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The similarities between this sorry story and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are striking. Hitler’s Wehrmacht was not ready for a war against both France and England in 1938, so he was reluctant to gamble on force to achieve his aims; the Arab states have suffered three humiliating defeats at the hands of Israel, and are unlikely to risk such humiliation again. Hitler then turned to duplicitous negotiations over the alleged suffering of the German minority in the Sudetenland and their right to ethnic self-determination to buy time and achieve his aims without war; the Arabs now speak of a “Palestinian homeland” and Palestinian self-determination to grind Israel down in a process of specious negotiation that buys time for achieving their true aim, destroying Israel in “phases.” The Sudeten Nazi Party fomented violence and manufactured atrocities in order to justify German intervention and create international sympathy for their cause; the Palestinian Arabs have manufactured atrocities, such as the Jenin “massacre,” and used terrorist violence in order to provoke retaliation and defensive measures that further alienate the international community from Israel and increase pressure on it to make concessions. And most important, just as a demoralized England and France were unwilling to take action against Hitler’s aggression, and so found in the alleged suffering of the Sudeten Germans a convenient excuse to pressure Czechoslovakia into committing national suicide, so too the West finds in “Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation” a convenient pretext for ignoring the true cause of Arab hatred of Israel––the intolerable humiliation of formerly subject and despised dhimmi creating in the heart of the Middle East a Western, non-Muslim military and economic power light-years beyond that of its dysfunctional neighbors.
Finally, President Obama’s demands for more Israeli concessions as a prelude to a peace settlement eerily recalls the suicidal concessions England and France demanded from Czechoslovakia. As the crisis continued in 1938, the British solution was “for Prague to get a real twist of the screw.” Thus while the Czechs fought for their national existence, British Minister Basil Newton accused Czech president Edvard Benes of “spinning out the negotiations without any sincere intention of acting on the immediate and vital issue,” and further advised him to “go forthwith to the very limit of concession.” How similar to the constant accusations that Israel negotiates in bad faith, and to the continually escalating demands on Israel to make territorial concessions to a people who have met every previous concession with terrorist attacks, who always “demand so much they cannot be satisfied,” and who now have allied with a terrorist organization explicitly dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
Experience, the Romans said, is the teacher of fools, and history is the record of man’s collective experience. The important lesson we should remember is to look beyond the pretext of “justice” and learn instead the enemy’s true motivations and goals. We should not demand that Israel stake its very existence to prove the truth of what Thucydides knew 2400 years ago, and what the grim experience of Czechoslovakia has already taught us.
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