The problem with Netanyahu equating Iran and Hitler's Germany

Benjamin Netanyahu
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forcefully laid out his case for why the Obama administration's prospective deal to curb Iran's nuclear program is misguided and dangerous, in an address to Congress. And he didn't skimp on the World War II analogies.

"Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem," Netanyahu said. "The six million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world." Later, he gave a shout out to Nobel Peace Price–winning Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, repeating the mantra "never again."

But "there is a contradiction at the heart of the Israeli prime minister's argument," says William Galston at The Wall Street Journal:

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If Ayatollah Khamenei is a Hitler (Mr. Netanyahu made the analogy), we cannot do business with him, and we shouldn't try. If Iran is really determined, as Mr. Netanyahu insists, "to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world," then why should we believe that any diplomatic outcome will make Tehran more tractable? Negotiations with the Nazis in the 1930s just whetted their appetite. The point isn't a better or worse deal, it's regime change. If the prime minister had followed his own logic, that is where he would have ended up — urging regime change in Tehran. [Galston, WSJ]

So why didn't Netanyahu make that case — as he did regarding Iraq's Saddam Hussein in 2002? "Because he knows that the American people are still reeling from their government's ill-starred effort to effect regime change in Iraq," Galston wrote. Also, he notes, U.S.-pushed regime change in Iran hasn't worked out to well, setting in motion "a chain of events that led to the Islamic Republic." Read Galston's entire argument at The Wall Street Journal.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.