be seen as a tribal reaction to the left’s growing
anti-Zionism. It was also due to the incursion of a number of former leftists who gathered around National Review
magazine and later became known as the neoconservatives. The neocons,
as we affectionately call them, are partisans of Israel who have often
been accused – sometimes unfairly – of putting Israel’s interests over
and above American interests. The truth is that they see no dividing
line: as long as Israel’s interests are served, they believe, so are
America’s. This has become an increasingly hard position to defend since
the 9/11 terrorist attacks and subsequent efforts by the US government to minimize the influence of Islamist radicals.

Another factor in the turnaround of the American right on the Israel
question has been the growth of the evangelical “born again” movement as
a force to be reckoned with among conservatives. Here is where theology
impacts politics – and this in turn has a direct effect on US foreign

The doctrine of premillennial dispensationalism,
which holds that the coming together of the Jews in Israel marks the
beginning of the end of days, has exerted a powerful attraction to
millions of evangelicals. Dispensationalists hold that the promises made
to Abraham and to the Jewish people have been held in abeyance but will
be fulfilled when the so-called “time of tribulation” comes to pass –
an era of wars and turmoil that will prefigure the end of history and
the return of Christ to earth. What this means, among other things, is
that the borders of the land supposedly given to Abraham and his
descendants – the Jewish people – will extend from the Nile to the
Euphrates. In the dispensationalist theology, Christ will return to a
Jewish kingdom, the epicenter of which will be a rebuilt Temple in

According to the theology, the “time of tribulation” is imminent: the rapture, the rebuilding of the Temple,
and the coming of the Antichrist will all signal the end of days – and
the final battle between good and evil on the plain of Armageddon. Many
dispensationalists explicitly state that this will be a nuclear war – another Holocaust, in which Israel and all mankind will perish, with only the pure of heart ascending to Heaven.

The single largest – and, arguably, the most effective – component of
the Israel lobby consists of a highly organized and very resourceful
Christian dispensationalist element. They have their own lobbying
organizations such as Christian United for Israel (CUFI), which is run by the Rev. John Hagee
and is very active. They are particularly active in the Republican
party and pose a mighty obstacle to any politician who seeks to restore
balance to American foreign policy in the Middle East.

There is hope, however: there is a resurgence of foreign policy
realism in the GOP and in the conservative movement generally: this is a
response to the general war weariness. Opposition to US intervention
overseas, embraced as a principled position by the increasingly
influential libertarian wing of the party, will tend to distance the
Republicans from a pro-Israel lobby that is perpetually trying to draw us into Israel’s wars.

For those of us who want to change American foreign policy and steer it in
a less interventionist direction, the road ahead is going to be hard, long,
and filled with many obstacles, not the least of which is the tremendous motivation
the pro-Israel lobby possesses in all its aspects. Yet the costs of maintaining
this “special relationship” have long since outweighed the gains,
and America is slowly but surely waking up to this fact. Let us hope this event
is going to be a milestone in that awakening.

source: 3/10/14

Alan Grayson: Keystone XL pipeline. Cui bono? China!

Dear Eric:

Forty-one years ago, when I used to get up at 5 a.m. to get on gas
station lines with my parents, I started hearing about “energy
independence” – a secure source of supply for our energy needs. Today,
energy independence soon will be a reality.

For China. Thanks to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Q. Cui bono? (“Who benefits?”) A. China.

The Chinese economy consists of taking raw materials and energy, making
that into stuff, and then selling that stuff – a/k/a “manufacturing.”
Chinese leaders understand that in order for that model to work, China
needs steady supplies of raw materials and energy. By how do you get a
steady supply of energy, in a world where those supplies are dominated
by a cartel, and are concentrated in a part of the world prone to war?
In America, we’ve been trying to puzzle that out for four decades,
without success.

Well, the Chinese have figured it out. They’re going to get their
energy from Canada, a stable country, and pass it through the United
States, another stable country. They will pay the Canadians the world
price for oil. They will pay us nothing, or next to nothing. So Uncle
Sam is Uncle Sucker.

And not for the first time. For the past decade, China has pursued an
utterly unscrupulous and incredibly successful strategy in “trade” with
the United States. China has been importing from the United States
roughly $50 billion in goods each year, much of it food, raw materials
and energy. China has been exporting to the United States roughly $350
billion in goods each year, mostly manufactured goods. And China has
been buying roughly $300 billion in U.S. assets each year, mostly U.S.
Treasuries. So we buy their stuff, putting their people to work. And
they buy our assets, driving us deeper and deeper into debt. America
loses – twice.

Now China has peeled off a tiny portion of that trade surplus, just $30
billion, and audaciously is trying to parlay that into permanent energy
independence. China has put that money into Canadian tar sands.

Canadian tar sands are easily one of the dirtiest energy sources on
Planet Earth. Does China care? No. As Deng Xiaoping used to say, “it
doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches
mice.” China’s leaders are so indifferent to environmental concerns
that they have no problem with 8-year-olds in Beijing contracting lung
cancer from pollution – but they get upset when the U.S. Embassy in
Beijing puts an air quality monitor on the roof, and posts the readings
on the internet. Canadian tar sands are a very, very black cat, but
China’s leaders care only about catching mice.

Chinese leaders have seized key elements of the world industrial supply
chain, like rare earths. According to our government, they engage in
pervasive industrial espionage. They have threatened American companies
like Apple, Google and Walmart. In short, they know how to play the

All of the oil that passes through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has to be
sold in the United States. Why not the same rule for the Keystone XL
Pipeline? But instead, we allow a tax-free zone, to facilitate Chinese
energy independence at the expense of our own. Why does Uncle Sam have
to be Uncle Sucker?

There are plenty of reasons to be against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Environmentalists recognize it as the ultimate “bonfire of the vanities”
– planet-wide carbon bonfires. The pipeline passes through an active
earthquake zone. One bad spill could permanently poison the Ogallala
Aquifer, which provides drinking water to millions of people, and 30% of
our irrigation.

Here is another reason, perhaps the best reason of all: It doesn’t do
us any good. China, yes. The Koch Brothers (who own the refining
capacity that would be used), yes. Us, no.

When are we finally going to have a government with the courage to ask that simple question: Does it do us any good? Cui bono?


Rep. Alan Grayson, U.S. Congressman for Florida’s 9th District

Mirror at Huffington Post,

Kosovo: “Von Allah zum Terror?” 1389 bis heute

von Gudrun Eussner:

… Im Jahre 1389 kam es im Kosovo zum historischen
Kampf auf dem Amselfeld, zu dem sich Ungarn, Serben, Bosniaken, Bulgaren
und Albaner in später Einsicht zusammengeschlossen hatten. Für die
Osmanen ging es um die Sicherung der neugewonnenen Basis, die sich im
Südosten Europas bereits von der Ägäis bis zum Schwarzen Meer
erstreckte; für die Europäer ging es um eine nachhaltige Abwehr der
osmanischen Aggression, die eine beänstigende Perspektive öffnete. Denn
der Durchbruch der Osmanen auf den Kontinent hatte nun die seit
Jahrhunderten befürchtete, strategische Zange des Islam aktiviert.

… Aber wie in der gesamten Geschichte der
Dhimmi-Ausrottung zuvor, so bestätigte sich auch in der türkischen
Variante des Kampfes gegen die “Rayas”, wie die “Schutzbefohlenen” hier
hießen, eine gleichermaßen systematische Bereitschaft des “christlichen”
Klerus zur Kollaboration mit den muslimischen Unterdrückern …

… Um den Sieg auf dem Amselfeld abzurunden, aber auch bestürzt über die eigenen, hohen Verluste, folgte Bayezid guter djihad-Tradition
und ordnete die Enthauptung der Gefangenen an. Wie so oft in der
Dynamik islamischer Gewaltentwicklung, wandelte sich das Schlachtfeld in
ein Schlachthaus, das allerdings die Möglichkeiten der Henker
überforderte. Angesichts der vielen tausend Delinquenten baten die
Exekutoren den Sultan, die aufwendige Methode des Enthauptens durch die
kraftsparende des Kehledurchschneidens ersetzen zu dürfen.

… Das Amselfeld im Kosovo ist ein ebenso
großartiges Symbol des Triumphes für die Türken, wie es für die Serben
ein Menetekel nicht endender Trauer darstellt. Diese Schlacht und ihre
Opfer bilden eines der großen Mahnmale der historischen
Auseinandersetzung zwischen dem Islam und dem Westen, vergleichbar mit
Las Navas de Tolosa, dem Schauplatz der großen spanischen Tragödie und
Massengrab vieler Muslime, oder auch mit Zallaqa, jenem Ort, an dem
Christenköpfe den Baustoff für Minarette lieferten. Und es waren
wiederum Pyramiden aus den abgeschlagenen Köpfen christlicher Feinde,
die auch die Türken auf dem Amselfeld aufschichteten, um ihrer
Verachtung für den Unglauben und den Ruhm Allahs einen angemessenen
Ausdruck zu verleihen.

17. Februar 2008

“Von Allah zum Terror?”

Hans-Peter Raddatz: “Von Allah zum Terror?”, Verlag Herbig, 2002, S. 133 ff.

Beyazid I (Yildirim “der Blitz”), From: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Date: 2007

Kosovo: Allah und Terror!

Alms for Jihad. By Leonard Zelig, Wind in the Wires, 14. März 2008 .html

Alms for Jihad. Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic
World. By J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins. Cambrige University
Press, 2006. Chapter 6. Islam at war in the Balkans, p. 120-137

Kosovo. Mafia-Staat von UN-Gnaden. Von Christoph Reuter. STERN,
21. Februar 2008

Kosovo´s stark warning. By Caroline B. Glick. CSP Security Forum, February 22, 2008

Joachim Rücker, SPD, Special Representative of the Secretary General und Leiter der United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Emperor´s Clothes Articles on Yugoslavia. A partial list

Deutschland: “Druckventil” für Kosovokriminelle. PI, 20. Februar 2008 kosovokriminelle/

Operationalisierung von Security Sector Reform (SSR)
auf dem westlichen Balkan. Institut für Europäische Politik e.V. Berlin,
9. Januar 2007. Auftraggeber: Zentrum für Transformation der
Bundeswehr, ZTransfBw Teile Berlin, Bereich Sicherheitspolitik und
Militärstrategie, Herr Major Johann Schmid

Die BND Studie 2007 über den Kosovo. Balkanforum, 26. April 2007

Serbiens Wiedergeburt – gelassener Umgang mit dem
brutalen Unvermeidlichen. Von Prof. Dr. Wolf Oschlies, Stiftung
Wissenschaft und Politik Berlin. Oesterreichs Bundesheer. Publikationen,
2003 .pdf

Antisemitismus im Kosovo. Via Israel Matzav. Wind in the Wires, 19. Februar 2008 -im-kosovo.html

Kosovo: First they came for the Jews? By Carl in Jerusalem. Israel Matzav,
February 19, 2008

Kosovo: Key Dates in the Century Long Goal to Create Greater Albania, Serbianna, February 17, 2008

UCK: Geheimdienste, Mafia, Drogen, Waffen, Terrorlager

Rechtsstaat? Lieber nicht! Von Jürgen Roth, Die Weltwoche Nr. 43/05

It started with a lie, Nato offensive war. Ein Film von Jo Angerer und Mathias Werth, ARD 2001

Zerstörung von Kirchen und Klöstern. KFOR und NATO im Kosovo. 11. März 2006/17. Februar 2008

Camp Bondsteel and America´s plans to control Caspian
oil. By Paul Stuart, 29 April 2002. Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. Hannah´s
Blog, November 25, 2005

Kosovo , Serbia: church set in flames by muslim Albanians 04. YouTube,
8. März 2007


Madness in the Mountains. By Nebojsa Malic. Miroslav Antic, March 8, 2002

Fireworks Store Filled with Pyromaniacs: Kosovo´s
Grim Future. By David Binder, The Washington Times. Posted by Svetlana
on August 29, 2007

My Trip to Kosovo and Bosnia. By Jesse Petrilla, FrontPageMagazine, June 5, 2007

Where are the Kosovo Killing Fields? The Center for Peace in the Balkans,
October 17, 1999/March 1, 2000 =13873

Bernard Kouchner (Frankreich): 15. Juli 1999 – 12. Januar 2001. Wer ist Wer
in der UNMIK

Bernard Kouchner a crime boss in Kosovo. Balkanforum. 26. August 2007 ss-in-kosovo/

Pascal Copin, nommé fin août (1999) par l´Onu en
qualité d´administrateur général pour le rétablissement de La Poste au
Kosovo. Mouvements. Newsletter, 23 septembre 1999

De nombreux pays dont la France et les Etats-Unis reconnaissent le Kosovo. AFP, 19 février 2008 G7nQ

United States Recognizes Kosovo as Independent State.,
February 18, 2008

Polit-Choreografie auf dem Balkan. Von Burkhard Schröder. Telepolis,
18. Februar 2008

Kosovo. Stolz, unabhängig, frei. Von Norbert Rütsche, Pristina. Der Tagesspiegel, 18. Februar 2008

Traum des Kosovo erfüllt. Jetzt kommen die Probleme. Von Thomas Brey, dpa,, 17. Februar 2008

Geburt des Kosovo weckt Russlands Zorn. Von Norbert Rütsche, Pristina, und Fidelius Schmid, Brüssel, FTD, 17. Februar 2008

Ivo Andric: Die Brücke über die Drina. Süddeutsche Zeitung – Bibliothek, Band 69

Pas d´Islam sans profanation barbare. Par Alain Jean-Mairet, 4 décembre 2007

Sommes-nous donc si aveugles ? Par Alain Jean-Mairet, 25 février 2006

Le devoir de précaution : discréditer l´Islam, 15 avril 2007

Source :   Letztes Update: 19.01.2012

Monika Maron: Politiker müssen Muslimen die Grenzen aufzeigen

E” lang=”DE”>Integrationspolitik
ist vor allem eine Politik für türkische Muslime. Oder hatten wir je einen
vietnamesischen Integrationspolitiker und forderten die hier lebenden Hindus je
einen eigenen Feiertag? Von Monika Maron

E” lang=”DE”>Als ich neulich in
der Zeitung las, der Innenminister de Maizière wolle die mittlerweile
zermürbende und ergebnisarme
IslamkonferenzE” lang=”DE”>
ganz und gar umgestalten, flackerte ein Hoffnungsflämmchen in mir auf.

E” lang=”DE”>Endlich, dachte ich, endlich ein Minister, der
sich auch fragt, was viele andere, darunter ich, sich schon lange fragen: Warum
nur eine Islamkonferenz, warum nicht auch eine Hindu-, griechisch-orthodoxe,
russisch-orthodoxe Konferenz, warum nicht eine Polen-, Vietnamesen-,

E” lang=”DE”>Endlich wird es wohl eine Konferenz geben für alle
Eingewanderten, in der dann die vietnamesischen und polnischen Einwanderer den
türkischen erklären könnten, wie das mit ihren Kindern und der Schule
funktioniert und warum sie bisher keine eigene Konferenz brauchten und solche Dinge.

E” lang=”DE”>Aber nur ein paar Stunden später war klar, dass
die Vertreter der Ditib und anderer türkisch-muslimischer Verbände den
Innenminister viel besser verstanden hatten als ich, was meine zaghafte
Hoffnung in verzweifelte Ratlosigkeit umschlagen ließ.

Und wieder ein Forderungskatalog

E” lang=”DE”>Denn schon de Maizières unkonkrete Ankündigung
ermutigte die Kolats, Kizilkayas und andere Wortführer der Muslime, dem
Minister einen Forderungskatalog zu unterbreiten, den sie für jede ihnen
günstig erscheinende Gelegenheit offenbar immer bereithalten: ein muslimischer
Feiertag, Seelsorger in Bundeswehr und Gefängnissen (da besonders),
Krankenhäuser, Friedhöfe, alleinige Herrschaft der Verbände in den Beiräten für
islamische Religionspädagogik und, so eine Forderung des Sprechers der
DitibE” lang=”DE”>,
Bekir Alboga, “wertschätzende Aussagen von Politikern”, um “die
öffentliche Wahrnehmung” des Islam in Deutschland zu verbessern.

E” lang=”DE”>Ich stelle mir vor, ich würde von deutschen
Literaturkritikern wertschätzende Äußerungen über meine Bücher fordern, um
deren öffentliche Wahrnehmung zu verbessern. “Dann schreiben Sie bessere
Bücher”, würden mir die Kritiker vielleicht sagen, wahrscheinlich würden
sie mich aber nur für verrückt erklären.

E” lang=”DE”>Die Ditib, in deren Namen Bekir Alboga spricht,
ist der deutsche Repräsentant der türkischen Religionsbehörde Diyanet, die
direkt der Regierung Erdogan untersteht. Offenbar versucht sie in Deutschland
durchzusetzen, was inzwischen selbst in der Türkei auf Widerstand stößt.

E” lang=”DE”>In Deutschland leben 15 Millionen Einwanderer,
darunter sind etwa 4,5 Millionen Muslime, davon drei Millionen Türken. Wie
viele Muslime sich durch ihre Verbände wirklich vertreten fühlen, wissen wir

Warum ein muslimischer Feiertag für alle?

E” lang=”DE”>Aber selbst wenn es alle wären, ergäbe ihr Anteil
an der deutschen Bevölkerung fünf Prozent, was hieße, dass 95 Prozent einen
Feiertag begehen sollen, mit dem sie weder durch Tradition noch durch ihren
Glauben irgendwie verbunden wären.

E” lang=”DE”>Allein dieser Anspruch erscheint mir absurd. In
Deutschland herrscht vollkommene Religionsfreiheit. Jeder Gläubige ist
berechtigt, an seinen religiösen Feiertagen Urlaub zu nehmen.

E” lang=”DE”>Ich frage mich schon lange, wie die muslimischen
Verbände es anstellen, dass ihre absurdesten Forderungen die ganze Republik
regelmäßig in Aufruhr versetzen, sodass man den Eindruck haben könnte, wir
lebten tatsächlich schon in einem halbislamischen Staat, dessen säkulare
Verfassung unter den religiösen Forderungen der Muslime nach und nach begraben
werden soll.

E” lang=”DE”>Verschleierte Lehrerinnen, Gebetsräume in Schulen,
BurkinisE” lang=”DE”> in
Schwimmhallen – wenn es nach den muslimischen Funktionären ginge, würde das
Bild des öffentlichen Lebens in Deutschland im Namen von fünf Prozent seiner
Bewohner so lange umgestaltet, bis es islamischen Ansprüchen genügt. Ich hoffe
inständig, dass zumindest die Hälfte aller deutschen Muslime das so wenig
wünscht wie ich.

Die Politik und ihr beschwichtigender Ton

E” lang=”DE”>Am wenigsten verstehe ich, warum die deutschen
Politiker mit den muslimischen Vertretern in diesem beschwichtigenden Ton
sprechen, als hätten sie gerade einen Deeskalationskurs der Neuköllner
Kriminalpolizei absolviert. Sie sind die gewählten Repräsentanten aller
Deutschen und legitimiert, die säkularen Grundsätze des Staates klar und
unmissverständlich zu verteidigen.

E” lang=”DE”>Wenn die religiösen Ansprüche der Muslime mit dem
Gleichheitsgebot des Grundgesetzes kollidieren sollten, müsste man, wie der
deutsch-ägyptische Autor
Hamed Abdel SamadE” lang=”DE”> es
schon vorgeschlagen hat, die Privilegien der christlichen Kirchen womöglich
beschränken, um den Zugriff des Islam auf das öffentliche Leben von uns allen
zu verhindern.

E” lang=”DE”>Es ist eine Illusion zu glauben, die Probleme des
Islam und mit dem Islam ließen sich allein im deutschen Kontext lösen. Gläubige
Muslime verstehen sich als eine weltweite Gemeinschaft, als Umma, deren
Konflikte und Kämpfe auch in die deutschen Klassenzimmer dringen.

Türkisch, iranisch, palästinensisch

E” lang=”DE”>Die Hoffnung, den Frieden zu wahren, indem die
eigenen, hart erkämpften Werte durchlöchert werden, trügt, wie der gepriesene
Frieden des “Wunders von Marxloh” *) getrogen hat.

E” lang=”DE”>Statt aber scharfe Grenzen zum religiösen Anspruch
einer Bevölkerungsgruppe zu ziehen, demonstrieren Politiker aller Parteien ihre
Toleranz, indem sie möglichst jeden frei werdenden Posten in der
Integrationspolitik mit einem Mann, am liebsten aber mit einer Frau türkischer,
iranischer oder palästinensischer, in jedem Fall muslimischer Herkunft

E” lang=”DE”>Warum eigentlich nicht mit einer Vietnamesin oder
einem Polen, einem Russen oder einer Bulgarin, deren Religionszugehörigkeit
sicher nicht gesondert hervorgehoben würde? Ist Integrationspolitik vor allem
eine Politik für Muslime, insbesondere für türkische Muslime, oder schließt sie
die übrigen zehn Millionen Einwanderer ein?

E” lang=”DE”>Aydan Özoguz, seit Dezember 2013 Staatsministerin
für Integration, beklagte kurz nach ihrem Amtsantritt mangelnde Kenntnisse der
Deutschen über Islam und Islamkonferenz. Kurz darauf forderte sie, die
bisherige Regelung für die doppelte Staatsangehörigkeit “ohne Wenn und
Aber” aufzuheben.

Es gilt, das Grundgesetz zu wahren

E” lang=”DE”>Das Verb “integrieren” hat sowohl eine
reflexive als auch eine nicht reflexive Bedeutung; man kann etwas oder jemanden
integrieren, und man kann sich integrieren.

E” lang=”DE”>Eine Integrationsministerin sollte beide Bedeutungen des Wortes in ihrer Politik bedenken. Sonst liefe
sie Gefahr, Klientelpolitik zu betreiben und die Interessen des ganzen Landes
aus den Augen zu verlieren.

E” lang=”DE”>Die
Integrationsaufgabe der deutschen Gesellschaft und Politik ist es, den
Menschen, die aus anderen Kulturen und Staaten zu uns kommen, die Wege zu
ebnen, die Türen zu Schulen und Universitäten zu öffnen, Religions- und
Meinungsfreiheit zu garantieren.

E” lang=”DE”>Die
Integrationsaufgabe der Einwanderer ist es, diese Angebote anzunehmen und das
Grundgesetz, das heißt auch die Säkularität des Landes, zu achten; eben sich
zu integrieren, als Muslime, Atheisten, Orthodoxe jeder Couleur, Hindus, Juden,
Katholiken, Protestanten, jeder nach seiner Fasson.

E” lang=”DE”>*) In
Duisburg-Marxloh wurde 2008 die größte Moschee Deutschlands eröffnet
E” lang=”DE”>

E” lang=”DE”>Die
Autorin ist Schriftstellerin und lebt in Berlin. Zuletzt erschien ihr Roman

Source: Die Welt, 2.2.2014
E” lang=”DE”>

The Secret History of the Vietnam War

By Daniel Denvir

If you thought you knew all there was to know about the Vietnam War,
you were wrong. For example: ever heard of the “Mere Gook Rule,” a code
of conduct the US military came up with in order to make it easier for
soldiers to murder Vietnamese civilians without feeling too bad about
it? (“It’s only a mere gook you’re killing!”) 

Well, few people knew about this bit of history either until author
Nick Turse discovered it in secret US military archives, which he used
as the primary sources for his new(ish) book, Kill Everything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. The
book is based on Turse’s discovery of theretofore secret internal
military investigations of US-perpetrated atrocities alongside extensive
reporting in Vietnam and among American veterans, and it reminds us
that the most significant fact about the Vietnam War is its most
overlooked: massive and devastating Vietnamese civilian suffering.

The debate over the US’s war in Vietnam continues to hang over this
country’s most recent and techno-futuristic imperial adventures. Nick’s
book makes for timely if extraordinarily painful reading, and I sat down
with him recently to talk about the ongoing relevance of Vietnam,
massacres, and secretly photocopying whole US government archives.

VICE: Your book documents how the American war in Vietnam was a
fight systemically waged against the civilian population. How does this
account that you documented differ from the Vietnam war as it’s
popularly remembered in the United States today? 
Nick Turse: We have 30,000 books in print on the
Vietnam War, and most of them deal with the American experience. They
focus on American soldiers, on strategy, tactics, generals, or diplomacy
out of Washington and the war managers there. But I didn’t see any that
really attempted to tell the complete story of what I came to see as
the signature aspect of the conflict, which was Vietnamese civilian
suffering. Millions of Vietnamese were killed, wounded, or made refugees
by deliberate US policies, like the almost unrestrained bombing and
artillery shelling across wide swaths of the countryside. That is,
deliberate policies dictated at the highest levels of the US military.
But any discussion of Vietnamese civilian suffering is condensed down to
a couple pages or paragraphs on the massacre at My Lai. 
This isn’t the book that you initially intended to write. Tell
me about the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group and the documents that you
I was working on a project on post-traumatic stress disorder among US
Vietnam veterans. I would go down to the National Archives and I was
trying to find hard data, military documents, to match up to the
self-reports that we had from veterans about their experiences during
the war. And on one of these trips I hit dead ends at every turn. After
two weeks I had nothing to show for my research. I went to an archivist I
worked with. I told him I couldn’t go back to my boss empty handed. He
thought about it for a second. He asked me, “do you think witnessing war
crimes could cause post-traumatic stress?’ I told him, “excellent
hypothesis” and asked what he had.

Within an hour I was going through this box, many boxes actually, these
reports of massacres, murders, rape, torture, assault, mutilation.
Records put together by this Vietnam War Crimes Working Group impaneled
in the Army Chief of Staff’s office in the wake of the My Lai massacre,
to track any war crimes cases or allegations that bubbled up from the
field, to make sure that the Army wasn’t caught flat footed again. And
whenever it could it tried to tamp down these allegations.

So the War Crimes Working Group was not created to prevent or punish atrocities and war crimes?
That’s exactly right. They didn’t try and punish wrongdoers. They
didn’t try and put guidance out in the field. They didn’t do anything to
prevent war crimes. It operated out of [Chief of Staff] General
[William] Westmoreland’s office. He had been the supreme commander in
Vietnam a couple years before, so he had a vested interest in the war
and how it was portrayed. They just tracked things so they could make
reports to the Secretary of Defense and to the White House to keep them
appraised of possible scandals that were on the horizon. 

So this group put together this massive collection of files. And after I
found it I wrote my dissertation on these documents, and after I
defended my dissertation I went to Vietnam.

Your reporting attempted to match up the atrocities you’d read
about in these files with the actual villages where they had allegedly
been committed. What did you find?
It was actually a lot easier than I expected to find witnesses and
survivors of these particular incidents. Generally because the
Vietnamese are so tied to their land, even people who were bombed out of
the countryside into the shantytowns and slums and refugee camps, after
the war they returned to their home villages, and were living there
when I got there. But it really transformed my project, because I went
to talk to Vietnamese about this one spasm of violence that I had in the
records but what they would talk to me about was ten years of living
under bombs and shells and helicopter gunships, and what it took to
negotiate every aspect of their lives around the American war. 

What I was told in the countryside was beyond my ability to grasp,
something that I could have never have gotten from the records. And I
would talk to Vietnamese who would tell me about what it was like just
to try and eke out an existence in the war zone. About having their home
burned down five, six seven times. And then finally giving up
rebuilding and starting to live a semi-subterranean life in their bomb
shelter. About how they figured out ways to get out of that shelter, to
get water or food or relieve themselves. And how their entire lives were
just predicated on figuring out a way not to get killed. They would
talk about artillery called down on a hamlet, and they would run into
the bomb shelter. And stay there. And then this whole calculus would
begin where they would try and figure out exactly when the right time to
leave that shelter was. You had to wait until the artillery shelling
stopped, but you couldn’t leave too soon or you were apt to be cut down
by a helicopter gunship that was flying overhead. You had to make sure
you weren’t caught in a crossfire between departing guerrillas and the
onrushing Americans. But you couldn’t stay down there too long because
the Americans were coming, and they would start rolling grenades into
the bomb shelters because they saw them as possible enemy bunkers,
fighting positions. There all of these decisions to be made, and it
wasn’t just your life that depended on making it, but maybe your entire
family. The whole family could get wiped out if you left a second too
early or a second too late. 

Your academic advisor suggested that you copy those archives in a hurry before they disappeared?
I couldn’t get the documents out of my head, and I went to a couple
Vietnam War historians that I knew and tried to interest them in the
project. I said, “You really should get down to the National Archives
and work on these.” And everybody at that time, they were burned out on
the War or working on a different project. And one of them suggested
that I ought to pursue it. I went to my advisor at Columbia, David
Rosner, and I said to him, “Do you think I could write a book and my
dissertation at the same time?” I was 200 pages in on another
dissertation. He said that I was nuts. If the documents were that
important, then I should get down to the National Archives and get the

I was just a grad student at the time, I didn’t have the money for this
endeavor. I said to him, “I’m going to have to put together a grant
proposal and it would be months before I got down there.” And he just
pulled out his checkbook and wrote me a check on the spot and said, “Go
down there and get these documents.”

Within 24 hours I was down at the Archives. I went in first thing in
the morning and I copied until they threw me out at night. I put every
cent that he gave me into copying. I slept in my car in the Archives
parking lot and I collected this entire collection.

I always thought he was a little paranoid. I didn’t think there was a
real need to get all the documents. It turned out that it was a smart
move because these documents, sometime after I first published from the
files, they were pulled from the Archives’ shelves and they haven’t been
publicly available in the same way since. Now you have to file a
Freedom of Information Act request.

Your book describes, I think you call it, “suffering on an
almost unimaginable scale.” Artillery shelling, bombing, the destruction
of villages by infantry, revenge missions, massacres, incredibly
sadistic rapes, the gunning down of Vietnamese of farmers and fisherman
from helicopter gunships, free fire zones. You cite an estimate of 3.8
million war deaths, the majority Vietnamese civilians. What turned so
many young American men into such monsters?
It’s a difficult question to answer. I went out and interviewed well
over 100 American veterans for this book, and read sworn testimonies of
many more. I don’t know that I have a satisfactory answer. I talked to
one veteran, he talked to me about the war. We were on the phone for
several hours. He was very jovial. He had a really infectious laugh. 

But he quieted down and said he wanted to tell me a story about a
member of his unit. And he talked about how they were going through a
village and burning it down, which was standard operating procedure. And
in the midst of this, this woman runs up and grabs this GI by the
sleeve, and is tugging at him and yelling at him—obviously because her
home is being burned down, all her possessions are going up in flames.
And she’s angry, scared, upset. And he said this GI just pushed her off,
and then took his rifle and hit her squarely in the nose with the butt.
And he said her face just erupted in blood. She was screaming. And the
GI just turned around and walked away laughing. And he paused a second
and said, “Do you know that GI was me?” He had such a tough time
figuring out how he could have done it. All these years later. At the
time he didn’t think anything of it, and in the years since, he couldn’t
help but think of it on a constant basis. And it really haunted him.
And I had the same problem trying to match up the man that I was talking
to with his 19-year old self.

He told me about how the training that he went through dehumanized the
Vietnamese to the point where they didn’t think of them as human. They
thought of them as—they had a whole bunch of slurs that were used:
dinks, slopes, slants, gooks. And he talked about how “I didn’t become
exactly like a robot but it was like that.” You’re trained to kill, you
chant “Kill, kill kill.” It psychologically readies you for this.

There was even a “Mere Gook Rule?”
There was a shorthand in Vietnam: the MGR, or Mere Gook Rule. The idea
is that the Vietnamese weren’t real people. They were subhumans. Mere
gooks who could be abused or even killed at will. And this is something
that was inculcated in troops from the earliest days of training. I
talked to a lot of veterans who told me that as soon as they arrived at
boot camp, they were told you never call them Vietnamese. You call them gooks, dinks, slants, slopes. Anything to take away their humanity. Anything to make it easier to kill them. 

They were told by their superiors that all Vietnamese were likely the
enemy. That children might carry grenades, women were probably the wives
or girlfriends of guerillas, and they were probably making booby traps.

And even if there were rules of engagement on paper, or little cards
handed out saying to treat the Vietnamese properly, the message that
they were really given was that it was a lot safer to shoot first
because no one was going to ask questions later.

How did high-level policies connect down to village level atrocities?
The Vietnam War was fought using an attrition strategy. This wasn’t a
war like World War I, where you had two armies facing off across a well
defined battlefield. It’s a guerrilla struggle, where the Vietnamese
revolutionaries are radically outgunned. So they’re not going to stand
toe to toe with the Americans. And the Americans aren’t trying to take
territory or capture an enemy capital. 

They were searching for some metric, some measure to show that they
were winning a war. They settled on the attrition strategy which was
used during the second half of the Korean War, and the main measure was
body count. You would kill your way to victory by piling up Vietnamese
bodies, and the Americans were always chasing this crossover point when
they would be killing more Vietnamese guerrillas than the enemy could
put into the field. And the idea was that at that moment, the enemy
would give up the fight. 

Because they would view the war as a rational effort the way the
Pentagon did: this was a ledger sheet. And once the debits outweighed
the credits, then they would end the war. They didn’t think the way the
Vietnamese did, that this was a revolutionary struggle. The Vietnamese
saw it as a continuation of their anti-colonial fight against the

The troops in the field, they were pressed for bodies. Their commanders
were leaning on them heavily. You were told to produce Vietnamese
bodies, and if you didn’t you were going to stay out in the field
longer. They learned pretty quickly that the command wasn’t discerning
about what bodies were turned in, that just about any Vietnamese bodies
would do. This pushed American troops toward at least calling in all
Vietnamese who were filled as enemies, and also to the killing of
detainees and prisoners and civilians, and calling them in as enemy

This coupled with the much higher level of strategic thinking like the
use of “free fire zones,” which was basically a legal fiction that the
US came up with to open wide swaths of the countryside to unrestrained
bombing and artillery shelling. This caused tremendous amounts of death
and destruction in the country side. And it opened it up to all this
heavy firepower and made it inevitable that large numbers of civilians
would be killed or wounded.

You write about particular commanders, like Lieutenant General Julian Ewell, who oversaw atrocities.
Ewell was one of the most notorious commanders who served in Vietnam.
He was body count obsessed in a military world where body count was
king. Even in the military he was known as the Butcher of the Delta.

What Ewell did was unleash heavy fire power across the Mekong Delta,
which was the rice bowl of Vietnam and the most densely populated area.
He opened the countryside to unrestrained artillery fire, bombing, and
pushed his troops hard. His subordinates, the colonels under his
command, were constantly badgered about body count. He demanded it, and
if you didn’t produce body count you were going to be sacked, and
somebody else would be brought in until he got it.

Ewell’s signature operation was code-named Speedy Express. It began in
December 1968 and ran until the end of May 1969. Ewell’s troops reported
almost 11,000 enemy dead, but they only recovered less than 750
weapons. This great disparity was somehow ignored, as it often was
across the country, by reporters in Vietnam. But a couple of years after
Speedy Express ended, a stringer at Newsweek got wind of the
story. Alex Shimkin. He felt that something extremely bloody had gone on
in the Delta, and he amassed some evidence and brought it to his bureau
chief Kevin Buckley. They came up with an estimate of 5,000 civilians
killed during the operation.

Their report was heavily truncated by Newsweek, and the story
never got out in the fullest way that it could have. What they didn’t
know is there had been a whistleblower in the military who had let the
high command know exactly what was going on in the Delta. And what they
also didn’t know was that the military conducted their own
investigation, because they were afraid that the Speedy Express story
that Newsweek had would blow up and become as big or bigger
than the My Lai massacre story. I found this in the National Archives.
It had been buried for decades. But the military’s own estimate showed
that Newsweek probably underestimated the toll there, total.
The military estimated as many as 7,000 of the dead were civilians. So
7,000 of 11,000. Just a devastating conclusion that no one knew about
for decades.

Was Ewell ultimately punished since the military did indeed find that these atrocities had taken place?
No, far from it. After Speedy Express, Ewell was hailed as a hero. This
was seen as a major victory. He was promoted to something called II
Field Force Vietnam, the largest combat command in the world at the
time. And from there he was promoted to become the military attache to
the Paris peace talks. This was probably the least peaceful man in the
military and the one least suited for the peace talks sent because what
he’d done in Vietnam was considered such a success.
Ewell’s crimes were understood and known by Westmoreland and
other top officials. And instead of any effort to discipline or reign
him him he was promoted?
That’s exactly right. Westmoreland had received a letter at the end of
Speedy Express from a soldier who had served within the division, and
seen what had gone on firsthand. And he just set this letter aside. And
this whistleblower wrote other letters to other top commanders, and
eventually the military looked like they were going to conduct a full
investigation, or at least begin one. They set about tracking down the
whistleblower, and that’s where the trail kind of ends. You could see
that they identified him, they were going to make efforts to speak to
him, and then shortly thereafter the investigation was killed.
Subsequent investigations into Speedy Express were all suppressed, none
of them ever made public. It was all disappeared. 

What Newsweek had was the stuff of Pulitzers or Congressional investigations.

Why did editors suppress it?
They kept pushing back on it. I’ve read the cable traffic between Newsweek
and Buckley, and they objected to him linking My Lai and Speedy Express
together. They said they felt the Army and the White House had been
through so much with the My Lai scandal, they didn’t think it was fair
to put them through that type of thing again. 
Poor babies.
Exactly. So what had been a 5,000-word article, a really devastating
piece of reporting, was truncated down to something around 1,800 words.
And Julian Ewell’s name wasn’t even in the piece.
You write about many failures of journalism during and after
the war. Seymour Hersh nearly couldn’t even find a publisher for his My
Lai investigation.
Yeah, Hersh took this story to Look magazine, Life
magazine, a whole bunch of publications. Nobody was interested. Some of
these publications had even heard about it previously from the
whistleblower who got the entire My Lai investigation started, Ron
Ridenhour. Hersh finally had to take it it to Dispatch News Service,
which was a brand new, fledgling anti-war news service. They were able
to distribute it into the mainstream, but really second tier newspapers.
And it was only after it became public, and some photos of My Lai were
published, only then did the story really start to gain steam.

I always thought it was very telling that at the time the My Lai
massacre took place there were somewhere between 500 and 700 reporters
in Vietnam. But when it was reported in the US, it was just a major
victory over enemy forces: 128 enemies killed at a cost of no US lives.
There was only a handful of weapons collected, but nobody thought to ask
any questions. Basically the military press releases were just copied
and put into the newspapers. It took a reporter back in the US to
finally break the story.

My Lai has become the single atrocity through which the bad of
the war is remembered. How did that happen, and what does that do to the
way we think about Vietnam?
It really gives a false impression of the war. Most histories just
distill down all discussion of Vietnamese civilian death and civilian
suffering to the My Lai massacre. Two things were atypical about it:
one, 500 civilians killed over a four hour period is an anomaly. But My
Lai was also an anomaly because it was the one war crime that was
completely and thoroughly investigated. Even the other investigations
that I had in the files, nothing is the scope of My Lai. It came to
stand in for a lot of what was going on in Vietnam. And after that, when
other atrocity stories would come to light, a lot of editors felt that
it was old hat. We’ve heard about My Lai. We know about that. The war
was wrapping up and people weren’t interested in revisiting this.

In histories of the war, academics and scholars haven’t wanted to draw
on what existed during the war, a fairly substantial anti-war literature
that talked about atrocities. Most of this was written off as
propaganda, and I think what seemed safe to talk about was My Lai. And
because Americans generally focus on the American side of the war, it
made it easy to do. 

This seems like such a profound and outrageous failure on the
part of both reporters and academics. You write, it went from being
considered “propaganda and leftist kookery” one day to “yawnworthy
common knowledge” the next.
I think that was really the case. There was only a brief window of
opportunity, maybe one year in 1971, when it seemed that the issue of
war crimes and the issue of Vietnamese suffering was gaining some
traction. The military was having a tough time keeping a lid on it as it
had done for years before. But with the war wrapping up, Vietnam
started to migrate off the front pages. It was no longer leading the
nightly news. The press seemed to be moving on and a lot of people
wanted the war to go away. And of course the military had wanted this to
go away to and took active steps to suppress the story whenever it
You write that civilian support for the National Liberation
Front made such civilians legitimate targets as far as the US was
A lot of the places I talk about in the book, they were what the US
called “hardcore revolutionary areas” because of strong nationalist
revolutionary support. They and their allies in Saigon were never able
to win over the population in that countryside. The governments that had
ruled these areas for years, that represented the people, that provided
the services: this was the revolutionary government. They were
inextricably tied to the population. So they’re unable to win them over,
and they really couldn’t break that bond. All the US really had was
firepower. They tried to drive the people out of the countryside, to
drive them into refugee camps. When people would get driven into refugee
camps, most didn’t have adequate housing, there wasn’t potable water,
there wasn’t sufficient food. And they would filter back to the
countryside. It was easier to take your chance even amidst the firepower
and free fire zones than to try to eke out a living in one of these
There was this explicit campaign to break the ties binding
Vietnamese people to their land, to drive them into cities. You quote a
1968 Foreign Affairs article by Samuel Huntington arguing that this,
“forced urbanization and modernization” was a good thing.
This was seen as the one means to break Vietnamese support for the
guerillas, to physically move the Vietnamese population. But the
Vietnamese were so tied to their land, tied to their rice fields. This
is where their ancestors were buried. And it’s very important to
Vietnamese to venerate their ancestors. So people were very reluctant to
move. The only thing they had at their disposal was destructive force.
You write about the US troops widespread dismembering of Vietnamese corpses. Why did this become such a common practice?
There are a lot of factors at play. Body count, and the way to prove
the body count was to bring in an ear. This was a practice in some
units. There were incentives tied to body count, winning R&R at a
beach resort in country or extra beer, medals, badges. 

In other cases, troops had this belief that Vietnamese spirituality
said that if the corpse wasn’t intact, they wouldn’t be able to move
into the afterlife. A lot of Americans would call it “Buddha heaven.” So
they had this belief that dismembering Vietnamese would be a form of
psychological warfare. They would leave a “death card,” either an ace of
spades playing card or a specially made up, like a business card, with
the unit’s name on it and generally some sort of grim motto attached. 

There was also an active trade in body parts in Vietnam. Ears were worn
on necklaces, one ear or maybe even a whole chain of ears. Some guys
wore these to show their combat prowess. Others would collect these ears
and sell them to people who wanted to project this image. In one unit
they were cutting off the heads of enemies, and anyone who presented it
to the commander got an extra beer ration. In one case, a sergeant had
cut off a head and he boiled the flesh of it, and then traded the skull
for a radio. 

Rape was also a weapon of war and an enormous number of vietnamese women, including children, were forced into prostitution. 
They were forced into catering to the US war machine one way or
another, and one of the prime ways was prostitution. A lot of girls who
were sent to it, their villages had been destroyed and they were forced
into the cities. And this was a way to provide for their families. The
Americans had lots of money to spend and these were young guys, 18, 19,
20 years old. 

So it was this flourishing sex trade and then out in the countryside
there was what seems to be a tremendous amount of rape and sexual

What I found was extremely disturbing. I recount a few cases where the
sexual violence is really shocking. A lot of times I found myself, I
felt I didn’t have the language to describe exactly what I found in the
cases, because rape or even gang rape didn’t seem to convey the level of
sexual sadism. These are extremely violent gang rapes, or raping women
with inanimate objects like bottles or even rifles. 

You write about an archipelago of American and South Vietnamese
prisons that practiced not only torture but also placed prisoners in
“tiger cages,” small, submerged, windowless stone cells where they were
shackled to the floor. Guards would throw lime powder onto prisoners as
The most infamous were at a prison island called Con Son. There were
men and women who were imprisoned for sometimes years on end without
ever being charged, let alone tried. And these were people who spoke out
against the government or spoke up for peace. They were sent to Con Son
as political prisoners and chained in these very tiny cells that had
been built by the French in the 19th century. There had been for years
rumors about what had gone on at Con Son, and it was only in the 1970s a
US aid worker turned activist was able to sneak a couple of American
congressmen in to get a first-hand look at these tremendously deplorable

When some tiger cage prisoners were released, a Time magazine report
said ‘you can’t really call them men anymore. They’re more like shapes.’
They talk about them scuttling on the floor like crabs. If you watch
the video of it, that’s really the case. It happened to women too.
Lower-limb paralysis from being chained so long in stress positions.
They can no longer stand and they had to crawl in a very unnatural way.

And the US was fully aware of this?
There were US advisors inside the entire prison system. Con Son was the
most infamous, but there were around 500 South Vietnamese detention
centers around the country, mostly set up by the Americans, paid for by
the Americans. The US also operated its own detention system on bases,
where there were military intelligence units that held prisoners for
varying lengths of time before they sent them on to joint American and
South Vietnamese facilities, and most of them ended up in strictly South
Vietnamese facilities.
And torture and summary execution were common in US-run facilities as well.
The anecdotal reports, and the few comprehensive investigations, show
that torture was widespread. Things like electrical torture, water
torture, what we now call waterboarding. And routine beatings. 
Waterboarding, of course, has been at the center of the
controversy over the treatment of War on Terror detainees today. Are
there other parallels in your book? Does the US wage war differently
than it did in Vietnam?
I’ve studied today’s wars fairly closely, and I have to say that I
don’t think that the scale of killing of civilians by US forces is
anything near the scale of the carnage in Vietnam. I think specifically
the ways that artillery and airpower are used are radically different.
That said, civilians still die on a regular basis in our war zones, be
it Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of them due to violence set off by
America’s invasions and occupations and the resulting civil strife. Then
of course others have been killed directly from US bombing, from
helicopter gunships, troops on the ground. And still more have been
wounded and still more made refugees. And I think that even despite the
best efforts of the United Nations and some other NGOs, we still don’t
have good numbers on the civilian toll. And I’m afraid that if history
is any guide it might be decades before someone is able to really put
together the real stories of these wars, let alone the semi-covert
campaigns in places like Pakistan and Yemen. So while I don’t think it’s
as bad as it was in Vietnam, I think it remains to be seen exactly what
the toll of these wars has been.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Follow the author on Twitter: @DanielDenvir


Excerpt from Ellsberg’s Memoir, Secrets – The Tonking Gulf Incident August 1964

Prologue: Vietnam 1961

The Most Dangerous Man in America - Secrets, Ellsberg Memoir Book Cover

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets. Penguin, 2003.

the fall of 1961 it didn’t take very long to discover in Vietnam that
we weren’t likely to be successful there. It took me less than a week,
on my first visit. With the right access, talking to the right people,
you could get the picture pretty quickly. You didn’t have to speak
Vietnamese, or know Asian history or philosophy or culture, to learn
that nothing we were trying to do was working or was likely to get
better. I read somewhere you don’t have to be an ichthyologist to know
when a fish stinks.

It helped that I was part of a high-level
Pentagon task force, visiting the Military Assistance Advisory Group
(MAAG) in Vietnam with a “go anywhere, see anything” kind of clearance.
The chief of MAAG, General Lionel McGarr, told his staff members to help
us any way they could and to speak frankly. One colonel in particular
whom I talked to was near the end of his tour and inclined to pass on
what he had learned in-country to someone who might have the ear of
folks in Washington. He opened MAAG’s files to me and pulled out piles
of folders, and I stayed up half the night several nights in a row
reading plans and reports and analyses of our programs in Vietnam and
their prospects. The smell of rot, of failure, lay all over them, and my
colonel friend made no attempt to pretend otherwise.

He told me — and the documents and what I heard from his colleagues
supported it — that under President Ngo Dinh Diem, the dictatorial
leader we had essentially chosen for South Vietnam seven years earlier,
the Communists would almost surely take power eventually, probably
within a year or two. If Diem was deposed in a coup — one had almost
succeeded the year before — the Communists would probably win even
faster. His reasoning was informed and complex; my notes of our
discussions are filled with diagrams of “vicious circles,” a whole
network of them. It was persuasive.

Most of the MAAG officers agreed with him, and with many Vietnamese
officials, that the only thing that would change this prospect in the
short run would be American combat forces on a large scale. (The Geneva
Accords of 1954 permitted only some 350 American military “advisers” in
the country, although by various subterfuges some 700 were present, none
in American combat units.) But even American divisions, this colonel
believed, would only postpone the same outcome. The Communists would
govern soon after our forces left, whenever that might be.

was not good news to me. I was a dedicated cold warrior, in fact a
professional one. I had been anti-Soviet since the Czech coup and the
Berlin blockade in 1948, my last year of high school, and the Korean War
while I was a student at Harvard a couple of years later. For my
military service I had chosen the Marine Corps and spent three years as
an infantry officer. After the Marines I returned to Harvard as a
graduate fellow and then went to the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit
research organization whose entire focus was the military aspects of the
cold war. My own work up to 1961 had been mainly on deterring a
surprise nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. I should have liked
nothing better than to hear that South Vietnam was a place where
Soviet-backed Communists were going to be defeated, with our help. But
the colonel’s arguments persuaded me that this was not that place.

When I got back to Rand the next month, my informal message to my
bosses was that they would be well advised to keep clear of Vietnam,
stay away from counterinsurgency research, in Vietnam at least. We were
on a losing course there, I said, that was very unlikely to be changed,
and all associated with it would only be frustrated and tarred by
failure. They would suffer the fate of those who had worked on the Bay
of Pigs, just a few months earlier. I privately decided to have nothing
to do with it.

But the Kennedy administration didn’t have that
luxury in the short run. Just weeks after I returned from Vietnam a
White House team under two top presidential advisers, General Maxwell
Taylor and Walt W. Rostow, headed out to Saigon to assess the situation
for the president. In particular, they were to judge the necessity for
sending U.S. ground forces. Soon after their return a month later the
White House announced an increase in our involvement in Vietnam. In
mid-November President Kennedy launched a steadily growing increase in
the number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam, breaking through the
ceiling set by the Geneva Accords in 1954. He doubled the number of
military advisers in the last two months of 1961 and accompanied them
with support units for the Vietnamese armed forces: helicopter companies
and specialists in communications, transportation, logistics, and

I wasn’t really surprised by this. I was glad that
contrary to press speculation over the previous weeks, he sent no U.S.
ground combat units. Nevertheless, I thought the increased involvement
went in the wrong direction. (U.S. presence had increased to twelve
thousand “advisers” by the time President Kennedy died in 1963, and some
U.S. support was being supplied covertly, but still no ground combat
units.) It was what I had feared was likely to happen; that was why I’d
made a conscious decision not to be part of it.

I kept that resolution for the next three years.

Chapter 1. The Tonkin Gulf: August 1964

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets. Penguin, 2003.

Tuesday morning, August 4, 1964, my first full day on my new job in the
Pentagon, a courier came into the outer office with an urgent cable for
my boss. He’d been running. The secretaries told him Assistant
Secretary John McNaughton was out of the office; he was down the hall
with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. They pointed him to me, his
new special assistant. The courier handed me the cable and left. It was
easy to see, as I read it, why he had been running.

It was
from Captain John J. Herrick, the commodore of a two-destroyer flotilla
in the Tonkin Gulf, off North Vietnam in the South China Sea. He said he
was under attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats and had opened fire
on them. He was in international waters, over sixty miles off the coast
of North Vietnam. One torpedo had been heard by the sonarman on his
command ship, the USS Maddox, and another had just passed by the other destroyer, the Turner Joy.

As soon as he gave me the cable, the courier returned to the message
center of our department in the Pentagon, International Security Affairs
(ISA), part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the civilian
part of the Department of Defense. Within ten minutes he was back to me
with another one in the same series: “Am under continuous torpedo

A few minutes later Herrick reported another torpedo
had run by him, and two more were in the water. His ships were firing at
the attackers and might already have destroyed one of them. They were
firing by radar, without visual contact. The encounter was taking place
in total darkness, on an overcast night without moon or stars, in the
hours close to midnight.

Gulf of Tonkin incident. Source: U.S. Navy Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard / WikiCommons

Illustration, Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Source: U.S. Navy Historical Center, Washington Navy Yard

was no ordinary event. It was exactly the second attack on a U.S. Navy
vessel since World War II. But the first had been less than three days
earlier. That was on Sunday, August 2, also on Herrick’s ship, the USS Maddox,
on patrol in the Tonkin Gulf. In broad daylight in the middle of the
afternoon, twenty-eight miles out to sea, three North Vietnamese PT
boats had attacked and launched torpedoes at the Maddox. All the
torpedoes had missed, and there was no damage to the destroyer, except
for a single 14.5-mm bullet that lodged in one of its stacks. The boats
were driven off, all damaged, by fire from the Maddox and from navy planes from the carrier Ticonderoga nearby.

Since there had been no American casualties or significant damage,
President Johnson had decided to take no further action, except to add
another destroyer, the Turner Joy, to the mission. The two destroyers
were directed to continue what was described publicly as a routine
patrol in order to assert U.S. rights to navigate freely in
international waters. But the president also announced on Monday his
orders that in case of any further attacks, the attacking boats were to
be not only repulsed but destroyed. He had sent a formal protest to
Hanoi, warning that “any further unprovoked offensive military action
against United States forces” would “inevitably” result in “grave
consequences.” All this, except for the latest announcement, I’d read in
the Monday morning newspapers. That afternoon, reading classified
accounts of the episode, I’d learned a good deal more.

Now, as
each new message came in, I looked at the date-time group, the six-digit
number (followed by a letter indicating the time zone, then the month)
at the upper-left-hand corner of the cables. The first two digits
indicated the day of the month; the next four, in military time (2400
for midnight), the exact time the message had been transmitted. The
first cable had been transmitted from Herrick’s command ship at 10:42
a.m. Washington time (9:42 p.m. in the Tonkin Gulf). I compared the time
of transmission with the clock on the wall of my office in the
Pentagon, which showed, as I recall, that it was about half an hour
later, an extremely short time in this precomputer age for this message
to reach me. The same was true for the second, sent at 10:52 a.m.
Washington time and handed to me about 11:20, and for the others that
kept arriving every few minutes. Herrick was giving them “Flash”
priority, the highest priority for message handling, so they were taking
precedence at every terminal for handling, retransmission, and

But twenty or thirty minutes was a long duration
for an action like this. The whole exchange on Sunday, surface and air,
had lasted thirty-seven minutes. It could have been all over, on the
other side of the world, by the time I read the first message, or the
latest one. Or a destroyer might have been hit, might already be
sinking, while we were reading about its evasive maneuvers or its
success at destroying an attacker. But there was no way for anyone in
Washington to know that as he read these.

There was then no CNN
on which to watch live action half a world away. There was not even any
direct voice contact between Washington and destroyers in the western
Pacific. The closest to it was radio and telephone contact with Admiral
Ulysses S. G. Sharp, commander in chief Pacific (CINCPAC), at his
command post in Hawaii, as far away from the Tonkin Gulf as Washington
was from Hawaii. CINCPAC cables, and many others, were now adding to the
pile on my desk, but they weren’t arriving as frequently or as fast as
the flash cables from the destroyers. Following Captain Herrick’s stream
of messages, we weren’t really watching the action in real time, but
they were coming in such quick sequence that it felt as if we were.

Captain John J. Herrick, USN, Commander Destroyer Division 192 (at left) and Commander Herbert L. Ogier, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Maddox (DD-731), on board Maddox on 13 August 1964. They were in charge of the ship during her engagement with three No

John J. Herrick, USN, Commander Destroyer Division 192 (at left) and
Commander Herbert L. Ogier, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Maddox
(DD-731), on board Maddox on 13 August 1964. Photographed by PH3 White. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

The messages were vivid. Herrick must have been dictating them from the
bridge in between giving orders, as his two ships swerved to avoid
torpedoes picked up on the sonar of the Maddox and fired in the darkness at targets shown on the radar of the Turner Joy:
“Torpedoes missed. Another fired at us. Four torpedoes in water. And
five torpedoes in water….Have…successfully avoided at least six

Nine torpedoes had been fired at his ships,
fourteen, twenty-six. More attacking boats had been hit; at least one
sunk. This action wasn’t ending after forty minutes or an hour. It was
going on, ships dodging and firing in choppy seas, planes overhead
firing rockets at locations given them by the Turner Joy‘s radar,
for an incredible two hours before the stream of continuous combat
updates finally ended. Then, suddenly, an hour later, full stop. A
message arrived that took back not quite all of it, but enough to put
everything earlier in question.

The courier came in with another single cable, running again, after
an hour of relative quiet in which he had walked in intermittently at a
normal pace with batches of cables from CINCPAC and the Seventh Fleet
and analyses from the State Department and the CIA and other parts of
the Pentagon. I was sitting at my desk — I remember the moment — trying
to put this patchwork of information in some order for McNaughton on his
return, when the courier handed me the following flash cable from
Herrick: “Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes
fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects on radar and overeager
sonarmen may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings
by Maddox. Suggest complete evaluation before any further action

It was a little after 2:00 p.m. The message had been sent at 1:27
p.m. Washington time. Half an hour later another message from Herrick,
summarizing positive and negative evidence for an attack, concluded:
“Entire action leaves many doubts except for apparent attempted ambush
at beginning. Suggest thorough reconnaissance in daylight by aircraft.”
The reconnaissance in daylight, still three or four hours away in the
gulf, would search for oil slicks and wreckage from the boats supposedly
hit, indications that an attack, not just a fight with radar ghosts,
had actually taken place.

In my mind, these messages erased the impact of the two-hour-long
“live” drama that we’d been following. This new information was a cold
bath. Around three o’clock, in response to frantic requests for
confirmation, Herrick cabled, “Details of action present a confusing
picture although certain that original ambush was bona fide.” But how
could he be “certain” of that, or why should anyone else be, when he had
seemed equally confident, an hour earlier, of all the succeeding
reports up till now? Herrick continued to assert at 6:00 p.m. Washington
time (5:00 a.m. in the gulf) that “the first boat to close the Maddox probably fired a torpedo at the Maddox which was heard but not seen. All subsequent Maddox
torpedo reports are doubtful in that it is suspected that sonarman was
hearing ship’s own propeller beat.” But his acknowledgment that all the
other vivid reports he had been sending were unreliable undercut his
assertion of continued confidence in his initial messages and the first
torpedo. As negative evidence accumulated, within a few days it came to
seem less likely that any attack had occurred on August 4; by 1967 it
seemed almost certain there had been no second attack, and by 1971 I was
convinced of that beyond reasonable doubt. (In 1966 credible testimony
from captured North Vietnamese officers who had participated in the
August 2 attack refuted any attack on August 4. In late 1970 journalist
Anthony Austin discovered and gave me evidence that intercepted North
Vietnamese cables supposedly confirming an August 4 attack actually
referred to the attack on August 2. Finally, in 1981 journalist Robert
Scheer convinced Herrick — with new evidence from his ship’s log — that
his long-held belief in the first torpedo report was unfounded.)
However, on August 4, given Herrick’s repeated assurances and those of a
number of seamen over the next few hours, I concluded that afternoon,
along with everyone else I spoke to, that there probably had been an
attack of some sort. At the same time, there was clearly a good chance
that there had been none. In that light, Herrick’s recommendation to
pause and investigate before reacting seemed prudent, to say the very
least: Reverse engines, stop the presses! But that was not how things
were moving in Washington that Tuesday afternoon.

Herrick’s new cables didn’t slow for a moment the preparations in
Washington and in the Pacific for a retaliatory air strike as quickly as
possible, preferably at first light in the Tonkin Gulf. What they did
stimulate was a flurry of probes for evidence and witness testimony that
would support his earlier descriptions of the attack or at least
confirm the fact that some attack had occurred.

As these were
arriving in Washington, the president was meeting with the National
Security Council (NSC) basically to inform it of the planned actions.
Next he briefed congressional leaders. Carriers were moving into
position to launch their planes at first light or as early in the
morning as possible. In Washington time that could be anywhere from six
o’clock in the evening to nearly midnight. But the president was
determined to tell the American people of the U.S. attacks more or less
as they were happening. He didn’t want them to hear about the strikes in
the morning news the next day, hours after they had taken place and
after the rest of the world, in earlier time zones, had already heard.

The navy was concerned, on the other hand, not to have the
president’s public announcement warn Vietnamese antiaircraft gunners
that an attack was coming before the planes had entered North Vietnamese
radar. The president undertook not to do that. He asked for airtime for
7:00 p.m., which shifted to 8:00, then to 9:00, because the carrier Constellation
had still not reached its launching station or finished briefing its
pilots. The president was determined to speak no later than 11:30 p.m.
After that his entire audience on the eastern seaboard would be in bed.
Through McNamara to CINCPAC (Admiral Sharp, in Hawaii), he was pressing
to see if he could make his announcement before the planes were over
their targets, perhaps when the first ones started to launch. Would they
be picked up immediately on radar, he asked, so that it wouldn’t be his
announcement then that broke the news to Hanoi? The answer was yes, but
Hanoi wouldn’t know where the planes were heading, so he should take
numbers and types of targets off the TelePrompTer.

At this point in the evening I was sitting with John McNaughton in
his office along with his director of Far Eastern affairs and other
members of his staff, reading cables from the carriers and CINCPAC on
progress toward the launch and trying to help answer questions from
McNamara or the White House. The large TV in McNaughton’s office was on
continuously, with the sound turned down, in case the president decided
to break in on the programming.

Word came in that planes had
taken off, then word that they had not; requests arrived that the
announcement be delayed till the planes were on enemy radar, but it was
too late for that. Admiral Sharp (CINCPAC) told McNamara at 11:20 p.m.
that the Ticonderoga had launched its planes, and the president
went on TV at 11:37. He announced that “air action is now in execution,”
though in fact the Constellation had not yet launched its planes
and no other planes had as yet reached the coast of North Vietnam or
entered its radar. So the announcement did give Hanoi warning, which it
passed down quickly. Our navy concluded from the results that surprise
had been sacrificed.

McNamara gave a press conference at the
Pentagon after midnight. We were up all night in the office following
the raids, to prepare for another McNamara press conference the next
day. My first full day in the Pentagon had been over twenty-four hours

The president’s announcement and McNamara’s press
conference late in the evening of August 4 informed the American public
that the North Vietnamese, for the second time in two days, had attacked
U.S. warships on “routine patrol in international waters”; that this
was clearly a “deliberate” pattern of “naked aggression”; that the
evidence for the second attack, like the first, was “unequivocal”; that
the attack had been “unprovoked”; and that the United States, by
responding in order to deter any repetition, intended no wider war.

By midnight on the fourth, or within a day or two, I knew that each one of these assurances was false.

In the president’s initial public announcement and in every official
statement afterward, it was implicit that the August 4 attack on our
ships, which had triggered our retaliatory strikes, was a simple fact.
There was no official hint, either to Congress or to the public, that in
the minds of various experienced navy operators and intelligence
analysts at the time of our retaliation, as well as earlier and later,
doubt adhered to every single piece of evidence that an attack had
occurred at all on August 4.

A “routine patrol in international waters”?
The two destroyers were on a secret intelligence mission, code-named
DeSoto patrols, penetrating well within what the North Vietnamese
regarded as their territorial waters. We assumed, correctly, that the
North Vietnamese claimed the same limits as other Communist nations,
twelve miles from their coastline and from their islands. The United
States did not officially “recognize” this extended limit; nevertheless
U.S. Navy ships were prudently directed to keep at least fifteen miles
out from the Chinese islands or mainland. But before the August 2
incident the Maddox had been frequently eight miles from the
North Vietnamese mainland and four miles from their islands. The purpose
of this was not merely to demonstrate that we rejected their claims of
limits on our “freedom of the seas” but to provoke them into turning on
coast defense radar so that our destroyers could plot their defenses, in
preparation for possible air or sea attacks. Thus it was true that the
August 2 attack had been twenty-eight miles out to sea, but that was
because a warning of attack when the Maddox was just ten miles from the coast had led the skipper to change course and to head out to sea, with torpedo boats in pursuit.

Hanoi had claimed that “puppet” forces of the Americans had shelled two
of its coastal islands, Hon Me and Hon Nieu, on the night of July
30-31. In public releases, the State Department denied any knowledge of
any such attacks, as did McNamara in his press conferences on August 4
and 5. In top secret testimony to congressional committees in closed
hearings over the next two days, Secretary of State Dean Rusk and
McNamara acknowledged such attacks but insisted that they could not
realistically be considered U.S. provocations that justified or were
intended to evoke North Vietnamese counterattacks because they were
entirely “South Vietnamese” operations, run by the South Vietnamese
navy, aimed at stopping infiltration from the North. The United States
supported them and knew about them in general terms but, Rusk claimed,
not in detail; there was little knowledge of them in Washington. They
had no relationship at all with our destroyer patrols, they were in no
way coordinated, and in fact the commander on the destroyers knew
nothing of them at all. It was implicit in this testimony, and not
challenged, that in any case no such raids were taking place in the
context of the second attack or since July 31. The resolution that
Congress was being asked to pass quickly and as nearly unanimously as
possible was nothing other than a gesture of support for the president’s
action, to demonstrate solidarity to Hanoi and to deter future attacks
on our forces. Each of these assertions was false.

In my new job
I was reading the daily transcripts of this secret testimony, and at
the same time I was learning from cables, reports, and discussion in the
Pentagon the background that gave the lie to virtually everything told
both to the public and, more elaborately, to Congress in secret session.
Within days I knew that the commander of the destroyers not only knew
of the covert raids but had requested that his patrol be curtailed or
terminated after the first attack on August 2 because he expected
retaliatory attacks on his vessels as a result of the raids. His request
was denied. Moreover, I learned, these weren’t South Vietnamese
operations at all, not even joint operations. They were entirely U.S.
operations, code-named 34A ops. The anti-infiltration operations by
South Vietnamese junks that McNamara described in some detail to
Congress were entirely separate and different, as he knew. For the raids
against North Vietnam, of which Hanoi had publicly complained, the
United States owned the fast patrol boats known as Nastys (which the CIA
had purchased from Norway), hired the crews, and controlled every
aspect of the operations. The CIA ran the training, with help from the
U.S. Navy, and recruited the crews; some of them were recruited, as
individuals, from the South Vietnamese navy, but others were CIA
“assets” from Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia, along with mercenaries from
around the world. The operations had been run originally by the CIA but
now were jointly controlled by the CIA and Military Assistance Command,
Vietnam (MACV), in coordination with the navy. Despite the use of
foreign personnel, to provide “plausible deniability” if captured, the
34A operations were exactly as much American operations as were the U.S.
Navy DeSoto patrols of the destroyers. Moreover, the North Vietnamese
were not mistaken to believe that the two types of American operations
were coordinated at various levels. For one thing, the DeSoto missions
in that particular area were timed to take advantage, in their plotting
of coastal radars and interception of communications, of the heightened
activity that was triggered in North Vietnamese coastal defenses by the
34A raids.

As for Washington knowledge of them, top officials
read and signed off personally on schedules for them in advance, based
on incredibly detailed descriptions of the planned actions. I soon knew
this because I came later that month to be the courier who carried these
highly secret plans around Washington from one to another of these
officials for their signatures. These included Deputy Secretary of
Defense Cyrus Vance, Deputy Secretary of State Llewellyn Thompson, and
finally, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy in the White House.
They were among the members of the 303 Committee, which oversaw and
approved all covert operations for the president. While they read the
documents, I sat in their offices, along with a colonel from the covert
operations branch of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) who had initially
brought the file to me.

The contrast between what the senators
had been told by the secretaries in a secret joint session of the Senate
Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, as I read the
testimony, and what I soon knew as a first-week staffer in the Pentagon
was striking. Pressed by Senator Frank Church to acknowledge that “our
government which supplied these boats” (supposedly, as he had just been
told, to the South Vietnamese) did know that they would be used for
attacks on North Vietnam, Secretary Rusk replied, “In the larger sense,
that is so, but as far as any particular detail is concerned we don’t
from Washington follow that in great detail.”

In contrast with this disclaimer, as I knew very well, it would have been more accurate to say that every particular detail
of these operations was known and approved by the highest authorities
in Washington, both military and civilian. The monthly plan for
September 1964, the month following the August raids, which I carried
over to the State Department to be read and initialed by Mr. Rusk’s
deputy and then to McGeorge Bundy in the White House, included the
following scheduled actions:

Two junk capture missions; remove
captives for 36-48 hours interrogation; booby trap junk with
antidisturbance devices and release; captives returned after
interrogation; timing depends upon sea conditions and current
intelligence;…Demolition of Route 1 bridge by infiltrated team
accompanied by fire support teams, place short-delay charges against
spans and caissons, place antipersonnel mines on road
approaches;…Bombard Cape Mui Dao observation post with 81 MM mortars
and 40 MM guns from two PTFs;…Destruction of section of Hanoi-Vinh
railroad by infiltrated demolition team supported by two VN [Vietnam]
marine squads, by rubber boats from PTFs, place short-delay charges and
anti-personnel mines around area….

Some of these operational
details, such as the placement of antipersonnel weapons and 81-mm mortar
rounds, might have seemed rather petty to be occupying the attention of
these officials, but this was the only war we had. Of course it was
precisely the “sensitive” nature of the operations-their illegality, the
danger both of exposure and of escalation, and their covertness,
defined as “plausible deniability”-that required such high-level
officials to lie to the Senate if questions were raised and therefore to
need such detailed prior awareness and control of what it was they
would have to lie about.

This wasn’t the end of the coordination
in Washington. After a monthly program like this was approved, General
William Westmoreland, U.S. military commander in Vietnam, requested
approval for execution of each individual maritime mission, and I again
carried these around for approval. When an attack that had earlier been
approved in Washington for the following month actually took place-the
exact timing would depend on weather and sea conditions-that fact and
its results were reported back to Washington before another attack was
approved by Washington. On August 2, during the Sunday morning meeting
in which President Johnson was told of the daylight attack on the Maddox,
there was discussion of the results of the July 31 covert attacks on
the islands, and the president personally approved the next proposed
covert raids, for the nights of August 3 and August 5.

On the
evening of the fourth, at an NSC meeting when the president asked, “Do
they want war by attacking our ships in the middle of the Gulf of
Tonkin?” Director of Central Intelligence John McCone answered: “No. The
North Vietnamese are reacting defensively to our [sic] attack on their
off-shore islands. They are responding out of pride and on the basis of
defense considerations.” He was referring to the July 31 raids, but his
answer covered the supposed attack that morning, since there had been
another raid, this time on the North Vietnamese mainland, the night
before. This estimate did not prevent the president from saying, in his
message as he urged Congress to pass the resolution days later: “We have
answered their unprovoked aggression….”

On August 7 Congress
approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which reads: “Congress approves and
supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression….The United States is…prepared, as the President determines,
to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to
assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective
Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom”
[emphasis added].

There was some unease expressed regarding the
unusually vague and open-ended scope of the resolution drafted by the
administration. Senator Wayne Morse called it a predated declaration of
war. Senator Gaylord Nelson offered an amendment expressing a sense in
Congress that “[o]ur continuing policy is to limit our role to the
provision of aid, training assistance, and military advice,” and “we
should continue to attempt to avoid a direct military involvement in the
Southeast Asian conflict.” Senator Fulbright, who managed passage of
the resolution in the Senate, said he believed this amendment was
“unobjectionable” as “an accurate reflection of what I believe is the
President’s policy.” He rejected it only because (as Johnson had
stressed to him in private) the delay in passage to resolve differences
in language between the House and Senate versions would weaken the image
of unified national support for the president’s recent actions. At this
moment it was announced that the House had passed the resolution 416 to
0 after forty minutes of debate. Fulbright hoped the Senate would
approach that unanimity. Soon after this the Senate voted 88 to 2, with
only Senators Morse and Ernest Gruening voting against it.

Several senators, including George McGovern, Frank Church, Albert Gore,
and the Republican John Sherman Cooper, had expressed the same concern
as Nelson. Fulbright acknowledged that the language was broad enough to
permit the president to launch direct combat involvement, including U.S.
infantry divisions, which was what worried them. But they accepted
Fulbright’s assurances-reflecting his talks with officials including the
president-that there was no consideration in the administration of
using the resolution as an authorization for changing the American role
in the war. He had “no doubt that the president will consult with
Congress in case a major change in present policy becomes
necessary.”Most of the Democrats saw the resolution mainly as a way to
get a strong expression of bipartisan support for the president’s
forceful action, undercutting Goldwater’s campaign claim that Johnson
was uncertain in foreign affairs and indecisive in Vietnam. By thus
helping to defeat Goldwater, they saw their support for the resolution
as a way of avoiding escalation in Vietnam, which only Goldwater was promising.

But Fulbright’s assurances, all of them, were as unfounded as those of
Johnson, Rusk, and McNamara. The difference was that he didn’t know it.
He had been deceived, and in turn, unwittingly, he misled the Senate. Of
all the week’s deceptions, these were by far the most significant.

We seek no wider war?
But the president that summer was secretly and explicitly threatening
the Hanoi regime with a wider war against North Vietnam itself, unless
its leaders took steps to end the conflict that no one in the
administration thought they were likely to take. Johnson’s messages to
Ho Chi Minh, through a Canadian intermediary, amounted to a secret
promise by the president of the United States to the leaders in Hanoi to
widen the war unless they called it off.

The warnings were
being delivered to North Vietnam by Blair Seaborn, the Canadian member
of the International Control Commission (ICC), set up to monitor
observance with the 1954 and 1962 Geneva Accords. In his first meeting
in Hanoi on June 18, he had met privately with Prime Minister Pham Van
Dong. Seaborn had relayed the warning, drafted by U.S. officials and
coordinated with the Canadians, that “U.S. public and official patience
with North Vietnamese aggression is growing extremely thin,” and that if
the conflict should escalate, “the greatest devastation would of course
result for the DRV [Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam]

Among those who had advocated these threats-virtually
all of the president’s civilian and military advisers-no one regarded
them as bluffs. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had been directed to make
detailed plans for air attacks on North Vietnam. By the end of May it
had completed studies and preparations, down to target folders for a
recommended list of ninety-four targets. The targets for retaliation
selected so quickly on August 5 had simply been drawn from this
ninety-four-target list. Both this planning and the warning by a
Canadian intermediary figured in detailed scenarios coordinated within
the government since March and April-most recently on May 23-leading up
to a “D-Day” air assault on North Vietnam, to continue until “terrorism,
armed attacks, and armed resistance to pacification efforts in the
South stop.” Another key element, scheduled for D-20 (twenty days before
the attacks began), was:”Obtain joint resolution [from Congress]
approving past actions and authorizing whatever is necessary with
respect to Vietnam.”

Although the detailed thirty-day scenario
approach was shelved by the president’s top advisers in late May, they
recommended to him as separate items that month nearly all of its
pre-D-Day elements, including those above. They also recommended an
initial strike against North Vietnam to underline the secret warning.
This followed a proposal by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon, a
strong advocate of attacks on the North who had earlier in the spring
introduced the notion of the warning through Canada. On May 15, in a
message to the president, he suggested:

If prior to the
Canadian’s trip to Hanoi there has been a terroristic act of the proper
magnitude, then I suggest that a specific target in North Vietnam be
considered as a prelude to his arrival….

This had not occurred
prior to Seaborn’s first visit to Hanoi in June. But his second visit
was scheduled for August 10. The events of August 2-7 allowed the United
States to point out, in case of any doubt in Hanoi, just what that
warning meant in concrete terms. Moreover, the second discussion would
allow the administration to make clear what it felt entitled to do with
the authority granted by the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, lest Hanoi had been
misled by the interpretation Senator Fulbright had given to his fellow

To these ends my new boss, John McNaughton, was asked
to draft instructions for Seaborn’s August 10 session. That was why
McNaughton chose to tell me about and to show me a file on the threat
process, describing it as one of the most closely held secrets in the
administration. He told me that Imust not hint of the existence of this
process to anyone, including any of his own deputies. One reason for the
extreme secrecy of the information McNaughton gave me was that it was a
very dubious role for an ICC commissioner to be conveying U.S. threats
to Hanoi. (An intermediary was needed because the United States had no
formal representation or contact with the Hanoi regime.) That role could
not be known to the other members of the ICC, Poland and India, or to
the Canadian Parliament or public, which would not be as quick to accept
it as Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson. But what was most
“sensitive” about this information was that this official warning by the
president to the heads of an adversary state came very close to
committing him to the course of action that his Republican opponent,
Senator Goldwater, was advocating and that President Johnson was
opposing and describing in his campaign as dangerously reckless.
Moreover, it put the administration’s intentions with respect to the
Tonkin Gulf Resolution in an entirely different light from what Congress
was being told. Indeed, on August 7, as Congress was voting on the
Tonkin Gulf Resolution, John McNaughton was drafting instructions on the
message Seaborn should (and later did) deliver that precisely reversed
the emphasis on the two key clauses in the resolution that Senator
Fulbright had been encouraged by the administration to convey to his
fellow senators. His draft, which was adopted by the administration and
followed by the Canadians, told Seaborn to conclude his comments with
the points:

a. That the events of the past few days should add
credibility to the statement made last time, that “U.S. public and
official patience with North Vietnamese aggression is growing extremely

b. That the congressional resolution was passed with near
unanimity, strongly reaffirming the unity and determination of the U.S.
government and people not only with respect to any further attacks on
U.S. military forces but more broadly to continue to oppose firmly, by
all necessary means, DRV efforts to subvert and conquer South Vietnam
and Laos.

c. That the U.S. has come to the view that the DRV
role in South Vietnam and Laos is critical. If the DRV persists in its
present course, it can expect…to suffer the consequences.

Van Dong’s reaction on August 13, as a State Department report
described it, was “extremely angry” and cold. And unyielding, as on the
first visit (when the exchange had been friendlier, despite the threat).
Then he had said that the prospect for the United States and its
friends in South Vietnam was “sans issue”: no way out, a dead
end. Now, in the aftermath of the American raids, he said that the
United States had found “it is necessary to carry the war to the North
in order to find a way out of the impasse…in the South.”

had gotten the message. (It remained a secret from the American
electorate, and from Congress, for the next eight months.) A wider war
was on the way.

—from Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, Copyright © October 2002, Viking Press, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission

Source: pbs

Der Status der Frau und das Familienrecht im Judentum…

Von Theodor Much

Rabbi Elasar sagte: „Jeder Mensch der keine Frau hat, ist
eigentlich kein Mensch, denn es heisst: Männlich und weiblich schuf er
sie … und rief ihren Namen: Mensch“
(Talmud: Jewamot 63a).

Die Grundlagen der traditionellen jüdischen Sicht zur Stellung der
Frau in Familie und Gesellschaft entspringen einer patriarchalischen
Kultur biblischer und talmudischer Zeiten.
Damals wurde die Frau – wie u. a. aus dem Mischna-Traktat Kidduschim 1.1
hervorgeht („die Frau wird erworben …”) – als Eigentum ihres Ehemannes
gesehen, derer vornehmste Pflicht es war Kinder zu gebären, sie zu
erziehen, ihrem Mann beizustehen und ihn zu ergänzen.

Daß die Halacha Männer und Frauen verschieden einstuft – und auch
behandelt – wird von niemandem bestritten, inwieweit dieses Messen mit
zweierlei Maß in der religiösen Gesetzgebung und Praxis berechtigt ist,
darüber gehen allerdings die Meinungen in der jüdischen Welt stark
auseinander. Befürworter der traditionellen Praxis weisen darauf hin,
daß der Respekt vor Frauen im Judentum immer sehr ausgeprägt war (und
immer noch ist). Sie argumentieren, daß Frauen und Männer vor Gott zwar
gleichwertig seien, Frauen aber dennoch – gottgegeben – sich mental und
physisch stark von Männern unterscheiden bzw. in der Gesellschaft andere
Aufgabenbereiche als Männer erfüllen und daher Gesetze notwendig
wurden, die dem Schutz der Frau und ihrer Lebensqualität dienten. Es
handelt sich – so sagen die Traditionalisten – aber nur um eine
scheinbare Benachteiligung der Frau, denn im eigenen Heim sei die
Ehefrau eine Königin, stets vom Gatten geachtet, umsorgt, behütet und
sogar sexuell verwöhnt, mit vielen Privilegien ausgestattet, wie z.B.
das Recht, Schabbatkerzen zu zünden (siehe Kapitel: „Gebete, Sitten und
Traditionen im Judentum“) und sei dabei gleichzeitig von bestimmten –
schwer einzuhaltenden, weil zeitgebundenen – religiösen Mizwot
(Pflichten), wie etwa das Beten zu vorgeschriebenen Zeiten, dem Anlegen
von Gebetsriemen, dem tägliche Besuch der Synagoge und dem Talmud-Torah
Studium, befreit. Traditionalisten weisen auch auf die Tatsache hin, daß
der jüdische Status eines Kindes allein von der Mutter abhängt
(Matrilinearität), „womit bewiesen sei, daß Frauen im Judentum nicht
benachteiligt, sondern sogar bevorzugt werden“.

Diese Argumentation sollte nicht belächelt werden, denn in der Tat
war in biblischen und talmudischen Zeiten der Status der jüdischen Frau
sehr viel besser als die Stellung ihrer nichtjüdischen Nachbarin. Daß
Frauen bis zum 12. Jahrhundert im Judentum eine wichtige Rolle spielten
ist unbestritten. Namen wie unter anderem von Sara, Rebekka, Rachel, Lea
(die 4 Erzmütter), Miriam (die Schwester von Moses), Richterin Deborah,
die Prophetin Hulda und die Moabiterin Rut (die Urgroßmutter von König
David), die gelehrten Frauen Brurija und Jalta (Babylon 3. Jahrhundert)
zeigen, die ehemals große historische Bedeutung von Frauen für das
Judentum. Während sich aber das einst so vorbildliche jüdische Gesetz
zum Schutz der Frau seit dem 12. Jahrhundert wenig weiterentwickelte
(sich teilweise sogar verhärtete, weil aus „Befreiungen” Verbote
wurden), änderte sich nach und nach die gesellschaftliche und rechtliche
Stellung der Frau in der nichtjüdischen (westlichen) Welt ganz
wesentlich, mit dem Ergebnis, daß heute die Diskriminierung von Frauen,
zumindest in manchen Bereichen des traditionellen Judentums, stärker ist
als in vielen anderen Religionen.

Das traditionalistische Argument der „Befreiung“ erscheint schon
deswegen unglaubwürdig, weil auch solche Frauen von religiösen Pflichten
„befreit” werden, die nicht – oder nicht mehr – die Bürde einer
kinderreichen Familie tragen müssen und selber den Wunsch hegen, sich
aktiv am religiösen Leben zu beteiligen. Befürworter der alten Tradition
verschweigen auch gerne die Tatsache, daß die Diskriminierung der Frau
sich nicht nur auf religiöse, sondern auch auf soziale und
familienrechtliche Bereiche erstreckt.

Ob das „Privileg“ der Frau am Schabbateingang Kerzen zünden zu dürfen
eine besondere Auszeichnung darstellt, erscheint im Lichte der
Talmuderklärung zur Rolle der Frau am Schabbat sehr fraglich. Im Talmud
(Schabbat 31b) wird Raschis Meinung zitiert, sie lautet: „Da eine Frau
(Eva) die Ursache für den Sturz des Mannes (Adam) gewesen sei und durch
ihre Handlung eine Verdunklung des Lichtes in der Welt ausgelöst habe,
sei es auch die Aufgabe der Frau, die Lichter anzuzünden und damit das
Licht zurückzubringen.“

Bezeichnenderweise sind die meisten (der im allgemeinen
selbstsicheren und emanzipierten) jüdischen Frauen über ihren eigenen
Status im jüdischen Gesetz wenig bis überhaupt nicht informiert (was
außerhalb von Israel für sie auch kaum negative Konsequenzen hat). Nicht
wenige von ihnen empfinden ihre Sonderstellung als nicht unangenehm und
durchaus berechtigt.
Es kann aber auch nicht übersehen werden, daß immer mehr (selbst
orthodoxe) Frauen mit den bestehenden Zuständen nicht mehr einverstanden
sind und ihre Stimme gegen Diskriminierungen erheben.

Wo liegen nun die deutlichsten Benachteiligungen der Frau im (ultra-)orthodoxen Judentum?
Es sind dies in erster Linie Fragen des religiösen und sozialen Status
und des halachischen Ehe- und Scheidungsrechtes, welche nach Meinung
vieler Juden, mit den Menschenrechten bzw. der Würde der Frau nicht mehr
in Einklang bringen lassen und die im Folgenden zur Sprache gebracht
werden sollen:

Religiöser Status

Wie schon einleitend gesagt, wurden Frauen, aus einst lobenswerten
Gründen, von bestimmten zeitgebundenen positiven (Du sollst … ) Mizwot
entbunden. Von den negativen Geboten (“Du sollst nicht …”) wurden sie
allerdings nie befreit. Aus dieser ursprünglichen Befreiung wurde im
Laufe der Jahrhunderte ein Verbot, das bis zum heutigen Tag in
wesentlichen Punkten weiter gültig ist.

Frauen werden nicht zum Minjan gezählt (die Mindestzahl von zehn
Männern, die dem Gottesdienst den Charakter eines öffentlichen
Gemeindegebetes verleiht), sie sitzen in orthodoxen Synagogen von den
Männern getrennt (meistens in den hinteren Reihen, hinter einem Vorhang
oder einer Wand versteckt oder auf einem Balkon), und sie werden auch
nicht zur Lesung der Thora – entgegen der (theoretischen) Aussage im
babylonischer Talmud: Traktat Megilla 23A und der Ansicht der großen
halachischen Autorität Rabbenu Yerucham (der im 14. Jahrhundert lebte )
aufgerufen. In der Praxis war man aber der Meinung, daß ein solcher
Aufruf die Männer der Gemeinde „diskreditieren” würde, weil dadurch der
Anschein erweckt würde, daß die Männer der Gemeinde nicht in der Lage
wären ihren Pflichten nachzukommen.

Es ist auch nicht allgemein bekannt, daß laut Schulchan Aruch (Orach
Chayim 88:1) selbst rituell „unreine Personen” das Schema Gebet („Höre
Israel …“) rezitieren dürfen (was Rabbiner Moses Isserles dazu bewog zu
erklären, daß seiner Ansicht nach – und er beruft sich u. a. auf Raschi –
„selbst menstruierende Frauen die Synagoge betreten und beten können,
ja selbst die Thora berühren und den göttlichen Namen aussprechen

Die „Befreiung” gilt weiters für die Kidduschzeremonie (Heiligung des
Schabbat mit vorangehenden Segen über Brot und Wein) und die Rezitation
des Kaddisch (Gebet der Trauernden, das u .a. nach dem Ableben der
Eltern aufgesagt wird) in der Öffentlichkeit.

Auch eine der Bar-Mizwa-Zeremonie (dieses Fest kann mit der
christlichen Konfirmation verglichen werden) entsprechende Feier – die
Bat-Mizwa –, wurde Mädchen lange Zeit vorenthalten. Erst in den letzten
Jahren werden auch in einigen orthodoxen Gemeinden solche Zeremonien,
allerdings ohne Aufruf zur Thora, für Mädchen eingeführt

Familien- und Eherecht

Als klar definierte Pflichten des Mannes, „der sich eine Frau nimmt”,
galten und gelten im traditionellen Judentum: die Sorgepflicht für Frau
und Kinder; die Ehefrau zu ehren, sie nie zu kränken oder zu schlagen;
ihr treu zu bleiben und ihr Recht auf sexuelle Erfüllung zu
gewährleisten. Ein Ehevertrag (Ketuba) garantiert der Frau – die aber
den Ehevertrag nicht unterschreiben darf – auch ihre finanzielle
Sicherheit, im Falle des Ablebens des Ehemannes und bei einer Scheidung.
Trägt aber die Frau die Schuld an der Scheidung, dann kann sie die im
Vertrag festgelegten finanziellen Rechte („als Strafe”) verlieren.

Den für eine Scheidung notwendigen Scheidungsbrief (Get) kann laut
Gesetz nur der Mann übergeben. In der Praxis kommt es daher immer wieder
vorgibt es immer wieder vor, daß Männer – trotz Strafandrohung seitens
der Rabbiner – stur bleiben und die Übergabe eines Scheidungsbriefes
verweigern, manchmal auch nur um die Frau finanziell zu erpressen oder
aus reiner Bosheit. Erfolgt nun in solch einer Situation lediglich eine
zivilrechtliche Scheidung, dann kann nach Trennung wohl der Mann wieder –
wenn auch nur zivilrechtlich – heiraten und eine Familie gründen (diese
Heirat wäre zwar gegen das religiöse Gesetz, aber für die Kinder aus
seiner neuen Ehe ohne negative Konsequenzen); die Frau hingegen, die in
einer neuen Verbindung lebt, sollte keine Kinder mehr bekommen, weil
diese nach den traditionellen religionsgesetzlichen Bestimmungen,
Bastarde (Mamserim) wären. Ein Mamser ist ein Kind aus einer
„inzestuösen oder ehebrecherischen“ Beziehung, dem es verboten ist
jüdische Partner zu heiraten, ausgenommen Menschen die ebenfalls
Mamserim sind oder zum Judentum „Übergetretene, wobei diese Bestimmung
über „Zehn Generationen gilt”, was heißt, daß Kinder von Mamserim
ebenfalls als solche gelten.

So wurde im Laufe der Zeit aus einem Gesetz, das ursprünglich zur
Bekämpfung der Unmoral gedacht war, eine höchst unmoralische Bestimmung,
die im völligen Gegensatz zu diversen biblischen Aussagen („Kinder
sollen nicht für ihre Eltern und Eltern nicht wegen ihrer Kinder
bestraft werden“ – Dtn 24,16 – bzw. „Jeder Mensch ist für seine Vergehen
verantwortlich, nicht für die Fehltritte anderer” – Ezechiel 18,20)
steht. Aus diesen Gründen und auch weil die Mamzerut das Gebot der
Gleichwertigkeit von Proselyten (Baba Metzia 4,10) verletzt, unschuldige
Menschen stigmatisiert, wird der Begriff der Mamserut im
nichtorthodoxen Judentum strikt abgelehnt. Gleiches gilt für die
verlassene Frau (die „angekettete Frau“, Aguna), deren Ehemann
verschwunden oder verschollen ist. Auch sie kann (mit Rücksicht auf
zukünftige Kinder) nicht mehr heiraten, weil sie keinen Scheidungsbrief
hat, selbst dann nicht, wenn das Verschwinden des Ehemannes schon
Jahrzehnte zurückliegt. In einer ähnlichen Situation ist auch eine
kinderlose Witwe, deren Schwager sich weigert, die (demütigende)
Zeremonie der Chaliza (die Auslösung von der Verpflichtung zur
Schwagerehe aufgrund von Dtn 25,5-9) auf sich zu nehmen; auch sie kann
(aus gleichen Gründen wie die Aguna) nicht mehr heiraten.

Eine weitere Benachteiligung für Frauen entsteht aus einem uralten
Gesetz, das bestimmten Frauen verbietet, einen Cohen zu ehelichen. In
alten Zeiten wurden Juden, nach ihrer Abstammung in drei Gruppen
eingeteilt: Priester, Leviten und Israeliten. Nach traditioneller
Auffassung ist jeder Jude mit dem Nachnamen Cohen / Kohn / Katz ein
Nachfahre der Familie Aarons und daher ein Nachkomme eines Priesters. Da
es Priestern – deren Hauptfunktion im Tempel die Tieropferung war –
verboten war, geschiedene Frauen, Proselytinnen oder Prostituierte zu
heiraten, gilt diese Bestimmung im orthodoxen Judentum auch heute noch,
ein Verbot, das schon oft zu tragischen Situationen geführt hat. Das
progressive Judentum stellt sich gegen diese Bestimmung, weil es seit
bald 2000 Jahren im Judentum keine Priester mehr gibt und ein
Abstammungsnachweis nach so langer Zeit nicht möglich ist (schon im 2.
Jahrhundert n. d .Z. war ein Stammbaumnachweis nicht mehr möglich, und
selbst Maimonides spricht von “vermeintlichen Priestern”).

Weitere Konsequenzen der Benachteiligung

Infolge vieler, heute unzeitgemäßer Traditionen, spielen Frauen im
religiösen Leben eine nur untergeordnete Rolle. Die Aufgabe der Frau
beschränkt sich auf die Pflichten ihrer Familie gegenüber und einige
zeremonielle Handlungen, wie etwa das Zünden der Schabbatkerzen.
Außerdem hatten Frauen in einer von Männern dominierten Welt früher nie
die Möglichkeit zu einem gründlichen Talmud-Torah-Studium, geschweige
denn zur Ausbildung in geistlichen Berufen. Heute können aber orthodoxe
Frauen (wenn auch nur in Frauengruppen) Talmud und Thora studieren.

Nach uraltem rabbinischen Recht ist die Frau, wenn Söhne vorhanden
sind, nicht erbberechtigt. Die Söhne erben allerdings unter der strengen
Auflage, für die weiblichen Familienmitglieder zu sorgen. Seit dem
Mittelalter wurde aber grundsätzlich das bürgerliche Recht über das
rabbinische Recht gestellt. Durch diese rabbinische Entscheidung, daß
dem Gesetz des Landes stets zu gehorchen sei („dina demalchuta dina“),
fällt die religionsgesetzlich festgelegte Benachteiligung der Frau im
Erbrecht außerhalb von Israel nicht mehr ins Gewicht. In Israel hingegen
entstehen, wegen der Widersprüchlichkeit von staatlichen Gesetzen und
vom Rabbinat erlassenen Entscheidungen, für viele Frauen immer wieder
gravierende Probleme.

Die Tatsache, daß Frauen – ebenso wie Minderjährige – in orthodoxen
rabbinischen Gerichtshöfen nicht direkt als Zeuginnen aussagen dürfen,
ist in einem Jahrhundert, in dem eine Frau (Golda Meir) schon den Posten
eines Ministerpräsidenten in Israel innehatte, für aufgeklärte Menschen
unerträglich, selbst wenn es mancherorts einige Bestrebungen gibt,
dieses Gesetz zu umgehen, indem man z.B. die Versammelung vertagt, um
die Aussage der Frau, die dann hereingerufen wird, später – wenn das
Gericht wieder tagt – zu berücksichtigen

Die gesellschaftliche, gesetzliche und religiöse Gleichstellung der
Frau ist für die Mehrheit der heute lebenden Menschen in allen
zivilisierten Ländern eine moralische und logische Notwendigkeit. Die
biblische Feststellung, daß Gott Mann und Frau „nach seinem Ebenbild
erschaffen“ hat, ist (oder müsste sein) die theologische Grundlage für
den Glauben an die Gleichwertigkeit der Geschlechter.

Es blieb und bleibt daher dem nichtorthodoxen Judentum überlassen,
unzeitgemäße, überholte, Frauen und Kinder diskriminierende Gesetze
entweder zu ändern oder ganz außer Kraft zu setzen (indem z. B. ein
nichtorthodoxes Rabbinatsgericht, Kraft seiner Autorität, wenn ein Mann
die Übergabe eines Scheidungsbriefes verweigert, der betroffenen Frau
ein Get aushändigen).

Sowohl im konservativen als auch im progressiven Judentum ist die
religiöse und soziale Gleichstellung der Frau längst erreicht. Die
Separierung in der Synagoge wurde abgeschafft, Frauen nehmen
gleichberechtigt am Gottesdienst teil und sie bekleiden, ohne jegliche
Einschränkung, selbst höchste Ämter – bis hin zur Rabbinerin – im Rahmen
der Gemeinde; auch im Ehe- und Scheidungsgesetz gilt seit langem die
völlige Gleichberechtigung der Geschlechter.

Während die moderate Orthodoxie immer wieder, wenn auch ohne großen
Erfolge, versucht das Los vieler Frauen (besonders die der Agunot) zu
verbessern, ohne dabei die völlige Gleichstellung der Frau auch nur zu
erwägen, betrachtet die Ultraorthodoxie jede Veränderung des Status quo
als Sakrileg.

Theodor Much wurde 1942 in Tel Aviv geboren. Seit 1946 mit den
Eltern (sie wanderten 1937 von der Schweiz nach Israel aus) in Wien.
Medizin Studium in Wien (Dermatologe. Ehem. Leiter der Hautambulanz im
Hanusch Krankenhaus Wien). Seit 20 Jahren Präsident der jüdisch
liberalen Gemeinde Or Chadasch Wien. Gelegentlich Buchautor: “Judentum wie es wirklich ist” (1997); “Bruderzwist im Hause Israel“(1999); “Der veräppelte Patient” (2003); “Noah und Co“ 
(satirische Essay zum Thema Fundamentalismus und Dummheit) 2006;
“Aberglaube und Astrologie” (2007); “Zwischen Mythos und Realität:
Judentum wie es wirklich ist” 2008; “Wer killte Rabbi Jesus? Religiöse Wurzeln der Judenfeindschaft” (2010).

Quelle: Hagalil, TLV-01, 23. Januar 2011 – 18 Shevat 5771

Kontakt zum Autor:,

Israel honors 9 Egyptian spies

After 50 years, President Katsav presents three surviving members with certificates of appreciation at Jerusalem ceremony
By Reuters

After half a century of reticence and recrimination, Israel on Wednesday
honored nine Egyptian Jews recruited as agents-provocateur in what
became one of the worst intelligence bungles in the country’s history.


Israel was at war with Egypt when it hatched a plan in
1954 to ruin its rapprochement with the United States and Britain by
firebombing sites frequented by foreigners in Cairo and Alexandria.


But Israeli hopes the attacks, which caused no casualties, would be
blamed on local insurgents collapsed when the young Zionist bombers were
caught and confessed at public trials. Two were hanged. The rest served
jail terms and emigrated to Israel.


Embarrassed before the West, Israel long denied involvement. It kept mum even after its 1979 peace deal

with Egypt, fearing memories of the debacle could sour ties.


“Although it is still a sensitive situation, we decided now to
express our respect for these heroes,” President Moshe Katsav said after
presenting the three surviving members of the bomber ring with
certificates of appreciation at a Jerusalem ceremony.


What went wrong in the “Lavon Affair” – after Pinhas Lavon, Israel’s
defence minister when the plot came to light – remains a matter of
debate in a country more used to tales of espionage coups.


The Egyptian agents were ignored


The Egyptian Jews were recruited by a fringe unit of Military Intelligence rather than the premier Israeli spy agency Mossad.


The situation recurred in 1985, when U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan
Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States for
passing military secrets to Israel’s scientific liaison office.


“As with Pollard, this (Lavon Affair) was a rogue operation,” David
Kimche, a former Mossad deputy chief, said. “We knew never to go down
that road again.”


There is a twist to the Egyptian case – the now widespread belief
that the bombers were betrayed to the authorities by their Israeli
handler, who turned double-agent.


“The general feeling is that he was the one who caused it all,” Kimche said.


Under a veil of secrecy, the handler was tried for contacts with
Egyptian intelligence and jailed for 10 years. Meanwhile, the agents
locked up in Egypt were ignored, excluded from several prisoner
exchanges with Israel after the wars of 1956 and 1967.


Now that they have been officially recognised in Israel, the former
agents are campaigning for a full account of their operation to be
included in the high-school syllabus.


“This is a great day for all of us, those who were hanged and those
who died,” Marcelle Ninio, the only female member of the cell, said. “We
are happy we’ve got our honor back.”


Eine Beziehung im multikulturellen Ausnahmezustand

Von Christian Weber

drei Jahren führen Christian und die Muslima Amal eine heimliche
Beziehung. Eine Liebe, die nicht nur verboten, sondern obendrein
gefährlich ist. Und zwar für beide.

Es ist eine fragwürdige Erfahrung, mit
einem geliebten Menschen eine Beziehung zu unterhalten, ohne die
banalsten Dinge des Alltags teilen zu können.

Seit bald drei Jahren führe ich eine verbotene Beziehung mit Amal*. Sie
war drei Jahre alt, als ihre kurdischen Eltern nach Deutschland
flüchteten. Heute ist sie Mitte 20 und hat neben drei Schwestern
dummerweise vier Brüder. Daher verabreden wir uns manchmal in einer
dunklen Tiefgaragenecke. Bevor wir losfahren, verkleidet sie sich.
Niemand darf sie mit mir sehen, und sie ist immer angespannt. Brüder
oder Vater rufen ständig an. Das dient der Kontrolle. Trotzdem hat sie
es irgendwie geschafft, sich den Weg an eine Fachhochschule
freizukämpfen. Auch da greift die Entmündigung. Die Ansage der Brüder
ist unmissverständlich. Am späten Nachmittag endet Amals überschaubarer
Rest freier Selbstbestimmung.

Sie muss dann zu Hause sein. Falls nicht, drohen Schläge. Und das sind keine leeren Ankündigungen.
ist Muslimin und durfte nie an einer Klassenfahrt teilnehmen. Dafür
haben ihre Brüder gesorgt. Sie sagt, das sei, soweit sie das in ihrem
ziemlich großen Milieu überschauen kann, normal. In Deutschland ist das
bekannt, und es betrifft zigtausende muslimische Schülerinnen. Trotzdem
wird dagegen eigentlich nichts unternommen. Obwohl es sich um ein quasi
öffentliches Massenspektakel handelt, welches Mitschüler, Lehrer,
Schuldirektoren und viele andere direkt beobachten.
eingeschränkt normales Leben kennen junge muslimische Frauen wie Amal –
wenn überhaupt – nur von Montag bis Freitag zwischen 8 bis vielleicht 17
Uhr. In den anderen Zeiten sind sie Leibeigene ihrer patriarchalischen Familienstrukturen. Bei
Amal ist es so: Mit Freundinnen abends ins Kino oder Theater gehen?
Verboten. Disco? Verboten. Nach der Vorlesung mit Kommilitonen ins Café
gehen? Verboten, wenn 17 Uhr naht. Freundschaft mit einem Mann? Nicht
nur verboten, sondern obendrein gefährlich. Und zwar für beide.

Wenn Amal muslimische Studentinnen trifft, rückt sofort ein Thema ins
Zentrum: Wer darf was? Volljährige junge Frauen gleichen also das
jeweils eigene Maß aktuell erlebter Entrechtung ab. Wenn jetzt jemand
glaubt, Bildung sei ein Schlüssel zur Integration, der könnte sich
täuschen. Ich höre beispielsweise Geschichten wie die von einer in
Deutschland aufgewachsenen Kommilitonin gleichen Glaubens. Ihre Brüder
haben das Studium bereits abgeschlossen. Sie verbieten ihrer Schwester
Männerbekanntschaften und sperren sie ab dem späten Nachmittag zu Hause
weg. So können sie aussehen, die Integrationsübungen, mit denen sich
formal hochgebildete Zuwanderer an ihren volljährigen Schwestern
abreagieren. Die geringsten Repressalien haben offenbar die muslimischen
Frauen zu erwarten, deren Mütter keine Jungen zur Welt gebracht haben.

Wenn Amal tatsächlich mal zu mir kommt, dann rattert in ihrem Hirn ständig die Prüfschleife.

und ich führen eine absurde Beziehung im multikulturellen
Ausnahmezustand. Ich bin noch nie neben ihr aufgewacht. Sie ist noch nie
neben mir eingeschlafen. Manchmal sehe ich sie zwei Wochen nicht. Der
einzige direkte Kontakt besteht dann aus abgehackten Telefonaten.
Abgehackt, weil sie sich zum Telefonieren versteckt und die Gespräche
urplötzlich unterbricht, wenn sich ein Bruder zu nähern droht. Völlig
normale Dinge, wie zum Beispiel Hand in Hand durch die Stadt zu gehen,
sind uns unbekannt. In der einen Straße hat einer der unzähligen Onkel
ein Geschäft und in der anderen wohnt vielleicht einer der noch
unzähligeren Cousins. Somit sind irgendwie alle Straßen tabu. Auch
allein muss sie aufpassen. Wird sie gesehen, steckt das jemand durch.
Schließlich könnte sie ja auf dem Weg zu einem verbotenen Freund sein
und ihre „Ehre“ verlieren. Wenn Amal tatsächlich mal zu mir kommt, dann
rattert in ihrem Hirn ständig die Prüfschleife: Wer geht da? Wer steht
dort? Welches Auto hält an der Ampel? Wohnt hier jemand, der meine
Brüder kennt?
In Amals Milieu – inmitten
unserer multikulturellen Gesellschaft im Geltungsbereich des
Grundgesetzes – werden Frauen wie Vieh auf dem Basar verkauft.
Preise erzielen junge „Unberührte“, also die mit „Ehre“. Die
verschacherten Frauen ziehen bei der Familie des Ehemannes ein, haben
Kinder zu gebären und dienen als Putzhilfen, Köchinnen sowie dem Mann
als gefügiges Sexualobjekt. Die Ehen werden oft nur vor einem Imam
geschlossen. Innerhalb des Milieus haben sie Geltung. Nicht aber nach
deutschem Recht. Melden sich diese Frauen auf deutschen Ämtern, dann als
unverheiratete Alleinerziehende. Mitunter legen sie Mietverträge vor,
die mit der Familie des „Ehe“-Mannes geschlossen wurden. Dafür gibt es
eigentlich nur einen Grund: die Absicht zum Sozialbetrug.

sinkt Amals Preis, weil sie studiert. Gebildete Frauen sind weniger
wert, weil sie Dinge eher infrage stellen und für die auferlegten
Frondienste ungeeignet scheinen. Im Alter von 16, 17 oder 18 Jahren
hätte Amal rund 20 000 Euro abwerfen können. Heute würde sie nur noch
einen guten Preis erzielen, wenn ihre Familie sie an einen Mann aus der
alten Heimat verkaufen könnte. Es werden also auch Ehemänner importiert.
Deren Familien zahlen gerne für den Zugang zum deutschen Sozialsystem.
Oft in Gold, das dafür gesammelt wird. Verkauft und vor dem Imam
verheiratet wird fast nur innerhalb der weit verzweigten, wirklich
großen Großfamilie. Zur Erinnerung: Wir schreiben das Jahr 2013 und
befinden uns in Deutschland.

In Amals Milieu werden Mädchen und Jungen für ihre Rollen von klein auf
konditioniert. Träger und Bewahrer dieser multikulturellen Realität sind
nicht nur die Männer, sondern ebenfalls die Mütter. Selbst sie sorgen
dafür, dass alles so bleibt, wie es ist, schon, um die eigene Rolle und
damit das große Ganze nicht infrage zu stellen. Jeder Zweig der
Sippschaft achtet akribisch auf die Einhaltung der Regeln und übt bei
Verstößen Druck aus. Schließlich sind junge muslimische Frauen, die von
den Rollenmustern abweichen, schlechte Vorbilder für die Töchter anderer
Mütter und damit eine Bedrohung für das System. Das würde nämlich von
heute auf morgen zusammenbrechen, verweigerten sie sich massenhaft. Nach
allem, was ich so höre, sollte mit der gewaltfreien Lösung solcher und
anderer Milieukonflikte nicht immer gerechnet werden. Einige Frauen
würden ihre Verweigerungshaltung nicht überleben. Sie werden ja schon
heute mit Kopfschüssen hingerichtet. Am helllichten Tag. Mitten in
Seit Monaten wird in den Medien intensiv über die Morde des „Nationalsozialistischen Untergrunds“
berichtet. „Ehrenmorde“ finden weniger Beachtung. In Amals Milieu
werden sie trotzdem wahrgenommen. Reaktionen der Männer und Mütter
können dann so lauten: „Aber wenn das Mädchen doch ohne Ehre war …“ Das
sind schonungslose Ansagen an Schwestern und Töchter, aufzupassen, sich zu unterwerfen und die Regeln einzuhalten.

Manchmal entscheiden sich junge Frauen wie Amal für den radikalen Ausbruch. In Deutschland gibt es dafür Anlaufstellen.
Wie Kronzeugen in einem Mafia-Prozess erhalten sie von staatlichen
Stellen eine andere Identität und fangen an einem fremden Ort ein völlig
neues Leben an. Danach darf es keinen Kontakt mehr mit der Familie
geben. Oft sehen die jungen Frauen darin schon deswegen keinen Ausweg,
weil sie in ihren Großfamilien von frühauf die Last der
Hauptverantwortung für jüngere Geschwister tragen müssen. Sie glauben
sich in der Pflicht und hängen an diesen Geschwistern. Dieses
Pflichtgefühl übersteigt den inneren Drang nach Freiheit und lässt sie
jede Schikane ertragen. Einen Ausbruch empfänden sie als Verrat an der
Familie. Was sie nicht sehen, sind die Schäden, welche die familiären
Repressionsstrukturen an ihren Seelen hinterlassen.
Was an Amals
Berichten überrascht, ist Fremdenfeindlichkeit gegenüber Deutschen.
Jemanden als „deutsch“ zu bezeichnen, gilt als Beschimpfung. Viele
Migranten kamen über das Asylrecht zu uns. Sie suchten Schutz und
Sicherheit vor Verfolgung und erhielten es. Warum lehnen manche von
ihnen uns Deutsche, unser Land, unsere Freiheit, unsere Demokratie und
unsere Kultur dann ab? Und warum bleiben sie? Einmal sagte Amal,
Christen zu heiraten ist bei ihr verboten. Sie müssen vorher
konvertieren. Alles andere würde mindestens den Verstoß aus der Familie
nach sich ziehen. Ihre Betonung lag auf „mindestens“.
Es ist eine
fragwürdige Erfahrung, mit einem geliebten Menschen eine Beziehung zu
unterhalten, ohne die banalsten Dinge des Alltags teilen zu können. Und
all das nur, weil bestimmte Gruppen hartnäckig an frauenfeindlichen und
unzivilisierten Vorstellungen festhalten. Für mich stellt sich daher
immer die Frage nach der Zukunft. Einmal sprach ich mit einem
katholischen Geistlichen darüber. Er bestärkte mich und sagte, die junge
Frau sei mir „von Gott anvertraut“. „Achte und unterstütze sie auf
ihrem Weg. Alles andere wird sich fügen.“ Ich hoffe, er hat recht. Ich
kann aber niemandem empfehlen, es mir gleichzutun. Denn dafür ist das
Leben eigentlich zu kurz.

Andererseits habe ich eine Muslimin kennen- und lieben gelernt, die sich
durch den Zwang zur viel zu frühen Übernahme von Verantwortung
wertvolle charakterprägende Eigenschaften und Fähigkeiten angeeignet
hat, die einem so nur selten begegnen. Amal ist in ihrem zerrissenen
Innersten mit Haut und Haaren Deutsche. In ihrer Familie, die tagtäglich
darum kämpft, über die Runden zu kommen, steht sie damit noch relativ
allein. Vielleicht auch deshalb, weil ein völlig wehrloses
Familienmitglied vor einigen Jahren Opfer rechtsextremer Gewalt wurde.
Der hinterhältige Übergriff war außerordentlich brutal. Mit den
körperlichen Schäden wird das Opfer für immer leben müssen. Die
volljährigen Täter wurden nach Jugendstrafrecht verurteilt und saßen nur
kurz ein. Zivilrechtlich wurden sie für ihre Tat nie belangt.

* Sowohl “Amal” als auch “Christian Weber” sind Pseudonyme. Mehr über die Hintergründe ihrer Beziehung lesen Sie hier.

Quelle: Tagesspiegel

Mehr zum Thema

Arab/Muslim anti-Semites worse than Nazis?

by Dennis Prager, Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2001 

WITH all the attention paid to how Muslims and Arabs in America feel about the Islamic terrorists’ attacks on America, it may come as somewhat of surprise to learn about another anxious group of Americans – Jews.

All Americans are worried about the America hatred among groups who do not value human life. But Jews who know their history have additional fears. We Jews have reasons to worry because a significant part of humanity has a hatred of us indistinguishable in kind and intensity from that of the Nazis.

The most cursory acquaintance with the Arab press and fundamentalist mosque discourse around the world makes it clear that millions of Arabs and Muslims loathe Jews and many want Jews dead. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of Muslims and Arabs who want the one tiny country Jews have ever called their own eliminated from the map. Protests that the Arab/Muslim hostility is directed only at Israeli occupation of that even tinier area known as the West Bank have no basis in reality. The Arab/Muslim world sought Israel’s destruction before Israel occupied an inch of the West Bank.

We Jews have reasons to worry because the last time a civilization declared such hatred against Jews, what ensued was the most organized and monumental evil in history, the Holocaust. We hoped that Nazi-type hatred would never reappear. But it has. In fact, in two ways, Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is more frightening.

First, while both Nazi and the Arab/Muslim anti-Semites have used closed societies with their controlled press to promote horrific lies about Jews, the Nazis hid their murder of Jews from the German public. They did not have confidence that enough Germans would support the murder of Jewish men, women and children. The Arab/Muslim anti-Semites, however, have no such problem. Those who kill Jews in Israel are public celebrities.

On the West Bank, a Palestinian university in Nablus has been putting on an exhibition celebrating the Palestinian suicide bombing of a family pizza restaurant in Israel. The exhibition consisted of a replica of the Sbarro’s restaurant complete with Hebrew inscriptions. Inside the exhibit, replicas of human body parts and pizza slices were strewn. Pictures published on the Internet showed Palestinians waiting in line to see the exhibit. In Nazi Germany, there were no public exhibits of Einsatzgruppen (Nazi mobile Jew-killing units) or gas chambers.

The second more frightening aspect of Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is that many of these haters do not value their own lives. Nazis did.

We Jews have reasons to worry because no libels against Jews are too awful or too incredible in much of the Arab/Muslim world. That is why the father of Mohammed Atta, suspected ringleader of the Sept. 11th attacks, could tell Newsweek that his son was kidnapped by Israelis and that it was Israelis posing as Arab Muslims who actually attacked America. He could say this because he and millions of other Muslims (not only in the Arab world) believe it, as well as the notion that no Jews died in the World Trade Center because they were alerted in advance.

Americans may recall the flap over then-First Lady Hillary Clinton listening to the wife of Yasir Arafat state that Israel was poisoning Palestinian water supplies. Like the Nazis, many Arab/Muslim societies attribute to Jews virtually all evils, including, for example, deliberately spreading AIDS in the Arab world.

We Jews have reasons to worry because the West ignores this Jew-hatred. One reason is that Third World evil is rarely taken seriously among Western elites. A second reason is the psychological and political need of Westerners to believe that Islamic societies are, with the exception of “a few extremists,” tolerant societies. And the third reason is that Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is dismissed as a temporary phenomenon that will disappear when Israelis and Palestinians make peace. But this belief inverts reality. The lack of peace between the Jewish state and its neighbors is not the cause of Arab anti-Semitism, it is the result of that anti-Semitism. Since 1948, there has been one reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict – the Arab/Muslim world rejects the concept of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in its midst.

We Jews have reasons to worry because while much of the Muslim world – a billion strong stretching from the Atlantic through Asia to the Pacific – hates us, Europe and Japan do not defend us. Instead they defend their business deals with Saddam Hussein and with Iran’s medieval theocracy.

We Jews have reasons to worry because the Islamic terrorists who blow up Jews are not on the list of terrorist organizations our government is fighting. There are political reasons that account for omitting terror groups that target Jews, but whatever those reasons, how can a Jew not worry about this omission? If America, the most philo-Semitic country in the world, will not regard terrorists who murder Jews as worthy of fighting – even though these terrorists share sponsors and philosophy with anti-American terror groups – no nation will.

As I write this article, my 8-year-old son is playing next to me with his Nintendo. While he is painfully aware of the attacks on America, he remains blissfu
lly unaware that a substantial percentage of humanity would like to see him dead. One day, unfortunately, he will know this. Unless the good people of the world finally learn the great lesson of anti-Semitism – that Jew-haters hate all that is good, that they target Jews first but never Jews alone, and that Jew-haters must therefore be fought – one day he may in fact be hurt. That is why at least one Jewish father worries today.