Sunday, November 1, 2015

George Will Starting Out Smart And Going Dumb On Anti-Semitism

In today's Washington Post George Will follows up on a new book by Timothy Snyder about Germany and anti-Semitism, also drawing on earlier work by Daniel Goldhagen.  He finds in their work that Binyamin Netanyahu's claim that Hitler was convinced to do the Holocaust by Jerusalem muft Haj Amin al-Husseini is nonsense, a claim that Netanyahu has now apparently withdrawn and even apologized for making.  Will notes that Snyder and Goldhagen argue that Hitler drew both on longstanding German views, but also was especially convinced even at the time he wrote Mein Kampf in the 1920s that racial conflict was the driving force of history, a winner take all violent conflict, and that the Aryan-Semite conflict was the most important.  He was definitely already geared up to try to kill all Jews long before the mufti showed up in Berlin in 1941 and had already done in about 700,000 by then.

Apparently Snyder talks about this also, but I do not know what he says, but Will interprets as saying that the same holds for Iran today.  They are also convinced of a deeply rooted need to commit genocide against Jews and to destroy not only the state of Israel but Jews living there and apparently elsewhere as well, although Will is less clear about this latter point.  There are serious problems with this argument, which is widely repeated and believed in much of US media, with a lot of this coming out of the debates over now completed Iran nuclear deal, with many still claiming it will lead to them getting a bomb and using it to nuke Israel and engage in genocide.

So, one problem has long been that while there have been leaders in Iran who have questioned the Holocaust, or at least details of it, none of them has ever called for such a thing.  Lots of them, including current Supreme Leader Khameini, have called for the ending of the state of Israel and its replacement by a state elected by all longtime residents of the former British mandate of Palestine, none of these have called for the killing of Jews except in self-defense, with the most drastic call being for the expulsion of more recently arrived Jews from what is now Israel.  Most of the reports of plans for genocide have been based on mistranslations from the Farsi, and Khameini has gone out of his way to explicitly deny any such intentions.  He does not like the state of Israel, but he strongly opposes the killing of Jews.

This has a lot of credibility because in fact Iran has the largest Jewish population of any predominantly Muslim MENA nation at around 15-25,000, with these even having a representative in the Majlis.  Does this mean that they suffer no discrimination?  Hardly.  They do.  But their treatment has been far better than in their Arab neighbors, many of which had much larger Jewish populations prior to 1948, but which have seen the vast majority of their Jewish populations leave for one place or another since then, if they have not been killed outright.  Probably Morocco has the second largest Jewish population in MENA, but less than half of what Iran has, with them lacking some of the protections their Iranian co-religionists have.

So, Will has played into an anti-Iranian meme pushed by hardline Israelis, even as he has joined  in on the deserved bashing of Netanyahu's nonsense about the muft of Jerusalem.

Barkley Rosser

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