by William Blum
October 1, 2007
If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who?
I used to give thought to what historical time and place I would like to have lived in. Europe in the 1930s was usually my first choice. As the war clouds darkened, I’d be surrounded by intrigue, spies omnipresent, matters of life and death pressing down, the opportunity to be courageous and principled. I pictured myself helping desperate people escape to America. It was real Hollywood stuff; think “Casablanca”. And when the Spanish Republic fell to Franco and his fascist forces, aided by the German and Italian fascists (while the United States and Britain stood aside, when not actually aiding the fascists), everything in my imaginary scenario would have heightened — the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Then the Nazis marched into Austria, then Czechoslovakia, then Poland … one could have devoted one’s life to working against all this, trying to hold back the fascist tide; what could be more thrilling, more noble?
Miracle of miracles, miracle of time machines, I’m actually living in this imagined period, watching as the Bush fascists march into Afghanistan, bombing it into a “failed state”; then Iraq: death, destruction, and utterly ruined lives for 24 million human beings; threatening more of the same endless night of hell for the people of Iran; overthrowing Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti; bombing helpless refugees in Somalia; relentless attempts to destabilize and punish Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Gaza, and other non-believers in the empire’s god-given mission. Sadly, my most common reaction to this real-life scenario, daily in fact, is less heroic and more feeling scared or depressed; not for myself personally but for our one and only world. The news every day, which I consume in large portions, slashes away at my joie de vivre; it’s not just the horror stories of American military power run amok abroad and the injustices of the ever-expanding police state at home, but all the lies and stupidity which drive me up the wall. I’m constantly changing stations, turning the TV or radio off, turning the newspaper page, to escape the words of the King of Lies and the King of Stupidity — those two twisted creatures who happen to occupy the same humanoid body — and a hundred minions.
Nonetheless, I must tell you, comrades, that at the same time, our contemporary period also brings out in me a measure of what I imagined for my 1930s life. Our present world is in just as great peril, even more so when one considers the impending environmental catastrophe (which the King of Capitalism refuses to confront lest it harm the profits of those who lavish him with royal bribes). The Bush fascist tide must be stopped.
Usually when I’m asked “But what can we do?”, my reply is something along the lines of: Inasmuch as I can not see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn’t quite match the government’s firepower, not to mention their viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than: Educate yourself and as many others as you can, increasing the number of those in the opposition until it reaches a critical mass, at which point … I can’t predict the form the explosion will take.
I’m afraid that this advice, whatever historical correctness it may embody, is not terribly inspiring. However, I’ve assembled four wise men to add their thoughts, hopefully raising the inspiration level. Let’s call them the “patron saints of lost causes”.
I.F. Stone: “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing — for the sheer fun and joy of it — to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.”
Howard Zinn: “People think there must be some magical tactic, beyond the traditional ones — protests, demonstrations, vigils, civil disobedience — but there is no magical panacea, only persistence.”
Noam Chomsky: “There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change — and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”
Sam Smith: “Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, and the gay or lesbian writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it. Knowing what we know now about how these things turned out, but also knowing how long it took, would we have been abolitionists in 1830, or feminists in 1870, and so on?”
Anti-Semitism. Don’t settle for imitations.
“The cleanliness of this people, moral and otherwise, I must say, is a point in itself. By their very exterior you could tell that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you often knew it with your eyes closed. … Added to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally unheroic appearance. … Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it? … nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people … a people under whose parasitism the whole of honest humanity is suffering, today more than ever: the Jews.”
Now who can be the author of such abominable anti-semitism? a)Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon;
b)John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”; c)Osama bin Laden; d)Jimmy Carter; e)Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran; f)Norman Finkelstein, author of “The Holocaust Industry”.
Each one has been condemned as anti-Semitic. Are you having a problem deciding?
Oh, excuse me, I forgot one — g)Adolf Hitler. Does that make it easier? I’ll bet some of you were thinking it must have been Ahmadinejad.
The Webster’s Dictionary defines “anti-Semite” as “One who discriminates against or is hostile to or prejudiced against Jews.” Notice that Israel is not mentioned.
The next time a critic of Israeli policies is labeled “anti-semitic” think of this definition, think of Adolf’s charming way of putting it, then closely examine what the accused has actually said or written.
It may, however, be past the time for such a rational, intellectual pursuit; ultra-heated polarization reigns supreme with anything concerning the Middle East, particularly Israel.
In March, at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, one of the speakers, an American “Christian Zionist”, asserted: “It is 1938, Iran is Germany and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler.” The audience responded with a standing ovation, one of seven for his talk.
Then, in May, former Israeli Prime-Minister and current Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs. … [While Ahmadinejad] denies the Holocaust he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”
Not to be outdone in semi-hysterical propaganda, Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp”.
So why hasn’t Iran at least started its holocaust by killing or throwing into concentration camps its own Jews, an estimated 30,000 in number? These are Iranian Jews who have representation in Parliament and who have been free for many years to emigrate to Israel but have chosen not to do so.
For your further apocalyptic enjoyment here are a couple more of Zionism’s finest envoys speaking about Iran. Former Speaker of the House in the US Congress, Newt Gingrich: “Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. We have enemies who are quite explicit in their desire to destroy us. They say it publicly, on television, on Web sites. [They are] fully as determined as Nazi Germany, more determined than the Soviet Union, and these enemies will kill us the first chance they get.”
And Norman Podhoretz, leading neo-conservative editor of Commentary magazine, in an article entitled “The Case for Bombing Iran”: “Like Hitler, [Ahmadinejad] is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism. … The plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force — any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938.”
Though so often condemned, Hitler actually arrived at a number of very perceptive insights into how the world worked. One of them was this:
“The great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil … therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big.”
Ahmadinejad arrived in New York September 24 to address the United Nations. At Columbia University he was introduced by the school’s president as a man who appeared to lack “intellectual courage”, had a “fanatical mindset”, and may be “astonishingly undereducated”. How many people in the audience, I wonder, looked around to see where George W. was sitting.
“If I were the president of a university, I would not have invited him. He’s a holocaust denier,” said Hillary Clinton, once again fearlessly challenging the Bush administration’s propaganda.
The above is but a small sample of the hatred and anger spewed forth against Ahmadinejad for several years now. A number of people on the American left, who should know better, have joined this chorus. I therefore would like to repeat, and update, part of something I wrote in this report last December, which was entitled “Designer Monsters”.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a man seemingly custom-made for the White House in its endless quest for enemies with whom to scare Congress, the American people, and the world, in order to justify the unseemly behavior of the empire. The Iranian president, we are told, has declared that he wants to “wipe Israel off the map”. He has said that “the Holocaust is a myth”. He held a conference in Iran for “Holocaust deniers”. And his government passed a new law requiring Jews to wear a yellow insignia, à la the Nazis. On top of all that, he’s aiming to build nuclear bombs, one of which would surely be aimed at Israel. What right-thinking person would not be scared by such a man?
However, like with all such designer monsters made bigger than life during the Cold War and since by Washington, the truth about Ahmadinejad is a bit more complicated. According to people who know Farsi, the Iranian leader has never said anything about “wiping Israel off the map”. In his October 29, 2005 speech, when he reportedly first made the remark, the word “map” does not even appear. According to the translation of Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, Ahmadinejad said that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” His remark, said Cole, “does not imply military action or killing anyone at all”, which of course is what would make the remark sound threatening.
At the December 2006 conference in Teheran (“Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision”), the Iranian president said: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” Obviously, the man is not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place peacefully.
Moreover, in June 2006, subsequent to Ahmadinejad’s controversial speech, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”
As for the Holocaust myth, I have yet to read or hear words from Ahmadinejad saying simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we know as the Holocaust never happened. He has instead commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. He argues that Israel and the United States have exploited the memory of the Holocaust for their own purposes. And he wonders about the accuracy of the number of Jews — six million — allegedly killed in the Holocaust, as have many other people of all political stripes, including Holocaust survivors like Italian author Primo Levi. (The much publicized World War One atrocities which turned out to be false made the public very skeptical of the Holocaust claims for a long time after World War Two.) Ahmadinejad further asks why European researchers have been imprisoned for questioning certain details about the Holocaust.
Which of this deserves to be labeled “Holocaust denial”?
The conference gave a platform to various points of view, including six members of Jews United Against Zionism, at least two of whom were rabbis. One was Ahron Cohen, from London, who declared: “There is no doubt whatsoever, that during World War 2 there developed a terrible and catastrophic policy and action of genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany against the Jewish People.” He also said that “the Zionists make a great issue of the Holocaust in order to further their illegitimate philosophy and aims,” indicating as well that the figure of six million Jewish victims is debatable. The other rabbi was Moshe David Weiss, who told the delegates: “We don’t want to deny the killing of Jews in World War II, but Zionists have given much higher figures for how many people were killed. They have used the Holocaust as a device to justify their oppression.” His group rejects the creation of Israel on the grounds that it violates Jewish religious law in that a Jewish state can’t exist until the return of the Messiah .
Another speaker was Shiraz Dossa, professor of political science at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada. In an interview after the conference, he described himself as an anti-imperialist and an admirer of Noam Chomsky, and said that he “was invited because of my expertise as a scholar in the German-Jewish area, as well as my studies in the Holocaust. … I have nothing to do with Holocaust denial, not at all.” His talk, he said, was “about the war on terrorism, and how the Holocaust plays into it. … There was no pressure at all to say anything, and people there had different views.”
Clearly, the conference — which the White House called “an affront to the entire civilized world” — was not set up to be a forum for people to deny that the Holocaust literally never took place at all.
As to the yellow star story of May 2006 — that was a complete fabrication by a prominent Iranian-American neo-conservative author, Amir Taheri.
Ahmadinejad, however, is partly to blame for his predicament. When asked directly about the Holocaust and other controversial matters he usually declines to give explicit answers of “yes” or “no”. I interpret this as his prideful refusal to accede to the wishes of what he regards as a hostile Western interviewer asking hostile questions. The Iranian president is also in the habit of prefacing certain remarks with “Even if the Holocaust happened … “, a rhetorical device we all use in argument and discussion, but one which can not help but reinforce the doubts people have about his views. However, when Ahmadinejad himself asks, as he often has, “Why should the Palestinians have to pay for something that happened in Europe?” he does not get a clear answer.
In any event, in the question and answer session following his talk at Columbia, the Iranian president said: “I’m not saying that it [the Holocaust] didn’t happen at all. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.”
That should put the matter to rest. But of course it won’t. Two days later, September 26, a bill (H. R. 3675) was introduced in Congress “To prohibit Federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University”, to punish the school for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak. The bill’s first “finding” states that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the State of Israel, a critical ally of the United States.”
That same day, comedian Jay Leno had great fun ridiculing Ahmadinejad for denying that the Holocaust ever happened “despite all the eye-witness accounts”.
How long before the first linking of Iran with 9-11? Or has that already happened? How long before democracy and freedom bombs begin to fall upon the heads of the Iranian people? All the charges of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, along with other disinformation, are of course designed to culminate in this new crime against humanity.
I wonder, in discussing these matters, if I’m running the risk of once again being called “anti-Semitic” by some Internet readers. No one is safe from such charges these days. It should be noted that Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, was accused last year of anti-semitic behavior by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of New York and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, important members of the Israel lobby. The accusation was based on a highly egregious out-of-context reading of some remarks by Chavez. One doesn’t have to be particularly conspiracy minded to think that this was done in collusion with Bush administration officials. As the Reagan administration in 1983 flung charges of anti-Semitism against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, led by Daniel Ortega, who heads it again today. Stay tuned. Daniel, watch out.
One final thought. On the Democratic Party’s failure to stand up to the Bush fascist tide. Here, from the first-person account of a German living under Hitler in the 1930s, his observation about the leading German political party, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Party of its time: The Social Democrats, he wrote, “had fought the election campaign of 1933 in a dreadfully humiliating way, chasing after the Nazi slogans and emphasizing that they were ‘also nationalist’. … In May, a month before they were finally dissolved, the Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag had unanimously expressed their confidence in Hitler and joined in the singing of the ‘Horst Wessel Song,’ the Nazi anthem. (The official parliamentary report noted: ‘Unending applause and cheers, in the house and the galleries. The Reichschancellor [Hitler] turns to the Social Democratic faction and applauds.’)”
It’s not that I can’t give United States foreign policy any credit when credit is due (please send me examples of the good deeds I’ve overlooked), but the raison d’être of this report is to try to help readers understand how US foreign policy works, waking people up and making them smell the garbage. American officials are now saying all the right things in support of the protesting Burmese monks. They condemn the Burmese leaders. They have announced new sanctions against the military regime and have called upon the Security Council to consider further steps. “Americans are outraged by the situation,” said Bush at the UN last week. But we must remember that all this costs the United States nothing. There’s no oil involved. Israel has not yet accused the monks of anti-semitism. There’s no issue of terrorism involved, though the government has tried to raise the issue of “terrorism” to win Washington’s support. The monks have not made any socialist or anti-imperialist demands. There are no American bases whose removal they’ve called for. No Burmese troops have been helping the US in Iraq or Afghanistan. Neither Halliburton nor Blackwater has a presence in Burma. In short, nothing that would oblige Washington to compromise, once again, on its alleged principles.
 Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1971, original version 1925), Vol. 1, chapter 2, pp 57-8; chapter 4, p.150
 The Forward (Jewish newspaper in New York), March 16, 2007 http://www.forward.com/articles/pastor-hailed-bibi-dissed-pollard-rejected-whil/
 Haaretz.com (Israeli newspaper), http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/787766.html
 The Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2007
 Commentary Magazine (New York), June 2007
 “Mein Kampf”, op. cit., Vol. 1, chapter 10, p.231
 Washington Post, September 25, 2007, p.1
 Washington Post, September 25, 2007, p.6
 Informed Comment, Cole’s blog, May 3, 2006
For a word-by-word breakdown of Ahmadinejad’s remark, in Farsi and English, see: Global Research, January 20, 2007,
Iran’s President Did Not Say “Israel must be wiped off the map” By Arash Norouzi
 Associated Press, December 12, 2006
 Letter to Washington Post from M.A. Mohammadi, Press Officer, Iranian Mission to the United Nations, June 12, 2006
 nkusa.org/activities/Speeches/2006Iran-ACohen.cfm; Telegraph.co.uk, article by Alex Spillius, December 13, 2006; Associated Press, December 12, 2006
 Globe and Mail (Toronto), December 13, 2006
 Associated Press, December 12, 2006
 Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2805
 Holly Sklar, “Washington’s War On Nicaragua” (1988), p.243
 Sebastian Haffner, “Defying Hitler” (English edition, New York, 2000), pp.130-1
William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.
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