There’s a special kind of bracing refreshment when a commentator proclaims outright that a vote for Obama is a vote for the Holocaust, as Varda Epstein did in her op-ed in yesterday’s Times of Israel. Epstein brings in the ultimate manipulation trump card to make her closing argument for Mitt Romney, vis a vis his allegedly tougher stance on Iran: “All Americans need do to prevent a nuclear Holocaust of 6 million Israeli Jews is to pull a different lever on Election Day."
In a single sentence Epstein manages to exemplify everything that has gone awry with Israel’s perceived significance in U.S. politics. The Holocaust (Epstein would do well to note that it’s only capitalized in reference to an actual historical event, not a hypothetical future scenario) is the most profound trauma for the Jewish people and many others in recent history. Yet to equate the totalizing genocide of the Nazi regime with Iran’s as yet hypothetical development of nuclear capability Is irresponsibly, crudely alarmist.
Tzipi Livni and former military chief Dan Halutz have criticized invoking the Holocaust as a framework for present-day threats to Israel’s security. Livni responded in March to Netanyahu’s equating of Iran and Nazi Germany in speeches to the U.N. General Assembly and AIPAC, saying “The nation of Israel is strong…We don't need to create an atmosphere of Holocaust threats and annihilation to scare the citizens."
Additionally, Epstein seems to predict a rather unique nuclear attack, one that would only affect Jews, since apparently the fates of at least 2 million non-Jewish Palestinians, Arab Israelis, Filipinos, Romanians, Sudanese and others are nowhere to be found in Epstein’s apocalyptic scenario. Just like how the Nazis left Catholics, homosexuals, and Roma Gypsies in peace. It might make sense, though, if you believe that Israel is for the sole protection of the Jewish people, to assume that nuclear aggression is only a threat to the Jews now living there.
Yet most dangerous of all might be Epstein’s grasp of foreign policy, which is naïve to the point of recklessness. First she writes, “Obama refuses to draw the red line that will serve to stop the evil intentions of the Iranian despot.” Actually, Obama just has a different red line, namely the actual production of nuclear weapons as opposed to mere nuclear capability. Furthermore, as Open Zion’s own Ali Gharib pointed out, Netanyahu’s own red line from his UN General Assembly address has no empirical basis, serving as an arbitrary symbolic gesture. But that’s good enough for Epstein, for whom high-stakes geopolitics is all mere theater.
“Voting for Romney means a show of military might. And that’s all Israel wants really: a show. Not the real thing.”
Right, because that’s foreign policy at its most effective. The U.S. and our allies are definitely best served by a leader who will make threats to look tough but who no one expects to follow through. So, empty-suit song-and-dance it is. As a Jewish American, I like to picture my preferred candidate as my co-star, singing that classic number, “My Boyfriend the President is Back, and You’re Gonna Be in Trouble.”
Of course Epstein thinks that all Israel wants is a show. As Abba Eban said, there’s no business like Shoah business.