Naphtali Perlberger

Nazi Germany and ISIS

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” This foreboding quote was extrapolated from the writings of George Santayana’s Reason in Common Sense. We all have heard it and even mouth the words knowingly, but few of us are paying attention.

Each day we read about the growing ranks of ISIS, drawn from a host of nations, many of which are supposed bastions of democracy. On the surface, its devotees are fundamentalists and self-proclaimed purists who declare that they are on a holy mission to rid the world of corruption, immorality and blasphemous beliefs and practices. In order to impose their inflexible dogma upon the rest of the world, they utilize the tools of terror, brutality and fear wherever their tendrils extend.

While the ISIS military net is expanding over greater and greater areas of the Middle East and while its initiates are sprouting up everywhere, the rest of the world appears to be asleep. In schizophrenic fashion, the media warns of its virulent threat and alternatively downplays the significance of ISIS in the global arena. Two of the most outspoken and influential speakers of this form of Double Speak are President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The latter – ever mindful of the constant threat to Israel’s existence, hones in on Iran and its nuclear agenda as the true enemy that needs to be curtailed and prevented from its objectives. Recently, PM Netanyahu told the world that it is not ISIS that is the real threat to Israel and the West. Perhaps, if the hierarchical ratings are of any significance, he may be right, especially because of Iran’s size, resources and focused determination. After all, Iran does single out Israel and its Jews (never letting us forget that their call includes “death to the United States”, while concomitantly seeking a dubious alliance) as the target of its ideological and military imperatives. But, the fallacy of this position is two-fold: first, it differentiates among the Moslem extremists who are on the same page when it comes to Israel and the Jews; and, second, it dilutes the immediacy of ISIS in the region.

On the other hand, President Obama will not even name the enemy that is Islamic terrorism. His push for an Iran deal is, at best, naïve, and at worst, suicidal. Most recently, the President said that ISIS (or what he calls ISIL) is not Islamic and is not a State (but tell me, is it OK to call the Palestinians a State?).  He pledged a greater concentration of air strikes and insisted that the Arab partners in the region must carry the primary load in “boots on the ground”, saying that America will do more in providing resources and training of regional militia and armies, and increasing humanitarian support to the region’s victims. His pronouncement is — “This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”

What is happening while this policy of supportive leadership, more accurately isolationism, does little to stem the ISIS tide of death and destruction? In order to begin to answer this troublesome question, we must take a page from history 80 years ago to give us insight and guidance for future action.

When Hitler rose to power beginning in 1933, his agenda for Aryan conquest and domination was unequivocal. His future dedication to the extermination of European (and ultimately, World) Jewry was clearly found in his written and oral propaganda. The Nuremberg Laws legalized his dual agenda.

By 1938, the world saw the bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia and Austria. The world watched as Jewish businesses, houses of worship were defaced, vandalized and destroyed. The world watched during Kristallnacht, the imprisonment of Jews and other undesirables in concentration camps (not after the start of World War II, but in that fateful year), and wholesale deportations. During the five-year period between 1933 and 1938, the rhetoric became more bold and the military more formidable. Yet, the world watched . . . treaties were made.

Despite the global intent of Hitler’s war effort, Stalin joined forces with Hitler – an impossible marriage between Fascism and Communism – until Hitler invaded Russia. America sat on the sidelines until after Pearl Harbor, while it left the battlefront responsibilities to Great Britain and other oppositional militia, freedom fighters and nations to take the lead. Ultimately, Hitler could not be defeated until both the United States and Russia went on the offensive with millions of boots on the ground! Nazi Germany was not defeated until 6,000,000 Jews and tens of millions of others died in the war.

ISIS is openly threatening the entire world. While it is doubtful that its elimination will even put a dent in the Islamic terrorism that breeds in the West, Africa and Asia, it is certain that ignoring ISIS’ obvious and present spread into whole areas of the Middle East and Africa, its trail of severed heads, open graves, desecrated holy places and brutalized victims is relentless. The size of its armies is multiplying and ISIS laughs at the slumber and empty rhetoric of its enemies.
In short, treaties, humanitarian aid and training of local fighters will not stem the tide.

What is fearful is that history is repeating itself. Before long, the reality will hit us, hopefully not too late. What could be a limited, albeit a decisive military response, may prove to be a global conflagration. Wake up before it is too late!

About the Author
Naphtali Perlberger is a senior lecturer for AISH HaTorah and gives weekly shiurim at Chabad of Golden Beach and Aish Chaim of the Main Line. He is one of the founders and a past president of the Philadelphia Community Kollel. He is Founder & President of Philadelphia Chapter of Children of the Holocaust, and past FJA Chairman of Men's Organizations; past President of Kosloff Torah Academy; and, talk show host for a radio show, "G-d is Listening".