In his address to the nation at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took aim at that taboo when he attacked those who accuse him of belittling the Holocaust by comparing the annihilation of European Jewry to the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Netanyahu said, "I know there are also those who believe that the unique evil of the Holocaust should never be invoked in discussing other threats facing the Jewish people. To do so, they argue, is to belittle the Holocaust and to offend its victims.
"I totally disagree. On the contrary. To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth — that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people — that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons.
"Not only does the Prime Minister of Israel have the right, when speaking of these existential dangers, to invoke the memory of a third of our nation which was annihilated. It is his duty."
Netanyahu is right, of course. Unfortunately for Israel, raising the Holocaust in the context of a discussion about contemporary threats to the Jewish people is the rhetorical equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb. Just as no one is allowed to use a nuclear bomb, no one is allowed to mention the Holocaust. And that means that there is ultimately no way to speak about the violent hatred that animates our enemies in every aspect of their policy making. From the seemingly anodyne issue of property sales to the existential issue of nuclear weapons programs, the Jew hatred that lies at the foundation of their actions is out of bounds for discussion.
Actually, the situation is both better and worse than that. Netanyahu's rhetorical boldness in drawing the parallel between Iran and the Nazis is arguably the only reason that the EU and the Obama administration have taken any actions against Iran. No, as their feckless negotiations with the mullahs, their foot dragging in implementing economic sanctions, and their outspoken opposition to military action against Iran make clear, they do not really mind the prospect of Iran acquiring the ability to wipe out the Jewish state. But the only reason they have adopted sanctions at all is because Netanyahu's Holocaust rhetoric made them fear that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear installations if they didn't.