Commentary Magazine


RE: In the Shadow of Iran

Jonathan, to emphasize your point that the president’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement is entirely devoid of any connection to the existential threat facing the Jewish state:

I  join people here at home, in Israel, and around the world in observing Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, we must recommit ourselves to honoring the memories of all the victims and ensuring that they remain a part of our collective memory. On my visit to Buchenwald last year — and during my visit to Yad Vashem in 2008 — I bore witness to the horrors of anti-Semitism and the capacity for evil represented by the Nazis’ campaign to annihilate the Jewish people and so many others. But even at places like Buchenwald, the dignity and courage of those who endured the horrors of the Holocaust remind us of humanity’s capacity for decency and compassion.

The memories of the victims serve as a constant reminder to honor their legacy by renewing our commitment to prevent genocide, and to confront anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms. We must never tolerate the hateful stereotypes and prejudice against the Jewish people that tragically continues to this day. We must work, instead, on behalf of a world of justice and peace, in which all nations and peoples value the humanity that we share, and the dignity inherent in every human being.

First of all, it’s typically “me” oriented — Obama’s own visit and his own witness-bearing figure prominently. What doesn’t figure at all is the genocidal intention of the Iranian regime. You’d think that not merely generic “hate” and “prejudice” against Jews would be of concern but also a regime dedicated to the extermination of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. But nothing. Zip. For Obama, the Holocaust is a historical event and a civil rights talking point. Like his Passover proclamation, it is simply fodder for the civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department.

But then Obama is unwilling to talk too much or focus on the nature of the Iranian regime. If he did, it might become obvious that pinprick sanctions and engagement are ill-suited to weaning a genocidal regime off its nuclear aspirations. It might require that we attempt to isolate and change the regime and consider a military option. And that he certainly has no interest in considering.