Netanyahu, Iran, the Holocaust and Wiesel’s rejoinder


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked Holocaust Remembrance Day by talking about … Iran:

"I believe in our ability to defend ourselves," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the ceremony. "People who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim or an exaggeration have learned nothing from the Holocaust. To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth – that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people – that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons."

So did Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, in a speech today at the commemoration ceremony at the Capitol. (I have the prepared remarks; if there are significant differences with the remarks as delivered, I will update):

Consider this: Eighty years ago, the world was scarcely in the mood for confrontation. People were weary from the devastating losses of a recent war. Economies were in crisis. Unemployment was high, foreclosures commonplace. People were focusing inward,grappling with their own problems. Meanwhile, a radical militant movement dreamt of regional and global domination. Headed by a Supreme Leader, the movement burnt books and crushed its democratic opponents. It amassed vast arsenals of advanced weaponry and invaded neighboring countries. The radicals played on their nation’s injured pride and stressed its racial superiority. The movement denigrated the Jewish people as a cancer that had to be cut out.

Today, too, there is such a radical regime —- in Iran. It also has a Supreme Leader. It also butchers its democratic opponents, supports terror, and seeks regional and global hegemony. The Iranian regime similarly espouses racism. It denies the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis while pledging to murder another six million — in Israel. And to achieve its abominable goals, Iran is developing military nuclear capabilities and the missiles to deliver them.

Elie Wiesel is not happy with such comparisons. Asked specifically by Globes, the Israeli business daily, about Netanyahu’s tendency to draw the Iran-Holocaust comparison, he says:

Iran is a danger, but to say it will create a second Auschwitz? I don’t compare anything to the Holocaust.

One more thing about Oren’s speech, at least as prepared: I don’t know of any Iranian leader "pledging" to kill six million Jews. I have heard leaders hoping that Israel disappears and, when asked for details, envisioning a kind of mass Jewish exodus. These "hopes," of course, mask threats. But for precision’s sake, they have not specified an Iranian role in bringing about this exodus, nor have they suggested that it would involve murdering the entire Jewish population of Israel.

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