The Holocaust and Ahmadinejad's fantasy universe

What do these episodes have in common?

A few years ago an Egyptian college professor wrote that subatomic particles must be the "jinns" or Arabian desert spirits that Mohammed wrote about in the Koran. As a devout Muslim this scientifically educated man was convinced that fundamental physics must have been completely known to Allah when he dictated the infallible Koran to the Prophet, fourteen centuries ago.

When Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948, the President of Syria said to a Palestinian Arab leader that

"I am happy to tell you that our Army and its equipment are of the highest order and well able to deal with a few Jews; and I can tell you in confidence that we even have an atom bomb... Yes, it was made locally; we fortunately found a very clever fellow, a tin smith..." (R. Patai, 1973, p. 51).
Over the last several years the outlandish Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Tsarist fiction intended to bamboozle Russian peasants around 1900, has been turned into a TV soap opera for millions of slack-jawed viewers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

What do these episodes have in common? All of them tell about millions of Middle Eastern men and women who are immersed in an imaginary world. Remember Baghdad Bob? He was the Saddam propaganda guy who was convinced that his fantasies were more real than the US armored forcees storming into Baghdad. The Baghdad Bob syndrome is not so unusual.

Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, a gathering of international misfits, proto-Nazis and religious zealots
adds another chapter to a bizarre kind of mass self-hypnosis.  Ahmadinejad is a Khomeini-inspired hate monger, pushing a narrative that carries its believers ever farther away from the real world.

Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial is of a piece with this fantasy-prone mindset. For the mullahs, Hitler's murder of five or six million Jews can't have happened, no matter what the evidence, because it would give a moral and humanitarian basis for the State of Israel. It makes the people of Israel understandable, human and even sympathetic. Since Israel is the Little Satan, an object of fierce hatred inculcated from childhood onward, it cannot be allowed to have a reason to live.

Ahmadinejad is supposed to have a graduate degree in engineering, but he has a Seventh Century mind. It operates backwards, starting from a passionately desired answer to the imaginary evidence needed to prove it. Holding a Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran is as good as disproving the Holocaust;  claiming uranium enrichment is equivalent to actually doing it; and saying that Israel is doomed comes close to making it so. Back in reality, of course, the effect has been to startle sane people into seeing what a dangerous gang of pre-medieval lunatics have now seized control of the strategic keystone of Iran. Ahmadinejad is his own worst enemy.

Historians, both Islamic and Western, have long noted that Muslim culture is more fantasy prone than modern cultures. Historically, Islam missed out on the Renaissance, the European enlightenment, and finally the scientific-technological revolution, all predicated on free thought and open debate.

Fantasy prone people can be found in all populations
They seem to be more suggestible than others, more able to hold contradictory beliefs, and are more vulnerable to group pressure. Two-thirds of fantasy-prone people show some signs of mental disorder, as assessed by the MMPI. That does not mean that victims of Islamofascist propaganda are mad;  but they may be more vulnerable to drifting away from reality.

Skepticism and the search for evidence are keys to modern culture.   In the fixed matrix of reactionary Islam, the power of endlessly repeated fantasies is simply awesome. Media technology makes it easy to drum the same story into millions of minds. The key is always to tell one, single narrative, with Good Guys and Bad Guys, and to shut out any competing ideas. That is how Rev. Jim Jones was able to make everyday people commit mass suicide in Guyana. It is  standard cult indoctrination scaled up to millions of vulnerable minds.

Take a look at this report from a MEMRI translation
On December 14, 2006 the Iranian news agency IRNA reported, in English, that participants in the Iranian Holocaust Denial conference ... announced the establishment of a "world foundation for Holocaust studies" and appointed Presidential Advisor Mohammad-Ali Ramin as its secretary-general. [....]

Mohammad-Ali Ramin had discussed historical accusations against the Jews and questioned the Holocaust. [....]

"On a visit to Gilan University, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin said to a group of students in the town of Rasht: 'We Iranians are definitely not, and never have been, nationalistic, and we are not against any ethnic [group]. [....]

"'But among the Jews there have always been those who killed God's prophets and who opposed justice and righteousness. Throughout history, this religious group has inflicted the most damage on the human race, while some groups within it engaged in plotting against other nations and ethnic groups to cause cruelty, malice and wickedness.

"'Historically, there are many accusations against the Jews. For example, it was said that they were the source for such deadly diseases as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time people also said that they poisoned water wells belonging to Christians and thus killed them,' Ramin said.

...'When the Islamic Revolution of Iran succeeded and attracted many people around the world, including Christians, the AIDS epidemic came about, and fear again overtook the world. After the September 11 attacks, the deadly epidemic broke out, which was destroyed when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. On the eve of the invasion of Iran, the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) illness broke out, but disappeared after the invasion,' he said." [....]

"Ramin also claimed that the spread of avian flu was a conspiracy plot cause[d] by the failure of America, Israel and Britain in the Middle East. Ramin pointed out that, to cover up and hide their failures, these countries have spread the news about the bird flu and thus preoccupied and distracted public opinion for some 5 to 6 months. 'Nobody asks how a bird infected with the flu could fly from Australia to Siberia,' he said, ... He stated that the killing of millions of chickens was intended to control the price and amount [of] chicken in the market." [....]

"Ramin added that the aim of the Holocaust conspiracy was to facilitate the establishment of the state of Israel, which would, in turn, provoke the Muslims to rise up, confront the Jews, and massacre them. 'This [conspiracy],' he said, 'conducted by Europe and America, would lead to the total annihilation of global Jewry." Ramin added that 'as a religious Muslim, who believes in the equality of all nations, he must alert [people] to the fact that the state of Israel was established as the result of a conspiracy against the Jews...'"

'So long as Israel exists in the region,' he said, 'there will never be peace and security in the Middle East. So the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel.'
It could be that Mr. Ramin is just singing for his supper. He might just be playing to his bosses in the mullahcracy. But his gullible victims are not cynics. They have never known anything but fantasy propaganda. They are true believers, programmed to die for their cause.

A bucket of ice water

The Tehran regime badly needs a bucket of ice-water thrown over its collective head. A great shock may be the only way to wake up a regime that is living in a boastful dream of butchering its enemies in a Second Holocaust.

The Muslim world has seen several great ice-water shocks of this kind. The first was Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, when the Arabs, who had hitherto believed they were the most powerful culture in the world, woke up to realize how much the West had evolved while they were in stasis. The end of the Ottoman Caliphate after World War I was another great shock. And Israel's independence and military victories continues to shock the Islamic world into unpleasant realizations about its own relatively ignorance and backwardness.

Islam is an  honor culture, in which public "face" (wajh) means everything. That is why women are routinely murdered when they are said by the neighbors to be unfaithful --- which can simply mean that teenage girls are attracted to boys. Face and public honor are the great motivators, and propaganda peddlers like Al Qaeda constantly accuse their enemies of having sold their women to the Crusader enemy.

For Ahmadinejad and his cult, nukes are a fantasy weapon, like Hitler's end-of-the-war fantasies about German super-weapons that would finally destroy the Allies. Hitler came within a decade or so of nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad is now within a few years of an irreversible technical understanding of the manufacturing process. When a wild fantasy of revenge for all one's imagined humiliations meets nukes, real explosions are likely.

I have previous suggested that an Israeli warning shot --- perhaps underground, perhaps in the deserts of Iran or Saudi Arabia --- may be necessary to wake up the nuclear dreamers to the reality of mass murder-suicide, the "best" they can ever hope for. The powerful Israeli Left seems set against such an idea. At the same time, when their backs were against the wall, people like Golda Meir seriously considered using nuclear weapons more than thirty years ago.

Ultimately it doesn't matter what form the "bucket of icewater" therapy takes. At some point it will have to be done. Today Ahmadinejad's even Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's Tony Blair are sounding like George W. Bush.  

A few days ago, Chancellor Merkel said that
"It must be unmistakeable and clear to Iran that (getting a nuclear weapon) would not be acceptable."
But words are not going to do shake the mullahs out of their fantasy revenge. Only deeds can do that. A united West could be a overwhelming force if it ever decided to act.

James Lewis blogs at  Dangerous Times.
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