Kommentar

I Israel snakker man om faren for et nytt Holocaust som en reell mulighet. Hvis Iran får atombomben. Det er en høyst påtrengende tanke for israelerne. Ahmadinejad har selv sagt det, og ikke bare han: Israel må vekk. Når samme mann aktivt fornekter Holocaust, er ringen sluttet. Israelerne oppfatter at han mener alvor.

Kan vi fortenke dem i det? Ville ikke vi gjort det samme? Men vi er ikke jøder, vi er uomskjærte europeere. Vi kan stå på sidelinjen, og gjør det. Vi ønsker fremfor alt ikke en ny krig i Midtøsten, mellom USA og Iran. Men betyr det at vi er villig til å ofre Israel? Hoderystende nei. Men er ikke det en posisjon vi beveger oss mot, hvis ønsket om dialog og kompromiss går foran alt annet?

Israelerne har ett ufravikelig krav: Iran må ikke få atombomben. Yossi Halevi Klein og Michael Oren skriver om en debatt i Israel som vi ikke hører noenting om her hjemme. (Er det fordi den vil kunne mobilisere for mye Israel-sympati?)

Yitzhak Rabin fikk for første gang høre om de iranske atomplanene i 1992. Han forsto alvoret, og det var en medvirkende årsak til at han snudde i sitt syn på forhandlinger med PLO. Rabin så for seg at Israel ville bli konfrontert med den iranske trusselen en gang i fremtiden. Det gjaldt å slutte fred med naboene.

For over two decades, since the era of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Holocaust was rarely invoked, except on the extremes, in Israeli politics. In recent months, though, the Iranian threat has returned the Final Solution to the heart of Israeli discourse. Senior army commanders, who likely once regarded Holocaust analogies with the Middle East conflict as an affront to Zionist empowerment, now routinely speak of a «second Holocaust.» Op-eds, written by left-wing as well as right-wing commentators, compare these times to the 1930s.

Israelis recall how the international community reacted with indifference as a massively armed nation declared war against the Jewish people–and they sense a similar pattern today. Even though the United States and Europe have finally awakened to the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran’s calls for the destruction of Israel tend to be dismissed as mere rhetoric by the Western news media. Yet, here in Israel, those pronouncements have reinforced Rabin’s urgency in placing the Iran situation at the top of the strategic agenda.

One of the men most responsible for doing precisely that is Labor Party parliamentarian and current Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, whom Rabin entrusted with his government’s «Iran file.» Like most in the defense establishment, Sneh doesn’t believe Iran would immediately launch a nuclear attack against Israel. But, he adds, it won’t have to actually use the bomb to cripple Israel. «They would be able to destroy the Zionist dream without pressing the button,» he says.

Den dagen Iran får bomben, vil spillets regler bli helt andre.

In clipped tones that reveal his long military background, he outlines three repercussions of an Iranian bomb. To begin with, he notes, the era of peace negotiations will come to an end: «No Arab partner will be able to make concessions with a nuclear Iran standing over them.» What’s more, Israel will find its military options severely limited. An emboldened Iran could provide Hezbollah and Hamas with longer-range and deadlier rockets than their current stock of Katyushas and Qassams; yet, threatened with a nuclear response, Israel would have little defense against intensifying rocket fire on its northern and southern periphery, whose residents would have to be evacuated to the center. Israel already experienced a foretaste of mass uprooting in the Lebanon war last summer, when hundreds of thousands of Galilee residents were turned into temporary refugees. Finally, says Sneh, foreign investors will flee the country, and many Israelis will, too. In one recent poll, 27 percent of Israelis said they would consider leaving if Iran went nuclear. «Who will leave? Those with opportunities abroad–the elite,» Sneh notes. The promise of Zionism to create a Jewish refuge will have failed, and, instead, Jews will see the diaspora as a more trustworthy option for both personal and collective survival. During the Lebanon war, Israeli television’s preeminent satirical comedy, «O What a Wonderful Land,» interviewed an Israeli claiming that «this» is the safest place for Jews–as the camera pulled back to reveal that «this» was London.

Det er allerede en utvikling på gang som bekrefter Halevi og Orens analyse: Sunni-regimene slår seg sammen for å kontre Irans maktambisjoner.

The reverberations of a nuclear Iran will reach far beyond the Middle East. Tehran could dictate the price of oil and even control much of its supply through the Straits of Hermuz. And Iran will be able to conduct terrorist operations through its proxies with greater immunity. Even without the nuclear threat, Iran succeeded in intimidating the Saudis into releasing Iranian suspects in the 1997 Khobar Towers bombing. Moreover, if Tehran goes nuclear, the pretense of an international community capable of enforcing world order would quickly unravel: After all, if a regime that has perpetrated terrorist attacks from Argentina to the Persian Gulf can flout sanctions and acquire nuclear weapons, how can the United Nations credibly stop anyone else from doing the same?

Hvor apokalyptisk innstilt er Teheran?

Det er de som mener at shia-versjonen til Khomeini er av en ny sort, som suger næring fra populisme, messianisme og marxisme.

The threat of a theologically motivated nuclear assault against Israel tends to be downplayed in the West; not so here. The former head of Israel’s National Security Council, Giora Eiland, has warned that an apocalyptically driven Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be willing to sacrifice half his country’s population to obliterate the Jewish state. Military men suddenly sound like theologians when explaining the Iranian threat. Ahmadinejad, they argue, represents a new «activist» strain of Shiism, which holds that the faithful can hasten the return of the Hidden Imam, the Shia messiah, by destroying evil. Hebrew University Iranian scholar Eldad Pardo goes further, arguing that the ideology founded by Ayatollah Khomeini represents nothing less than a «new religion,» combining Shia, Sunni, and Marxist beliefs and resembling Western messianic cults that have advocated mass suicide. And so Ahmadinejad’s pronouncements about the imminent return of the Hidden Imam and the imminent destruction of Israel aren’t regarded as merely calculated for domestic consumption; they are seen as glimpses into an apocalyptic game plan. Ahmadinejad has reportedly told his Cabinet that the Hidden Imam will reappear in 2009–precisely the date when Israel estimates Iran will go nuclear. In a recent meeting with outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iranian president predicted that, while the United States and Great Britain won the last world war, Iran will win the next one. And, two weeks ago, an Iranian government website declared that the Hidden Imam would defeat his archenemy in a final battle in Jerusalem.

Europeere kan synes dette høres overspent ut. Men de bor ikke i Midtøsten. Det er ikke deres byer og barn som utslettes.

Israelerne føler at tiden for å forhandle er forbi. Den var der rett etter at Saddam var styrtet. Nå ser Iran at USA har store problemer i Irak, og føler seg ovenpå. De vil bruke forhandlingene til å hale ut tiden. Det må vi europeere gjerne mene er feil, men det er israelerne som risikerer alt, ikke vi. De har større rett til å bli hørt.

Det som gjør israelerne skuggredde, er Holocaust-revisjonismen. Mullahene tror at det er Holocaust og den dårlige samvittigheten som gjør at Europa holder Israel oppe. Hvis Holocaust ble kompromittert, ville Israel stå alene igjen, uten venner. Slik forstår israelerne Ahmadinejads monomane opptatthet av Holocaust. De har fått med seg at det finnes kritiske røster. Men på ingen sentrale punkter er det kursendring.

In denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad aims to undermine what he believes to be the sole justification for Israel’s existence. In the years before World War II, Nazi propagandists prepared Europe for the Final Solution by dehumanizing the Jews; now, Ahmadinejad is preparing the Muslim world for the destruction of the Jewish state by delegitimizing its history. And not just the Muslim world: Holocaust denial is also aimed at the West, which many Muslims believe supports Israel only because of Holocaust guilt. Strip away that guilt, and Israel is defenseless. «The resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel,» commented Mohammad Ali Ramin, head of a new Iranian government institute devoted to Holocaust denial.

The French philosopher André Glucksmann has noted that, by threatening to destroy Israel and by attaining the means to do so, Iran violates the twin taboos on which the post-World War II order was built: never again Auschwitz; never again Hiroshima. The international community now has an opportunity to uphold that order. If it fails, then Israel will have no choice but to uphold its role as refuge of the Jewish people. A Jewish state that allows itself to be threatened with nuclear weapons–by a country that denies the genocide against Europe’s six million Jews while threatening Israel’s six million Jews–will forfeit its right to speak in the name of Jewish history. Fortunately, even the government of Ehud Olmert, widely criticized as incompetent and corrupt, seems to understand that, on this issue at least, it cannot fail.

ISRAEL’S WORST NIGHTMARE
Contra Iran