Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ron Smith: Holocaust Revisited

In recent days the world has been remembering the holocaust.  Quite right, too!  We should recall to mind atrocity on this scale, and ask ourselves what, if anything, could have been done to prevent it.  

Whatever conclusions we come to on this point, we need also to ask whether it could happen again, and if it could, what we would need to do to make sure it doesn’t.  In a broader sense, I am talking about industrial-scale genocide/ethnic cleansing of whatever kind but I am also thinking specifically of the possibility of a second Jewish holocaust on broadly the same scale as the first.

Of course, the events in Europe in the period 1940-45, which cumulated in the liberation of Auschwitz and which we were remembering last week, were predictable.  Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism was evident from his political testament, Mein Kampf, written in the middle 1920s and available in English translation from the 1930s.  Mein Kampf also made clear what his territorial ambitions were.  These were also ignored in the rush to appeasement.  Once WW2 began, it is easy to understand how rumours about the fate of Europe’s Jews were subordinated to the broader strategic interests of the parties concerned.

Be that as it may, it is plausible to argue that we have a chance to do better.  A substantial proportion of the world’s Jewish population is again at threat.  This time it is the population of Israel and the source of the threat, as it has been since the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, is Israel’s Islamic neighbours. Coincidentally, the numbers are similar.  The present population of Israel is a little over 8 million, of whom 25% are Arabs.  The number of Jewish victims of the Nazi extermination programme is usually taken as 6 million.  This is the same (in round terms) as the number of potential victims in the event that Israel is ‘wiped off the map’.

This latter phrase came from the lips of then Iranian President Ahmadinejad and I first made reference to it in a blog in September of 2009.  The context was the Iranian nuclear weapons programme, which gave a clear hint as to how this ‘wiping out’ might be done.  Five and a half years later, the world (through the P5+1 group) is still talking to Iran about its  programme: which includes the design and testing of nuclear weapon assemblies and the development of appropriate delivery systems, as well as enrichment activity.  The programme continues to advance.  Most observers are sceptical that the P5+1 group (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) will have the political fortitude to actually prevent Iran from becoming nuclear (weapon) capable.  The temptations of a political fix (until it is a successor’s problem) are ever present, and, of course, President Obama is still looking for ‘legacy’ issues. 

For all that, direct nuclear assault by Iran is not the most likely scenario.  In my 2009 blog I also quoted the Iranian President, speaking two years before, envisaging that Iran would ‘place its nuclear technology at the service of those determined to confront the US and other Western countries’.  At that time, I speculated (following the plot of the Tom Clancy novel, Sum of All Fears) that terrorists might use fissile material to construct a crude nuclear weapon in a shipping container to be landed at a US port.  Now, of course, we might envisage that such a device is assembled at the end of a tunnel, which begins in hostile territory and ends in Israel.  Absent the weapon, this is a scenario already well-exemplified in the recent conflict between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israel.  The Israelis have now destroyed all the tunnels they found but it is now widely and plausibly claimed that fresh tunnels are already being built, with (as before) the technical and financial aid of Iran.  It is also said that tunnels are also being excavated on Israel’s north-western border by Hezbollah, and with the same sponsor – Iran.  There are uncertainties here about the likely success for the project envisaged above but it would have clear potential for denial by the technology-providing state.

There are also non-nuclear scenarios.  Least likely of these is another combined attack by the armies of the neighbouring states.  Apart from anything else, Syria and Iraq have internal problems which would preclude their participation.  Egypt looks intent on maintaining the 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty, and Jordan, notwithstanding its substantial Palestinian population, seems intent on maintaining its more Western-orientated stance – perhaps reinforced by the atrocious burning-alive of its captured pilot.  That leaves the virulently anti-Semitic extremists in the region: Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, al Qaeda, operating in an informal and perhaps uncoordinated way.  Killing Jews is, perhaps, the only thing they would agree on.  Certainly Hamas, which is in an uneasy partnership with Fatah in the Palestinian Authority, has a charter commitment to ‘death for unbelievers’ and ‘the destruction of Israel’, and totally rejects ‘peaceful solutions’ to the Palestinian problem. How successful these disparate parties could be might depend on the extent of covert support they would get from regional states.  I am thinking here, of course, particularly of Iran, but the question may also apply to Turkey, which seems to be progressively falling away from the secular modern state that Kamal Ataturk envisaged. It would also depend (as in the other scenarios) on the extent of Western commitment to the defence of Israel.  Crucial here is to accept no settlement with Iran that leaves them with any capacity to make nuclear-weapons grade fissile material.  Any other outcome provides them with the shield of nuclear deterrence, whatever they may actually do with weapons or fissile material they may have.

There is one other thing.  The international community cannot, for the time being, continue to insist on a settlement with Palestinian interests that envisages an independent Palestinian state.  Such an entity would be a magnet for anti-Israel interests, who would then find themselves being able to launch their rockets and dig their tunnels from the very outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  This is the most plausible of all the threat scenarios.

There are some hard political decisions to be made here and there is potential for considerable offence to be caused to parties we would not wish to offend.  Last week we wrung our collective hands about Auschwitz and all it implied.  If we don’t want to do it again sometime in the future, we may need to take the threat as seriously as do the Israeli people.


Alastair MacKenzie PhD said...
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I think you need to do some more research on the 'holocaust'. So much of the accepted information does not bear any scrutiny whatsoever. That is a difficult challenge but you may well be enlightened somewhat. But, maybe, like the apathetic majority you may not wish to 'challenge' anything.

Anonymous said...
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@ MacKenzie.
Surely you are not one of they who try to pretend that the holocaust did not happen? The proof of the camps witnessed by those who liberated them provide unequivocal and irefutable evidence. The writings of Hitler and other Natzis clearly demonstates their intent.
Aunty Podes.

Anonymous said...
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My question is directed to Alastair McKenzie. Please explain what you mean by the phrase. "So much of the accepted information does not bear any scrutiny whatsoever."

Anonymous said...
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Alastair, While this article made reference to the holocaust, you may not have noticed that it was focussed on the real concerns of Iran developing nuclear weapons, and the possibility these would be used its enemies. I would have thought you might have turned your fertile brain towards discussing this problem. After all, unless there is another Alastair Mackenzie PhD in political science, Vietnam veteran etc, you must surely have some erudite views about the very worrying concerns expressed in the article. The Iranian nuclear program is a threat not only to Middle Eastern countries, but to the entire Western world. I'm sure we'd all like to hear your views on this matter instead of your apparent personal biases concerning the holocaust.

Brian said...
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Holocaust Revisited...A Holocaust or no Holocaust....
As one who saw the Belsen Concentration Camp and has Jewish relations I have no difficulty in knowing that the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis is a proven fact. Together to the very obvious references by Hitler in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) regarding his policy towards that race.
The policy of Muslims is to eliminate the Jewish State and the race, and nothing is more clearer. Regretfully there are those especially in this country, who are still naive enough to believe that the U.N. and a policy of appeasement/cum/ignore this. Hoping “IT” will disappear entirely leaving us all to play “kiss in the ring” in the perfect world.
This is the sort of political cowardice we get from our Politicians who are adept in avoiding any decision which might spell disaster at the next election. Put this with the general public acceptance that a “peace at any price” is better than a conflict. After all they have had it drummed into them during childhood and school days.
I do not advocate war with the Muslims, but any fool can see that we have been in that state with them for centuries, the difference being that the Muslims now can retaliate, using modern terrorist tactics plus ISIS Islamic State to gain ascendancy.
Hamas, Hezbollah al Qaeda are a potent threat even here in “God’s Own”; as seen in the news today, for across the ditch a Muslim Terrorist threat was just avoided “by the skin of the teeth action”. It is inevitable that sooner, rather than later, New Zealand will be included on the terrorist list.
The idea that we will become a more likely target on a hit list by sending troops to fight ISIS is a fallacy. What is certain is that we are a Western Nation and therefore Infidels, and with the rest of the West must be eliminated by whatever method. The question we all have to face is “How long have we got before a suicide bomber uses a nuclear device instead of a conventional bomb”?

Anonymous said...
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@Aunty Podes

I don't think anyone in their right mind disputes the fact that Jews faced incredible persecution at that time. The more pertinent fact is that the 6,000,000 figure is wildly exaggerated and used to constantly promote certain political agendas. German Nazis slaughtered scores of Jews, but Russian Jews were also largely responsible for millions of deaths in the Soviet Union. One life is not worth more than another, yet the Holocaust is promoted as being the worst atrocity in history, which it frankly isn't.

The quickest way to get an "oh my" moment in relation to the Holocaust is to look at the constantly changing Aushwitz death tallies. That figure has been lowered from over 4,000,000 to under 1,000,0000. That's half of the 6,000,000 figure gone instantly. Yet pointing that out sees one attacked as a Holocaust denier and facing major prison time in numerous European nations.

Anonymous said...
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Suggestions of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel are just not credible. Israel has a far more advanced nuclear capability than Iran will ever have in the foreseeable future.
Israel's development of a nuclear capability was carried in the greatest of secrecy, added and abetted by the USA,in defiance of all international treaties and obligations.
Similarly, Israel has ignored all UN resolutions on its occupation and colonisation of Arab land in The West Bank.
It should therefore be regarded as a pariah state in much the same way as Iran.

Anonymous said...
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Thank you for the open debate on an old subject that has had years of embellishment. We are talking about anti-Jew not anti-Semitic, the latter referring to all Arab races. The 6 million figure needs to be revisited as history now informs us as to how many million left and went to England and New York. Israel as a state was 'gifted', after many deaths and many displaced persons, by the West for the Zionist movement. The previous owners have not forgotten, and hold great grieving and determination to retrieve their land. The 'Western' countries have created this masssive problem.

Anonymous said...
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My cousins husband was jewish and intered in Belsen as a young boy it was his job to shovel the ash out of the kilns and barrow it into the forests around the camp where the ash built up to a height of 5 to 6 feet. 6 million could well be an understatement of the situation then, sadly he passed away in Sydney 2 years ago still with his number on his arm. He was one of the few survivers of the holocaust.

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