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
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.
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
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.
So too today, Israel is
castigated by Obama and his supporters in Washington, Europe and the media as a
warmonger for realistically foreseeing the consequences of last weekend’s
nuclear deal with Iran. Even worse, they are portraying Israel as a rogue state
that will be subject to punishment if it dares to militarily strike Iran’s
nuclear installations. In other words, rather than threatening Iran – the
leading state sponsor of terrorism, led by a regime that is pursuing an illicit
nuclear weapons program while threatening Israel with annihilation – with
military strikes if it refuses to cease and desist from building nuclear
weapons, the world powers are threatening Israel.
Minister William Hague made this projection of Iranian criminality onto its
intended victim the explicit policy of the world powers on Monday during his
appearance before the British Parliament.
Promising that Britain will be
“on its guard” to prevent any state from threatening the agreement with Iran,
Hague said, “We would discourage anybody in the world, including Israel, from
taking any steps that would undermine this agreement and we will make that very
clear to all concerned.” In other words, as Hague, Obama and Secretary of State
John Kerry see things, Iran needs to be protected from Israel.
agreement that Britain and the US heroically defend from the threat of Israeli
aggression guarantees that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Like the Munich
Pact’s empowerment of Hitler 75 years ago, the Geneva agreement’s empowerment of
Iran’s ayatollahs guarantees that the world will descend into an unspeakable
conflagration. And this is far from the only step that they are taking to weaken
As the EU weakens its economic sanctions against the world’s
leading sponsor of terrorism, it is ratcheting up its economic sanctions against
Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. The goal of these
sanctions is to coerce Israel into surrendering its historic heartland and
ability to defend itself to Palestinian terrorists sworn to its
For its part, the Obama administration is expected to
massively increase its pressure on Israel to make concessions to the PLO that if
undertaken will similarly threaten Israel’s viability militarily, legally and
politically. Obama has promised that if Israel and the PLO are unable to reach
an accord by January, he will present his own formulation, and seek to coerce
Israel into implementing it. Given Obama’s stated positions on the Palestinian
conflict with Israel, it is clear that his formulation will involve the
surrender of eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem, as well as the surrender
of Judea and Samaria and the forced expulsion of more than a half a million Jews
from their homes to enable the surrender of these areas Jew free.
that is not all. Obama is also expected, in the next several months to place
Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal on the international chopping block. Since
entering office, he has already taken steps in this direction. Now, in his rush
to transform Israel into the new Iran and Iran into the new Israel, it the
prospect that Obama will expose Israel’s nuclear secrets as a means to enable
Iran’s completion of its nuclear weapons program cannot be
In other words, the weekend deal with Iran is not the end of
a process of attempting to enfeeble Israel. It is the beginning of that
The worst is still very much before us.
It is a
fortuitous coincidence that this challenging era in the history of Israel –
certainly the most challenging diplomatic period since the establishment of the
Jewish state 65 years ago – began the week of Thanksgiving. It is even more
fortuitous that in these frightening moments, the most American of festivals
took place during Chanukah the most Jewish of festivals.
This is a
fortuitous coincidence because if we consider the meaning of these holidays, we
can understand what the basis of our actions today must be. Just as importantly,
we can rest assured that those actions will lead us to safer
These two festivals that have rarely if ever been celebrated at
the same time are similar in key respects. Thanksgiving is not simply about a
voyage of religious freedom seekers from Europe to America. The story of the
Pilgrims, who weathered an impossible 65 day journey from England to Plymouth
Rock in a rickety ship called the Mayflower, is not remembered simply because
they landed in the New World.
The Pilgrims are celebrated for how they
comported themselves upon arrival. In the three months after their initial
landing, half of the Pilgrims died from disease and murder at the hands of the
native tribes. Those who survived suffered from unspeakable privations. Yet in
three months, they managed through their sufferings to establish the first
modern democracy, and to build a settlement.
Rather than rail against
their fate, or abjectly surrender to their hardships, the Pilgrims gave thanks
to God for the meager tools he gave them to mount the seemingly insurmountable
challenges they faced. It is for the Pilgrims’ capacity to see the blessing in
their condition, and to be empowered by their cognizance of that blessing that
they are remembered. Their faith grounded heroic tenacity is the reason that a
small band of religious rebels formed the cultural basis for the United States
of America, when it was founded 155 years later. It was that heroism that led
Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday during the darkest
hour of the Civil War, when the image of the Pilgrims empowered the Union
soldiers fighting for a new birth of freedom.
As for Chanukah, the
Festival of Lights is a celebration of Jewish religious freedom and national
liberation. The Maccabees freed the Jews from the tyranny of Greece, the world’s
greatest superpower, which denied them their right to remain Jewish. The
Maccabees, a small band of heroically tenacious Jews who suffered extraordinary
hardship in their war against the far superior Greek forces, took strength and
comfort in their faith. It was their faith in God that empowered them to face
impossible odds and emerge victorious. It was their faith in God that gave them
the ability to stand up not only to the Greeks, but to the Jewish elites who
preached submission and appeasement as the better part of virtue, castigating
them as warmongering zealots for refusing to bow before false gods.
faith of the Pilgrims and the faith of the Maccabees was the faith of free men.
It was the faith that formed the foundations of the United States. It is the
faith that has enabled the Jews to survive for four thousand years. It is the
faith that enabled the Jews to do the impossible and rebuild our homeland after
2,000 years of exile and unspeakable persecution.
It is this foundational
faith that made the American people feel a natural kinship with the Jewish
people. And it is this foundational faith that has brought the people of Israel
to love America. This bond, based on the best of both people persists today,
even as Obama and his fellow appeasers push America on the path their founding
fathers rejected when they came to the New World. Thanksgiving and Hanukka teach
us that when we rely on our faith in God, we can surmount impossible
Israel has the means – limited though they may be – to meet
the extraordinary tests we face today, as the leaders of America have turned on
us by turning on the shared heritage of faith and fortitude of our
Both the Israelis and the Americans must take heart from this
week when we commemorate the heroic heritage of free men and women.
the providence of God, we will be the loyal children of the Maccabees, and the
And we will merit their
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