Netanyahu defends comparison of Iran, Nazi Holocaust

JERUSALEM Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:35pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening ceremony of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem April 18, 2012. Israel marks the annual memorial day commemorating the six million Jews killed by Nazis in the Holocaust during World War Two. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening ceremony of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem April 18, 2012. Israel marks the annual memorial day commemorating the six million Jews killed by Nazis in the Holocaust during World War Two.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected criticism of his likening of a nuclear-armed Iran to the Nazi Holocaust as improper, saying in an address to the country on Wednesday that "uncomfortable truths" must be aired.

He defended his analogy on the eve of Israel's annual day of Holocaust remembrance against those who say it is not only irreverent to the six million Jews killed by Hitler's Germany but also stokes panic about a new war.

The Jewish state has not ruled out military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities if international sanctions imposed on Tehran or diplomacy fail to curb its atomic programme.

Western states suspect Iran is enriching uranium to develop the capability to build atomic bombs. The Islamic Republic says its enrichment programme is solely for peaceful energy purposes and poses no threat to anyone.

Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, say a nuclear-armed Iran would be a mortal threat and when speaking of the issue, Netanyahu often cites lessons learned from the Holocaust.

"I know there are people who believe that it is forbidden to mention the unique evil of the Holocaust while talking about the current threats facing the Jewish people. They claim that doing so cheapens the Holocaust and insults its victims," Netanyahu said. "I completely reject this approach."

An Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, has said it is inappropriate for the government to use such rhetoric and former military chief Dan Halutz said "Holocaust-like" invocations scare the entire nation.

Commentator Gideon Levy wrote in the liberal daily Haaretz that Netanyahu had "belittled and cheapened" memories of the Holocaust.

A report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog last year revealed a trove of intelligence pointing to research activities in Iran of use in developing the means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so.

But despite heightened speculation of a possible pre-emptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, the sense of unease has had little impact on normal life in Israel.

Few Israelis doubt they face hostility from the Islamic Republic. But some take umbrage at the Holocaust talk, given the protection now afforded by their seasoned military.

"I will continue saying the truth to the world but first of all to my own people, who I know are strong enough to hear the truth," Netanyahu said. "And the truth is that it is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It is the duty of the world, but above all, it is our duty."

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (5)
Netanyahu is right making comparison to Nazi Germany but wrong in the nation compared to…he should look closer to home…a lot closer.

Apr 18, 2012 6:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
rdinTempe wrote:
As i was reading this article it occurred to me that with all the oil that they have, why does Iran need a nuclear energy program? Wouldn’t it be more econmical for them to run fossil fueled power plants?

So why do they need a nuclear program if it isn’t for a military purpose?

Apr 18, 2012 6:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KevinConner wrote:
I just have to say I am happy to see that reporters are using the phrase “Nazi Holocaust” instead of “The Holocaust”.
“The Holocaust” pretends that no other holocaust ever happened, conveniently forgetting the Russian Holocaust which killed over 18 million under Stalin’s rule, and up to 18 million more in the subsequent years; as well as the Japanese Holocaust of the Pacific-Asian seaboard between 1917 and 1944 (resulting in an estimated minimum of 12 million deaths).

Apr 19, 2012 10:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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