Thursday, May 11, 2006

Will Iran carry out the next Holocaust?

Washington Post
Never Again?
By Charles Krauthammer

When something happens for the first time in 1,871
years, it is worth noting. In A.D. 70, and again in
135, the Roman Empire brutally put down Jewish revolts
in Judea, destroying Jerusalem, killing hundreds of
thousands of Jews and sending hundreds of thousands
more into slavery and exile. For nearly two millennia,
the Jews wandered the world. And now, in 2006, for the
first time since then, there are once again more Jews
living in Israel -- the successor state to Judea --
than in any other place on Earth.

Israel's Jewish population has just passed 5.6
million. America's Jewish population was about 5.5
million in 1990, dropped to about 5.2 million 10 years
later and is in a precipitous decline that, because of
low fertility rates and high levels of assimilation,
will cut that number in half by mid-century.

When 6 million European Jews were killed in the
Holocaust, only two main centers of Jewish life
remained: America and Israel. That binary star system
remains today, but a tipping point has just been
reached. With every year, as the Jewish population
continues to rise in Israel and decline in America
(and in the rest of the Diaspora), Israel increasingly
becomes, as it was at the time of Jesus, the center of
the Jewish world.

An epic restoration, and one of the most improbable.
To take just one of the remarkable achievements of the
return: Hebrew is the only "dead" language in recorded
history to have been brought back to daily use as the
living language of a nation. But there is a price and
a danger to this transformation. It radically alters
the prospects for Jewish survival.

For 2,000 years, Jews found protection in dispersion
-- protection not for individual communities, which
were routinely persecuted and massacred, but
protection for the Jewish people as a whole. Decimated
here, they could survive there. They could be
persecuted in Spain and find refuge in Constantinople.
They could be massacred in the Rhineland during the
Crusades or in the Ukraine during the Khmelnytsky
Insurrection of 1648-49 and yet survive in the rest of

Hitler put an end to that illusion. He demonstrated
that modern anti-Semitism married to modern technology
-- railroads, disciplined bureaucracies, gas chambers
that kill with industrial efficiency -- could take a
scattered people and "concentrate" them for

The establishment of Israel was a Jewish declaration
to a world that had allowed the Holocaust to happen --
after Hitler had made his intentions perfectly clear
-- that the Jews would henceforth resort to
self-protection and self-reliance. And so they have,
building a Jewish army, the first in 2,000 years, that
prevailed in three great wars of survival (1948-49,
1967 and 1973).

But in a cruel historical irony, doing so required
concentration -- putting all the eggs back in one
basket, a tiny territory hard by the Mediterranean,
eight miles wide at its waist. A tempting target for
those who would finish Hitler's work.

His successors now reside in Tehran. The world has
paid ample attention to President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be
destroyed. Less attention has been paid to Iranian
leaders' pronouncements on exactly how Israel would be
"eliminated by one storm," as Ahmadinejad has

Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the
presumed moderate of this gang, has explained that
"the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave
nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the
world of Islam." The logic is impeccable, the
intention clear: A nuclear attack would effectively
destroy tiny Israel, while any retaliation launched by
a dying Israel would have no major effect on an
Islamic civilization of a billion people stretching
from Mauritania to Indonesia.

As it races to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran makes
clear that if there is any trouble, the Jews will be
the first to suffer. "We have announced that wherever
[in Iran] America does make any mischief, the first
place we target will be Israel," said Gen. Mohammad
Ebrahim Dehghani, a top Revolutionary Guards
commander. Hitler was only slightly more direct when
he announced seven months before invading Poland that,
if there was another war, "the result will be . . .
the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

Last week Bernard Lewis, America's dean of Islamic
studies, who just turned 90 and remembers the 20th
century well, confessed that for the first time he
feels it is 1938 again. He did not need to add that in
1938, in the face of the gathering storm -- a
fanatical, aggressive, openly declared enemy of the
West, and most determinedly of the Jews -- the world
did nothing.

When Iran's mullahs acquire their coveted nukes in the
next few years, the number of Jews in Israel will just
be reaching 6 million. Never again?

originally published Friday, May 5, 2006