Israeli leader Netanyahu cites American failure to bomb Auschwitz in Iran debate

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week cited the Roosevelt administration's failure to bomb Auschwitz as part of his explanation of Israeli policy regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program.

In his remarks to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2012, Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that some critics of Israel have claimed military action against Iran "might provoke an even more vindictive response." The prime minister recalled that similar claims were advanced by Roosevelt administration officials in 1944, in rejecting requests to bomb Auschwitz. He then held up copies of correspondence between the World Jewish Congress and the War Department in 1944, and read excerpts from them.  [SEE ATTACHED LETTERS]

The World Jewish Congress asked the Roosevelt administration to undertake the "destruction of gas chambers and crematoria in Oswiecim [Auschwitz] by bombing" and "bombing of railway [lines leading to Auschwitz]." In response, Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy gave several excuses as to why bombing should not be carried out, including the claim that attacking Auschwitz "might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans." Prime Minister Netanyahu then commented: "What could possibly have been more vindictive than Auschwitz?"

The prime minister's father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, was a Zionist activist in New York City in 1944. In an editorial in the magazine Zionews in July 1944, the elder Netanyahu wrote: "We should not forget that whenever the question of rescuing [European Jews] came up for public discussion, the governments of America and Great Britain did their utmost to becloud and sidetrack the issue...The Jews of Hungary, like the Jews of Rumania and Bulgaria, could have been saved without the loss of a single military position or a single life to the [Allies]...The blood of those Jewish victims is on the hands of those who could have rescued them, but refused to do so."...

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