Manfred Gerstenfeld in Aftenposten – A Second Holocaust

Aftenposten featured an oped by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld yesterday:

A second Holocaust may or may not ensue. The debate about it has already  become common in recent years. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected as President of Iran in 2005 he has frequently called for the elimination of Israel. This can only be achieved by mass murder. Developments in the nuclear field in Iran have however, turned his rhetoric of the past years into a serious actual threat.

At the turn of the century, the second Holocaust issue came up only infrequently. In 2000, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said referring to Israel: “We have repeatedly said that the cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region.”[1] Then-Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in 2002: “If one day…the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [i.e., nuclear weapons]—on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This…is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.”[2]

Only in 2010 was a conversation between U.S. president Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger from 1973 published. It revealed that both men did not consider it important for the United States if Jews in the Soviet Union were to be sent to gas chambers. When these remarks became public knowledge, Kissinger apologized.[3]

Not only those who openly threaten a second Holocaust increase its likelihood. Others are those who try to hinder Israel in initiating military actions against Iran to prevent its development of a nuclear bomb. This includes American government officials who speculate about the nature, infrastructure and timing for a possible Israeli attack against Iran.

Presenting Israel as the aggressor if it takes action against Iran is another way of facilitating a possible second Holocaust. Its most prominent supporter is German Nobel Prize Winner Günther Grass, who hid for decades the fact that he was a fervent Nazi in his youth. One of his many false claims is that Israel will launch atom bombs at Iran in a possible attack. His much-publicized recent poem takes the lie even further by stating that such an attack would wipe out the Iranian people, not mentioning that Iran is  five times the size of Germany. Furthermore in the past many pacifists have provided  indirect assistance to various degrees for potential murderers. This repeats itself in the Israeli-Iranian issue.

The threat of a second Holocaust mainly worries Israelis and their friends. Former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar saw this issue however in a broader context and wrote simply: “If Israel goes down, we all go down.”[4]

Most others do not care. Yet they may be wrong. Once atom bombs are in the hands of ideological fanatics, their calculations cannot be foreseen. They may prefer to use their lethal weapons against those who cannot retaliate. Most of the world’s countries fall into this category.


[1] “Iran Leader Urges Destruction of ‘Cancerous’ Israel,” CNN.com, 15 December 2000.

[2] “Former Iranian President Rafsanjani on Using a Nuclear Bomb against Israel,” MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series, 325, 3 January 2002.

[3] Adam Nagourney, “In Tapes, Nixon Rails about Jews and Blacks,” New York Times, 10 December 2010.

[4] “Former Spanish PM: If Israel goes down, we all go down,” Haaretz, 18 June 2010.

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