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Wednesday Canada's National Post published an error correction. Last Friday, the newspaper's lead story reported that the Iranian parliament had approved legislation that would compel Jews to wear a yellow strip, Christians to wear a red strip and Zoroastrians to wear a blue strip on their clothes. The story fomented an international storm. Yet it turned out that the story was untrue - or jumped the gun. The Iranian parliament did pass legislation expressing its intention to install a compulsory Islamic dress code for the country's subjects, but it did not characterize the required attire.
On its Web site last Friday the National Post asked its readers to submit their opinions on the question, "Is Iran turning into the new Nazi Germany?" After the story was published, Canada's new prime minister, Stephen Harper, reacted to the story saying that Iran "is very capable of this kind of action."
In Wednesday's edition, National Post editor Douglas Kelly wrote, "We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused." For its part, Canada's organized, pro-Islamist Muslim community is demanding that Harper apologize for his statements. Akbar Manoussi of the Ottawa Muslim Association threatened Harper with voter backlash in the next elections for his statements. In his words, "The next time [Harper] goes to get the vote he will find out what people think of him." Manoussi went on to say that Harper's statement "sends a message that he doesn't get his information right."
The entire episode could be chalked up to a tempest in a teacup - just another distorted news story that exaggerated recent developments. The Iranian parliament passed a law appointing a committee empowered to determine a national dress code appropriate for the return of the 12th imam, the Shi'ite messiah - a return that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes is imminent. And as Harper rightly noted, the Iranian regime is more than capable of calling for religious minorities to wear distinctive garments reminiscent of the Nazi era. The National Post received bad information and believed it because it jibed with the character of the regime in Teheran.
Yet the National Post story last Friday, and the storms it caused both before and after its inaccuracy was brought to light, point to a much greater problem than any single Iranian decision regarding what Iranians of various religions must wear.
Last Friday Harper said, "It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany." His statement exposes one of the central deficiencies of the West's response to the global jihad, whose command post is currently headquartered in Teheran.
Since the Vietnam War era, a disturbing notion has been accepted by wide swathes of the peoples of the Western world and has become a writ of faith among Western academic and governing elites. That notion is that the last just war was the Second World War and that the last enemy that deserved to be defeated utterly was Nazi Germany. Only Hitler constituted an implacable foe. This conclusion, which was seamlessly grafted onto the pacifist worldview of the radical Left in Europe and the US in the 1960s, and of the Israeli Left in the 1990s, holds that still today, the only enemy that the West can conscionably fight is Adolf Hitler.
By this logic, if Ahmadinejad and his friends say that Jews have to wear a yellow star on their outer garments, then that means that Iran today is the new Nazi Germany and if it is the new Nazi Germany then all people of good conscience have to declare war on Iran.
But the converse is also true. If Ahmadinejad doesn't start sporting a Hitler mustache, if Jews aren't prohibited from entering public parks and if there is no Wermacht or S.S. and no gas chambers, then there is no reason to fight Iran. In fact, in their absence, the only moral thing to do is to negotiate with Iran with an aim of appeasing it because the Iranians aren't Nazis and so an understanding must be reached.
It is in this context that one must judge Wednesday's summit in London between US, Russian, Chinese, British, French and German officials on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. The emissaries met to discuss which package of prizes to award Iran. Germany, France and Britain propose awarding Iran a light water nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel that will of course serve peaceful purposes only because Iran will commit itself to ceasing it uranium enrichment activities. The Europeans also wish to include a warning to Iran that if it doesn't stop enriching uranium it will face very, very mean and tough sanctions. The Europeans foresee, for instance, denying Iranian nuclear scientists visas to foreign countries.
The Russians and the Chinese object to the Europeans' proposal because they oppose any sanctions on Iran. The Americans support the Europeans' negotiations with the Iranians but have refused their proposals that the US open direct negotiations with Iran and commit itself to not taking action to overthrow the Iranian regime.
The non-Nazi Iranians refuse to have anything to do with the European proposal. Teheran made its displeasure with Europe known on Tuesday when it tested its Shihab-3 ballistic missile that with its range of 1500 kilometers covers most of Europe.
On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said that any attempt to curb Iran's nuclear program would be considered an act of aggression against Iran. In his words, anyone who dares to commit such an act "will be faced with a lasting and historic slap."
The thing of it is that the question of whether or not Iran is the new Nazi Germany is wholly irrelevant. Iran today is the engine of the global jihad war machine and it is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons which it has already pledged to use in order to commit genocide. With or without jackboots, Iran is a clear and present danger to the Western world. Yet rather than acknowledge this reality, the leaders of the Western world are allowing and indeed insisting that since Ahmadinejad isn't Hitler, his venality is besides the point, with the point being that he must be appeased.
THIS DISASTROUS Western preference for only fighting Hitler even though he has been dead for 61 years is part of a general culture where appearances are more important than substance. This culture held sway this week in Washington during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit. Olmert carefully chose the image he sought to sell to his American hosts. The one he chose was Israel's classic frontier image as "plucky little Israel."
In his speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, and during his meetings with administration officials on Monday and Tuesday, Olmert strove to be perceived as the natural and legitimate heir to the image of Israel as an independent, strong and bold young country. In his address before Congress, Olmert said, "Our two great nations share a profound belief in the importance of freedom and a common pioneering spirit deeply rooted in optimism. It was the energetic spirit of our pioneers that enabled our two countries to implement the impossible. To build cities where swamps once existed and to make the desert bloom."
While this statement is true, it is not relevant to the policy issues that Olmert placed before the US government this week. On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Olmert expropriated the image of Israeli pluckiness and toughness earned by his predecessors for their brave and stubborn insistence on standing Israel's ground before our enemies. Yet unlike his predecessors, Olmert is not willing to stand alone if necessary to secure Israel from attack and destruction.
Olmert invoked Israel's pioneering spirit to win American support for his plan to retreat from Judea and Samaria and effectively surrender the areas to Hamas and its Iranian and al-Qaida sponsors. He wrapped himself in the courageous legacy of the Israeli warriors who risked their lives to defeat Israel's enemies, in order to gain American support for a plan that will enable those same enemies to establish a base for global terror in Judea and Samaria.
If we are to judge by appearances, then Olmert's exploitation of Israel's past pluck was successful. In an Orwellian acrobatic act, President George W. Bush referred to his surrender plan as "bold."
Luckily, while imagery may have won the day this week, its victory was far from overwhelming. Even as Olmert received his warm welcome at the White House, the first seeds of change began to sprout. Ahead of last summer's withdrawal from Gaza, the Wall Street Journal refused to publish op-eds that opposed the plan. Tuesday, the Journal published an opinion column by former CIA director R. James Woolsey under the heading "West Bank Terror State."
Woolsey maintained that the Gaza withdrawal, which paved the way for Hamas's ascendance to power and enabled the transformation of Gaza into a base for global terrorism, had "utterly failed," and that Israel should not receive US backing for compounding the failure in Judea and Samaria. Woolsey also registered his opposition to the uprooting of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria concluding, "A two-state solution can become a reality when the Palestinians are held to the same standards as Israelis - to the requirement that Jewish settlers in a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state would be treated with the same decency that Israel treats its Arab citizens."
And Woolsey was not alone. While the Israeli media continue to block serious discussion of the consequences of the Gaza retreat and the likely consequences of a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, over the past two weeks in newspapers and radio programs throughout the US that debate was opened. US lawmakers and administration officials who were exposed to this debate raised serious concerns about the wisdom of Olmert's plan to the premier in private meetings throughout his three-day visit.
This unprecedented scrutiny no doubt played a role in Olmert's decision to tone down his rhetoric on the wisdom of retreat and to push back his timeline for implementing his surrender plan until after Bush leaves office. As recently as last week Olmert had maintained that the mass expulsions of Israeli citizens from their homes and the retreat of IDF units must be implemented before Bush leaves the White House.
Like the uproar over the Iranian Nazi dress code or lack thereof, the problem Olmert's plan presents is that its image and its content are unrelated. Ahmadinejad is not Hitler. But this is immaterial. He is a distinct, Jew-hating genocidal dictator on the cusp of achieving the wherewithal to kill on an unprecedented scale. He can and should be defeated because of who he is, not because he is a new Hitler.
Olmert presented himself this week as the heir to the legacy of Israeli heroism. Yet he came to Washington seeking support for his plan of capitulation. His plan must be rejected to preserve the legacy of that heroism.
The key to winning the war against the global jihad is to encourage Western societies - and first and foremost among them Israel - to stop looking for S.S. uniforms before they shoot. It is only after we regain the understanding that enemies come in all shapes and sizes that we will stop luxuriating in the delusion that the memory of past strength will suffice to protect us against current dangers.