larry derfner 88.
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It's hard to reason with people when they're afraid, especially when those people are Jews and their fear is the worst one possible: fear of the return of Nazism. It becomes even harder to reason with them when there are a lot of influential Jews out there manipulating that fear.
"Nothing works better than gevalt," an unnamed former AIPAC staffer told The Forward during the organization's recent Washington, DC, convention, which featured a multimedia horror show whose plot was that Hitler had come back as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"The parallels of the geopolitical climate of March 5, 1933, and that of March 5, 2006, are stirring in their likeness, eerie in their implication," a grim AIPAC chief Howard Kohr warned the huge audience. It was a very successful event.
Yet the fear of a nuclear Iran, of course, isn't all that's got so many Jews imagining 21st-century Nuremburg rallies and concentration camps. Hamas, al-Qaida, anti-Semitism, the cartoon riots, the torture murder of the French Jew Ilan Halimi - this build-up of bad news has convinced any number of Jews that we are living through a reprise of the 1930s, that this era of militant Islam is plainly an updated version of the Nazi years.
It's understandable why people, and not just Jews, would make such an equation. After all, Iran, Hamas, al-Qaida and the like are definitely proto-Nazi in their ideology, in their designs for the Jews and everyone else they hate. The wish lists of today's Islamists and history's Nazis do not differ in any important way.
BUT WHILE their wishes are basically the same, their abilities to carry out those wishes are vastly different, and that's the decisive comparison, or lack of comparison, between the two. The forces of militant Islam don't have anything approaching the power the Nazis had. The world's reaction to Islamism today could hardly be more different from its reaction to Nazism in the Thirties. As a result, militant Islam is limited in its potential for evil in a way Nazism wasn't. While Islamism today is obviously dangerous, it is nowhere remotely as dangerous to the world - or to the world's Jews - as Nazism was.
We can start with Iran: Either its nuclear facilities are going to be crippled one day by American missiles, or, if that's not possible, it will know that if it dares use its nuclear weapons it will be committing suicide. And even if Iran does go nuclear, it would still be dwarfed in power by its enemies. The Nazis were allowed to build the second strongest military in the world. They also had over one-third of world Jewry as helpless targets. Iran has 30,000 Jews who feel secure enough to publicly protest Ahmedinejad's denial of the Holocaust. Where's the comparison?
And if Hamas is also a contemporary equivalent of the Nazis, where is Hamas's Hitler? His name was Ahmed Yassin, and he never made it to his bunker; instead, a helicopter gunship dispatched by the Jewish state - another new development since the 1930s - killed him. Israel has killed Hamasniks in droves; it's forced Hamas into effectively suing for peace. Israel is the colossus of the Middle East; militarily it is more powerful than the entire Muslim world combined. How can anybody compare this to the state of Jewish affairs when Hitler was in power?
But let's continue. Al-Qaida, yet another Nazi knockoff, was chased out of Afghanistan, along with the quasi-Nazi Taliban - and the entire Western world supported America in that war. In dozens of countries, police forces and intelligence agencies are hunting al-Qaida and its affiliates. Where is all this "appeasement" everyone's talking about?
And look at France, the so-called "surrender monkey." It swooped down on the animals who killed Halimi, capturing the ringleader in the Ivory Coast. French security forces are not known for their timidity or gentle hand in pursuit of violent criminals, whatever their religion, whatever their motive. They are not collaborateurs with Islamism.
The leaders of Europe are aware of the threat from militant Islam, and their constituents are hyperaware of it. Jews have to understand that whatever increase there has been in anti-Semitism, it is nothing compared to the increase in Islamophobia - not only in America, but in Europe as well. My guess is that the law-abiding Muslims of Europe are living in much greater fear of persecution than Europe's Jews are.
Unlike in the 1930s, today the world is fighting totalitarianism. Unlike in the 1930s, today the free world is incomparably stronger than the forces of totalitarianism. The Jewish state by itself is stronger than those forces; for the Jewish people, these times couldn't be more starkly different from the time of the Nazis.
If anything, the free world, or at least its leader, has shown a tendency to overreact to Middle East totalitarianism; witness what's happened in Iraq. I don't think any responsible person wants to see America go on another long-term mission like that inside Iran, driven again by visions of mushroom clouds, WMD, and a Muslim dictator whom everyone keeps comparing to Hitler.
IF PEOPLE will step back, look at the big picture - at the radical imbalance of power between Islamism and its enemies - and realize that we are in a thousand times stronger, more secure position than our forebears were in the 1930s, it won't make anybody an unpatriotic American or a bad Jew. It'll no doubt ruin their chances to work for AIPAC or the Israeli hasbara machine, but that's not the end of the world, either.
Still, if we shouldn't be misled by old, traumatic fears in dealing with the threat of militant Islam, how should we deal with it? I'd suggest the way we've been dealing with it for the last few years, which is vigilantly. Also by learning from our mistakes, such as in Iraq. And by going easy with the gevalt. Take a look at the world run by those mullahs, then look at the world run by us infidels. Who's winning?
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