Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
The Palestinians are loudly mourning the passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. PLO chief and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered flags in the PA to be flown at halfmast on Sunday to honor Castro.
They are right to celebrate him.
The Cuban Communist dictator, who murdered tens of thousands of his own people, imprisoned tens of thousands more, caused a million Cubans to flee their homeland and transformed an island paradise into a water enclosed prison was a key ally of Palestinian terrorists in their war to destroy Israel.
Castro’s support for the PLO and its longtime terrorist master Yasser Arafat spanned five decades. Castro’s secret police, the DGI, trained Palestinian terrorists both in Cuba and in the Middle East.
According to the CIA, several hundred Palestinian terrorists were trained in Cuba in the 1970s. Cuban trainers also worked with the PLO in Algiers and Damascus and later in training terrorists from around the world at PLO training camps in Lebanon in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Military training in terrorist tactics wasn’t the only way that Castro helped Arafat. He also provided the PLO with diplomatic cover and political guidance. Palestinian terrorists, including Arafat, began routinely visiting Cuba in the early 1960s. Castro welcomed the formation of the PLO in 1964. His military and intelligence officers met with Arafat and other senior Palestinian terrorists in Algiers and Damascus as early as 1965.
In 1974 the PLO adopted the Phased Plan for the annihilation of Israel. The Phased Plan committed the PLO to a piecemeal strategy of destroying Israel rather than calling for the terrorist group to work with Arab states to destroy Israel in an all-out war.
According to the Phased Plan, the PLO committed to take control over every inch of territory under Israeli control that it could and use those areas as launchpads for expanding the war whose ultimate goal was Israel’s eradication.
Shortly after signing the initial Oslo peace deal at the White House in September 1993, Arafat told an audience at a mosque in South Africa that the Oslo process was the first step toward the implementation of the Phased Plan.
The Phased Plan was trumpeted by the Soviet bloc and their supporters in the Western Left as a sign of PLO moderation. Following its adoption, with Soviet support and Cuban sponsorship, the PLO began winning major diplomatic battles over Israel.
Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly later in 1974 where he spoke with a gun strapped to his hip. The PLO was then granted “observer status” at the UN.
Arafat paid a triumphant visit to Havana following his UN appearance where he was warmly greeted by Castro. The next year, the General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 defining Zionism as a form of racism. Cuba was the only non-Arab state to sponsor the resolution.
Resolution 3379 set the stage for the diplomatic war against the Jewish national liberation movement and the Jewish state that has raged ever since.
Cuban partnership with the PLO was part of a larger political war waged through Third World leaders by the KGB against the US and the Western world. Both the KGB archive spirited out of the Soviet Union by Vasili Mitrockhin and the revelations of former Romanian Communist spy chief Ion Mihai Pacepa, who defected to the US in 1978, have demonstrated the nature of that war.
The KGB used the language of human rights and national liberation as a means to deny the US-led West the moral legitimacy to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union and its satellites. Castro and Arafat were leading fighters in this propaganda war.
The basic concepts behind this war were developed shortly after the end of World War II. Under the KGB, the US and its allies were deliberately smeared as colonialist and imperialist powers. Every liberation group and every state that was supported by the US was castigated as reactionary. On the other hand, every terrorist group and regime that were supported by the USSR were celebrated as authentic, democratic revolutionary movements seeking to free their peoples from the yoke of Western imperialism.
The political war placed the US and its allies into an intellectual trap. Inside the closed intellectual jail of liberation theory, every action the West took was necessarily reactionary and imperialistic. As a result the US and its allies could do nothing to defend themselves since every argument they made was simply dismissed as imperialist propaganda.
The political successes won by the Soviet propaganda war were extraordinary. For instance, in 1969, the Non-Aligned Movement comprised of newly independent post-colonial states sided with the Vietnamese Communists against the US at its fourth conference. The NAM was silent about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous year.
Vilifying Israel was a major component of the Soviets’ political warfare strategy. Israel was viewed as a key enemy of the USSR.
It wasn’t always this way.
Until 1949 the Soviet Union viewed the Zionist movement and the nascent Jewish state as a potential client. The Truman administration recognized Israel just moments before the Soviet Union did. And unlike the US, the Soviets supplied arms to Israel during the 1948-49 War of Independence. Without Soviet help, it is doubtful that Israel would have survived the joint invasion of five Arab armies the day it declared independence.
The Soviets soured on Israel for three reasons. First, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, decided to side with the US against the USSR in the Cold War despite the State Department’s hostility toward Israel.
Second, Ben-Gurion moved to purge Communists from the IDF and other power centers immediately after the War of Independence.
Finally, the Soviets soured on Israel because the birth of Israel awoke the yearnings of the Jews of the Soviet Union. In 1949, Israel’s first ambassador to Moscow, Golda Meyerson – later Meir – was mobbed by Soviet Jews when she visited the main synagogue in the city.
A wave of antisemitic repression followed the event. It was in 1949 that the Soviets began castigating Zionism as a form of imperialism and racism. Zionism became a code word for Jewish and prominent Jews in the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc were arrested, tried in show trials and murdered for alleged “Zionist” sympathies.
The Soviets also viewed their ideological assault on Zionism as a means of demonizing the US. The Jews’ native rights to the land of Israel were as old and wellknown as the Bible. If Westerners could be convinced that the Jews were colonial usurpers in Israel, they could be convinced that Western civilization was evil.
According to Pacepa, by 1968 the KGB completed its control over the PLO. It used Castro and his DGI agency as a means to promote the Palestinian political war against Israel. According to Cuban American researchers, Castro was a conduit for promoting anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian terrorists among Western radicals. For instance, the DGI introduced PLO terrorists to African American radicals like the Black Panthers, who were trained by Castro’s forces.
Castro’s lionization by the Palestinians and the international Left alike shows that 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the legacy of the Soviets’ political war against the US-led West was not only successful during the Cold War, but is still very much a part of our world.
Castro never taught the Palestinians how to live in peace. He never taught them how to raise crops. He taught them how to murder and libel. He taught them how to indoctrinate others to believe lies about themselves and about their perceived enemies.
The fact that these lies are still believed by so many in the Left shows that Castro died a victor. The fact that the terrorist methods he developed with Arafat under the guiding hand of Moscow are still viewed by Western intellectuals as legitimate “tools of resistance” shows that he won.
And the fact that Palestinian murderers who learned the trade at his knee are still viewed as legitimate forces in world politics shows that together with his KGB bosses, Castro was able to get away with his crimes.
The West managed to defeat the Soviet state, but not the Soviet cause. And the flags at half-mast for Castro in Ramallah are proof of the Castro-executed Soviet victory over morality and over truth.