(CBS News) Iran's state media report today that a new round of talks over that county's nuclear program will take place in Istanbul, Turkey this week. Those talks are of acute interest to the people of Israel, for whom religious tradition and recent history hold hard lessons. Some thoughts now from our contributor Ben Stein:
It's Passover. This is a major Jewish holiday that marks what the Bible cites as miraculous salvation of the Jewish people from enemies bent on exterminating them.
At many services in people's homes and at synagogues, prayers will be recited which proclaim that in every generation, enemies of the Jews arise to kill the Jews, but God always saves the Jews in the end.
Sadly, this section is now obsolete.
About 75 years ago, enemies of the Jewish people rose up in the form of the Nazis in Europe and their many eager helpers, from France to Russia. Their hands were not stayed. In the cruelest imaginable ways, they basically wiped out the Jews of Europe - a staggering six million men, women and children. That was roughly half of the Jews on Earth.
Basically, the world did nothing to save them.
So, the Jews of this world know, as only a few other groups know, that the absolute worst that can be imagined CAN happen.
They also know that the mere word of the world means very little in terms of actual action, except for the United States of America, the only nation that has ever stood up for Jews in a meaningful way since World War II, or maybe ever.
Now, Israel is threatened with another Holocaust as Iran races towards building a nuclear bomb and missiles to deliver it to Israel. The mullahs and other men who rule Iran have explicitly promised to wipe Israel off the map. Israel is a tiny country, and one nuclear bomb detonated over Tel Aviv would indeed make another Holocaust.
If you wonder why Israel may be planning to strike Iran pre-emptively, you have only to go back two generations - the wink of an eye.
It is all fine to urge patience on Israel, to assure Israel that sanctions maybe will work.
"Maybe" is not good enough.
The Israeli Jews - the children and grandchildren of the wretched survivors of the Holocaust - cannot accept "maybe." They have learned the hard way that here on Earth, there have not been many Passovers for a long time.
If they are to be saved, they have to save themselves.