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May 19, 2006

History Repeats Itself

Comparisons of the Iranian regime to Nazi Germany just got more legitimacy.

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

UPDATE: Looks like the story wasn't true after all. Hot Air has the details, step by step as the truth came out. My commentary on why we need to take real action against Iran, however, still stands, regardless of whether or not people are being tagged.

"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

"There's no reason to believe they won't pass this," said Rabbi Hier. "It will certainly pass unless there's some sort of international outcry over this."

And guess who's been a big sponsor of this?
The new law was drafted two years ago, but was stuck in the Iranian parliament until recently when it was revived at the behest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

And the official line is "no comment".
A spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa refused to comment on the measures. "This is nothing to do with anything here," said a press secretary who identified himself as Mr. Gharmani.

"We are not here to answer such questions."

The question before the world now is whether history will repeat itself. Is there a diplomatic solution to this? Consider how often Ahmadinejad has been slamming those doors and upping the ante, both in rhetoric and now in legislation.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has written to Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, protesting the Iranian law and calling on the international community to bring pressure on Iran to drop the measure.

"The world should not ignore this," said Rabbi Hier. "The world ignored Hitler for many years -- he was dismissed as a demagogue, they said he'd never come to power -- and we were all wrong."

Mr. Farber said Canada and other nations should take action to isolate Mr. Ahmadinejad in light of the new law, which he called "chilling," and his previous string of anti-Semitic statements.

"There are some very frightening parallels here," he said. "It's time to start considering how we're going to deal with this person."

Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly described the Holocaust as a myth and earlier this year announced Iran would host a conference to re-examine the history of the Nazis' "Final Solution."

He has caused international outrage by publicly calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Outrage, yes, but has that done anything constructive? There are still steps we can take short of war to try to force the issue, but no one has the guts to take them yet. Just issue another report and have another vote and go home thinking you've done something. It's time for action on Iran. The longer we wait, the more strenuous the action must be to make a difference.

But remember that the Left in this country was outraged just over sanctions. Ahmadinejad may be counting on such allies to keep the wolves at bay until he has a nuclear club to threaten them with. And if America doesn't put its weight behind such sanctions, they're highly unlikely to work.

It may be time to choose your weapon. Continuing to watch 1940s Germany replay right before our eyes shouldn't be an option.

Posted by Doug at May 19, 2006 12:35 PM

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Sanctions are good if they work. But the trick is getting sanctions that work. We have economic sanctions in Sudan, which means that instead of buying American goods, people in Khartoum buy Chinese goods. If they really want American goods, they go elsewhere, buy them, and bring them back. The Sudanese government and people aren't suffering, but the American companies that had been doing business in Sudan are. In other places, non-military sanctions can hurt a nation's population while not substantially effecting the leaders at all.

Sanctions don't work unless they are multilaterally enforced, and Russia and China will not back sanctions because they are too economically dependant on Iran's oil. It's the same reason we won't sanction Saudi Arabia or China for human rights abuses.

Posted by: Steiner at May 31, 2006 09:54 AM