An interview with Benjamin Netanyahu

The August 12 issue of Britain’s Spectator carries an interesting interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Allister Heath: “Bush won’t allow Iran to go nuclear.” Here is Netanyahu and Iran and Ahmadinejad:

[T]he conversation again turned to Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map. ‘While denying the Holocaust, he’s openly preparing the next one,’ Netanyahu said. ‘Ahmadinejad is behaving exactly like an Islamist Hitler. He is using the same tactics of signalling in advance the act of destruction. That the same thing is happening is one thing, but that the West is reacting in the same way is unacceptable. What is history for?’

By now, Netanyahu was shouting angrily, shaking his fist as he explained the similarities he sees between the 1930s and today. ‘Yes, there are differences, it is not a perfect analogy. Yes, Germany didn’t have a billion Germans to infect. Yes, Germany had race and not creed as its prime goal. Nazism started its attacks on the Jews and spread to the rest of the world in their mad militancy, and that is exactly what is happening now.’

For Netanyahu, Israel is a latter-day Czechoslovakia, which deluded and desperately anti-war European powers, led by Neville Chamberlain, sacrificed to the Nazis in 1938 because of the German-speaking minority in Sudetenland, whom he compares with today’s Palestinians. ‘And, yes, there was apologetics and, yes, there was appeasement and, yes, there was pressure on a small resistant democracy in the face of this German onslaught. It was called Czechoslovakia at the time. And, yes, there were articles in the British press condemning Czechoslovakia for inciting a German response because of the denial of the rights of the Sudeten Germans. Do you want to go on with this?’

Netanyahu rejects the comparison between radical Islamic terrorists and communists. The main difference, he argues, is that the communists were rational when it came to foreign policy, putting their survival first and always backing down at the last moment, as shown in the Cuban missile crisis. This was not true of the Iranian regime, he said, arguing that they were trying to prompt the return of the Hidden Imam, an event which Shiites believe would be accompanied by an apocalypse. ‘Is it possible in the 21st century to have a resurrection of the religious wars that we thought had ended in the 17th century? Yes, it’s possible. This is what is going on.’

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