THE PLANK JUNE 18, 2008
Writing about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest jeremiad about Israel and Jews, Matthew Yglesias opines:
You can construe Ahmadenijad's remarks about Israel the way Jeff Goldberg is doing, or you could draw a distinction between the idea of destroying Israel as a political entity and the idea of destroying its population. Independent Poland ceased to exist in the nineteenth century without there being a genocide of the Polish people.
Yglesias chooses the nineteenth century partioning of Poland as an example of the difference between the destruction of that country "as a political entity" and "destroying its population." This appears to be an arbitrary example of such a distinction, and yet Yglesias couldn't have chosen a worse historical analogy to demonstrate his ignorance. For Yglesias forgets a more recent partition of Poland, one which very much resulted in the destruction of that country as a "political entity" and many of its people. Maybe that's the sort of scenario Ahmadinejad has in mind when, to take just his latest remark, he says that "Israel has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain," as opposed to the eighteenth-century division of Poland between the Prussians, Russians and Hapsburgs. But this is what happens when you're a blogger, answering questions "by request," whose political and historical memory begins circa January 2001.