Appeasing the Crocodile

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Last Thursday, London’s Financial Times reported that U.S. officials are worried that Iran could deploy a new generation of centrifuges. Such devices are three times faster than the centrifuges Iran relies on now, thus shortening the time needed to enrich uranium and reach nuclear weapon status. “If they were to deploy large numbers of these second-generation machines, then it could dramatically reduce dash time,” said an administration official, referring to the time needed to develop a nuclear weapon.

This morning, an AFP story indicated that Israel will know only 12 minutes in advance should Iran launch a strike.

Last October, the Iranians proudly declared to the world that they were loading cylinders of enriched uranium into their nuclear weapons plant in Bashir. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that he is working on a nuclear program for “peaceful purposes,” yet he also has conducted military parades that included Shahab 3 and Shahab 4 missiles with “Death to Israel” engraved on their sides.

We are now living in a time when not just Israel, but the entire Western and even Sunni Muslim world as we know it, is being threatened by an apocalyptic and brutal, yet calculating, Iranian regime with hegemonic, nuclear and genocidal intentions. This is the challenge of our generation.

This theocratic dictatorship thinks that it will bring the coming of the messiah, the 12th Imam, by using its nuclear weapons project, which it is assiduously working to complete, against Israel first. Iran echoes the past century’s challenges by hostile ideologies that threatened the West with global ambitions, Nazism and Communism, which harbored a unique and particular animus against the Jews and had made their intentions perfectly clear. Over and over again, Ahmadinejad also has made his intentions perfectly clear, starting with his 2005 declaration that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and his multiple statements that he has “a personal connection with God.”

He is crazy, but he’s smart. Ahmadinejad and his reigning mullahs are calculating lunatics with genocidal intentions.  Despite what some Washington think tank analysts write, combating Iran with the approach used when staring down the Communists will not work. The writing is on the wall.

In his seminal book, The Abandonment of the Jews,” David Wyman documented how, as early as October 1941, news began to filter out of Europe about Hitler’s plan for annihilating the Jews. Wyman wrote about the American government’s failure to respond decisively to the extermination threat, of American Jewish leaders’ faith in “the powers that be,” of a lack of Jewish unity, of a lack of Jewish leadership and of American Jewish leaders’ inability to break out of a business-as-usual pattern. Wyman wrote, “Too few schedules were rearranged. Vacations were seldom sacrificed. Too few projects of lesser significance were put aside. An important American Zionist remarked years later that the terrible crisis failed to arouse the ‘unquenchable sense of urgency’ that was needed.”

Wyman continued, “In late 1942, Jewish leaders in Warsaw entrusted a message to Jan Karski, the Polish underground agent who was about to leave for Britain and the United States. It called on Jews in the free nations to turn to unprecedented measures to persuade their governments to act. But the Polish Jews had no illusions. Before Karski departed, one of them warned, ‘Jewish leaders abroad won’t be interested. At 11 in the morning you will begin telling them about the anguish of the Jews in Poland, but at 1 o’clock they will ask you to halt the narrative so they can have lunch. That is a difference which cannot be bridged. They will go on lunching at the regular hour at their favorite restaurant. So they cannot understand what is happening in Poland.’ ”

The lessons of the past are chilling. There are still people walking around with numbers on their arms and nightmares in their dreams and in far too many of their waking moments.

Everything that Israel has accomplished and brought to the world—all of its wonderful scientific accomplishments and medical advances, all of its art and culture—in just 12 short minutes could be annihilated if we fail to act.

As the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat its lessons.”

Not repeating the lessons of the past means more than studying in an isolated and comfortable library. It logically leads to political action. A passage in the Talmud commands, “Do not stand idly by while your brother’s blood is flowing.”

Now comes our generation’s challenge. As the legal scholar and Canadian Parliamentarian Irwin Cotler has pointed out, Iran is already guilty under international law of the crime of incitement to commit genocide, and should be indicted before an international tribunal.

Waiting until the day after the crime of genocide is committed—as with the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Bosnian genocide and the Rwandan genocide—means it is too late. The day after an Iranian nuclear bomb becomes a reality is too late. Simply put, Iran’s possession of a nuclear bomb would be the ultimate game changer for the power structure of the world.

Iran is, without question, the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East. Iran is responsible for equipping, recruiting and training Hezbollah and Hamas. Southern Lebanon has now become an Iranian proxy state through Hezbollah in Israel’s north, and Gaza has become an Iranian proxy state through Hamas in Israel’s south. No one doubts that Iran is responsible for the manufacture and shipment of the improvised explosive devices, heavy arms and roadside bombs that have killed and maimed U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As soon as the mullahs came into power in Iran’s 1979 revolution, they declared war on the United States by seizing our embassy and taking hostage American embassy officials. They despise America, the “great Satan,” and Israel, the “minor Satan,” equally.

Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov once said, “If you want to know how a country will behave internationally, look at how it treats its own people.” The mullahs’ record of abuse towards their own people is nothing short of egregious.

Only a year and a half ago,  when the results of the fraudulent June 2009 “elections” were announced,  television screens flashed the faces of the beautiful, freedom-loving dissidents who had taken to the streets in protest. Cell phone pictures and homemade videos were flashed around the world, showing young, idealistic people crying out for our support to overthrow the tyranny of the mullahs and to replace the regime with a Western-style democracy.

Many remember the beautiful face of a young demonstrator, 26-year-old Nedha Adaja Soutan, as she was bludgeoned to death while protesting the election results.

But there are scores more Nedhas who are disappearing from Iran’s streets and are being tortured, raped and executed through hanging and public stoning.

Empowering the dissidents is one thing that we can work on through our own government. The Iranian regime is brittle, stiff and feeling threatened. A Washington scholar and expert on Iran, Michael Ledeen, writes that “like all bullies, the mullahs do a lot of threatening and chest-pounding that belies their enormous weakness.”

I am not saying that they cannot do a great deal of terrible harm and damage. But not to confront them means aiding and abetting them, and they will only end up doing more damage.

According to Ledeen, the Iranian dissidents don’t think that they can do it alone. “They think a successful revolution means American support, and they are waiting to see some kind of real action by the United States to support them against Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In his amazing book, Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West, Ledeen issues specific recommendations for action:

1) Top U.S. officials must provide political support for the dissidents and call for a change in the nature of the regime and for an end to Iranian-Islamic fascism.

2) The West must provide accurate radio and television broadcasting into Iran. This means utilizing Radio Free Europe and Al-Hurrah Television in Farsi.

3) We must supply the dissidents with basic communications technology: cell phones, satellite phones, laptops, Web servers and Blackberrys.

4) We must take out Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda training camps just across the border from Iraq. We also must prevent Iran’s transfer of lethal explosives to the Taliban, the Mahdi Army and Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan.

America also could subvert the regime through cooperation with Israel in the area of cyber-terrorism. The Stuxnet computer worm was phenomenally successful in attacking Iran’s nuclear program. I don’t know if the Mossad, CIA or both were responsible. All I can say is: Let viruses such as these be fruitful and multiply!

Finally, we must meet with our members of Congress to lay out the case against Iran and prepare them in case Israel feels that it has no other option, for its sheer survival, but to strike.

In 1950, Holocaust scholar and philosopher Hannah Arendt said, “The reason I am so obsessed with the struggle of Israel is that if Israel ceases to exist, even if it be for mistakes of their own making, I fear that this will be the final struggle for survival of the Jewish people.”

One attempted genocide against our people in the last 65 years was one too many.

Know, too, that if Iran were to strike at Israel, “the minor Satan,” it would be empowered to strike against America, “the major Satan,” next.

We must heed Winston Churchill’s warning: “He who appeases the crocodile is only eaten last.”

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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