A "senior Israeli source" told [Spectator writer Douglas] Davis that the issue at hand is "a threat to the survival of the state of Israel," and continued: "On that issue there can be no compromise. We are the product of the Holocaust and we will do everything to prevent another holocaust occurring in Israel. If the Americans do not act, then we will act. And that moment might be closer than people dare to imagine."Zerubavel (1994a: 80) observed that, between the 1940s and the 1960s, because of the weakness perceived in Holocaust victims' very victimhood, there was 'a reluctance to embrace the Holocaust as part of Israeli collective memory'; however, Zerubavel (1994a: 86) noted that, increasingly between the 1960s and the 1980s, after the Eichmann trial increased knowledge of the plight of Holocaust victims and the "Yom Kippur War" of 1973 increased identification with the victims, survival and extinction became the two "options" central to Israeli consciousness. For Zerubavel (1994a: 87), this explained why the Holocaust became the key event in Israeli thought, 'evoked as a paradigmatic event that helps explain the Jewish past and the Israeli present'.
Tying this in with the reinterpretation of the lesson from the mass suicide at Masada, which denied the Romans the triumph (and triumphalism) of killing the last of the rebels from the Jewish Revolt of C.E. 66-73, Zerubavel (1994a: 87) read the reinterpretation as a narrative of 'the terrible oppression and victimization of the Jews that rendered death better than life and led them to choose suicide as the best alternative possible'. Zerubavel (1994a: 88) understood that 'Masada is no longer an abstract story from Antiquity but a vivid and powerful visual image that provides contemporary Israelis with a metaphor for their own situation: a small group of Jews living on top of an isolated cliff, surrounded by the desert and besieged by a powerful enemy, with no one to turn to for help'.
So, the state of Israel and, let us not forget, due to the long-foreshadowed US (and/or Israeli) action against it (yet again stated explicitly by the "senior Israeli source" in the Spectator article), the state of Iran both fear for their very survival and both are willing to 'do everything'; because both have made it clear that they are willing to do anything, both have justified fear (of the other) and both are now engaged in a race to ensure their survival at any cost, that cost being the "extinction" (mass destruction) of the other and, by ensuring the pre-emptive or retaliatory strike by the other, of themselves; except, if there is a war, both states will survive (although the governments may change) and the many, many victims will be the innocent civilian citizens of both states, whose governments believe they are protecting them. We can only hope that, in this grotesque, international game of chicken, in which the cars' owners are the states, but the people in the front seats are their citizens, someone pulls out.
Zerubavel (1994a: 90-91) also recorded '[t]he Holocaust counter-narrative claims that Israelis' tendency to see themselves as persecuted and victimized contributes to their own misuse of power within the context of the conflict with the Palestinians'. This also bears upon the present situation, insofar as it warns of the Israeli and Iranian states' ability to convince themselves that the use of nuclear weaponry could ever be morally justified; so, if Davis and Zerubavel are correct, we could see a war fought with nuclear weaponry within the first decade of the new millennium.
Zerubavel, Y. 1994a: "The death of memory and the memory of death: Masada and the Holocaust as historical metaphors". Representations, Number 45, 72-100.