Israel should not address Iranian nuke threat based on 1938 realities
Amnon Toledano Published: 11.29.06, 18:11
They say that in cabinet meetings led by former American President Harry
Truman that featured complete agreement among participants, he would stop the
meeting and say: We'll meet again when we have disagreements here. Truman
understood that a place where no disagreements exist brings an end to thinking
and marks the emergence of a conception.
When there's complete agreement regarding the interpretation of reality, the
ways of addressing this reality are minimized. If we're talking about
interpretation that has existential implications, the adoption of a conception
and the minimization of options are a highly dangerous process.
This is the case in all matters related to the Iranian nuclear program. We
are exposed to one and only story, the story of the Holocaust: Ahmadinejad, in
the role of Hitler, wants to exterminate the Jews, while Europe and the world
stand on the sidelines.
Benjamin Netanyahu represented this approach in the most blatant manner when
he said: "The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany." Netanyahu's words imply that
those who seek solutions through agreements and not through war are like
Chamberlain, while Netanyahu himself apparently intends to play the role of
Is our situation indeed similar to that of European Jews in 1938? Certainly
not. The Holocaust narrative holds immense power in our collective perception
and the manner in which politicians make use of it is dangerous. The Holocaust
and imagery associated with it arouse serious existential anxiety alongside
deep fear of helplessness in the face of those who wish to exterminate us.
The comparison between Ahmadinejad and Hitler is arousing the fear of again
being a victim and kindles the desire to attack, even if only to show that we
are not helpless again. This mechanism is so powerful that it undermines our
thinking ability and the ability to distinguish between the state of European
Jews in 1938 and the State of Israel's situation vis-à-vis Iran.
We are entering an increasingly narrow path where instead of responding to the
realities of the Middle East as they are in 2006 we'll attempt to fix the
trauma of 1938.
The characteristics of the "attack or flee" mechanism we're adopting can
already be seen at this time, as the only two possibilities we are presented
with are a pre-emptive strike on Iran or fleeing the country (as predicted by
Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh.) The desire to ameliorate the pains of the past
may lead us to seek the fears of the past within current realities instead of
seeking new ways to handle the reality that are suitable for today's world.
The possibilities at our disposal are not only ignoring the threat or a
preventative strike. This dichotomy is much more dangerous because of our
leadership's weakness. In Israel, weak leadership embarks on war more easily.
Only a confident Israeli leader can resist the temptation of using force.
Iran is described as a one-dimensional entity completely identified with
President Ahmadinejad, and there's overwhelming agreement that if it possessed
nuclear weapons it would use them against Israel.
An article recently published by the Herald Tribune described realities in
Iran from a completely different angle. According to the reporter, the
government is concerned mostly with the question of maintaining Iran's
religious regime in the face of the young generation's distancing from Islam
and its attraction to Western culture.
The one-dimensional description accepted by the Israeli public makes it
impossible to understand the complex picture. Because of the Holocaust
conception, many questions are not addressed. For example, how are decisions
taken in Iran? Who decides? Is it even possible to prevent the Middle East's
nuclearization, or should we switch our way of thinking and find different
ways to address the new reality?
Those who adopted the Holocaust conception are uninterested in such
questions, because they already know all the answers. The problem is that
those answers are based on the world of 1938.
Amnon Toledano is a psychologist and management consultant
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2006/11/one-story-isnt-enough.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.