As we reported this weekend, Israel and its supporters are flipping out over the apparent thaw between the United States and Iran, precipitated by Obama’s climbdown on Syria. Here is an angry piece by Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard, calling Obama an appeaser, Rouhani Hitler, Assad Mussolini, and saying that only Israel can lead. It seems the piece is written in desperation: Kristol marshaling what forces he still has at his disposal to head off any understanding between the US and Iran.
There is so much hysteria here that I need to quote a lot of Kristol’s argument to give full measure to his world view. How many Americans share this understanding? Notice Kristol’s extended and repeated Hitler analogies, the characterization of Obama as an appeaser who will leave the U.S. to be eaten by locusts, the overblown tone employing Shakespeare and Churchill references, and the heroic description of Israel as “for now the leader of the West” because it will act against Iran.
Act Two opens at the United Nations. There, we’ll see a charm offensive worthy of Richard III by the new Iranian president and veteran deceiver of the West, Hassan Rouhani. In response, the Obama administration will move on from punting in Syria to appeasing Iran….
Smaller retreats lead to larger ones. The West’s failure to resist Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935—and his troops’ use of poison gas—was merely a foretaste of the failure to resist Hitler when he took the Rhineland in March 1936. In his essay in the volume Present Dangers, the historian Donald Kagan tells the story. Hitler had expected Britain to slap down Mussolini…. Hitler drew the lesson. The occupation of the Rhineland followed shortly.
There will be no Rhineland this time. Iran isn’t 1930s Germany, and the United States is more formidable than Britain. For now, Iran will have to achieve its goals by stealth and diplomacy, while Hitler achieved his by bravado and force. But the accommodation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons lies ahead as surely as the accommodation of Nazi Germany’s expansionist dreams. Moreover, Rouhani knows what he is doing. He was Iran’s top nuclear negotiator for two critical years a decade ago and proved then his skill at duplicity in the furtherance of his regime’s nuclear ambitions.
And the Obama administration, too, will play its role, echoing the Baldwin government, which Winston Churchill in 1936 characterized as “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” Churchill continued, “So we go on preparing more months and years—precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain—for the locusts to eat.”
As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons, undeterred by the West’s leading power, a 21st-century tragedy threatens to unfold. Unless. Unless a dramatis persona who didn’t exist in 1936 intervenes: Israel. Ariel Sharon once famously said that Israel would not play the role of Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Nor will it play the role of Poland. Despite imprecations from the Obama administration, Israel will act. One prays it will not be too late.
It is a strange course of events, heavy with historical irony, that has made the prime minister of Israel for now the leader of the West.
Once again this demonstrates the significance of MJ Rosenberg holding the line on the use of the term Israel Firster. Kristol is surely an Israel Firster. But only when people are allowed to talk about this allegiance freely will there actually be a public understanding: that not all Jews are Zionist, that Zionism calls on tribal and paranoid elements inside the Jewish community, and it has helped to build a militarist and discriminatory regime that is more and more isolated from positive world opinion.