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Use the Weapon of Memory Against Iran

I’m not going to waste words here on why Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s revolting remarks on Israel and the Holocaust are both patently false and deeply offensive, and to its credit the world community has largely stepped in to say the same. But, as a friend of mine remarked, “He may be crazy but he’s no joke.” I think there is a lot of wisdom in that comment.

From a geo-political standpoint, we know that Iran is resuming its nuclear program in defiance of U.N. orders, and it certainly appears like the goal is to develop a nuclear weapon. As if that weren’t enough cause for grave concern, his regime is contributing to instability in the Middle East by actively meddling in Iraqi politics and promoting the Sunni-led insurgency in Southern Iraq.

“He may be crazy but he’s no joke”: It’s important to remember that many threats are allowed to take root precisely because no one took them seriously enough to deal with them when it was still possible to contain them (Hitler making hate speeches in beer halls in Munich comes to mind. More ominously, Hitler invading Poland also comes to mind.)

But dismissing Ahmadinejad is dangerous to the world on more than a geo-political level. It is also dangerous on a moral level. For when remarks viciously denying the Holocaust go unchecked, our common humanity is diminished as we turn away from or ignore those darker impulses of humanity that can give rise to genocide and the inconceivable mistreatment of fellow human beings. These impulses are not ancient history, or even 60-year-old history. They are being tragically played out today in Darfur, as they were in Rwanda, as they were in Bosnia, as they were in Cambodia, as they were…. The list is far too long for us to deny the very real evil people can do to one another, and failing to confront Holocaust deniers does exactly that: by failing to stand up for human suffering and against the large-scale bloodshed of innocent millions, we desensitize ourselves to similar atrocities when they take place around us. It is not only the Holocaust survivors themselves who are violated as their reality is denied; it is all of us.

The symbol of evil in Jewish thought is the nation of Amalek, which attacked the Israelites from behind in cowardly fashion as they left Egypt, according to the Book of Exodus. In response, we are commanded to destroy Amalek wherever we may encounter him. But the manner in which we are to do this is uniquely Jewish: We are to remember. In the Book of Deuteronomy, we are enjoined: “Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way, when you were faint and weary, and struck down all who lagged behind you; he did not fear God. Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies on every hand, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; do not forget.” (25:17-19)

In other words, our weapon in the face of evil is memory. It is a powerful weapon, because it is the opposite of that more comfortable and familiar impulse to look away, to ignore, to forget, to deny. In being called to remember, Jews–and all people–are called on not merely to passively recall, but to remember through action, to take a stand against those evils being perpetrated in our own time until we can all finally say together in one voice, “Never Again.”

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Ples Davide Walker

posted December 30, 2005 at 11:10 am

Shalom, My feelings towards what the Iranian leader said is the drop that filled the glass. There is a message in what he said and it should not be taken lightly. Likened to Hitler and what he said pre-World War 2’s propaganda speech’s, is doing the same and preparing those that are listening for something destructive and I believe there is the means at his disposal to do so. This is a warning that he is spend to the world letting everyone know what his intentions are. People listen, “Never again.”

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posted December 30, 2005 at 1:40 pm

It’s frightening and discouraging, to say the least, when the Iranian president says the things he does, and people on b-net boards say things to the effect of, “Well, you know, he may have a point” (about Israel and its so-called “land grab”), and about so-called “free speech”, with people justifying it by saying, “Well, you know, the more you pay attention, the more people will give it credence.” That’s crap. Being the child of two Holocaust survivors (one still living), I’m especially sensitive to this issue. Both parents were the only survivors of their families. Israel is the only calm and voice of reason in the Middle East. To say otherwise is patent falsehood and prejudice. The Iranian president cannot be ignored or diminished. There are too many people only too willing to follow this line of thought as another excuse to destroy Israel.

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posted December 30, 2005 at 3:08 pm

so we are all in a agreement that doesn’t mean people will stand against him. The question here is, what do we do about it? I believe that the reason the terrorist movements by so called Jews have remained on the fringe of our society is because we Jews and our Jewish leaders actively speak out against their actions, reminding people that we do not co-sign their beliefs in any way. We know from the holocaust what happens when the terrorist group becomes the political leader. Since we are not Islamic, and therefore cannot speak to Islamic people as “one of their own”, and we cannot (would not) force them to speak out against Ahmadinejad, what is it that we as Jews should be doing? Suggestions, anyone?

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moshe ben abraham

posted December 30, 2005 at 4:01 pm

the president of iran is typical of the anti-semitic that is ever present. like amalek, we must strive to bring light thru Mitzvah and Torah to blot out the darkness….for every Jew this is a continuing effort till Mashiah comes.

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posted December 30, 2005 at 5:02 pm

Just after my earlier post, I left a message at the local Islamic center, asking if they had made any public statements about the Iraqi president’s comments. I want to find out what the local Islamic leaders in this community are doing, if anything. I am hopeful that their response will be reflective of the attitude of the Muslims I have encountered in the community, who seem to have no ill will toward Jews or anyone else. I agree that Torah and Mitzvot are the most important contributions we can make to peace in this world – I was actually looking for a more specific suggestion as to what we can be doing – of course, using Torah and the Mitzvot as our guides – but remember, many Jews died during the holocaust with those very things at the frontlets of their eyes. We have to do more for their memory than make Challah (although I know our joy on the Sabbath celebrates their blessed memory, and I was told by one of the survivors in my community that she felt so fortunate to see us doing so with our “kinder”.)

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posted December 30, 2005 at 8:46 pm

Moshe — Mitzvah and Torah study, while important for bringing us all closer to Hashem, will not dissuade Iran from arming herself with nukes and using them.What can we do, besides actively praying for peace? Keep the memory of the Shoah alive, not for our gain but to remind the world of the dangers of genocide and hatred. And pray that our leaders in the US and Israel will not shy away from the inevitable military conflcit that will be necessary to disarm Iran.

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paul dubois

posted December 31, 2005 at 1:20 pm

and if an official boycott(economic) was organized against Iran?

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Ples Davide Walker

posted December 31, 2005 at 2:57 pm

Shalom, When I heard and read what the leader of Iran said about Israel and the Jews, it weighed have in my heart and brought tears to my eyes, sadness to my soul and anger to my mind. The words, “NEVER AGAIN,” re-surfaced, “NEVER AGIAN,” I shout to the heavens, “NEVER AGAIN, my GOD, NEVER AGAIN” I believe in keeping the “Peace” but with todays weapons of mass destruction (WMD), there must be a strike force that can and will strike swiftly, strike hard. I, for one am will to put my life on the line and take up arms to defend the Nation of Israel. Yes, I am a ‘Peaceful’ person but not when words are of hate, genocide and total annihilation are being spoken against my people in the 21st century. If America can use force and strike pre-eminetly, why must we sit around and wait for a 9/11 to happen in Israel? I am DAVID, I will take out my sling and pick up a stone, go forward and slay the giant that threatens my HOME LAND and MY PEOPLE. Everyone sat by while Hitler had his way in the Second World War, My God, must we do it again?! “NEVER AGAIN.” Peace to All, Ples Davide Walker

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Mike Schoenberg

posted December 31, 2005 at 3:11 pm

Shalom, if one were to say to the Iranians that their war with Iraq was all a myth-never mind the million plus that died-never mind the fact that the Iranian president himself was in it, maybe then he would feel the pain. He could bring out newspaper articles, T.V. shows etc. but we could simply say it’s all lies. One lie deserves another.

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posted December 31, 2005 at 4:04 pm

We must stand strong and bold against such an enemy.Anything less would cause another holocaust. Butremember most people of Iran do not agree with this message of hate and themselves are being persecuted…

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posted December 31, 2005 at 4:33 pm

In all his ignorance and the prevailing ignorance throughout the world, the comments of the Iranian president was a tool to awaken the world to the continuing evil hate brings to the table of life. The world put its best foot forward in politically attacking those comments. As insignificant as those political reprimends appeared, they laid the ground work and gave Israel worldly support for what she will do in the near future. It takes a tremendous effort to secure peace, although it takes the struggle of a lifetime to maintain it. Phil Ferentz

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Amy Rosenberg

posted December 31, 2005 at 5:49 pm

I have just found out that my family, on my late’s side, never lived more than one generation in the same country since 1492. They went into Jerusalem from Spain, Malta from Jerusalem, Sweden with the newly crowned King, Napolean’s cousin, and finally to the USA, in the late 1800s. Not until this last generation has my mother’s family continued for more than one generation in a country. My father’s family lived in Austria-Hungary and some died in the holocaust. We need to remain united to make our future as Jews a good and free one. More than one Holacaust has happened to our Jewish people. We need to be aware and make “Never Again” real. Amy Rosenberg

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Carlos Bahar

posted December 31, 2005 at 6:45 pm

It is very hard to listen today amidst the information warfare, propaganda, and PSYOPS. “Thanks for listening” – has an Iranian said that to you lately? By listening well, we can understand where others are coming from and diminish and check our own prejudices.Most people are poor listeners. They like to give advice, relate their own experiences, or present their viewpoint instead of giving a listening ear. How can we listen with a charitable ear? God is our Teacher (Isaiah 30:20). When Prophet Elijah was afraid, God sent an angel to listen to his fears. No longer afraid, Prophet Elijah returned to his people. (1 Kings 19:2-15). The problem here is that we are not listening to the Iranian and what he is saying, rather we listen to what others say he has said and we listen to soundbites appropriated by those who wish to sow dissension. The Iranian is repeating what increasingly is coming into question (no thanks to IHR, the Institute for Historical Review) – and that question is: were the 6 million Jews that died in Hitler’s concentration camps gassed to death or did they die from typhus epidemics? When the Iranian says he can find no evidence that the 6 million were “gassed” to death, he says that the gassing didnot happen. He does not say that they did not die. Is the Iranian denying the Holocaust? I have yet to read a quote from his mouth that he denies the 6 million deaths in concentration camps. The Iranian is simply questioning the gassing of them, and this thinking is out there because of the Institute for Historical Review. They are saying that Hitler did not gas the 6 million to death; the gas was used to gas their clothes to control the typhus epidemics. IHR claims no evidence exists that a single individual was ever gassed. IHR says that this was a Zionist conspiracy to create global support for the theft of Palestine and the creation of the anti-religious state of Israel. The Iranian is awaiting the evidence that the 6 million were gassed. But all he qets is vitriol and hatred. Where is the evidence? he wants to know? Maybe there isn’t any, which would explain the vitriol and the absence of evidence,he is no doubt thinking. What to do? Listen. He does not say that the 6 million did not die. He does not say that Hitler did no wrong. He is simply wondering if IHR is correct that the Friends of the 6 million added to the story. Give him the evidence. In fact, show all who are giving countenance to what IHR is spewing out the evidence of what did happen. If we do this with a heart of charity, we can convince him by the truth of things. Remember Job 31:35? Nobody cared what Job was saying or wanted to understand where he was coming from. Really listening when others speak is an expression of charity. Yes, it is a terrible thing that the Palestinians were driven from their homes to live in camps in the desert. But this was not accomplished by embellishing the horrors of the concentration camps. Hitler and his regime was bad – worse than most can imagine. It’s time for a history lesson, not shouting.

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Ric Stef

posted December 31, 2005 at 7:14 pm

There are many in the U. S., so called Peace Activists, who by so strenuously opposing the Iraq war, are really saying that they would like the return of things as they were: Saddam Hussein in power and the violence he perpretrated. I am sure that these same “peaceful” people have nothing to say about the Iranian presidents comments. They would be more than happy to sit on the side and watch the destruction of Israel, all in the name of their god of peace. I think their god has another name, however, and his aims are not peaceful.

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posted January 1, 2006 at 12:15 pm

The only acceptable response to the Iranian “President”‘s (the term is used loosely) remarks is the one currently being pursued by the international community- gradual diplomatic isolation. While the natural instinct is to seek blood, either literally or figuritively, a measured response is always far more effective. For example, numerous posts cite appeasment as a cause of Hitler’s Holocaust, possibly. Would anyone have taken Hitler’s fiercly irrational nationalism seriously had Germany been enjoying affluence? I would suggest that one reason for Hitler’s ascesion to power might be attributed to the overly austere amistace conditions of the Treaty of Versailles (1918). The allied bloodlust that crippled and humiliated Germany post WW1 created the ideal environment for Nazi politics. Indeed, following WW2, the Allies recognised this fact and followed a policy of reconstruction over retribution.While I recognise that military action is relevant, I would suggest that Iran’s rhetoric is not atypical of other Arab governments. As impossible as it may seem, it would probably be ideal to pursue diplomacy.

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posted January 1, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Gruss! Schoenberg and Bahar, It’s curious that denying the occurence of the Iran-Iraq war is not illegal in a number of countries.Why is that?If it happened undeniably, then why do people who say it didn’t happen have to be locked up? We say “never forget” because a liar must have a good memory.

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Donald Wolberg

posted January 1, 2006 at 11:28 pm

There is a complex of issues that the Iranian nuclear threat poses to Israel and the West. To date, none of these issues have been addressed in a meaninful or realistic way by any government. The first issue is the certainty, that without preventive action, Iran will create a Muslim bomb and this is a significant threat to the U.S. and most certainly Israel. When Iran acquires a bomb, then 2 bombs, then 10, then 20, etc., the fate of every Israeli will hang by a thread. There is little to indicate that any collection of complaining powers will dissuade Iran from this path. Iran likely will have several potential delivery systems available to concurrently launch nuclear weapons against Israel. These include relatively sophisticated Russian and Chinese intermediate range rocket propelled missiles, subsonic jet propelled missiles, and aircraft with sufficient range to reach Israel. It would seem likely that Iran will be able to MIRV the rocket warheads. Such technology is readily available. Similarly, israeli defenses will likely be overwhelmed by firings of conventional warheaded rockets and Iranian air attacks. Iran has an impoverished and poorly maintained fleet of U.S. warplanes provided the late Sha, but also Sadam’s air force that was sent into Iran at the start of the last war. These craft are likely in better shape. In any case there should be no lack of suicide pilots for these aircraft. If such an attack is launched, it is not likely Israel alone will be capable of sufficient retaliatory force to cause an equivalent devestation upon Iran–in any event is not retaliation mooted by the sheer ferocity of an Iranian attack and the devestation of Israel. I suggest that after the fact, and after the required hand-wringing by the nations of the world, and the likely condemnation of Iran, there will be sufficient support in the Arab world, both overt and covert, to buttress Iran and aide in any clean-up from Israeli retaliation, nuclear or otherwise. In point of fact, Israel will have ceased to exist and the Arab/Muslim mission would have been accomplished. This scenario can unfold even more to the advantage of Iran and the Muslim world. First, Iran will certainly emerge as the leader of the Muslim world for doing the unthinkable and destroying Israel. Those nations that were early to the peace process, Jordan and Egypt will have likely paid a price from collateral damage wroght by fall-out, poorly aimed bombs, etc. The Palestinians will continue as martyrs to the Zionist evil as well as the Americans. Americas stock in the Arab/Muslim world will not exist and the West will appear powerless. What are the options (are there any)? I suspect both the U.S. and Israel understand that the range of options are very limited. Israel cannot tolerate a single nuclear weapon to exist in Iranian hands. The reasons are two-fold. Iran will certainly use such a weapon against Israel. Secondly, Iran will also provide the technology to other militant Arabs/Muslims or terror groups, and the problems will have spun out of control. The only viable actions, given the dire circumstances of: the certainty of an uncompromising Iranian government; the necessity to prevent the development of these weapons and the placement of them in the hands of terrorists; and the survival of Israel in a meaningful form is preemptive. The logic is inescapable. Israel must destroy any facilities it can to slow Iran’s nuclear capabilities. For various reasons, this preemptive strike will likely be 50%-60% effective. Israel will certainly require the assistance of a major U.S. action in order to effectively destroy 75% of Iran’s capabilities.The political fallout will be very negative short-term and only less so for mid-term (2-3 years). But it will be effective, and should completely discredit the Iranian leadership, destabilizing their hold on the popular consensus. It seems to me that, that there is no choice.

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Zvi Horovitz

posted January 2, 2006 at 10:37 am

Dealing with the threat from the cur- rent Iranian regime is a complex task. To say that the recent remarks about destroying Israel, and the denial of the Holocaust is mere rhetoric, (as if to say, so what else is new in the Muslim world)is dangerous. Jews should not be expected, nor can they afford to call this a bluff. Jews will not survive another Holocaust. So what to do? The offensive against the present Iranian regime must be waged onseveral fronts. A large and significant segment of the Iranian population comprises of those between 15 to 35 and the Ayatollahs are most unpopular among this age group. Every possible effort, with all the necessary resources, should be employed in both covert and overt activities, to encourage various elements in Iran to overthrow the regime. No effort should be spared in providing them with all the necessary inventory to do the job.Also. For example, the West should encourage the help of the Saudis. Remember, that although the Saudis are hostile to Israel, they fear Iranian domination of the region even more. A powerful, fanatical Iran is a greater threat to them and they know it. War should always be the last option. Much can be done before the bombs begin to fall. Although I am deeply concerned about this new Iranian Haman,I am equally, if not more, worried and disappointed with the response of the Western, democratic world. I think that their reaction is pathetic.Essentially they have told the Iranian leader that what he said, it is not very nice. I think that the core of the problem with the Arab world and Iran lies in their psychic:living in a state of hallucination and fantasizing the destruction of Israel. The leaders are served well when internal problems are externalized. And one of the reasons why they feel comfortable with this situation is because the reaction from the free world is so weak and disunited.And anyone who holds that solving the Palestinian problem will usher a new era in the region,to end the conflict for all time, is either very naive, misguided,or hopelessly optimistic.The Palestinian question is just another tool in the arsenal to complete Hitler’s project.What is required is a united, intense and prolonged campaign by Jews and non-Jews, to demand of Western govern- ments, a vociferous and unambiguous response in which they will announce that they will not countenance the destruction of Israel. Any step in that direction will result in actions taken to guarantee that Israel will emerge victoriously. We, especialy as Jews,need to demand, yes, DEMAND the above, without any hesitation nor an iota of shame:they owe this to us! After centuries of massacres inflicted on our people who gave so much to this world in every field, this is their opportunity to repent. Now is the hour to make amends for past injustice and crimes. Now is the hour to show their true collective color. I truly and strongly believe that once our foes realize that the destruction of Israel is not in the cards, that they need to expel this option out of their mind because it will simply just not be allowed to materialize, this will effect a major influence in their psychic. The big question therefore remains: Will the West continue to play ball with Iran and the other tyrants, and thus making war more likely, or can they take other very necessary steps which stand a very good chance of being successful and thus avoiding war and arriving at a win-win situation. Zvi Horovitz, Canada

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Donald Wolberg

posted January 2, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Mr. Horovitz makes many significant points and asks whether the West will in effect do little or nothing to stop the Iranian threat. I suspect that Mr. Horovitz already knows the answer: the western powers will do nothing. It is almost certain that the United Nations will do nothing that is effective. It is also certain that no non-western consortium of nations will do nothing, and are just as likely to feel pride in the defiance of Iran to any semblance of rationality. It is very likely, however, that the U.S., understanding the significance of the Iranian threat, and really being the only western power with sufficient military capability, will act alone. Given that the Iranians are already on a course of developing deployable nuclear weapons, the choice for the U.S. will be to act alone, or in concert with Israel. Israel cannot allow a single nuclear device to be deployed by Iran, never mind the possibility of 2, 4, 6, or 10 devices. Israel certainly understands this fact and I suspect the U.S. does as well. It seems to me likely that the U.S. will act alone and before Israel is forced to launch a preemptive strike.

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posted January 2, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Oy vey! The West owes us? America is duty-bound to protect us? Chutzpah is a Yiddish word. Hubris should also be a Yiddish word.

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Donald Wolberg

posted January 3, 2006 at 5:59 am

It is unlikely that any western nation other than the United States will feel duty bound to aid Israel simply because Israel’s existence is threatened. There are two reason’s for this: no nation other than the U.S. has the ability to project sufficient force to aid Israel or even their own interests in more than a token way; no other western nation other than the U.S. would have it’s own interests at stake. Nations act only to protect their own interests, and the U.S. does have sufficient interests that would be threatened by the presence of Iranian nukes and their likely use. Only the U.S. can project sufficient power and that use of power will firstly result from a U.S. interest in the preservation of Israel and mitigation of any threats to overall U.S. interests. Morality has little to do with the relations of nations with each other.

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