At Salon, Gary Kamiya railed last week against “The boys who cry ‘Holocaust.’” Ostensibly, Kamiya only has Israel’s best interest at heart:
“Israel will not be given another 63 years. If it continues down this path, aided by its false ‘friends’ in the U.S. who insist on fighting Hitler-redux to the last Israeli (and the last American), Israel is doomed. But if it abandons its self-defeating Holocaustology, it will be able to live in peace with its neighbors and join the world.”
You see how easy we could have peace and harmony in the Middle East and beyond? If only Israel stopped crying “wolf” – after all, the Jewish state, faced with an implacably hostile mullahcracy determined to get nuclear weapons, has nothing to worry: why not learn from history and trust that the rest of the world would never again stand by while an ideologically driven regime makes good on its often repeated threats of genocidal violence against Jews?
So here is Kamiya’s free advice for us:
“The Holocaust mind-set has led Israel into self-destructive policies. And its promiscuous invocation has helped ensure that Israel maintains a stranglehold over America’s Mideast policy. That stranglehold has always been harmful to America, but it is now actually dangerous. […] In other words, it is quite likely that the most powerful nation in the world [the US] will simply stand impotently by while a tiny client state [Israel] threatens to do something that it knows is not just antithetical to its interests, but possibly ruinous to them. The tail could be about to wag the dog right off a cliff.”
Kamiya gets so much wrong that it is hard to know where to start.
Perhaps the first thing to point out is that Kamiya still hasn’t gotten around to educating himself about the well-documented fact that Israel had nothing whatsoever to do with the Iraq war. Of course, acknowledging this fact would dent the “tail-wags-dog”-meme so beloved by “anti-Zionists” everywhere…
Then there is the fundamental problem that Kamiya’s argument doesn’t quite add up. On the one hand, he thinks of Israel as a “tiny client state” that shouldn’t exaggerate the threat from a nuclear-armed Islamist regime that has repeatedly announced its eagerness to get rid of the Jewish state. But on the other hand, Kamiya also thinks that even the “most powerful nation in the world” couldn’t afford to take on Iran militarily in order to prevent the regime to get nuclear weapons:
“If war does break out, the consequences for America would be catastrophic. Oil prices would soar, plunging the U.S. and the world into a massive depression. Iran would use its proxies to attack U.S. troops. And the entire region would erupt, with unforeseeable consequences. It is not too much of a stretch to say that war with Iran might spell the beginning of the end of America as a superpower.”
One could debate whether America still deserves to be described as a “superpower” if its only option is to follow Kamiya’s advice to appease Iran’s theocrats. According to Kamiya, it “is time for the U.S. to put everything on the table – Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian file, the nuclear issue, Iraq – thrash it all out, acknowledge that Iran is going to be a major regional player, and come to an agreement.”
It shouldn’t be all that difficult for the “Great Satan” to come to a nice fair agreement with Iran’s rulers about the Middle East and the fate of the “Little Satan” – never mind that Iran’s president has at times been optimistic that “there would come a day when one would see a world without the United States and Zionism ... This slogan and goal is one which is attainable and could definitely be realized. There is no doubt that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot [Israel] from the face of the Islamic world.”
But Kamiya confidently assures us: “Contrary to the ignorant claims made by Islamophobic hawks like [Jeffrey] Goldberg, Iran is not run by madmen bent on committing national suicide. (If its leaders really are ‘eliminationist anti-Semites,’ it’s hard to understand why they have not wiped out Tehran’s Jewish community.)”
If you follow the link Kamiya provides to vouch for the rationality of Iran’s leaders – not to speak of their barely concealed philosemitism – you’ll be taken to an example of Roger Cohen’s spectacularly misguided pundit wisdom on Iran (and Cohen''s piece is not about Tehran, as Kamiya says, but Isfahan...). Overwhelmed by the “consistent warmth” that he (as a Jew!) was shown during a visit in Iran, Cohen dismissed “Iran’s scurrilous anti-Israel tirades […] as a provocation to focus people on Israel’s bomb, its 41-year occupation of the West Bank, its Hamas denial, its repetitive use of overwhelming force.”
Cohen claimed smugly that because he had “a bias toward facts over words,” he was convinced that “the reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran […] than all the inflammatory rhetoric.”
Kamiya takes a similar line when he notes that Iran “has not started a war in modern history.”
But again, Kamiya hasn’t really done his homework. As Yossi Klein Halevi pointed out already years ago, the “ultimate responsibility [...] for almost all the terror attacks on Israel in recent years, lies with Iran,” and Halevi argued that therefore, “Israel is in fact at war with the Iranian regime, which manipulates proxies along Israel’s borders, supplying them with weapons and training, and energizing them with the promise of imminent victory.” Indeed, Iran’s support for terror attacks against Israel has long been well-documented.
Most importantly, however, there is no justification for simply shrugging off the Iranian regime’s hateful rhetoric against Israel. Academic researchers working on genocide prevention widely agree that “the perils of propagation and spread of state sanctioned and state sponsored hate language and incitement are ominous, especially in an era of push-button genocide and nuclear terror, rogue regimes and terror groups. Conversely, when regimes inciting to genocide are developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the case is imperative for stopping them from doing so, given the fact that such incitement is an early warning sign.”
Even if Gary Kamiya might dismiss it as “Holocaustology,” scholars who have studied the subject believe that “one lesson from the Holocaust is that there are existential dangers associated with ignoring state sanctioned dehumanizing hate language.”
So let me close with a recent quote from Iran’s president Ahmadinejad, who just repeated a view he has often stated: “The Zionist regime is a center of microbes, a cancer cell and if it exists in one iota of Palestine it will mobilize again and hurt everyone.”But let''s face it: some prefer "never mind" to "never again". * * *