Learn from the Holocaust, Iran is a threat to Jews: Israeli PM Netanyahu

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening ceremony of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. (Reuters)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday during a ceremony in Jerusalem to commemorate the Nazi Holocaust that killed six million Jews.

“People who refuse to see the Iranian threat have learned nothing from the Shoah (Holocaust). They are afraid to speak the truth, which is today, as it was then (World War II), that there are people who want to annihilate millions of Jews.”

“That is contempt for the Shoah and an insult to its victims,” the premier said in an address at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, according to AFP news agency.

“The truth is that an Iran in possession of nuclear arms is an existential threat to the State of Israel. A nuclear Iran also represents an immediate threat for other countries in the region and to world peace.”

Iran must be “stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is the duty of the international community and, above all, our duty.”

As each year on this day, Israelis on Thursday will stand silent for 10 minutes from 10:00 am (0700 GMT), as sirens sound throughout the country.

Israel, the United States and many other countries suspect Iran of using its civilian nuclear program to mask an arms drive, something Tehran vehemently denies.

In recent months, Israel has exerted great effort in trying to persuade Washington to support a preemptive attack on Iran to contain what it deems as a dangerously high nuclear threat from Tehran.

In his speech to a gathering of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last month, Netanyahu drew a pessimistic time line between present-day events in Iran and the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz; the link being, America’s unreliability in supporting Israel or the Jewish people back in 1944.

“It was a form of pressure, using emotional language to make the case for Israel’s vulnerability and trying to get the U.S. to fall in line with his view that military action will be needed,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center and the former U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

“Only in an arena like that [at AIPAC] could Netanyahu voice such a concern and invoke the Holocaust,” added Shaikh.

And this was not the first time Netanyahu made not-so-subtle connections between Iran and the Nazi regime.

Five years ago, Netanyahu had said of the Iranian nuclear issue: “The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany.” It alluded to the ultimate Israeli fear of Iran’s involvement in the tit-for-tat scenarios between Israelis and
Islamist groups; nuclear proliferation to strengthen groups such as Hezbollah or Hamas or other rogue partners.

Shaikh expects Netanyahu to continue mention to the Holocaust “till the cows come home.”

“Netanyahu is very much affected by Holocaust, not just politically, but personally also, believing that there should not be 0.1 percent chance of it happening ever again,” Shaikh said.

“It’s not lost its touch to Europeans and Americans in particular; the mention of the Holocaust will continue to invoke emotion and have on impact on these countries. But we have to dissect the two issues here, the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb is something that will impact Europeans and Americans anyway,” Shaikh adds.

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