Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wiesel Rejects Holocaust Analogy

Elie Wiesel Rejects Netanyahu's Comparisons of Iranian Threat to the Holocaust | The Times of Israel
For years Wiesel has steadfastly rejected any comparisons to the Holocaust.  He has argued that the Holocaust is unique in its evils.  There have of course been too many examples of genocides throughout history and even since Auschwitz.  Yet none are the same as the Holocaust.  The Holocaust should only be used to describe one historical event, namely the systematic and intentional destruction of much of European Jewry by the Nazi regime and its supporters.  Loosely calling other evils and threats holocausts or potential holocausts diminishes the meaning and import of the Holocaust.  Such is Wiesel's point.  He said, “Only Auschwitz was Auschwitz. I went to Yugoslavia when reporters said that there was a Holocaust starting there. There was genocide, but not an Auschwitz. When you make a comparison to the Holocaust it works both ways, and soon people will say what happened in Auschwitz was ‘only what happened in Bosnia.’”  The comparison becomes especially dangerous when applied to threats.  Although Iran and its nuclear ambitions represent a grave existential threat to the State of Israel and its citizens, as well as to the United States, comparing it to the Holocaust actually brings about harm by limiting Israel's strategic options.  In this manner the Holocaust is used to belittle naysayers and those who might advocate non-military action.  I do not pretend to know what the best way of dealing with the Iranian threat might be, but calling it a potential Holocaust suggests that only the military option will suffice.  That might very well be the best and only option, but let that be because that is the best strategic option.  Let not our careless use of language limit our responses.  Only Auschwitz is Auschwitz.  Wiesel's caution is well taken.

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