Almost two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went before Congress to denounce President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The deal, he warned, “could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people.”
Then, in the closing moments of his speech, Netanyahu addressed the late Elie Wiesel, who was seated in the crowd. “Elie,” he declared, “your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words ‘Never again.’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The implication was clear: Approving the nuclear deal meant permitting a second Holocaust. The only difference was that, this time, a Jewish state would wage war to prevent it. “I can guarantee you this,” an emotional Netanyahu told a hall echoing with applause. “The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over… I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Almost two years later, Netanyahu is returning to a very different Washington. Obama is gone. Donald Trump, who last spring told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” has replaced him. Republicans, who overwhelmingly opposed the Iran nuclear deal, now control both houses of Congress.
The political barriers that Netanyahu faced two years ago are gone. He and Trump are now free to renounce the Iran nuclear deal, and thus, by Netanyahu’s logic, prevent a second Shoah. Or, failing that, Netanyahu could take matters into his own hands and bomb Iran’s nuclear sites himself, secure in the knowledge that Trump is less likely than Obama to object.
Yet none of that is happening. To the contrary, Defense Secretary James Mattis testified in January that the Trump administration will “live up to” the nuclear agreement. Last week, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly expressed the same sentiments to the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. Last Friday, even as it imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests, Trump’s Treasury Department insisted that the penalties were “fully consistent with the United States’ commitments under the” nuclear deal.
Even stranger, Netanyahu doesn’t seem to mind. According to Reuters, “Israeli officials privately acknowledged that,” while in Washington, Netanyahu “would not advocate ripping up a deal that has been emphatically reaffirmed by the other big power signatories.” Nor is Netanyahu repeating his threats to strike Iran himself, something he warned Congress he might do if it approved the nuclear deal.
What explains this odd turn of events? The most plausible answer is that Netanyahu, for all his thunderous emotion, wasn’t being honest when he railed against the nuclear agreement. He wasn’t actually worried that the deal “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” His real concern was that it would improve relations between Washington and Tehran, thus empowering Israel’s greatest regional foe, and reducing America’s dependence on Israel. Now that the chances of a U.S.-Iranian détente have diminished, so have Netanyahu’s fears about the nuclear deal.
The first clue is that Israel’s security establishment never bought Netanyahu’s Holocaust analogy. The Israel Defense Forces’ former chief of staff and defense minister Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon, former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz and former Mossad heads Efraim Halevy and Tamir Pardo have all said that even if Tehran did acquire a bomb, Israeli nuclear deterrence would prevent an Iranian strike. Israeli security officials also strongly opposed the kind of preventive Israeli military attack that Netanyahu hinted at in his speech to Congress. As veteran Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea reported in 2012, “Not one high-ranking official in the Israeli establishment — not in the Israel Defense Forces’ top echelons, nor in the defense establishment and not even the President of Israel [then Shimon Peres]— currently supports an Israeli attack.”
Israeli security officials also rejected Netanyahu’s claims about the nuclear deal itself. Last October, Haaretz reported that the members of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, the country’s foremost experts on nuclear weapons, “are convinced that the April 2 agreement between Iran and the world powers will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.” A few months later, the IDF’s chief lieutenant general, Gadi Eisenkot echoed that view, declaring that the agreement had contributed to a “decline” in military threats against Israel.
But while Israeli security officials disagreed with Netanyahu about the Iranian nuclear program, most saw Iran as a formidable regional adversary. Israeli military leaders have long worried about threats on the country’s eastern flank. Once upon a time, that fear focused heavily on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which in the 1980s boasted the world’s fourth-largest army. But when Saddam was weakened by the Gulf War and a decade of American sanctions, and then ultimately toppled altogether, Israeli leaders refocused their fears on Iran, which was filling the power vacuum left by Iraq’s decline. In his book about Israeli-Iranian relations, “Treacherous Alliance,” Trita Parsi quotes the former Israeli brigadier general Shlomo Brom as observing that “because Iraq was removed, Iran started to play a greater role in the threat perception of Israel.”
What really bothered Israeli security officials, in other words, wasn’t the Iranian nuclear program per se — which had existed since the 1980s, when Israel was still selling Iran arms. What bothered them was Iran’s emergence as a potential regional hegemon. And what bothered them about the Obama administration’s nuclear deal was not that it paved the way for Iranian nukes but that it paved the way for U.S.-Iranian détente, thus ending America’s effort to restrain Iranian power.
In speaking to Americans, Netanyahu emphasized the nuclear issue because it allowed him to invoke the specter of the Holocaust, which is what he’s been doing his entire career. He is, after all, the man who in 1993 compared Yitzhak Rabin to Neville Chamberlain for signing the Oslo Accords. In 2002 he advocated preventive war against Saddam’s Iraq because “had the democracies taken pre-emptive action to bring down Hitler in the 1930s, the worst horrors in history could have been avoided.” He has justified the Israeli bombing of Lebanon and Gaza by comparing these bombings to the Allied bombing of Hamburg and Dresden.
Politically, focusing on the nuclear issue was shrewd. There’s little that mobilizes American Jews, and pro-Israel American Christians, more than the fear of a second Holocaust, this time directed at the Jewish state. Attacking the nuclear deal for ushering in a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement that tilted the Middle Eastern balance of power wouldn’t have packed the same punch.
But now it’s clear that the power balance isn’t tilting. The Trump administration isn’t renouncing the nuclear agreement, but it is definitely renouncing any prospect for warmer relations with Tehran. It’s not only imposing new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran, it’s actually mulling sending the U.S. Navy to board Iranian ships delivering weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
So when Netanyahu visits the White House today, he won’t talk about a second Holocaust or an Israeli strike. Such rhetoric is no longer necessary.
The organized American Jewish community has been played. And it doesn’t care.
Peter Beinart is a Forward senior columnist and contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter, @PeterBeinart
Alt-right editor challenges journalists to visit Sweden
21 February 2017
- From the sectionEurope
Paul Joseph Watson, the UK-based editor of far-right conspiracy website Infowars, has donated $2,000 to one of the hundreds of reporters who took him up on his Twitter offer to pay “any journalist claiming Sweden is safe” to stay in Malmo.
The donation comes after Sweden was thrown into the spotlight by US President Donald Trump’s reference last week to a security incident which did not actually happen.
President Trump has since sought to clarify his remarks, stating that his comments were “in reference to a story that was broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants and Sweden”.
After many social media users ridiculed the American leader using the hashtag #lastnightinSweden, Mr Watson issued a challenge to journalists.
Malmo has a large immigrant population.
Last October, the so-called Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a fire at a Muslim community centre there, an incident cited by the White House in the list of incidents it claimed had been under-reported by the media.
In a follow-up post, subsequently deleted, Mr Watson wrote: “All you lefty idiots accepting a ‘trip to Sweden’. Can you read? I said you’d be staying here. Good luck”.
The post featured a number of images to illustrate his point, including a photograph of anti-Israel protesters from the 2009 Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel.
Mr Watson has since donated $2,000 to a US journalist, Tim Pool. Mr Pool has pledged to “investigate the claims of ‘no-go zones’ and a rise in crime that people believe are coming from migrants and refugees”.
In a video posted on his YouTube channel, Mr Pool says: “This is a highly politicised phenomenon, with one faction saying it’s true and you’re denying it for political reasons, and the other side saying it’s false and you’re pushing the story for political reasons.
“I don’t side with anybody. I’m a sceptic.”
Malmo’s deputy mayor Nils Karlsson has promised any visiting journalists a warm welcome.
By UGC and Social News team
Fraudulent Nazi Quotations
By Mark Weber
Fraudulent quotations attributed to Hitler and other Third Reich leaders have been widely circulated for years. Such quotes are often used by polemicists — of both the left and the right — to discredit their ideological adversaries by showing that Nazis held similar views. This tactic works because people have been educated to believe that anything Hitler and other Nazi leaders thought or said was malevolent, wrong-headed or evil, and that no reasonable or ethical person could hold similar views.
Here’s a look at a few of the many remarks falsely attributed to Hitler and other top Nazis.
Goebbels: ‘Truth is the Enemy of the State’
Hitler’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, supposedly said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Rush Limbaugh, the popular American radio commentator, is just one of the many influential Americans who has cited this quotation. During a May 2007 radio broadcast he claimed that these remarks are “from Hitler’s war room, the Nazi spinmeister-in-chief, Joseph Goebbels,” who was “speaking for his cronies in the Nazi party.” Limbaugh went on to claim that American “Democrat Party” leaders were using “a version” of Goebbels’ technique to try to “repress dissent.” And in January 2011 US Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democratic party politician of Tennessee, accused Republicans of propagating “a big lie, just like Goebbels” about a proposed national health care plan.
In fact, Goebbels’ views were quite different than what this fraudulent quote suggests. He consistently held that propaganda should be accurate and truthful.
In an address given in September 1934 in Nuremberg, he said: “Good propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand. A propaganda that lies proves that it has a bad cause. It cannot be successful in the long run.”
In an article written in 1941, he cited examples of false British wartime claims, and went on to charge that British propagandists had adopted the “big lie” technique that Hitler had identified and condemned in his book Mein Kampf. Goebbels wrote: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”
Hitler and Gun Control
In a speech, sometimes said to have been delivered in 1935, Hitler is supposed to have exclaimed: “This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
This quote has been popular with Americans who defend the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.” It’s cited to discredit those who support restrictions on firearms ownership and use. It’s also cited to support the often-made charge that Hitler and his government curtailed gun ownership in Germany, and confiscated weapons held by private citizens.
The truth is rather different. When Hitler and his National Socialist Party took power in early 1933, they inherited a somewhat restrictive firearms law that the liberal-democratic “Weimar” government had enacted five years earlier. In 1938 Hitler’s government revised the earlier law by loosening those restrictions, thereby enhancing the rights of Germans to own weapons. The most thorough confiscation of firearms ever imposed on Germans was carried out at the end of the Second World War by the occupation forces of the United States and other victorious Allied powers.
Hitler on ‘Law and Order’
Hitler is supposed to have said during a speech in 1932, shortly before he became Chancellor:
“The streets of our cities are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might and the Republic is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order! Yes, without law and order our nation cannot survive … Elect us and we shall restore law and order. We shall, by law and order, be respected among the nations of the world. Without law and order our Republic shall fail.”
This quotation, which is meant to embarrass and discredit those who support “law and order,” was especially popular with younger Americans during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It appeared on posters and in the 1971 movie “Billy Jack.”
In his many election campaign speeches in 1932 Hitler stressed the themes of justice, freedom, jobs and national unity — not “law and order.” German universities in 1932 were not “filled with students rebelling and rioting.” In fact, German students were among the most fervent supporters of Hitler and his National Socialist movement.
Goering on Culture
Hermann Goering, a high-ranking Third Reich official, is often quoted as having said: “Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver.” Reichsmarschall Goering (Göring), who was commander of Germany’s air force, would never have said anything like this. Along with other high-level Third Reich leaders, he esteemed the arts, and prided himself on his appreciation of culture.
This quote is a distortion of a line by a character in the play Schlageter by German writer Hanns Johst. The original line (translated) is “When I hear [the word] culture … I release the safety on my Browning!” A version of this quote is presented in a staged scene in “Why We Fight,” a US government wartime propaganda film, to suggest that the typical “Nazi” was an uncultured thug.
Hitler and Conscience
“I am liberating man from the degrading chimera known as conscience,” Hitler is supposed to have said. This widely repeated quote appears, for example, in The Great Quotations, a supposedly authoritative collection compiled by Jewish American journalist and author George Seldes. It’s a version of a remark attributed to Hitler by Hermann Rauschning in his book, The Voice of Destruction (Conversations with Hitler), which is a source of many fraudulent quotations supposedly based on private talks with Hitler that, in fact, never took place.
The “original” text of this quote, as presented by Rauschning, is: “Providence has ordained that I should be the greatest liberator of humanity. I am freeing men from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge; from the dirty and degrading self-mortifications of a chimera called conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and personal independence which only a very few can bear.”
In fact, Hitler repeatedly emphasized the importance of acting conscientiously. For example, in at least three different public statements or speeches 1941 alone, he spoke about acting in accord with his conscience. Rudolf Hess, a close friend and trusted colleague, once said that his devotion to Hitler was based in large measure on his regard for Hitler’s resolute conscience. In a 1934 speech Hess said: “The conscience of a moral personality is a far greater protection against the misuse of an office than is the supervision of parliament or the separation of powers. I know no one who has a stronger conscience, or is more true to his people, than Adolf Hitler … The Führer’s highest court is his conscience and his responsibility to his people and to history.”
Hitler: ‘Destroy By All Means’
The US government propaganda film, “Why We Fight,” quotes Hitler as having said: “My motto is ‘Destroy by all and any means. National Socialism will reshape the world’.” This is a version of a remark attributed to Hitler by Hermann Rauschning in his influential book. The “original” text, as presented by Rauschning, is: “I want war. To me all means will be right … My motto is not ‘Don’t, whatever you do, annoy the enemy!’ My motto is ‘Destroy him by all and any means.’ I am the one who will wage the war!” Another version of this invented remark appears in the book Hitler and Nazism (1961), by historian Louis Leo Snyder, who was a professor at City College of New York.
Hitler on Terrorism
Hitler has often been quoted as saying: “Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.” This quote is based on two invented remarks in Hermann Rauschning’s mendacious book, The Voice of Destruction.
Hitler: ‘We Are Barbarians’
Hitler has often been quoted as saying: “They refer to me as an uneducated barbarian. Yes, we are barbarians. We want to be barbarians, it is an honored title to us. We shall rejuvenate the world. This world is near its end.”
This is another fraudulent Hitler quote from the fanciful work of Hermann Rauschning.
Hitler and ‘Brutal Youth’
“A violently active, dominating, intrepid, brutal youth — that is what I am after … I want to see in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence, of prey. I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is the ruin of my young men.” This widely cited remark is included, for example, in George Seldes’ The Great Quotations. The source cited by Seldes is an item in The Nation by the popular American journalist and author John Gunther (1901-1970).
In fact, this is a version of a remark attributed to Hitler by Hermann Rauschning, whose imaginative work is a source of many phony “quotes.” Another fraudulent Hitler remark in this same spirit and from this same source, likewise cited by the supposedly authoritative Seldes, is this: “Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism ever invented for its own destruction.”
These remarks misrepresent Hitler’s real views. In fact, National Socialist Germany was a world leader in science, learning, technology and medicine. Hitler was admired by some of the leading intellectuals of the age, including Knut Hamsun, Ezra Pound, Louis-Ferdinand Celine and Martin Heidegger.
References / For Further Reading
Randall Bytwerk, “False Nazi Quotations” (http://bytwerk.com/gpa/falsenaziquotations.htm)
Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (New York: Oxford, 1989).
Joseph Goebbels, “From Churchill’s Factory of Lies,” (“Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik”), January 1941. Reprinted in Zeit ohne Beispiel (http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb29.htm) (1941)
Joseph Goebbels, “Propaganda” (Nuremberg: 1934)
William L. Pierce, Gun Control in Germany 1928-1945 (1994)
John Toland, Adolf Hitler (1976)
Mark Weber, “Goebbels and World War II Propaganda,” 2011
Mark Weber, “Goebbels’ Place in History,” The Journal of Historical Review, 1995.
Mark Weber, “Hitler as ‘Enlightenment Intellectual’: The Enduring Allure of Hitlerism,” 1997
Mark Weber, “Rauschning’s Phony ‘Conversations With Hitler’: An Update,” 1985