I received an e-mail recently from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz with the subject line: Stand up to — Iran's President — Ahmadinejad. Inside was a picture of an exuberant Ahmadinejad and the punch line: “We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.” The banner was linked to a two minute video by Aish.com.
This, in turn, is really a slideshow starting with a picture of Adolf Hitler. Followed by a gruesome picture of undernourished adult males in what I assume is a liberated concentration camp. The narrator says: "Imagine. you could have stopped Hitler in 1938." Showing Ahmadinejad above the quote: Israel must be wiped off the map, the narrator announces: "Today a new Hitler is on the world stage calling for the destruction of the state of Israel." The narrator falls silent for the display of two more pictures of Ahmadinejad above the quotes: "The Zionist regime is a dried up and rotten tree which will be annihilated with one storm." And: "The elimination of the Zionist regime will be smooth and simple."
The first quote about wiping out Israel is a matter of international debate. Some analysts say Ahmadinejad never made such a statement, and that it is an intentional mistranslation by Israel or their supporters to overstate the danger from Iran. If they are right and only the latter two quotes can be accredited to Ahmadinejad, he is not alone in wanting Zionism to be eliminated, which doesn't necessarily mean exterminating Jews or obliterating Israel. In my recent interview with Israeli author and academic Ilan Pape, he said: "Israel has to be de-Zionised to a point before any genuine reconciliation can be attempted." He was talking about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Whether Ahmadinejad said "Israel must be wiped off the map" or not, the comparison to Hitler and the Holocaust is a blatant misrepresentation of one of the world's most horrific acts. In 1938 the world was a different place, not least in the perception of Jews. in the 30s was an era when stereotypes were treated as fact and taught to children. Discrimination was accepted, in some cases even expected of people. Jews were stereotypically evil, greedy and devious – and persecuted because of it.
When Hitler's views began emerging, entrenched stereotypes made them indifferent, and even those who didn’t hate Jews. In short, the Jews had no friends in the world capable of or willing to stop Hitler. Today the situation is very different.
The Holocaust was a horrific and tragic occurrence. The world did not even attempt to stop it pre-emptively. However, the world's postwar guilt led, even if only indirectly, to the partitioning of Palestine for a Jewish homeland.
Second Holocaust Foiled
In its infancy, Israel faced threats from Arab countries surrounding it, who really did want to carry out a second holocaust, and who wanted to wipe Israel off the map. As Egypt's President announced before the Sinai war: "Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the disciples of pharaoh and the sons of Islam and they will cleanse the Land of Israel….There will be no peace on Israel's border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death." The U.S. began supporting Israel militarily in the 60s and rescued Israel from the brink of defeat by airlifting military supplies during the Yom Kippur war: the aggressors Egypt and other neighboring Arab states learned that the U.S. wasn't going to let Israel be defeated. Since then, Israel faces only a very small threat from neighboring countries, and some have signed peace accords. The others are reduced to funding internal resistance groups against Israel's occupation, none of which are anywhere near capable of wiping Israel off the map.
In any case, the developed world is a different place: an era of equal rights for all. With equal access in the media and satellite beaming different cultures to western television, stereotypes are no longer people's first reference. Persecution is a crime no matter the victim, and children are being brought up to treat everyone the same.
Let's assume Ahmadinejad does want Israel wiped off the map.
Far from having no friends, Israel is now in the "in" crowd, with the most powerful friends in the world: the U.S., U.K. and any other states wanting to stay in America's favor. With the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), perhaps the most powerful lobby in America, America's world influence and massive nuclear arsenal, Israel is one of the world’s best protected countries. If this support wasn't enough to deter anyone considering an attack, or "the destruction of Israel", Israel has a sizeable nuclear deterrent of its own, widely thought to be 200-400 active nuclear warheads. This is a significant deterrent against attack.
Some analysts cite sources putting Israel's nuclear arsenal much higher. The sources aren't readily available, making the claims difficult to corroborate. If Israel has 400 nuclear warheads (and I suspect at least, that given the secrecy of the Israeli proliferation machine), then Tel Aviv has the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than China or France. Iran is years from even having one workable nuclear warhead, and depending on the size and weight of the prototype building a missile to carry it could take just as long. Thus Israel has sufficient capabilities to defend itself, along with protection from the U.S. as No. 1 nuclear proliferator. Ahmadinejad's patriotism is the driving force behind the dramatic showdown with the U.S. and the world over wanting the country's right to nuclear power under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel has not ratified. Surely such patriotism would prevent him from risking the total obliteration of his country by attack Israel.
What's more, Israeli officials know that there is no such "second holocaust" threat from a nuclear Iran. As Gareth Porter reported in the Electronic Intifada.
An article in 2004 in the online journal of a hard-line think-tank, the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, revealed that "one of the options that has been considered should Iran publicly declare itself to have nuclear weapons is for Israel to put an end to what is called its policy of 'nuclear ambiguity' or 'opacity'”.
The author, Shalom Freedman, said that in light of Israel's accumulation of "over 100 nuclear weapons" and its range of delivery systems for them, even if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons within a few years, the "tremendous disproportion between the strength of Israel and an emergent nuclear Iran should serve as a deterrent."
Returning to the Aish.com slideshow, after the Hitler comparisons displaying the existential threat to Israel from Iran, it goes on with yet more groundless scaremongering: "This is a war” – (a war?) – “not only against Israel, but against the west as well." The picture shows angry Muslims burning an American flag with the quotation. “I warn the great powers [who] fan the flames of Muslim rage, [we] will annihilate them all.” The narrator continues: "Iran is close to developing the technology needed to build nuclear weapons. Iran's Shahab 3 missile can carry nuclear warheads to a range of 2000 km capable of reaching Europe, Israel and American forces in the Middle East."
As yet, Iran hasn't built a nuclear warhead, so nobody knows what size or weight it will be. Nobody can speculate whether the Shahab 3 will carry it, let alone how far.
You may be wondering why Israelis would want to create mass hysteria on the basis of lies: the same reason it denies Palestinian right of return, and is building a great wall around the Jewish state… Zionism's greatest fear is Israel becoming predominantly Arab.
You may be confused. Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh explained in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, saying that under the threat from a nuclear Iran "most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. People are not enthusiastic about being scorched." Thus the danger, Sneh elaborated, is that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would "be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That's why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs."
So, the fear is not over the existence of Israel, but over how Israel exists.
I suspect Washington's war planners know the existential threat is non-existent, but have their own reasons for failing to dispel the myth. America does not want allied Israel's Middle East hegemony to end, especially not in favor of an enemy as staunch as Iran.
Israel putting such weight on their lies taking hold in the world media, has guaranteed their fears will be a reality should Iran successfully enrich uranium to weapons grade. That is why you can rest assured, if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Iranian enrichment, Israel will attack with or without U.S help. There is a distinct possibility that the attack will involve the use of nuclear weapons. Iran is more in danger of a nuclear holocaust from Israel.