Nothing's gonna change my world

As NASA beamed a Beatles' peace anthem across the universe, Iran launched a rocket into space and Palestinian terrorists attacked a Negev town.

beatles abbey road 88 (photo credit: )
beatles abbey road 88
(photo credit: )
You can't beat the Beatles. British-born and raised, I was a fan of the Fab Four almost from birth. My earliest childhood memories include my Dad's version of "Yesterday" ("all my bubbles seem to blow away") and our family's bathtime favorite "Close your eyes and I'll wash you, tomorrow I'll slosh you." We also had an egg-timer in the form of a bearded drummer used for preserving domestic peace by making sure all three siblings got an equal turn on the garden swing. Naturally, it was known simply as Ringo. As a young adult, I remember exactly where I was when I learned that John Lennon had been shot. Manning the operations switchboard in an IDF base on the Golan Heights, I found myself alone in the early hours of the morning with no one to share the news I'd just heard on an Army Radio bulletin. I called the only people readily accessible. (It was the early 1980s; we didn't have a phone at home in the Galilee town of Karmiel.) The Northern Command operations NCO who answered my call could not make out what I wanted from him, initially misunderstanding my new immigrant's Hebrew about Lennon and a shooting to mean there had been some kind of attack in Lebanon. We have collectively come down a long and winding road since then, as I had to admit on February 4 when NASA beamed the Beatles' "Across the Universe" into space. The event, 40 years after the song was recorded, was a celebration of NASA's 50th anniversary; the launch the same year of the first US satellite, Explorer 1; and 45 years since the Deep Space Network, an international network of antennas that supports space-exploration missions, was established. Happily humming along to the feel-good lyrics of the flower-power period before strawberry fields were overplowed and poisoned with pesticides, I came down to earth with a crash as news of the suicide bombing in the Negev town of Dimona hit the news mid-morning. "Don't let me down," I wanted to beg, but reality kicked in. I could only be grateful that it wasn't "Imagine" going through my mind as the drama unfolded and we learned of the death of Lubov Razdolskaya, 73, a veteran immigrant from Georgia whose only crime was to be running errands with her husband - seriously wounded in the attack - at the local shopping center. AS THE Beatles' hit was conquering the cosmos, I wondered what view any aliens might take of the situation down below. The message seemed so out of tune with the reports I was listening to on the radio. February 4 was declared "Across the Universe Day" but closer to home, our troubles were definitely not so far away. And they might be getting bigger. Lucy in the sky with diamonds now has to share her space with a lot of expensive technology and some is giving off signals very different from the Beatles' "we can work it out" approach. In fact, in a stunning reminder that we are living in a global village, Iran by chance chose the same day to fire a rocket into space and unveil its first major space center in a move immediately condemned by the American administration and even questioned "back in the USSR," or at least Russia. Nonetheless, Moscow, which continues to vie for an influential position in the Middle East peace process, is the main partner in transferring space technology to the Islamic Republic. Liftoff was broadcast live on Iranian state TV, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issuing the launch order. The exercise had worried observers elsewhere wondering whether blastoff could be far behind. At a time when, in the opinion of the Israeli defense establishment, Iran is still trying to develop nuclear weapons, Iran's space program could be used to cover the continued development of its military ballistic missiles. The Beatles' "Let it be" was the inspiration of the Naomi Shemer Yom Kippur War hit "Lu yehi," with its prayer for peace. These prayers particularly resonate as Iran claims it will launch a satellite called Omid (Hope) in 2009. Even if this is a bluff, it is a sign of where Teheran hopes to be heading when it reaches for the stars. A rocket stack that can place such a satellite in space can probably also launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, even a nuclear-tipped one. Speaking with the Post's defense reporter Yaakov Katz last week, Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at Israel's Fisher Brothers Institute for Air and Space Studies in Herzliya, also raised the possibility that Iran's space program was a cover to develop military-grade ballistic missiles. He said international treaties placed tight restrictions on the overt development of long-range two-stage ICBMs. "The traditional way to get around this restriction is to develop a space program and then to use the space missiles for military purposes," Inbar said. WHILE THE sky's not the limit for Teheran, America is taking the laid-back "Hey Jude" tack. Sanctions against Iran stalled even before the National Intelligence Estimate in December 2007 claimed that Iran is not racing to get The Bomb. The Bush administration in its twilight hours (or at least months) is concentrating on the Annapolis peace track apparently without realizing the connection. As America downplays Teheran's efforts, Iran's support for its proxies - Hamas, Hizbullah, and al-Qaida - increases. It's something every mother in Dimona would know. No wonder Israel is literally watching this space. Israel's TecSar satellite, launched last month from India, is transmitting pictures to its ground control center. The satellite, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, is believed to dramatically increase the country's intelligence-gathering capabilities, transmitting images in all meteorological conditions. It is reportedly keeping its electronic eye on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. After all, Israel is looking forward to celebrating its 60th anniversary this May and it wants to continue its existence way past the Beatles' landmark age of 64. There have even been reports, denied in Jerusalem, that 43 years after banning the Beatles from playing in the country for fear of their negative influence on local youth, Israel is inviting surviving members of the Fab Four to the 60th birthday bash. That is far more likely than world peace breaking out as a result of signals circling the globe courtesy of NASA. February 4 was marked as Across the Universe Day. February 12 is Darwin Day. Maybe evolution will take an unexpected course and pigs will develop wings and fly. Right now, however, it looks like we're going to continue singing "Help!" as the world continues to consider us as the global village's "Fool on the Hill."