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No. 115 / 2017

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Tim Boxer


The Ultimate NightmareThe Utimate Nightmare

HORTLY after the establishment of Israel in 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion decided to produce an A-bomb to assure the safety of the Jewish state. In doing so Israel struck a bargain with the rest of the world: "It has not sought at home or abroad the prestige, respect, or recognition that comes from possessing nuclear weapons," according to Avner Cohen in his meticulously researched book, The Worst Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain With The Bomb.

For four decades Israeli society and discourse pursued this self-restraint, this societywide taboo, this wall of silence, this code of invisibility, this prohibition of open acknowledgment of its nuclear capability—this policy of amimut, Hebrew for opacity or ambiguity.

This stemmed from a secret accord between Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon in 1969. It was a don’t ask/don’t tell understanding that exempted Israel’s nuclear weapons from U.S. nonproliferation policy. Every U.S. president since then has actively supported this commitment to remove the Israeli nuclear issue from bilateral relations.

Cohen, a senior fellow at the Washington office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, argues that it’s time for a change, time to demand Israeli transparency on its two nuclear research centers, at Soreq and at Dimona.

Israel’s nuclear umbrella has served the country well…till now that Iran is on the verge of its own nuclear capability. Israel, with its population so concentrated in such a miniscule size, is extremely vulnerable to Iran’s threat to wipe it off the face of the map. Even more so if it’s forced to give up the West Bank to create another Arab state, thus diminishing further its geographical space.

One or two Israeli atomic bombs on Iran, with its nuclear factories dispersed over such vast terrain, would not necessarily destroy its resolve. It could survive the loss of a few million people, and rise up to counterattack.

The Israeli mind, Cohen writes, "is tortured with questions about the country’s very survival." (Columbia University Press, 416 pages, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $30.10)

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 WORLD WITHOUT ISLAM by Graham E. Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA and current adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, argues that Islam is not blame for jihad, suicide bombings and 9/11.He maintains that "religion acts as the vehicle, and not the cause, of conflicts, splits, and confrontations."

"Take Islam out of the equation, and there’s a very good chance you’d still find the Middle East at loggerheads with the West."

Muslims are simply using Islam in an ongoing battle against Western intervention and U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not Islam the religion that is the problem. It’s the United States and its allies. Presumably, if allied troops withdraw completely from Mideast territory, then peace and calm will prevail and we’ll all live happily ever after. (Little, Brown, 328 pages, $25.99 Amazon.com Price: $17.15)

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE WORLDNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE WORLD, in this ninth edition, is truly a stupendous resource for everyone – scholar, student, researcher and citizen alike. This weighty oversize masterwork is gorgeously illustrated in the way you expect from the NGS. Updated maps keep you current with the volatile area of Afghanistan, Iraq and of course the Middle East. One caveat: even here a political agenda shows itself. In the facts section, the West Bank population is given as 2,461.000. In addition it states that 2.5 million Palestinians and 500,000 settlers populate the West Bank. Then shouldn’t the facts section list the population as 3 million? (National Geographic, 424 pages, 300 maps, 250 illustrations, 50 color photos, slipcase, $175.00 Amazon.com Price: $105.00)

TERRORIST COPTERRORIST COP From the first chapter, "Why Is That Cop Wearing a Yarmulke? to the last chapters, "How to Identify a Terror Attack: A Manual" and "Chasing the Demons," Mordecai Dzikansky’s book held my interest. It’s page after page of an Orthodox Jewish patrolman collaring perps on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan and his subsequent pursuits as the first NYPD Intelligence Division Overseas Liaison to the Israel National Police during the terror-filled days of suicide bombings and carnage in the Holy Land. (Barricade Books, 245 pages, $24.95 Amazon.com Price: $16.47)

BEAUTIFUL: THE LIFE OF HEDY LAMARRBEAUTIFUL: THE LIFE OF HEDY LAMARR Acknowledged as the most beautiful girl in the world during Hollywood’s Golden Age of Glamour, Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna to a Jewish banker from Ukraine and Jewish woman from Budapest, Hungary, who had converted to Catholicism. Hedy Lamarr made a splash with nude scenes when she filmed Ecstasy for a Czech producer in Prague. "It would define Hedy’s screen image and impact her life to the end of her days," says Stephen Shearer in his exhaustive biography. But she was also known as an inventor. In 1940 Hedy patented a system of wireless communication that can direct torpedoes to their targets, which she contributed to America’s war efforts. November 9 is celebrated as Hedy Lamarr Day or Inventors Day. At the time of her death in 2000, she was still inventing — a device to attach pockets to Kleenex boxes for used tissue. (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $29.99 Amazon.com Price: $19.79)

BETTE DAVIS: LARGER THAN LIFEBETTE DAVIS: LARGER THAN LIFE, a paean to this screen dynamo, is the consummation of a wonderful collaboration between Richard Schickel, former longtime movie critic for Life and Time, and George Perry, former films editor of the London Sunday Times. She may not have been beautiful, in the conventional Hollywood acceptance, but she was larger than life, in person as well as on the screen. This book is a keeper: the text is crisp; the photos are magnificent. Lots of delicious anecdotes, especially about the animosity that riddled Davis’s relationship with Joan Crawford, her costar in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Once when she was in full rant Davis was reminded that Crawford had been dead for two years. She snarled back, "Just because a person’s dead doesn’t mean they’ve changed!" (Running Press, 264 pages, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $23.10)

Understand PhilosophyTHE KEY IDEAS is a magnificent series of soft cover books that goes beyond Cliffs Notes—more comprehensive and more satisfying. Each book on philosophers introduces you to the life of that luminary and his system of thought. ("His." Why are all philosophers of the male persuasion?) I am currently delving into the ideas of the French Foucault: The Key Ideas and the German Nietzsche: The Key Ideas, both deep thinkers. These books convey their ideas concisely and clearly. Of course, I began my journey with Understand Philosophy, which guides you effortlessly into this heady universe of logic, religion, ethics, science, and through such esoteric regions as phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism, and so much more. (McGraw-Hill, each book priced around $15)

NIKON D90 is a Brit book that’s so well written and organized that it will be warmly welcomed by us in the colonies. The numerous sections are color coded so you can quickly find your interest, be it shooting motion (like waterfalls), flash, close-ups, movies, lenses and so on. The chapter on "In the Field" is most instructive, showing you how to compose a shot, frame a subject, shoot a sunset, and appreciate vignetting (the fall-off of illumination resulting in those dark corners). Landscape photographer Jon Sparks teaches you a lot about the art of capturing great images. (Ammonite Press, 256 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $13.57)

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