The Second Holocaust Is Looming by Benny Morris
"The second Holocaust will be quite different. One bright morning, in five or ten years' time, perhaps during a regional crisis, perhaps out of the blue, a day or a year or five years after Iran's acquisition of the Bomb, the mullahs in Qom will covoke in secret session, under a portrait of the steely-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini, and give President Ahmedinejad, by then in his second or third term, the go ahead. The orders will go out and the Shihab III and IV missiles will take off for Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Haifa, and Jerusalem, and probably some military sites, including Israel's half dozen air and (reported) nuclear missile bases. Some of the Shihabs will be nuclear-tipped, perhaps even with multiple warheads. Others will be dupes, packed merely with biological or chemical agents, or old newspapers, to draw off or confuse Israel's anti-missile batteries and Home Guard units.
With a country the size and shape of Israel (an elongated 8,000 square miles), probably four or five hits will suffice: No more Israel. A million or more Israelis, in the greater Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem areas, will die immediately. Millions will be seriously irradiated. Israel has about seven million inhabitants. No Iranian will see or touch an Israeli. It will be quite impersonal.
Or he may well take into account a counter-strike and simply, irrationally (to our way of thinking), be willing to pay the price. As his mentor, Khomeini, put it in a speech in Qom in 1980: 'We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. I say, let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant.' For these worshipers at the cult of death, even the sacrifice of the homeland is acceptable if the outcome is the demise of Israel.
As with the first, the second Holocaust will have been preceded by decades of preparation of hearts and minds, by Iranian and Arab leaders, Western intellectuals and media outlets. Different messages have gone out to different audiences -- but all have (objectively) served the same goal, the demonization of Israel. Muslims the world over have been taught: 'The Zionists\the Jews are the embodiment of evil' and 'Israel must be destroyed.' And Westerners, more subtly, were instructed: 'Israel is a racist oppressor state' and 'Israel, in this age of multi-culturalism, is an anachronism and superfluous'. Generations of Muslims and at least a generation of Westerners have been brought up on these catechisms.
The build-up to the second Holocaust (which, incidentally, in the end, will probably claim roughly the same number of lives as did the first) has seen an international community fragmented and driven by separate, selfish appetites - Russia and China obsessed with Muslim markets; France, with Arab oil - and the United States driven by the debacle in Iraq into a deep isolationism. Iran has been left free to pursue its nuclear destiny and Israel and Iran, to face off alone.
But an ultimately isolated Israel will prove unequal to the task, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an onrushing car. Last summer, led by a party hack of a prime minister and a small-time trade unionist as defense minister, and deploying an army trained for quelling incompetent and poorly-armed Palestinians gangs in the occupied territories and overly concerned about both sustaining and inflicting casualties, Israel failed in a 34-day mini-war against a small Iran-backed guerrilla army of Lebanese fundamentalists (albeit highly motivated, well-trained and well-armed). That mini-war thoroughly demoralized the Israeli political and military leaderships.
Since then, the ministers and generals, like their counterparts in the West, have looked on glumly as Hizbullah's patrons have been arming with doomsday weapons. Perversely, the Israeli leaders may even have been happy with Western pressures urging restraint. Most likely they deeply wished to believe Western assurances that somebody, somehow - the UN, G-7 - would pull the radioactive chestnuts out of the fire. There are even those who fell for the outlandish idea that a regime-change in Teheran, driven by a reputedly secular middle class, would ultimately stymie the mad mullahs.
But even more to the point, the Iranian program presented an infinitely complex challenge for a country with Israel's limited conventional military resources. Taking their cue from the successful Israel Air Force's destruction in 1981 of Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor, the Iranians duplicated and dispersed their facilities and buried them deep underground (and the Iranian targets are about twice as far from Israel as was Baghdad). Taking out with conventional weapons the known Iranian facilities would take an American-size air force working round-the-clock for more than a month. At best, Israel's air force, commandos and navy could hope to hit only some of the components of the Iranian project. But, in the end, it would remain substantially intact -- and the Iranians even more determined (if that were possible) to reach the Bomb as soon as possible. (It would also, without doubt, immediately result in a world-embracing Islamist terrorist campaign against Israel (and possibly its Western allies) and, of course, near-universal vilification. Orchestrated by Ahmedinejad, all would clamor that the Iranian program had been geared to peaceful purposes.). At best, an Israeli conventional strike could delay the Iranians by a year or two.
In short order, therefore, the incompetent leadership in Jerusalem would soon confront a doomsday scenario, either after launching their marginally effective conventional offensive or in its stead, of launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Iranian nuclear program, some of whose components were in or near major cities. Would they have the stomach for this? Would their determination to save Israel extend to pre-emptively killing millions of Iranians and, in effect, destroying Iran?
This dilemma had long ago been accurately defined by a wise general: Israel's nuclear armory was unusable. It could only be used 'too early or 'too late.' There would never be a "right" time. Use it 'too early,' meaning before Iran acquired similar weapons, and Israel would be cast in the role of international pariah, a target of universal Muslim assault, without a friend in the world; 'too late' would mean using its nuclear weapons after the Iranians had struck. What purpose would that serve?
So Israel's leaders will grit their teeth and hope that somehow things will turn out for the best. Perhaps, after acquiring the Bomb, the Iranians will behave 'rationally'? But the Iranians are driven by a higher logic. And they will launch their rockets. And, as with the first Holocaust, the international community will do nothing. It will all be over, for Israel, in a few minutes - not like in the 1940s, when the world had five long years in which to wring its hands and do nothing. After the Shihabs fall, the world will send rescue ships and medical aid for the lightly charred. It will not nuke Iran. For what purpose and at what cost? An American nuclear response would lastingly alienate the whole of the Muslim world, deepening and universalizing the ongoing clash of civilizations. And, of course, it would not bring Israel back. (Would hanging a serial murderer bring back his victims?) So what would be the point?
Still, the second Holocaust will be different in the sense that Ahmedinejad will not actually see and touch those he so wishes dead (and, one may speculate, this might cause him disappointment as, in his years of service in Iranian death squads in Europe, he may have acquired a taste for actual blood). In the next Holocaust there will be no such heart-rending scenes, of perpetrators and victims mired in blood. But it will be a Holocaust nonetheless."