November 19, 2018

Can Trump Pull Off a Deal to Disarm North Korea?

Last week, the United States and North Korea stunned the world as they announced their plan to have a summit for their two respective leaders. This surprising diplomatic turn has prompted far more questions than answers, some of which seem like they should have been asked in the tone of a soap opera narrator’s voice-over. Here are a few:

A Question on South Korea:

Did South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an ambitious politician who recently came into office, flatter the leader of the free world into meeting the dictator of North Korea as a means of pushing Moon’s vision of reunification on the Korean peninsula?

A Question on North Korea:

Did the North Korean regime commit to a pre-summit conditional freeze on launching missiles or to a firm promise to negotiate denuclearization of its weapons program, or was the South Korean national security adviser’s representation of Kim Jong Un’s oral offer a bluff?

Questions on the U.S:

Did President Donald Trump, without input from his National Security Council, impulsively reward the Kim regime with a long-sought diplomatic opportunity without any guarantee of compromise? Did Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and aggressive foreign policy cause Kim to fear for his regime’s survival and to sue for a quick agreement, or is Kim closer to marrying his nuclear weapons with intercontinental ballistic missiles and confidently playing from a perceived position of strength?

A Question on China:

Will China be pleased at negotiations aimed at stability on the Korean peninsula, or will it resent Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs and Kim’s meeting with Trump before meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Questions on objectives:

What would a “good deal” look like with an adversary who does not share Western morality? What would be the U.S. goals at such a summit? To restart negotiations aimed at stability on the Korean peninsula? To accept regime preservation in exchange for denuclearization? Even if the regime relinquished its “treasured sword” — the nuclear program its leaders believe guarantees regime survival — would North Korea continue its brutal human rights oppression, illicit global drug activity, supplying of chemical-weapons-production materials to Syria and others, and counterfeiting of currencies?

A Question on Trust:

How can we “trust but verify” future inspections of closed reactors and the promised cessation of weapons production and testing when North Korea has previously cheated on prior framework agreements and is in the last stage of work on missile re-entry capability as the final piece of a decadeslong effort to protect its regime with a nuclear umbrella? Is Kim distrustful of the U.S., as he is well aware that Libya relinquished its nuclear assets after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, only to see its dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, overthrown a few years later?

Real answers will have to wait until further details are known. But drawing on the past and looking into the future, it would behoove us to take some lessons, experiences and nuances into account.

The American Experience

Some commentators viscerally judged Trump’s quick acceptance of the invitation to meet Kim before the end of May as “impulsive” and a “granting of prestige” never before extended by a sitting U.S. president to the Pyongyang regime.

Within hours, the Trump administration clarified that scheduled military exercises with South Korea would go on, that sanctions were not being lifted, and that “concrete” steps from North Korea would be required as a precondition to any meeting.

As he plans for a potential summit, then, Trump might wish to draw lessons from the protracted Arms Control Treaty negotiations conducted by President Ronald Reagan, who was willing to disappoint Western commentators issuing rushed “victory” or “failure” report cards on his administration’s summit meetings with the Soviet Union.

In 1986, Reagan walked away from the Reykjavik Summit with Mikhail Gorbachev, sensing that the U.S. could achieve better results for arms control and human rights by maintaining its commitment to missile defense, which the Soviets vehemently opposed. Gorbachev soon gave in. Sometimes, short-term setbacks set the stage for improved results.

But even Reagan’s success, which led to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, did not end our competition with Russia, which has rebounded to assert its regional ambitions and desire to be a significant player on the world stage. Russia is still a dictatorship, and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently bragged about the country having weapons so powerful that “now you will notice me.”

What would a “good deal” look like with an adversary who does not share Western morality?

Some deals might not be worth making. On July 14, 2015, President Barack Obama announced the Iran nuclear deal. While that deal has halted or significantly reduced Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capability, it has done nothing to deter the Mullah terror state from aggression in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and, indeed, its continued collaboration with North Korea. Trump has castigated the Iran deal. Time will tell if he can make a better one with North Korea.

The Korean Context 

South Korea — officially the Republic of Korea — is a robust democracy featuring pro-American “free Koreans” and more “independent Koreans” who support President Moon Jae-in — elected in 2017 after the highly controversial impeachment of his opponent, Park Geun-hye. The split in South Korea over American troop presence and close alignment is profound. Moon leans left, and his vision for peninsula reunification is not universally shared.

The Korean peninsula was ruled by Imperial Japan from the early 20th century until the end of World War II. The day after the 1945 American bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, the Soviet Union invaded Korea, dominating the region north of the 38th parallel. U.S. forces moved into the south, ending Japanese rule.

North Korea — officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — invaded the South in 1950. In the “see-saw war,” Seoul, the South’s capital, changed hands four times. As part of a “police action,” the United States, with the backing of the United Nations, finally pushed up to the Yalu River on China’s border, provoking the Chinese entry on the side of the North. A “war of attrition” lasted until the armistice of 1953, which created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). No peace treaty was ever signed, and the DMZ has been anything but demilitarized since, with numerous violent skirmishes over the decades.

In 1968, 31 North Korean commandos crossed the DMZ in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung-hee at his residence in the Blue House. Fighting tied to attack resulted in the deaths of 68 South Koreans, three U.S. servicemen and 28 of the North Korean commandos.

However, two days later, North Korea seized a U.S. Navy spy ship, the USS Pueblo, in disputed waters, killing one American sailor and taking prisoner 82 others who were tortured over an 11-month period until their eventual return across the DMZ’s “Bridge of No Return.”

Other cross-border raids included the infamous “Axe Murder Incident,” in which two U.S. Army officers were killed by North Korean soldiers on Aug. 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area (JSA). The officers were surrounded and killed as they attempted to trim an overgrown poplar tree that was partially blocking United Nations observers’ views across the bridge.

Seeking to enforce the armistice, the U.N. Command, supported by U.S. and South Korean forces, conducted Operation Paul Bunyan, which succeeded in cutting down the tree and re-establishing deterrence against the North. One of the soldiers who participated was Moon Jae-in, now the president of South Korea.

In 1994, the Clinton administration negotiated an “Agreed Framework” that sought to freeze and replace North Korea’s plutonium nuclear weapons program with two light-water reactors. The Yongbyon nuclear reactor was shut down, and the North agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In return, the U.S. and South Korea suspended “team spirit” military exercises in the region and offered North Korea financial assistance, relaxed economic sanctions and 500,000 tons in annual deliveries of heavy fuel oil to use for energy production. All parties pledged to seek to normalize relations.

In a recent private meeting, Bush shared his regret at “kicking the can down the road,” explaining it was his most difficult security problem.

President George W. Bush tried to restore a path to nonproliferation and briefly removed North Korea from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. By 2002, though, he declared North Korea part of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and Iraq. The North then kicked out U.N. weapons inspectors and continued its march to a deliverable nuclear weapon.

In a recent private meeting, Bush shared his regret at “kicking the can down the road,” explaining it was his most difficult security problem. He feared the North would respond to any preventive military action by annihilating innocent South Koreans in Seoul who live within a 35-mile range of some 15,000 tube and rocket artillery burrowed into granite mountains and protected behind blast doors.

Finally, years of “Six Party” talks attempted again to encourage North Korea to shut down nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and a path to normalized relations. These talks broke down after the 2009 North Korean satellite launch over the Pacific Ocean, which was essentially an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test. Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” did not address the rising North Korean threat over his eight years in office that followed.

Know Your Adversary

Kim Il-Sung, variously called “Great Leader,” “Heavenly Leader” and even “The Sun,” was installed by Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin in 1948, and he indoctrinated the North Korean population through a 46-year reign. A new calendar was introduced that used 1912 — the year of Kim Il-Sung’s birth — as year 1.

Kim Jong-Il was considered not just his son and successor but his reincarnation. Known as “Dear Leader,” he sat at the center of a similar cult that asserted he could control the weather. Hundreds of memorial statues dedicated to the Kims dot the countryside, despite devastating famines and systemic poverty. A massive mausoleum outside of Pyongyang houses the embalmed bodies of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.

Kim Jong Un was officially declared the “supreme leader” following the state funeral of his father in 2011. In 2013, official North Korean news outlets released reports that, due to alleged “treachery,” Kim Jong Un had ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek and many of his children, some by use of flamethrowers. Kim is also widely believed to have ordered the February 2017 poisoning assassination of his brother, Kim Jong-nam, in Malaysia.

In recent years, Human Rights Watch asserted: “Abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture and abuse, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom.”

In 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Council charged North Korea with crimes against humanity.

In the six years since Kim Jong Un, at the age of 27, assumed power as only the third leader of the DPRK, he has tested dozens of missiles, far more than his father and grandfather.

On July 4, in both 2006 and 2009, North Korea tested short- and mid-range missiles. On July 4, 2017, the North passed a major threshold by launching its first ICBM, which experts said had the capability of reaching the U.S. mainland.

In the same period, Pyongyang has also tested nuclear warheads, including a “successful” test on Sept. 3, 2017. The fastening of a nuclear warhead onto a long-range delivery system is a red line that could provoke an American preventive strike.

American policymakers are generally united in asserting the unacceptability of the North Korean nuclear threat and its ability to transfer or trade nuclear technology to nonstate actors. Even the threat of attack on American allies or interests caused Secretary of Defense James Mattis to warn of “a massive military response.” At the DMZ in October 2017, Mattis asserted “our goal is not war, but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Trump’s Approach

Prior to his inauguration, Trump received a briefing from Obama that North Korea was a particularly complex issue. Trump reportedly acknowledged to advisers: “I will be judged by how I deal with North Korea.”

On April 4, 2017, U.S. military intelligence observed Syrian planes from the Shayrat Airbase drop munitions of sarin gas on the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate.

Trump viewed the pictures of dying children and decided to act, later telling reporters that “no child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

By the morning of April 6, 2017, senior administration officials had briefed congressional leaders and Russian forces in Syria of a potential military strike on Syrian air defenses, aircraft, hangars and fuel supplies. At 3:45 p.m., in a makeshift war room at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., country club, Trump consulted his national security officials and approved the immediate launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the USS Ross and the USS Porter warships in the Mediterranean Sea.

“I will be judged by how I deal with North Korea.” — President Donald Trump

Trump then welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping for several hours of discussions, which included a thorough exchange of views on North Korea.

The leaders and their wives then enjoyed a private dinner, after which Trump excused himself to receive a briefing from Mattis.

When he returned, Trump advised the Chinese leader of the attack just underway in Syria.

(Since that early meeting, Trump has touted a respectful personal relationship with the Chinese leader and lobbied for cessation of Chinese deliveries of regime-sustaining goods to Pyongyang. Xi appears to be going along with Trump’s approach to North Korea so far.)

A week later, on April 13, 2017, a U.S. Air Force Lockheed MC-130 dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on ISIS-Khorasan militant forces and tunnel complexes in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. Trump asserted that he had given U.S. commanders “total authorization” to defeat ISIS.

The Trump foreign policy has certainly been aggressive: Syria. Afghanistan. Special Operators against ISIS. Support for Israel and pressure on the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Even acceding to increased domestic spending in exchange for the end to sequestration limits on American military budgets.

Watching all of this was Pyongyang, the target of Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” through increased sanctions, cyberhacking, freezing of North Korean assets in foreign banks, aggressive military drills led by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier along with the South Korean navy, stretching from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan, and plenty of bluster (“rocket man” on a “suicide mission” who will face “fire and fury”).

Addressing South Korea’s National Assembly on Nov. 8, 2017, the first anniversary of his own election, Trump delivered a stern message: “This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. … Do not underestimate us. And do not try us. … We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated.”

In the closing section of his Jan. 30 State of the Union address, Trump addressed all parties with clear messages of warning, resolve and passion to confront “the ominous nature of this regime.”

“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” he said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”

Trump then went further, paying respect to the Warmbier family, whose son and sibling Otto, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested, charged, tried and sentenced to hard labor in North Korea. Upon his return home in June 2017, his injuries resulted in his death.

Time will tell if Mr. Trump remains loyal to first principles and invests in the long process of deterring, containing and reversing the North Korean nuclear threat, or instead seeks a quick deal with a tough adversary that merely makes for interesting TV.

Larry Greenfield is a fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy.

Letters to the Editor: Fake News, #MeToo, Table for Five, Larry Greenfield and Ruth Ziegler

Truth, ‘Fake News’ and American Politics

Regarding the Journal’s cover story “Can Truth Survive?” (Feb. 9): Reporter Shmuel Rosner probably doesn’t believe it can. His story is devoted mostly to a critique of a Rand Corp. study called “Truth Decay.” I confess I have not read the study and therefore am unable to comment on it.

Rosner recounts many of President Donald Trump’s falsehoods, the intentional conflation of opinion with fact, the tedium of cable news and even the cost of the decay of truth. It wasn’t until the end of his story that he disclosed his opinion: that truth decay “stems not just from the evil doers but also from the do-gooders who drown us in so much information that we no longer know what’s true and what’s not.”

Is he kidding? Because if he is serious, he believes that we do not have the ability to understand, to judge, to evaluate, to choose, to be capable of rational thought, or simply that we are just too lazy and don’t care. For our collective sake, I hope he is dead wrong.

Louis Lipofsky via email

Shmuel Rosner laments the decay of truth and writes, “Trump is a result of this trend as much as its instigator.” But Rosner doesn’t state the obvious: Republicans voted this compulsive liar into office and Republicans have long had an enormous problem with truth.

Why do so many Republicans believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, that he was born in Kenya, that global warming is a hoax, that there is widespread voter fraud, that the Russia investigation is a hoax? Because too many of them self-censor and listen only to conservative media like Fox News and conservative talk radio, so they are easily duped.

And why do they self-censor? Because they have bought into the argument that the mainstream media are biased. Yes, the mainstream media have a liberal bias. But it doesn’t invent outright lies like the ones listed above.

Trump doesn’t care about the truth because he knows his supporters don’t care about the truth. That’s why he calls everything “fake news” and gets away with it.

Michael Asher via email

Hysteria, Obscurity and the #MeToo Movement

Having just read Danielle Berrin’s column on male hysteria (“Male Hysteria,” Feb. 9), I’m now even more convinced of the female hysteria of the #MeToo movement, a movement that will quickly be hoisted by its own petard.

She claims that a few of these powerful and predatory men have actually been charged with a crime. I haven’t heard of any of these powerful men being charged with a crime, notwithstanding the fact that being charged with a crime is not the same as being found guilty of a crime.

Berrin complained that far too many female artists live and continue to live in obscurity. This might be true, but there are undoubtedly far too many talented male artists who also continue to live in obscurity.

Giuseppe Mirelli, Los Angeles

Table for Five Is Weekly Food for Thought

In your “Table for Five” section for Parashat Mishpatim (Feb. 9), Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, of Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice, argues for “the ethical imperative to protect and secure the needs of the stranger,” and “make the marginalized — rather than the elite  — our priority.”

I am a Conservative convert to Judaism, having embraced Judaism more than 50 years ago. I am a dues-paying member at an Orthodox synagogue near my home, where I go daily to minyan. I am also a member of four other non-Orthodox synagogues, where I regularly go and lead services in Hebrew, and am a cantor at one during the High Holy Days. While I can fully participate in those other synagogues, I am not permitted to get an aliyah to the Torah or be counted for a minyan at the Orthodox one. If I were to go to Israel, I could not be married there or be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Non-Orthodox convert women also know that their children will not be counted as Jews in parts of the Jewish world. Yet Jews born of a Jewish mother are considered fully Jewish even if they repudiate their Judaism, castigate it and couldn’t care less about being counted for a minyan or getting an aliyah.

Our people were made to feel like invisible outsiders when we were slaves in Egypt. Why should those of us who turned our lives around to incorporate Judaism into it now be made to feel like we are invisible outsiders in some Jewish circles? I call on Rabbi Yanklowitz and his fellow Orthodox of conscience and morality to work to change what I feel is an unjust standard, so that those of us who have transformed our lives to embrace the Jewish people and God’s Torah are not made to feel like marginalized strangers within the Jewish world.

Peter Robinson, Woodland Hills

I was delighted at Rabbi Mordecai Finley’s teaching on the Torah portion in your Tu B’Shevat issue (“Table for Five: B’Shalach,” Jan. 26). He admonished the Israelis for their sarcasm. Indeed, rightfully so; such humor can be a sign of contempt.

Irony or sarcasm is indeed biting. Hurt people hurt people. The conclusion of Rabbi Finley’s commentary made the greatest impression: Because you have been done wrong does not give you license to do someone else wrong.

Thanks to your wonderful newspaper and your knowledgeable contributors and staff.

Daniel Kirwan via email

Remembering Ruth Ziegler, a True Community Supporter

We join the Jewish community in mourning the loss of Ruth Ziegler, a dear friend, supporter and member of Jews for Judaism’s board of governors (“Philanthropist Ruth Ziegler, 98,” Feb. 9).

For two decades, Ziegler supported our innovative educational services. After being honored at our 2005 gala, she funded a major endowment to ensure that Jews for Judaism’s life-saving counseling services would be available in perpetuity.

When I asked Ziegler what motivated her to make such a generous gift, she responded, “At the gala, I heard a mother share her pain after losing her daughter to another religion, and how you rescued her. I want to make sure no one else experiences that pain.”

Ziegler believed in saving a Jewish life and saving the world. Jews for Judaism is honored to play a role in perpetuating her legacy.

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, founder and executive director of Jews for Judaism, International

Polish Law Demonstrates Dangers of Altering History

When any government, including Poland, attempts to whitewash its history, it usually ends up with paint stains on its hands (editorial cartoon, Feb. 9). Although we can’t compare the two, Americans should not be so quick to condemn others for their behavior without first checking our history. This month it will be 76 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt issued his executive order to intern Japanese-Americans after the U.S. entered World War II. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court avoided answering whether these people’s constitutional rights were violated.

Barry Bereskin via email

Write, Larry Greenfield, Keep on Writing

I love reading Larry Greenfield’s work. If I was not married happily, I would want to marry his brain! Keep his writing coming!

Allyson Rowen Taylor, Valley Glen

Letter to the Editor Overlooks Certain Facts

In last week’s letter from Reuben Gordon, he completely misunderstood the media coverage regarding President Donald Trump’s comment that there were good people on both sides of the Charlottesville, Va., march. Gordon states that it was in regard to the Confederate monument debate and that there were good people in support of keeping Confederate statues. The people he is referring to were Neo-Nazis; there are no good people on that side and I guess Gordon did not hear or did not want to hear their continual shouts of “Jews will not replace us.”

Edward A. Sussman, Fountain Valley

Reuben Gordon’s letter supporting President Donald Trump just because Trump supports Israel is a sad example of tunnel vision. Trump is an aggressive, ignoramus racist who is in the process of inflicting severe harm on Americans (Jews included), … so to excuse his arrogant, narcissistic self because of his support of Israel is foolish and perhaps even dangerous.

Rick Edelstein via email

He Asked and He Received a Small Change in Journal

When I ran into my friend David Suissa a couple of months ago while strolling down Pico Boulevard, I congratulated him on his new position at the Jewish Journal and the upgraded look of the paper. I then told him that Rhina, my elderly parents’ non-Jewish caregiver, noticed that the time Shabbat ends was no longer listed. As their caregiver, she needs to know when Shabbat concludes, and she wants to consult the Jewish Journal for that information. Suissa promised to correct it. Sure enough, in the next week’s edition, the time of Havdalah was once again listed! So thank you, David, for magnificently upgrading the paper, and on behalf of Jews and non-Jews who care when Shabbat ends, thanks for the weekly notice! Keep on publishing a great newspaper. Kol ha-kavod!

Mark Goldenberg, Beverly Hills


The Feb. 9 edition of Moving and Shaking misreported the venue for the L.A. Jewish Home’s Celebration of Life: Reflections 2018 gala. The event took place at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

In a Feb. 2 Calendar item, visiting scholar Andrew Porwancher was misidentified.

Is the European Right Good for the Jews?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The doors to modern left-wing anti-Semitism in Europe were opened long ago by the secular hero of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire, who famously said about the Jews: “You have surpassed all nations in impertinent fables, in bad conduct and in barbarism. You deserve to be punished, for this is your destiny.’’

Voltaire’s longstanding Jew-hatred has echoed for generations, from the murderous German National Socialists (Nazis) to the deeply anti-Israel current British Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn.  Much of European academia offers a consistent hostility to Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel as a symbol of all they detest: religiosity, capitalism, nationalism and pro-Americanism.

After Israel’s survival and success in the Six-Day War of 1967, many on the Euro-left turned hostile to the Jewish state, psychologically turning David into Goliath.  Moreover, the rise of Arab terror, as with the Munich Olympic massacre in 1972, led Europe to cut a deal with the Palestinians to “buy off” terrorism by siding against Israel.

Today, European governments can no longer ignore Islamic terrorism, but traditional European political parties still pander to large voting blocs of Muslim immigrants. Political ideology plus practical politics has made Israel, not Islamic jihad and its war against the Christian West, enemy No. 1 for many European elites.

Much of European academia offers a consistent hostility to Jews.

Attacks on synagogues and delis, with Jews beaten and fearful to wear kippot in public, has sent thousands of French Jews to Israel on aliyah. Some English Jews have now abandoned leftist politics for conservative choices far friendlier to Israel.

But what about the rising European right? Is this reactionary force good or bad for the Jews?

The most prominent conservative success in Europe is the Brexit movement advocated by the United Kingdom Independence Party, which partially inspired Trumpism in the U.S.  This model appears most sanguine.

Ten or more other European rightist parties have emerged, with varying degrees of electoral success and varying attitudes to Jews.

Geert Wilder’s PVV in Holland is pro-American and pro-Israel and hostile to unassimilating Muslim immigration. He is considered a significant generational leader.

Germany’s AFD party is essentially anti-Islamic immigration and detests the special rights and benefits of Muslims infiltrating the country. “Islam is not for Germany” is its slogan, seeking attention for victims of sexual assault. The party has struggled to attract much support in a nation unwelcoming of the German far-right.

France’s Front National has improved its standing, after Marine Le Pen replaced her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has developed a mainstream critique of both the European Union and unbridled Islamic immigration.

The Danish People’s Party is a combination of right-wing on immigration and left-wing on economics.  Austria’s FPO and Italy’s Lega Nord are deeply anti-Muslim immigration, while The Finns are a fast-growing Eurosceptic party which promotes nationalism and anti-globalism in Finland.

Jobbik, Hungary’s extremist party, is unsympathetic to Jews. “The Movement for a Better Hungary” features a younger leadership seeking to improve its image as a “people’s party.” There also are the Swedish Democrats and Greece’s Golden Dawn.

Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, is unsurprised by this inevitable trend against longstanding consensus parties which failed to invite fair and robust public discussion about the deeply negative consequences of massive Islamic migration into Western countries.

Overcoming controversial roots or leadership, rightist parties may gain electoral strength if they drop nativism to focus on legitimate concerns about EU elitism and economic statism. By opposing radical Islamists, both homegrown and imported, who are engineering a rapid collapse of traditional European civilization, some European rightists may even offer legitimate support for Jewish security in Europe.

Larry Greenfield is a fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy.

N.Y. millionaire tells newspaper that matchmaking services are a ‘rip-off’

A New York securities trader who has spent more than $65,000 on high-end matchmaking services is calling them a “rip-off,” the New York Post reported.

Millionaire Larry Greenfield, 47, of Long Island, told the newspaper that he has tried six different agencies in the last 12 years and has gone on dates with 250 women, unsuccessfully.

The matchmakers told the Post that Greenfield wants women who are “out of his league.”

Greenfield told the newspaper he would trade his millions for  a woman who is “beautiful, thin, smart, Jewish, a sense of humor and from New York — but not an 'alpha,'” a woman obsessed with her career. He said he wants “a white picket fence, two kids, a dog.”

Greenfield said he has been set up with a Knicks dancer, West Village girls who are too artsy, and one whose looks were “terrible,” according to the Post.

Larry Greenfield to head JINSA

Larry Greenfield, a Los Angeles-area native, has been named national executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington, D.C., JINSA president David Ganz has announced.

JINSA was founded in 1976 as a non-partisan and non-sectarian think tank and its motto calls for “Securing America and Strengthening Israel.” Its major emphasis is on the importance of a strong U.S. defense capability and on close military ties between Israel and the United States.

Greenfield, 50, was born in Long Beach and grew up in Encino and has worked in the fields of law, business, philanthropy, politics, Jewish organizational life and academe.

Looking at one of the early challenges in his new job, Greenfield said, “I take my appointment as underscoring JINSA’s advocacy to the rising threats from Iran with sanctions that do not leak or waiver, and in a strong military alliance with our close ally, Israel.”

JINSA’s Ganz commented, “We are thrilled to have Larry Greenfield join JINSA as the new executive director. Larry’s dynamic leadership and vision will lift JINSA to even greater heights as the leading organization supporting a strong U.S. military and a strong American security relationship with Israel.”

Among JINSA’s key annual programs are study missions to Israel for retired U.S. flag and general officers, and separately for cadets and midshipmen from America’s three military academies.

A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Georgetown University law school, Greenfield has been active in the California Jewish community as regional director of the Republican Jewish Coalition and of the Israel Cancer Research Fund.

He has also served as vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and on the board of the Endowment for Middle East Truth and of the Israel-Christian Nexus.

Greenfield was the founding executive director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation and is a Fellow in American Studies of the Claremont Institute and a Senior Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance. He has also served in the U.S. Naval Intelligence Reserve.

Larry and me

I have been through three presidential election cycles while at The Jewish Journal.

The candidates change. The issues ebb and flow. Administrations come and go. But Larry Greenfield — that dude abides.

On Thursday evening, Oct. 30, I’m going to see Larry. Again.

Greenfield is the regional director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Over the past few months, as the race narrowed to Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain and the polls tightened and the rhetoric and tactics grew nastier, Greenfield has manned the front lines, appearing at dozens of debates, lectures, parlor meetings and rallies to promote McCain and oppose Obama.

Thursday evening at Valley Beth Shalom he’ll appear at his last one, facing off against Rep. Howard Berman, with me moderating. Frankly, I find it inconceivable that there is a Jew south of Fairbanks who hasn’t made up his or her mind about this election, but I suppose many people still feel the need for reassurance, the same way you can’t help but read the ads for the car you just bought.

I’ve attended or moderated too many debates with Greenfield to count. He is always the most eager, least jaded person in the room. He shows up with his jet-black hair, his dark suit, a ready smile bursting across his ruddy cheeks, and immediately he’s working the crowd, shaking hands. He’s a Mormon missionary crossed with a shtetl tummler — and I mean that as a compliment.

Republican Jews are small in number. They set themselves apart from that great majority of their co-religionists — the most consistent Democrat voting bloc in the nation, perhaps in the nation’s history. They feel persecuted. They work hard to leverage their passion, money, talents and time in order to have an impact disproportionate to their numbers. In doing so, they risk unpopularity, they overstep boundaries, they make some friends and many enemies. They are the Jews among Jews.

Greenfield and I can disagree on many candidates and issues. And I cringe when, at these debates, his temper flares or he stoops to some of the tactics he accuses his political enemies of employing. But I have a soft spot for anyone who tilts at windmills. Kol koreh b’midbar, the prophet Isaiah says, “a voice cries in the wilderness.” For many years, in Los Angeles at least, this voice has been Greenfield’s.

And the voice is relentlessly optimistic. A Democrat in his student days at UC Berkeley, Greenfield, like so many Jewish Republicans, was inspired by Ronald Reagan. The Gipper’s there-must-be-a-pony-in-a-room-full-of-manure philosophy is Greenfield’s own. Early in this election, Greenfield and I compared notes on the Republican field. He was giddy from the embarrassment of riches.

“Rudy is great, he’s one of us,” he said of one-time candidate Rudy Giuliani. “But I think you really ought to watch Mitt Romney.”

When McCain won the nomination, I ran into Greenfield again. He predicted a big chunk of the Jewish vote going the Arizona senator’s way.

He ran down the list of Obama’s “negatives” from the Jewish perspective: limited track record on Israel, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, unsavory past affiliations.

For a while I believed him. McCain was the moderate, pro-Israel Republican who could sweep up many independently minded Jewish voters. Early polls showed McCain getting more of the Jewish vote than Bush.

But all that momentum stalled when McCain picked Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

“Homerun!” Greenfield e-mailed me within five hours of the announcement.

In fact, it was close to a third strike. Independents, and independently minded Jews, bailed.

If the polls and pundits are right as of today, next week Greenfield and his fellow Republicans are going to be standing on the beach when a Democratic tsunami hits. The House, Senate and White House may go to Democratic majority. Some favorites are most at risk. A New York Jewish Democrat, Al Franken, may actually defeat a New York Jewish Republican, Norm Coleman, for a Senate seat in Minnesota.

I am anxious to hear on Thursday if Greenfield still sees a pony. And if not, I’m going to ask him to explain what happened.

I have my own theory: given a choice between playing to the center-picking Sen. Joe Lieberman, for instance, or playing to the base of Christian evangelical conservatives, McCain chose the latter. Instead of inspiring potential Jewish Republicans, like Reagan, he turned them off, like Bush.

The Lee Atwater-Karl Rove strategy that welds culture to religion for use as a political club never seemed to hold much appeal to McCain, a fact that endeared him to more socially liberal Jews. But Palin turned out to be that club.

Four years ago Greenfield stood amid admirers at a victory party for George W. Bush at the Level One club in Beverly Hills and proclaimed that half the country’s Jewish vote would go Republican within a decade. But the needle, which might have jumped in this go-round, doesn’t look like it will budge.

So Larry Greenfield may just go back to being, if not the only Republican Jewish voice, one of the relative few.

Except, you know, for Joe Lieberman.

In the eyes of American and Torah laws, Williams should die for his heinous crimes.

In the case of the People v. Williams, the facts are quite clear. A jury convicted Stanley Tookie Williams of the execution-style murder of 23-year-old Albert Owens during a robbery of a 7-Eleven store in Whittier. The jury also convicted him of murdering the owners of a Los Angeles motel, Tsai-Shai Yang, 62, and Yen-I Yang, 65, and their 42-year-old daughter, Yee Chen Lin, in the course of a robbery two weeks later.

These innocent victims suffered an unwarranted execution at the hand of Tookie Williams. Now, at long last, it is Williams’ turn to pay for these crimes, after having lived more than 20 years following the deaths of people who committed no crime, who had no lawyer, who had no chance to file an appeal, who benefited from no legal technicalities, who never had an opportunity to seek clemency from a governor.

The American justice system has been patient and thorough, and its verdict is clear: It is legal, proper and high time that Williams should die.

The verdict under Judaism is just as plain: Capital punishment is a rare, but permissible, important and sometime necessary option for the delivery of justice. In this case in particular, the ethical and Jewish case for the death penalty is overwhelming.

But for those who doubt, it is necessary to look no further than the holiest writings of the Jewish faith.

Capital punishment is the second commandment in Genesis, after “Be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis (9:6) proclaims: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in his image did God make humankind.”

So fundamental is capital punishment as the specific response to murder that it, alone among the laws of the Bible, is established in all five books of the Torah: Genesis (9:6), Exodus (21:12, 21:14), Leviticus (24:17), Numbers (35:31), Deuteronomy (19:19-20, 24:7).

For literal believers in biblical liturgy, nothing more need be said. But certainly Jewish tradition and practice has evolved over the centuries, leading to ongoing moral reinterpretation. It is true that Jewish authorities established strict standards of evidence, as they became especially concerned about the rights of defendants during Roman rule and after. But there’s a difference between a high (and laudable) standard of evidence and an outright prohibition. Jewish law and its Judeo-Christian successor, modern American law, have consistently upheld the legal and moral basis for the death penalty.

It remains fair and reasonable to hold that the value of innocent human life is best established by exacting a proportionate and ultimate sanction upon a murderer. Government has a duty to act where God cannot, so as to establish justice on earth, prevent further murder, and organize a system for prosecution, judgment, and punishment on behalf of victims and society.

Williams had his day in court — again and again and again.

Court after court has rejected his appeals. The 9th Circuit Court determined that Williams had competent counsel. Democrat and Republican governors have rejected calls for clemency. His supporters claim he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for his prison writings, but this is ridiculous grandstanding, trying to attach an honor to a person who doesn’t deserve it. Nominating Williams for a Nobel Peace Prize did nothing but cynically cheapen the award itself.

Williams was convicted for specific crimes — and that’s what he will die for — but it’s worth considering for a moment the wider evil he’s brought into the world. Williams co-founded the brutal Crips gang, and in that role, it’s difficult to calculate how many crimes and other murders to which he was an accessory. And once he was imprisoned, he left behind a nefarious legacy, an ongoing wave of mass murder that resulted directly from his original criminal leadership. This information was never mentioned in court and was, in fact, kept from the jury. But it remains part of the real Tookie Williams story.

The Crips super-gang he founded exists throughout the United States and even internationally. Williams’ evil efforts have arguably resulted in more devastation — more murder, torture, rape and crippling of Americans, specifically young black children — than the acts of anyone else now alive.

Williams says, conveniently enough, that he’s changed his mind about gangs, although he’s never taken responsibility for the carnage he caused. At best, he may have tried to return a few evils into the Pandora’s Box that he personally opened and helped unleash upon the world. But that’s a far cry from true repentance and actual justice.

The life that Williams has led in prison and his public writings have generated for him the respect of misguided leftists who are all to eager to be kind to the cruel.

No one denies that murderers can go on to apologize, write books and even arguably make a contribution. Perhaps God will weigh the million intangibles, giving them their proper weight on the scales of evil and good done by any individual in a lifetime. But it is our proper and better role to content ourselves with the mission of justice.

I know honorable people who oppose the death penalty on principle. But the arguments are more persuasive on the other side — especially if we consider the rights of victims to take priority over the rights of those who murder. That’s an easy call for me to make, and it’s a crime that victims have to wait so long for justice.

I defend the death penalty — and the need for a more swift and sure death-penalty process, on other grounds, too. Under the current system the result is abusively long legal appeals and expensive lifetime imprisonment for convicted killers. All the while, victims’ families are often tortured by legal gamesmanship as well as by the suffering of not knowing if or when an execution will finally be allowed to go forward.

There are broader considerations as well. In an age of intense religio-political terrorism, the failure to deter and punish mass murder with capital punishment would deliver a devastating blow to the moral and actual defense of innocent life, not to mention the defense of our nation.

Some death-penalty opponents cite DNA evidence as a reason to end capital punishment. To the contrary, death-penalty proponents abhor just as much the theoretical possibility of an innocent person being executed. DNA evidence puts science on the side of justice — and firmly on the side of capital punishment.

The death penalty is widely approved in our society as our collective means of punishment and moral retribution. It is applied in extremely few cases. As applied to mass murderers like Williams, deep care for innocent life and for deterring future crimes requires the ultimate punishment. American law says so; common decency argues as much, and Jewish law says so, too.

Cry for Williams if you like out of mercy. But we are all more deeply stained by the tears of his victims and their loved ones. This just execution will dry some of their tears — and offer some closure and peace. n

Larry Greenfield is an attorney, victims-rights advocate, and the California director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.


Bush Win Inspires Local GOP Leader

George W. Bush wasn’t the only Republican to win big on election night. Larry Greenfield, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) of Southern California, also fared quite well.

Surrounded by a crowd of 250 Jewish Republicans partying at Beverly Hills’ Level One club, a beaming Greenfield looked more like a giddy teenager than a 42-year-old man in a dark suit. As news of the Republican triumphs came in, RJC members hugged and high-fived Greenfield, who has become the public face of Southern California’s Jewish Republicans.

For months, in a series of debates throughout the state, he had argued that Jews should and would embrace the GOP, a party that he said fought hard for Israel and promoted personal and economic freedom over government intrusion. Occasionally, Jewish audiences greeted Greenfield’s message with jeers. More often than not, they listened; a few even told him after his speeches that they might “do the unthinkable” and vote Republican, he said.

Working the Level One crowd like a seasoned politician, Greenfield was suddenly cornered by an Israeli man with a thick accent. Extending his hand, the Israeli immigrant thanked Greenfield for his tireless work on behalf of Jewish Republicans.

“You are brilliant and very good for our cause,” the man said. “I think many more Jews will become Republican.”

That already appears to be happening. An L.A. Times exit poll found that 20 percent of California’s Jews voted for Bush this time around, up from 15 percent four years ago. Nationally, the Times said the president won at least 26 percent the Jewish vote, up from 19 percent.

The increase in the Jewish vote for Bush parallels the growth of the RJC of Southern California. Founded in 2001 with about 200 members, the chapter now has 1,000, making it the largest RJC in the country.

Greenfield plans to build on that momentum. In the next year, he said the RJC of Southern California would host the first statewide meeting of California’s eight RJC chapters in Newport Beach. Greenfield also said his group would step up its lobbying efforts on behalf of Israel and increase its outreach to the Southland’s Jewish community. Within a decade, the Republican said he thought up to half the country’s Jewish vote would go Republican.

“We’ve only just begun,” Greenfield said.

If he sounds a tad boastful, Greenfield supporters would argue that his efforts on behalf of local Jewish Republicans had earned him that right.

In recent months, Greenfield participated in 40 debates from San Diego to San Bernardino to Santa Monica. In preparation, he said he spent upward of 200 hours poring over newspapers, political journals and position papers.

Fueled by an almost messianic need to share with his fellow Jews what he sees as the Republican Party’s commitment to liberty and national security, Greenfield showed a willingness to go anywhere at almost anytime to help nonbelievers see the light.

“He’s indefatigable. He seems to work day and night and is willing to travel to speak for the cause at a drop of the hat,” said Dr. Joel Geiderman, incoming regional chair for the RJC of Southern California. “He’s gotten our name out there in a very positive way.”

For all his enthusiasm about President Bush, Greenfield said he was not surprised his Jewish brethren voted predominantly Democratic. Still, Greenfield said he saw his role as planting the seeds of compassionate conservatism that would one day take root among Jews.

During the dog-day campaign grind, Greenfield gave up more than just sleep in his quest to convince Jews that their future lay with a party headed by a conservative born-again Christian. Greenfield, a Berkeley- and Georgetown-educated attorney, said he sacrificed a hefty lawyer’s salary and a social life to help lead the local Republicans.

It was worth it, he said, because America and Israel’s future were at stake. Failing to fight the good fight in these turbulent times would have been nothing less than negligent, he said.

Donna Bojarsky, a Democratic public policy consultant who advises such celebrities as Richard Dreyfuss, said Greenfield is “one of the most articulate and passionate people the Republicans have out here in L.A. in recent memory.”

“People are shocked by how effective Larry’s been and the community’s response to him,” said Democratic activist Lee Wallach, adding that Greenfield tended to play “loose and fast with the facts.”

Rick Entin, a 44-year-old Pacific Palisades real estate investor and lifelong Democrat, said Greenfield “really opened my mind to a broad range of political thinking, especially as it relates to foreign policy.”

Entin, who met Greenfield seven years ago when both became Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellows, said he voted for Bush — the first time Entin ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate. The president’s willingness to confront anti-Semitism at home and abroad and publicly condemn Yasser Arafat impressed Entin. Still, he said he might never have voted Republican if not for Greenfield’s persuasiveness.

Although he denied harboring any aspirations for higher office, Greenfield has long had an interest in politics. At Berkeley, he gave the commencement speech to political science majors and spoke about the importance of protecting liberty, even citing John F. Kennedy. In the mid-1990s, he chaired a local American Israel Public Affairs Committee leadership committee and traveled around the country on behalf of United Jewish Appeal and Israel Bonds talking about U.S.-Israeli relations.

Greenfield’s heightened visibility in the Jewish community and gold-plated Rolodex of contacts would seem to make him a natural for politics. Dr. Richard Sherman incoming president of the RJC’s L.A. chapter said, “Larry has the strong beliefs, is very determined and hard working, the good qualities of a politician.”

However, critics say Greenfield has several kinks to work out.

While Greenfield prides himself on his ability to have respectful exchanges with those disagreeing with him, detractors say he occasionally becomes overheated and combative during debates. At Sinai Temple, for instance, Greenfield — his eyes bulging and voice tinged with agitation — intimated that Sen. John Kerry and the entire Democratic Party had lurched to the anti-Israel radical left. Greenfield also said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the Americans invaded, a stance putting him at odds with both high-ranking U.N. and U.S. weapons inspectors.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who squared off against Greenfield and Republican strategist Arnold Steinberg at Sinai, said he thought Greenfield took some cheap shots.

“He took whatever question there was and tried to paint it with a broad brush and blame everything on the Democrats,” Waxman said. “I thought he was a little off target.”

On target or not, Greenfield said he has no intention of fading away like yesterday’s campaign literature. There’s too much to be done, too many Jews to try to proselytize. As he sees it, his work has just begun.

But first, Greenfield said he wanted some much needed R & R. With a glint in his eye, the Beverly Hills bachelor said he hoped “to find a sweet girl to take to Maui.”