There was no one more down-to-Earth than the late Herb London (1939–2018). But when all the power players gathered in the White House yesterday to sign documents bringing Herb’s vision of a Middle East peace alignment to fruition, he was … up in Heaven!
You can see here how thoroughly London’s outline of this vision mirrors the deal signed yesterday at the White House.
Herb was the last Renaissance Man, a great public intellectual who was a private athlete, performer, political candidate, and strategic thinker. Herb was born in Brighton Beach to a salesman named Jack London, and from an early age he answered the call of the wild. At six feet, five inches, he was always a big man on campus, never more than when he was a key player on New York City’s champion high school basketball team, from Jamaica High. In Columbia University he made the team as an undergraduate.
Rather than pursue a career in the sport (in those days NBA starters were mostly Jewish and few were taller than him; Ossie Schectman from Queens was six feet and scored the first basket in league history), Herb became a singer. He was always proud that he was the first artist to record “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and he even played the original version for me on his cell phone. His biggest hit was called, “We’re Not Going Steady,” which peaked at No. 4 in 1959.
Eventually he hit his stride in academic pursuits. He founded the “university without walls” in New York University (his doctorate was from there) in 1972, now known as the Gallatin Division. He wrote columns, hosted radio programs, and was one of the hosts of CNN’s Crossfire. He ran for office several times, including for governor of New York on the conservative line. Eventually he devoted himself to the world of think tanks, first as president of the Hudson Institute from 1997 to 2011, then as founder (working closely with our mutual friend Eli Gold) of the London Center for Policy Research. The American Spectator Editor-in-Chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. and I are senior fellows at the Center. Vickie London (Herb’s wife) heads the Board of Directors and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer serves ably as its president.
From its inception, the Center worked hard to promote Herb’s unique strategy for Middle East peace. He argued passionately that the countries outside Iran’s sphere of influence had to be convinced that the only effective counterweight to Iran’s aggressive expansion and expansive aggression was for the moderate Arab entities to team up with Israel. He approached Donald Trump with this concept shortly after Donald began his campaign in 2015, and “made a sale,” which was part of the reason Donald chose Gen. Mike Flynn, a senior fellow at the London Center, as his first national security adviser. It should surprise nobody that the pro-Iran Obama–Biden cabal targeted Flynn and brought him down in a bad-faith prosecution that is still being litigated almost four years later.
Indeed Jared Kushner, Avi Berkowitz, and the other architects and engineers of the unfolding peace deal (so far UAE and Bahrain have signed on, but more signatories are said to be in the offing) have done amazing work implementing this strategic vision. These Arab countries seem to fear the possibility of Biden retaking the Oval Office, so they are hurrying to lock in this new regional reality, creating “facts on the ground,” as the diplomats and generals say. Hopefully that fear will prove to be unfounded, and the Trump team will have four more years to flesh out the structure of what Donald likes to call the Arab NATO.
It is instructive to read Herb’s article of June 14, 2017, and I am linking to it here. You can see how thoroughly his outline of this vision mirrors the deal signed at the White House. In his typically humble way, he is happy to call it “Trump’s vision for the Middle East,” but he explains how it is based on “previous documents” produced by the London Center.
So it is fitting for us to remember Herb on this special occasion and to acknowledge his presence, even if we cannot pick his star out of the firmament. It is enough for us to look up into the sky and catch that special twinkle. Rest in peace, Herb. Peace not only for your soul, for you and your family, but — as we approach the Jewish New Year — peace for the United States, for Israel, and for the entire world.