Bruce Thornton: Obama Appeases While Netanyahu Shows a Gleam of Steel

After the 1938 Munich conference, First Lord of the Admiralty Duff Cooper resigned in protest from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s cabinet. In his speech before the Commons, Cooper put his finger on the cause of Chamberlain’s failure: “The Prime Minister has believed in addressing Herr Hitler through the language of sweet reasonableness. I have believed that he was more open to the language of the mailed fist.” 

A few weeks earlier, Churchill had used a metaphor similarly apt for Obama’s approach to Iran, ISIS, Russia, and numerous other adversaries: the British and the French, Churchill said, “presented a front of two overripe melons crushed together; whereas what was needed was a gleam of steel.”

Bibi Netanyahu’s victory in last week’s election has reprised that contrast, now between the feckless Obama and his foreign policy delusions, and the Israeli leader who sees clearly the nature of an enemy that for nearly 7 decades has tried to destroy his country. And Netanyahu has made clear, most dramatically in his speech before Congress, that what is needed today to slow down the mullah’s march to a nuclear bomb is the “mailed fist” and the “gleam of steel.” But this administration is no more heeding such warnings than the British and French governments did Cooper’s and Churchill’s. A misplaced belief in “sweet reason,” and a moral fiber as stiff as “two overripe melons crushed together” today enable the same sort of delusions and wishful thinking that paved the way for Chamberlain’s appeasement.

Just contemplate the hysterical reaction to Netanyahu’s pledge that under his leadership there will be no Palestinian state, a claim he quicklyclarified after the election. Most untoward was the veiled threat by an Obama administration official who said, “We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward.” This threat was fleshed out by a spokesman from the Jewish appeasement lobby J-Street, who explained, “I do think the administration is going to look very closely at the possibility of either joining, or at least not blocking an internationally backed move at the U.N. to restate the parameters for ending the conflict.” Consistent with these threats, Obama’s minions have suggested he will consider a Security Council resolution that, in violation of the Oslo Accords, would unilaterally establish a Palestinian state marked by the 1967 armistice line, which would be a severe blow to Israel’s security.

Such peevish threats against Israel, following 6 years of the administration’s crude insults, petulant snubs, and serial betrayals, remind me of the shameless pressure French and British diplomats put on Czechoslovakia in the months before Munich. Obama and his lapdogs in the press––like Peter Beinart, who calls for a “pressure process” against Israel–– sound like the British officials who thought that Prague needed “to get a real twist of the screw” to make them end their resistance to their nation’s destruction. Other British Ministers counseled “championing the small man against the Czech bully.” Duff Cooper said sarcastically, “The general feeling seemed to be that great, brutal Czechoslovakia was bullying poor, peaceful Germany.”

This has been the despicable attitude of many in the West about the conflict between the Arabs and Israel, whose 7 million citizens have been faced by 400 million Arabs, attacked in 3 full-scale wars of aggression, and chronically subjected to terrorist murder and rocket attacks. Yet this sole liberal democracy in the Middle East has been cast as the regional bully and obstacle to peace. And just as the pressure on Czechoslovakia to settle with Hitler encouraged him to ratchet up his proxies’ terrorist violence in the Sudetenland, so too we should expect more violence from the Palestinian Arabs and Iran’s proxies in Gaza and Lebanon in response to Obama’s signals that his administration intends to increase the pressure on Israel.

More important, the anger over Netanyahu’s plain speaking about the “two-state solution” ignores the fact not that it is “dead,” but that for the Arabs it never really existed. Just as the alleged suffering and oppression of the Sudeten Germans were merely a pretext for Hitler’s aggression and a stage in his larger aim to conquer Europe and the Soviet Union, so too the “Palestinian state” and “national self-determination” have been pretexts for violence and a tactic for the destruction of Israel in stages.

The reality is, as Sha’i ben-Tekoa documents in his 3-volume history Phantom Nationhistorically there has never been a “Palestinian nation” or a distinct Palestinian people. Such talk began after the Six Day War in 1967, and the verbal chicanery intensified after the Yom Kippur war of 1973. Both ignominious Arab defeats made it obvious that the Arabs were not going to be able to destroy Israel through military force. Thus the “stages” strategy, one tactic of which was to seduce Westerners into believing that the Palestinians’ jihad against Israel was in fact an anticolonial struggle of national liberation, a lie that continues to sucker historically challenged Western leaders today. Thus the misdirection of the “right of return,” “settlement activity,” “checkpoints,” “illegal occupation,” and all the other pretexts for violence and rejection, which are made attractive to Westerners by being wrapped in the fantasy of “national self-determination.”

Yet if history doesn’t provide enough evidence, the sorry record of Palestinian Arab rejection of a “national homeland” should put paid to the delusions of the “two states living side-by-side in peace” fantasy.

Start with the Arab nations’ rejection of U.N. resolution 181 in 1947, followed in 1948 by the spectacle of U.N. charter members violently rejecting and violating with impunity a U.N. resolution. Go on to the numerous violations of the 1993 Oslo Accords, an agreement that gave control over Judea and Samaria to the terrorist PLO, now refurbished as the Palestinian Authority, which did nothing to build a legitimate state ruled by law. Then we get Arafat’s rejection of the 2000 Camp David accords that again offered the Palestinian Arabs a state. What followed was the orgy of terrorist violence known as the Second Intifada. Then there was the 2001 Taba Summit, and a few years later the 2008 offer from Ehud Olmert, even more attempts to give the Palestinian Arabs what they say they want. Once again, rejection and violence met these offers.

And don’t forget the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a golden opportunity for the Palestinian Arabs to show they could build a functioning government living in peace with its neighbors. Of course, instead all Israel has gotten in return is rocket fire and terrorist infiltration of their country. Remember too the PA’s incessant incitement to violence in school curricula and public propaganda, the official commemoration and celebration of terrorist murderers, and the “unity government” forged between the “moderate” PA and the genocidal Hamas. All this evidence makes it clear that the majority of Palestinian Arabs choose violence over compromise, and the dream of destroying Israel over creating the “national homeland” that Israel should make endless concessions to create.

The lesson should have long been clear: legitimizing specious pretexts and making concessions to those eager to destroy you only invite contempt and violence. Israel cannot make the existential wager that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, allied with Hamas, will not be armed by Iran and turned into a bigger, more lethal Gaza. Netanyahu simply was making this perennial truth obvious when he said before the election, “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel.”

So much for the “gleam of steel.” For the “overripe melons,” listen to Obama’s latest groveling “outreach” to the Iranian mullahs: “Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain. And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution. My message to you—the people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek.” Notice the despicable equation of American critics of what will be a dangerous appeasement of a deadly enemy, with religious fanatics and their long record of torture, murder, and the export of terrorism across the globe. And what common “future” can exist between a democracy that honors human rights and confessional tolerance, and an illiberal theocracy founded on violence and intolerance?

And if that isn’t sufficiently surreal, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently removed Iran and its murderous proxy Hezbollah from the list of terrorism threats. Yes, the same Iran that held 52 of our diplomatic personnel hostage for 444 days; that blew up 241 of our military personnel in Beirut; that helped blow up our embassies in east Africa; that according to our military killed 1,500 of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; that facilitated travel and provided weapons to al Qaeda and other terrorists bent on killing American soldiers; that funds and trains Hezbollah and other terrorist outfits like the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; that has sworn to “wipe Israel off the map,” and whose national anthem is “Death to America.” The country that was once the top state sponsor of terrorism with American blood up to its elbows is now not even on the list. Meanwhile, its path to a nuclear weapon is being paved by Obama’s Munich-like negotiations.

Such terminal naiveté has not been seen in the leader of a global power since Neville Chamberlain. But despite Obama’s efforts, Israel is not about to play the role of Czechoslovakia. This is a nation of people who paid a horrible price to learn that appeasement leads only to annihilation. As Bibi Netanyahu’s victory shows, like their Prime Minister Israel still has the “gleam of steel.”