Do you know about Godwin's law? You may not know it's called that, but the gist of it is: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches". Not only online, of course. There was an example of it this week, when the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking on Iran, held up a historic correspondence from 1944 between the US War Department and the World Jewish Congress, in which the Under Secretary of War gave reasons for his government's refusal to bomb Auschwitz.
Surely Godwin's Law doesn't apply to Israel and its Prime Minister? If anyone has carte blanche to invoke Nazi crimes, the perils of appeasement and to keep alive the memory of victims of the Shoah, is it not the leader of the country which rose from the ashes of those crimes? Absolutely, but that is no reason for listeners to Mr Netanyahu's speech to forget that when politicians use history, it is rarely in the way historians do. That is, they use those bits of the historical record that assist their argument, rather than sifting the evidence and seeing where it all leads them.
I do not presume to go into the case Mr Netanyahu was making for potential military action against Iran. I am ignorant of the details and TLS history editors are probably not the best people to pronounce on matters of international current affairs. But history is another matter. So let's concentrate on that.