Holocaust Survivor Foxman: Iranian Foreign Minister’s Invoking of ‘Never Again’ to Justify Weapons Build-Up ‘Offensive, Obnoxious, Insulting’
A Holocaust survivor and renowned lifelong warrior against antisemitism decried the use of a phrase associated with the Nazi genocide of the Jews by Iran’s foreign minister in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday.
Abraham Foxman, former national director of the human rights organization the Anti-Defamation League, expressed his outrage to The Algmeiner on Thursday about Mohammad Javad Zarif’s invoking of “never again” to justify Iran’s “building up of its defenses.”
“We don’t own the words ‘never again,’” stated Foxman, whose early childhood was spent in the care of a Catholic nanny to whom his Polish-Jewish parents entrusted him when they were sent by the Nazis to a ghetto. “Having said that, it is offensive, obnoxious, provocative and insulting on Zarif’s part to have used it, when Iran denies the Holocaust, which is the foundation for ‘never again.’”
Foxman, a fellow at the Tel Aviv-based think tank the Institute for National Security Studies, was referring to a passage in the Iranian foreign minister’s piece, in which he applied the famous phrase to what he claimed is the Iranian public’s sentiment following and in the face of attacks against the country.
In 1980, in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein launched a war against Iran fully supported financially and militarily by almost all of our Arab neighbors and by the West. Unable to secure a quick victory, Hussein used chemical weapons against our soldiers and civilians. The West not only did nothing to prevent this, but it also armed Hussein with sophisticated weapons, while actively preventing Iran from getting access to the most rudimentary defensive necessities…
This may have been forgotten by most in the West, but it is not forgotten by our people. They remember the missiles raining down, the horrific images of men, women and children murdered with chemical weapons and, above all, the lack of a modern means of defense.
On top of this, having listened to the outdated U.S. mantra of “all options are on the table” for 37 years, our people understand that we need to be prepared to prevent that illegal and absurd threat from ever becoming a reality.
The words “never again” resonate with Iranians, too.
Zarif, who was the Islamic Republic’s chief negotiator with the P5+1 powers during the talks leading up to last July’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known more familiarly as the nuclear deal, penned his article in response to world developments, and to the concern that Iran is not living up to its end of the agreement. Its muscle-flexing, in the form of repeated ballistic-missile tests; abduction of American sailors and fighting alongside Assad’s forces in Syria, has caused the US Congress to consider imposing new sanctions or enforcing existing ones not lifted after the signing of the JCPOA.
But Zarif asserted that “the West does not appear to be focused on joining hands to eradicate militant extremism,” to support his claims that Iran’s actions are “defensive” in nature.
“Our people want nothing more than peace and cooperation with our neighbors and the world at large,” he wrote. “We have not launched a war in more than two centuries and continue to make an unequivocal commitment of never commencing such foolishness. We challenge all our detractors — large and small — to commit likewise.”