Back in October 2001 then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, raised the hackles of the White House when he warned the United States, “Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We cannot accept this.” Sharon then invoked the 1938 Munich Pact. As he put it, “Don’t repeat the terrible mistakes of 1938, when the enlightened democracies in Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a comfortable, temporary solution.”
Israel, he said, “will not be Czechoslovakia.”
Sharon was sharply rebuked not only by the White House, but by leading American supporters of Israel. They attacked him for daring to make the comparison. In time, with the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, Sharon’s warning was largely forgotten.
The question of whether George W. Bush sought to appease the Arabs and Iran at Israel’s expense is an open one. Strong arguments can be made on both sides of the issue. On the one hand, Bush took the fight to terror supporting regimes.
On the other hand, Bush refused to face the threat of Iran. And he forced Israel to remain trapped in the two-state paradigm which requires it to make unreciprocated concessions to Palestinian terrorists working towards its destruction.
While Bush’s legacy remains uncertain, what is absolutely certain is that his successor Barack Obama is seeking to appease the Iranians and other Islamist forces at Israel’s expense. The appeasement Sharon accused Bush of contemplating has become the official policy of the US government under Obama.
In the haze of accusations and counteraccusations by opponents and supporters of Obama’s new pact with the mullahs of Tehran, it bears recalling that the problem with the Munich pact was not the agreement in and of itself. If Adolf Hitler had been a credible actor, then the agreement might have made sense.
But Hitler was not a credible actor.
The problem with the Munich pact was that it empowered Hitler and so paved the way for the German invasion of Poland a year later.
That invasion, in turn paved the way for the Holocaust, and for the death of 60 million people in World War II.
Those, like Winston Churchill and Zev Jabotinsky who foresaw these events, were castigated as extremists and warmongers. Those who ignored their warning were celebrated as peacemakers who boldly chose peace over war.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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