Friday, August 04, 2006

Neville's heirs

I've been thinking about the 1930s a lot lately, and not just because I've been screening Marx Brothers movies with the kids. It's easy to forget things as time passes, and as I watch the events of the past few weeks unfold, I've been thinking a lot about another 1930s figure, Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain served as prime minister of Britain in the late 1930s and was famous, and later infamous, for his penchant for negotiating with Hitler. He famously proclaimed that an agreement he made with Hitler in 1938 would offer "peace in our time." Oddly enough, Hitler didn't quite see it the same way and within a year war engulfed the European continent.

As I've listened to all the wise souls in the UN and other respectable organizations call on Israel to cease fighting back against the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, it certainly seems like 1938 again. The intellectual backdrop for these calls posits, intentionally or not, a moral equivalence between the Israeli democracy and the Islamic terrorists who attack it. Israel has, as modern democracies do, taken great pains to avoid inflicting civilian casualties. Hezbollah couldn't care less and routinely attacks Israeli civilians. Some of their mis-fired rockets have even struck the West Bank, killing Palestinians. But somehow, even though Hezbollah instigated this, the Israelis are apparently supposed to offer a cease fire.

It seems bizarre that we have to keep belaboring this point, but we do. Israel's enemies seek nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state, and as a bonus, the death of as many Jews as possible in the process. In short, they seek genocide. And these enemies are remarkably consistent in this. Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, the former government of Iraq, the current government of Iran - they all agree on this. Genocide is not rational in any sense; it's even less rational to believe that you can successfully negotiate with those who seek genocide. I too am tired of this war, but we cannot negotiate it away. Neville Chamberlain famously carried an umbrella with him, but it provided no shelter from Hitler. Those who offer an umbrella today are no better.

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