With Klal Yisrael facing the worst worldwide outbreak of anti-Semitism since the 1930s, I am reminded of my father’s boyhood in Hitler’s Germany. In his early years my father’s family was respected and popular among the gentiles in his village in southwest Germany. But the Nazis’ vicious anti-Semitism so demonized the Jews that they were no longer considered part of the human race.
Less than seventy years later Europe and much of the rest of the world is again infected with vicious anti-Semitism and another mad regime is threatening genocide.
The current plague of anti-Semitism focuses on Israel and the quest to delegitimize it. So successful has this been that across the globe Israel is considered a major menace to world peace. A recent survey of Britons ranked Israel second only to North Korea as the nation most likely to set the world ablaze in conflict. Even Iran, sponsoring terrorism around the globe, and Syria, where an estimated 200,000 people have been slaughtered in a brutal civil war, are considered less threatening.
In recent years Israel has been terrorized by a seemingly never-ending spree of Arab assaults from Hamas, Fatah, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and lesser-known groups. It has come under repeated rocket attacks and terrorists have rampaged through its streets, killing innocent civilians from babies in their strollers to four rabbis in prayer. The Germans toasted the massacre of Jews with beer; the Arabs celebrated the murders by passing out candy in the streets.
Israel has imposed defensive security measures but the world, led by the European Union, always protests. Some charge that Israel has adopted Nazi-like tactics. One far-left British MP, George Galloway, even accused Israel of locking Arabs into a “Warsaw Ghetto.”
Preposterous as this and other such slanders are, they have traction. This is reflected in the UN’s skewed votes on Israel. Two years ago the UN General Assembly criticized member states in 25 resolutions; no fewer than 21 of these denounced Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, where Arab and Christian minorities enjoy full human rights. None of these resolutions even mentioned such genuine abusers of human rights as China, Sudan, Pakistan, and Cuba.
But UN criticism of Israel is not just confined to the diplomatic arena, as nations around the world have jumped on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions bandwagon. And, ironically, just as the screws are being tightened on Israel, the world’s powers, including the United States, are loosening the screws on Iran.
The Obama administration has been hoping to negotiate a “grand bargain” with Iran in which Iran will agree to curb its nuclear ambitions and normalize American-Iranian diplomatic relations for the first time since the 444-day hostage crisis of 1979-80. Since that crisis, Iran has become the world’s premier exporter of worldwide terror but it has lacked the jewel in its terror crown – a nuclear weapon capable of destroying Israel.
Iran has worked feverishly to obtain that nuclear jewel, along the way reportedly establishing material and technology supply networks with Pakistan and North Korea and building geographically dispersed nuclear installations. In his book A Time for Betrayal, Reza Kahlili (a pseudonym for an Iranian Revolutionary Guard turned CIA agent) tells of Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear material. In one case, Iranian officials armed with billions of dollars attempted to buy a bomb from Pakistan. Luckily, Iran only succeeded in procuring blueprints and centrifuges. Ever since, however, Iran has continued at breakneck speed its attempt to achieve nuclear-weapon capacity, amassing a sizable enriched uranium stockpile and more than 19,000 uranium-processing centrifuges.
Benjamin Netanyahu began warning the world about Iranian nuclear ambitions some 15 years ago. Only in 2006 did the world take him seriously enough for the UN to finally impose sanctions to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment program. These sanctions were renewed annually. But then in 2013 the Obama administration, desiring to bring Iran back into “the community of nations,” relaxed them in the hope of reaching an agreement with Tehran. Netanyahu said that given the Iranians’ track record, they were not to be trusted. And he warned that allowing them to keep any of their enriched uranium and centrifuges would put them on the threshold of becoming nuclear-bomb capable.
That is why he took the step of accepting an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress, no doubt knowing the administration would not be happy about it, to put it mildly.
With Jews across Europe endangered and Israel under existential threat from Iran, Klal Yisrael this week looks to Hashem as we remember what He did for our people in the 4th century BCE on the same lands where Iran now sits. The Persian Empire then held sway over the Middle East and the Jews, and one man hatched a plot to kill our people. Of course he did not succeed and ended up dangling from his own gallows.
May the same fate befall Iran’s genocidal mullahs and the other modern-day Hamans who seek to exterminate the Jews – and may Hashem once again protect our people.