Warning Iran, PM says lesson of Auschwitz is to confront evil when it’s small

In TV interview, Netanyahu warns Islamic Republic is en route to nuclear arms and needs to be stopped, calls for ‘concrete sanctions’ against International Criminal Court

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 12, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 12, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov / POOL / AFP)

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again drew a parallel between the Nazi genocide of Jews and Iran’s nuclear program.

“So we now have the capacity to defend ourselves, and I think the lesson of Auschwitz is: One, stop bad things when they’re small, and Iran is a very bad thing. It’s not that small but it could get a lot bigger with nuclear weapons, and I think the first thing is stop that,” he said in a television interview with TBN.

“And second, understand that the Jews will never ever again be defenseless in the face of those who want to destroy them. These are the two things that I think are important.”

The full interview with the Christian network will be broadcast on Tuesday evening. In a short clip released earlier during the day, the prime minister lamented the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust and stressed that attempts to wipe out the Jewish people have not ceased.

“A third of the Jewish people went up in flames. There was nothing we could do,” he said.

“Now, after the Holocaust and the State of Israel was established, the attempts to destroy the Jewish people have not disappeared,” Netanyahu said. “Iran openly declares every day that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And by the way, Israel has today a population of more than six million Jews.”

Netanyahu has often used Holocaust commemoration ceremonies for comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Israel this week is hosting nearly 50 world leaders for a massive commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

In the interview to TBN, the prime minister also decried a “full frontal attack” on the Jewish people’s right to “live in their ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.” He was likely referring to the intention of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

“I think that everybody should rise up against it,” he told interviewer Matt Crouch.

“The US government, under President [Donald] Trump has spoken forcefully against the ICC for this travesty, and I urge all your viewers to do the same — to ask for concrete actions, sanctions against the international court, its officials, its prosecutors, everyone.”

On December 20, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced her decision to launch an investigation into “the situation in Palestine,” saying she has reason to believe both Israeli officials and members of Palestinian terror groups committed war crimes.

Israel denounced her decision — Netanyahu called it “pure anti-Semitism” — and argued that The Hague does not have jurisdiction to open an investigation since there was no Palestinian state that court authorize the court to do so.

The decision now rests with an ICC pre-trial chamber, which will rule on the question of jurisdiction within the coming weeks.

So far, the US, Canada, Australia and Hungary have publicly opposed the ICC’s intention to probe war crimes in Israel/Palestine.

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