By Schmoel Yitzhak
World War I historian William Boyd has written books and a movie ("The Trench") about what originally was termed The Great War. Therefore, it stands to reason that Boyd knows quite a bit about casualties.
An Englishman, Boyd struck a casualty-nerve with me recently when he wrote a piece for the New York Times called "Why World War I Resonates."
Among the author's points is that casualties suffered (1914-1918) then would not be tolerated by armies today. Boyd cites the fact that 117,000 American servicemen died in the 19 months of Uncle Sam's participation in World War I; more than twice as many as in Vietnam, nearly 20 times as many as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"No society today," writes Boyd, "would accept such a horrendous casualty count."
There is at least one society that would accept a considerably larger casualty count -- as long as it doesn't happen to be either its own soldiers nor its citizens.
That would be Iran whose mullahs and assorted other political bullies have made it evident that the elimination of Israel is a top priority with militant Islam and the sooner Tehran completes its nuclear military project then aim will be taken at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and all points from Haifa to Eilat.
Sanctions are brushed aside by militant Iranians like a piece of dandruff on the collar.
It's noteworthy that whenever Barack Obama gets around to analyzing the Iranian threat, his challenges to Tehran are as circumspect as the useless sanctions that are developed along Pennsylvania Avenue.
If the White House ever has explicitly noted that the Iranian nuclear-bombs-to-be are meant for the destruction of Israel, it certainly has been uttered somewhere in a cloak room because I haven't heard it nor has the Jewish community.
By contrast, two of the leading Republican candidates have unabashedly pointed out who to fear and why.
Mitt Romney has reiterated that the "Palestinians" want no part of a "two-state" solution. What the Arabs want -- the Republican front-runner correctly notes -- is one-state; an Arab Palestine, bereft of Jews; no more, no less.
Newt Gingrich, Israel's most consistent and fervent supporter in the GOP race, makes an even more pointed comment . In a sense Gingrich's point tangentially is related to historian Boyd's recalling that at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, the British Army suffered 60,000 dead and wounded -- in one day. And to the comment -- I repeat-- "No society today would accept such a horrendous casualty count."
As Gingrich points out, if the Iranians make good on their wipe-out-Israel threats, a pair of nuclear bombs would cause what Newt calls "a second Holocaust" and, in effect the end to the Jewish state.
The problem for Jews in Israel -- and everywhere else for that matter -- is that Gingrich is viewed in many middle-of-the-road, liberal and left quarters as some kind of hopeless nut case and therefore deserves neither votes nor any sane person's ear.
Thus, if Gingrich's voice-for-Israel is to be muted and Romney does go on to become the Republican candidate, will Mitt be as mightily pro-Israel as Newt?
Doubtful but Romney's statements about the manner in which Benjamin Netanyahu was treated at the White House -- "Obama threw Bibi under the bus" -- suggests stronger support for Jerusalem than anyone since the Bush name adorned Washington.
What remains to be seen -- and this WILL be pivotal both for the candidates as well as Israel's future -- is what protective actions Obama takes in support of the Jewish State, particularly if Bibi decides that a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is imperative to protect his nation.
Based on past -- and present -- performances, Washington's reaction will no doubt fall into the hand-wringing too-little-too late category.
This, of course, is the irony of all ironies when one considers that Obama couldn't wait two days before helping to dethrone Hosni Mubarak, knowing full-well that he, Obama would be ushering in the same Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat and which would rip to shreds the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty at the earliest possible date.
When it comes to the endless slaughter of innocent Syrians, the American administration passively looks on even while Arab League monitors are forced to flee the bloodthirsty forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
Then again, what did President Franklin Delano Roosevelt do when apprised that millions of European Jews were being exterminated -- some with the enthusiastic help of Jerusalem's Grand Mufti operating out of Berlin with Hitler -- and FDR has an opportunity to at least limit the killings?
The oft-mocked Gingrich may be out of the race by the time you read this but when it comes to analyzing the Middle East, the Republican's decibel count is highest -- and accurate -- when he cites that: 1. Palestinians are an invented people; 2. That Israel should do whatever necessary to prevent a "Second Holocaust."
Regarding the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis and their accomplices, historian Boyd says nothing about society not accepting "such a horrendous casualty count."
Assad's "society" would accept it, even if it meant killing 118,000 Syrians to maintain Bashar-al-Assad's power.
As for the Iranian leaders, the eradication of six million Israelis would inspire smiles in Tehran, not to mention a few other centers of militant Islam.
Who knows what Boyd would write after that calamity took place.