In his interview with the Hebrew paper Globes and partially translated by the Times of Israel, Wiesel said nothing compares to the Holocaust. Asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s frequent allusions to the Holocaust when talking about Iran, Wiesel responded:
Iran is a threat, but can we say that it will make a second Auschwitz? I don’t compare anything to the Holocaust. …
Only Auschwitz was Auschwitz.
The Times of Israel paraphrased Wiesel as saying that “he did not approve of the frequency with which comparisons with the Nazis were made” and noting that not all genocides are like the Holocaust and such comparisons, “aside from being inaccurate, only belittle the Holocaust itself.”
Yesterday, at Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem to commemorate the Holocaust, Netanyahu brought up Iran and criticisms of his frequent comparisons between Iran and the Nazi-led genocide. He said:
Remembering the Holocaust is not merely a matter of ceremony or historic memory. Remembering the Holocaust is imperative for learning the lessons of the past in order to ensure the foundations of the future….
I know that some people don’t appreciate me speaking such uncomfortable truths. They would rather we not talk about Iran as a nuclear threat, they claim that, though it may be true, this statement serves to sow panic and fear.
Israeli President Shimon Peres also made a similar comparison at the ceremony:
Humanity has no choice, it must learn the lessons of the Holocaust and stand up to existential threats before it is too late. Iran is at the center of this threat, it is the center of terror. It poses a threat to world peace.
Given what is indeed Iran’s record of supporting designated terror groups, a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime — though U.S. and Israeli intelligence has not concluded that Iran has made a decision to pursue a weapon. The Obama administration vows to keep “all options on the table” to deal with the possibility, but the efficacy and consequences of a strike raise serious questions, leading the U.S. to pursue, for the meantime, a pressure track aimed at a negotiated resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis.
But that potential threat hasn’t stopped even Israelis — the subject of the Iranian regime’s heated rhetorical attacks who feel the threat acutely — from criticizing the Holocaust comparison. The Associated Press reported last month that many Israelis say the Holocaust imagery when discussing the Iranian theat cheapens its memory and unnecessarily escalates tensions, particularly when President Obama is urging restraint. Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni called Holocaust imagery when referring to the Iranian threat “hysterical.” Dan Halutz, a former Israeli military chief, said the Holocaust comparison was “out of place.” Retired Israeli brigadier general Shlomo Brom, citing Holocaust comparisons, said last month in Washington that the Iran debate was “plagued with emotion.”