Obama, Merkel and ‘The Right Side of History’
“US Sends Iran Two More Loads of Cash.” So blared the headline on the front page of the September 7 issue of The Wall Street Journal about the latest transfer of enormous amounts of money ($1.3 billion in this latest installment) by President Barack Obama from the US Treasury to the government of Iran.
This is the very same genocidal regime whose leaders proclaim at every opportunity their intention to destroy the state of Israel, and whose (treaty-violating) nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are marked, in Farsi, with the motto “Israel must be erased from history,” as well as the declaration, in Hebrew no less, “Israel must be erased from the earth.”
President Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry had already agreed to “return” $130 billion to the mullahs as a kind of signing bonus for their consent to the scandalous JCPOA nuclear “deal,” a vast addition to Iran’s ability to make war — which it has in fact already done, directly in Syria and Iraq, and indirectly against Israel via Hezbollah and Hamas. Earlier news had been of a mere $400 million — paid secretly, and in Mafia-style cash bundles — as ransom for some, though by no means all, Americans held hostage by Iran.
The mind reels, the heart sinks: can anyone, even his harshest critics, imagine President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, after Adolf Hitler had made clear, in the Nuremberg laws (1935), in Kristallnacht (1938), and in countless speeches, his intention to destroy European Jewry, lavishing billions of American dollars in courtship of the Nazi regime?
Just a week earlier, on August 30, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a written response to a pro-Israel German parliamentarian named Volker Beck, declared (not for the first time) that Germany will not “normalize” relations with Iran until Tehran recognizes the state of Israel and its “right to exist.” Merkel is unusual among European heads of state in assigning importance to moral considerations, especially where Jews (dead or living) are concerned. Despite her party’s recent electoral setbacks, she still stands at the head of a country that, in the years 1933-45, destroyed European Jewish civilization. That was (to use one of President Obama’s favorite locutions) “the verdict of history” pronounced by Europe upon its Jewish minority, which it is now replacing with a rather different (and much more quarrelsome) Muslim minority. European Christendom, over the course of centuries, had, in Raul Hilberg’s famous formulation, progressed from the historical verdict, “You [Jews] have no right to live among us as Jews,” to “You have no right to live among us,” to “You have no right to live.”
Merkel now seems to recognize some similarity between the Nazi regime that denied Jews “the right to live” and contemporary regimes (like Iran’s) and “progressive” political movements that deny Israel’s “right to exist.” She sometimes, to be sure, like many European intellectuals, mistakes metaphorical Jews for real ones, and thinks that admitting a million refugees from the Syrian catastrophe into Germany will somehow atone for Germany’s sins of the past (even as, paradoxically, it endangers the actual Jews who today live in Germany). Indeed, she has undertaken to change the nature and the image of Germany from the nastiest, ugliest, most racist and violent county of Europe to its most generous, welcoming and multicultural one — in sharp contrast to those nasty Austrians, Greeks and Hungarians.
One might, to be sure, ask why Merkel didn’t recognize much sooner that the Iranian regime is the inheritor of Nazism in making destruction of Israel virtually its raison d’etre. Just a few days before the April 2, 2015 announcement in Lausanne that the framework of a nuclear “deal” with Iran had been reached (by American surrender on all points of contention with the mullahs), that country’s military leaders declared (just as former Iranian President Ahmadinejad used to do after breakfast each morning) that its goal of destroying Israel was “not negotiable.”
Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence at the time that Iran give up its commitment to obliterate Israel only confirmed Obama’s view that the Israeli prime minister was a very bad character obsessed by narrow-minded considerations about the survival of his own country. Those considerations, Obama held, should not be (and were not) taken into consideration by the countries working out their Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on July 14, 2015.
As for past, yet still relatively fresh, Iranian crimes against the Jews, nobody among the negotiators had the temerity to ask the mullahs to turn over to an international court those Iranians long suspected of blowing up the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Jewish community center (AMIA) in 1994, killing a total of 85 people and wounding many hundreds. In 2007, the Argentine government issued arrest warrants for six Iranians, including Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi; they were accused of employing Hezbollah agents to carry out the bombings, and were placed on Interpol’s Red List of wanted criminals. Iran, however, refused to cooperate, and no suspects have ever been arrested. But for John Kerry and Wendy Sherman (his display Jewish negotiator), and the rest of Obama’s foreign-policy wizards, all that was merely blood under the bridge, hardly worth mentioning.
Although Merkel’s reservations about establishing normal relations with a regime committed to destroying the country in which a majority of the world’s Jews reside have been widely publicized, Obama has seen no need to comment on them, although he has in the past had much to say in praise of Merkel. In April of this year, when she announced that Germany would welcome a million immigrants in flight from the Syrian catastrophe, he paid her the highest compliment in his lexicon: “She is on the right side of history.”
“The right side of history.” By the end of 2015, Obama had used this expression at least 15 times in public utterances, often locating himself among those who “put their hands on the arc of history and bend it …toward the hope of a better day.”
Not satisfied with what Jeremy Bentham derided as “ipsedixitism” (i.e., he says so himself-ism), Obama likes to think he is the servant of vast, nearly irresistible forces that require only a determined shove from him to overcome stupid opposition to “change.” These include marriage equality, gender-neutral bathroom legislation, resistance to climate change and the ascendancy of Iran in the new Middle East.
In an article in The Weekly Standard this week, Lee Smith pointed out just how Obama chose to get on the right side of history in that turbulent part of the globe:
A nuclear deal with Iran has been Obama’s foreign policy priority since he first sat in the Oval Office. The agreement would pave the way for a broader realignment in the Middle East — downgrading traditional American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia and upgrading Iran — and thus allow the United States to minimize its footprint in the region. With so much at stake, including his hunger for a personal legacy, Obama didn’t dare risk alienating Iran…
But when it came to explaining just how Merkel came to be on “the right side of history” in welcoming escapees from the Syrian debacle, Obama faltered. Unlike most interpreters of her boundless, if reckless, hospitality — Peggy Noonan and Bret Stephens and Rael Isaac, among others — Obama attributed the decision not to her inherited memory and sense of national responsibility for the Germans’ destruction of European Jewry, but to the fact that she had lived in communist-ruled East Germany: “Perhaps because she once lived behind a wall herself, Angela understands the aspirations of those who have been denied their freedom and who seek a better life.” Perhaps. A more likely explanation of this odd comment is that Obama did not want to be drawn yet again into the Jewish morass that had already brought him so much grief.
By now, virtually every catastrophe built into the JCPOA, and predicted by its numerous detractors, has come to pass. What began as a project to prevent a genocidal regime from acquiring nuclear weapons has turned into a project to enable their production, and in far less than 10 years. Neither Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s “supreme leader,” nor the country’s elected president, Hassan Rouhani, has turned out to be quite the “moderate” that Obama and Kerry expected the nuclear deal to produce; and the chief Iranian beneficiary of its vast emoluments has been the fanatical Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls Iran’s nuclear program. The international financial pressures under which Iran had labored for years were removed by the now constant flow of huge amounts of money from the US Treasury. But money, so far from buying Iranian love, has enabled it to spread mayhem and murder throughout the Middle East. On August 11, for example, MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reported as follows:
Arab media have recently published statements by officials in the Lebanese Hizbullah and the Gazan Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, and by their supporters, confirming what has long been known: namely that these Lebanese and Gazan terror organizations receive substantial financial and military assistance from Iran. These statements join many reports, especially in the anti-Iranian media, regarding Iran’s funding of various terrorist organizations across the Arab world. According to these reports, the assistance comes mainly from the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah has gone a step further, announcing that his organization’s entire budget is provided by Iran. In a speech he delivered on June 24, 2016, marking 40 days after the killing of Mustafa Badr Al-Din, who was considered to be Hezbollah’s chief operations officer, and following the imposition of US sanctions on Hezbollah that threaten its financial infrastructure and income, Nasrallah clarified:
Hezbollah’s budget, its salaries and expenditures, [the money that pays for] its food and drink, weapons and missiles [all come from] Iran. Is that clear?… As long as Iran has money we have money. Do you require greater transparency than that? The funds earmarked for us do not reach us through the banks. We receive them the same way we receive our missiles, with which we threaten Israel.
If this is an example of Barack Obama’s being on “the right side of history,” one would not wish to know what being on the wrong side will look like. Perhaps it’s time for the president to adopt James Joyce’s definition (in Ulysses): “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
Edward Alexander’s most recent book is Jews Against Themselves (Transaction Publishers).