Why did the CIA’s 1961 Bay of Pigs operation Cuba fail? In The Good Shepherd, the recent Robert DeNiro film starring Matt Damon, we are led to think that the plan collapsed because the landing site of the invasion was leaked.
But in actuality, the problems with the invasion were far more profound. What really happened and in what other ways does Hollywood twist history? The CIA, surprisingly unshy these days about airing its dirty laundry, has now posted a transcript on the agency website of its in-house discussions of the film.
Getting older can be a delightful experience for performers of classical music. At Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, June 6, the Senior Concert Orchestra will perform a program of works by Mozart and Elgar, among others, conducted by David Gilbert. The orchestra, composed of retired professional musicians from the New York area, has been performing since 1966 as an offshoot of the Senior Musicians’ Association, part of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. The Carnegie Hall audience will experience the pleasure of hearing orchestral musicians playing solely for the joy of it, a rare phenomenon.
Decades ago, Frank Jankovitz—one of the Senior Concert Orchestra’s founders—identified longevity with creative wisdom. And last year, in a study from the British Psychological Society’s Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, orchestral musicians explained that playing in an orchestra was the “essential means by which they could socialize with like-minded people, and experience camaraderie, teamwork, solidarity, and friendship.” Hence they felt a “lifelong passion for music and music performance.”
This kind of passion can be heard for free on Wednesday (tickets are available at the box office before the concert). If you like what you hear, and have the means, you might think of making a voluntary donation to Local 802’s Fund for Disabled Musicians or its Emergency Relief Fund.
Last Tuesday, in ten towns across Rongxian county in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, several thousand peasants stormed government offices, torched patrol cars, and fought armed police over fines imposed to enforce Beijing’s one-child policy.
The Rongxian disturbances occurred less than two weeks after approximately 10,000 peasants rioted over the same policy in nearby Bobai county. In Bobai, protesters also set fires, smashed cars, and damaged and looted a government office. As many as five people—including three population-control officials—may have died. Protests occurred in 28 Bobai townships over a three-day period. The central government’s one-child rules vary, depending on location and other factors: Bobai regulations permit families one child if the first was a boy and two if the first was a girl.
Heavy fines helped cause the Bobai disturbances. Some of the penalties were as high as $1,300—in an area where annual incomes average about one-tenth of that amount. Failure to pay such a fine within three days of its assessment can result in the destruction of a family’s home and the seizure of its personal property. There have also been more than 250 instances of the application of “population-control measures”—forced sterilizations and forced abortions—in Guangxi in the last three months. The Guangxi demonstrations appear to have been triggered by this sudden two-pronged crackdown.
Last week’s vote by the British Universities and Colleges Union admonishing its members to “consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions” marks a new stage in the concerted campaign to put Israel into a kind of cultural quarantine. This boycott and others like it are not merely aimed at forcing a change of that country’s policy towards the Palestinians—they are explicitly intended to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state. By branding Israel an apartheid state, these academics are denying its right to exist in anything like its present form.
But what are the “moral implications” of aligning the British academic community with those, such as the Palestinian government, who are dedicated to the destruction of Israel? Is it plausible that the universities now under censure would survive a Hamas-led regime? The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it is true, long preceded the founding of the state of Israel, but the survival of this and other academic institutions in Mandatory Palestine was only possible because they were protected by the British authorities and supported by academics around the world. Had the Hebrew University been left to the mercies of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, its faculty members would have suffered the same fate as the Jewish academics in Germany did at the hands of the Mufti’s ally, Adolf Hitler.
On May 24th, COMMENTARY’s editor-at-large Norman Podhoretz received the Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University. The Guardian of Zion Award is one of the most prestigious in its field; past recipients include Charles Krauthammer, Cynthia Ozick, Daniel Pipes, Elie Wiesel, and Ruth Wisse. The full text of Podhoretz’s lecture—Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity—is now available at COMMENTARY’s website. (And make sure to read Rick Richman’s take on the lecture at Jewish Current Issues.)