Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday compared Iran’s violent and expansionist aspirations in the Middle East to the Nazi campaign to conquer Europe during World War II.
He excoriated the US-led world powers for capitulating to Iran, and allowing it to maintain key elements of its nuclear program in the deal currently being negotiated, even as Tehran seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction and destroy the Jewish state.
World powers were “comatose” and “delusional” in the face of today’s Nazis, Iran, he charged.
“The main lesson of the Second World War, for democracies, is that they cannot turn a blind eye to tyrannical regimes,” Netanyahu said during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem museum to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Netanyahu noted that “ahead of World War II, the world attempted to appease the Nazis. They wanted quiet at any price, and the terrible price did come.” Six million Jews were murdered, as were millions of others. The lesson was clear, he said: Only standing firm in the face of violent, tyrannical regimes could ensure the future of humanity. But that lesson, he said, had evidently been forgotten.
Just as the Nazis sought to destroy Europe, Netanyahu said, so does Iran seek to wreak havoc in the Middle East and beyond, and to annihilate Israel.
He cited the slaughters of innocents by Islamic extremists, and then focused heavily on Iran.
The Israeli army on Wednesday offered its first reaction to the Russian sale of an advanced air defense system to Iran, characterizing the S-300 missile system as an obstacle, but one that can be overcome.
“The S-300 is a challenge,” Brig. Gen. Lihu HaCohen, the commander of the Nevatim Air Base, told a group of reporters. “The Air Force is preparing for an array of scenarios, including with this system. In the event that it will need to provide a response, the Air Force will know how to respond to the challenge.”
Russia has promised the system to three states in the region – Iran, Syria and Egypt. It is unclear what model S-300 is being offered, but were it to be placed in Syria, on Israel’s border, it would represent a constant threat to aircraft in the center of the country.
IAF veterans suggested earlier this week that the arrival of the system in Iran would complicate any potential Israeli air strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities, but not seal the skies.
“If the Israeli Air Force had the ability to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the S-300, then it will have it afterward, too,” said retired IAF general Asaf Agmon, head of the Fischer Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
The acquisition, however, would force Israel to devote vast amounts of electronic warfare capacity against such a system and to invest in weapons that could combat it, further complicating any strike against Iran and, potentially, raising the toll in human life if such a strike were to be ordered.
Agmon said Iranian air defense teams have been training on the Russian system since the deal was initially made in 2007 and that, if it is delivered to Iran, it would take only weeks for it to be made operational.
Another concern, he said, is that once such a system has been passed on to Iran, it might be transferred to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces or those of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon.
HaCohen spoke as the IAF welcomed the arrival of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 demo flight simulator in Nevatim Air Base. The first pair of the next-generation jets are set to arrive in Israel in December 2016.