At the turn of the century, the second Holocaust issue came up only infrequently in public debate. In 2000, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Muslim worshippers in Tehran while referring to Israel: “We have repeatedly said that the cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region.”
Then-Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in 2002: “If one day…the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession (i.e., nuclear weapons) - on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This…is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.”
Remarks made by Iranian leaders were not the only reasons for debates on this issue. As anti-Semitism increased, in 2002 American columnist Ron Rosenbaum stated that the “second Holocaust” was a phrase coined by Philip Roth in his 1993 novel Operation Shylock. Rosenbaum claimed it was realistic - rather than novelistic - that sooner or later a nuclear weapon would be detonated by Arab fundamentalists in Tel Aviv.
Writer Leon Wieseltier reacted to this and similar pessimistic articles by stating that the Jews had achieved both safety and strength. He concluded: “The Jewish genius for worry has served the Jews well, but Hitler is dead.”
Rosenbaum countered by claiming Wieseltier was fleeing into denial, as there were many Hitler-like examples of demonization of Jews in the Arab world. He referred to Palestinian justification of the Holocaust, Shoah denial by an Egyptian government paper while supporting Hitler if he had “indeed” exterminated the Jews, and a Saudi government broadcast of a cleric calling for the annihilation of the Jews.
Most people don’t care
Only in 2010 was a conversation between US President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger from 1973 published. It revealed that both men did not consider it important for the United States if Jews in the Soviet Union were to be sent to gas chambers. When these remarks became public knowledge, Kissinger apologized.
Not only those who openly threaten a second Holocaust increase its likelihood. Others are those who try to hinder Israel in initiating military action against Iran to prevent its development of a nuclear bomb. This includes American government officials who speculate about the nature, infrastructure and timing for a possible Israeli attack against Iran.
Presenting Israel as the aggressor if it takes action against Iran is another way of facilitating a possible second Holocaust. Its most prominent supporter is German Nobel Prize Winner Günther Grass, who hid for decades the fact that he was a fervent Nazi in his youth. One of his many false claims is that Israel will launch atom bombs at Iran in a possible attack.
His poem takes the lie even further by stating that such an attack would wipe out the Iranian people, not mentioning that Iran is close to five times the size of Germany. Furthermore, in the past many pacifists have provided indirect assistance to various degrees for potential murderers. This repeats itself in the Israeli-Iranian issue.
Increasing chaos in Pakistan could lead to a second Holocaust as well. The ongoing troubles there may lead to anarchy, as its president Asif Ali Zardari noted two years ago. Compared to this, the possibility that enough fissile material is stolen and an atom bomb is assembled almost pales. However, Israel a candidate as a “suitable” target in such case. Its small surface area is slightly above 1% of Iran’s.
The threat of a second Holocaust mainly worries Israelis and their friends. Former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar saw this issue, however, in a broader context and wrote simply: “If Israel goes down, we all go down.”
Most others do not care. Yet they may be wrong. Once atom bombs are in the hands of ideological fanatics, their calculations cannot be foreseen. They may prefer to use their lethal weapons against those who cannot retaliate. Most of the world’s countries fall into this category.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Several of these address anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism
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