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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lessons Of The Past

I know that Shimon Peres doesn't believe in the concept of learning anything from history, and if he had his way, he'd strike history from the Israeli education system. But, hey, when's the last time Peres has been right about anything...?
Benjamin Netanyahu
Date published: 10/5/2007

Today, all free peoples have reason to celebrate. The much heralded thousand-year Reich lasted barely a dozen. Today, the British celebrate the defense of their liberty. The French, the Belgians, the Dutch, and many others celebrate the restoration of their liberty. And the Americans celebrate the salvation of liberty itself.

But for the Jews, even a day of Nazi defeat is bittersweet. For we know that the joy of their demise can never compensate for the horrors perpetrated on our people. Six decades after World War II, there are more British alive than there were before that war began. There are more French. There are more Russians. There are more Germans. But there are fewer Jews.

And what makes the pain of this memory even sharper is that it was a horror that was preventable.

First, it could have been prevented had the State of Israel been established earlier. After World War I, the British were entrusted by the League of Nations to create a Jewish national home. They reneged on that commitment, and instead appeased Arab terror by closing the gates on those fleeing Hitler.

Without a sovereign state of our own -- and therefore without real power -- the Jews were ultimately placed at the mercy of others. And there was little mercy for the Jews.

Second, the horror could have been prevented had the democratic world confronted Hitler in time. But plagued by the memory of WWI and intent on doing everything to avoid conflict, the free world’s pacifism ensured that there would be conflict.

Hitler’s rhetoric was met by incredulity, his brazenness was met by timidity, and his boldness was met by cowardice.

What changed for Hitler in the 1930s were not his goals, but his assessment over how strong the obstacles would be to achieving them. That is why each retreat, each compromise, each concession was met by more and more demands.

By the time the world understood that there was no choice but to confront him, it would be too late for tens of millions. They would die amid the rubble of Stalingrad, on the beaches of Normandy and worst of all, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Victory over Hitler and the Nazis would have always come at a price – but it could have been a far less costly one.

It would have been less costly had the policy of appeasement in the 1930s been considered foolishness and not statesmanship. It would have been less costly had the leadership in the democratic world recognized the peril facing their countries and the urgent need to thwart that peril.

Let us remember that the world has applauded foolishness before. Let us remember that while today Chamberlain is a caricature, he was once hailed as a hero. Let us remember that the best and the brightest of three generations ago were wrong – dead wrong – in their belief that peace with Hitler’s Germany was possible.

Israel’s leaders in particular must remember these lessons of the past because our margin for error in the present is so small. Because we are a small state in a hostile region, we must recognize dangers before others would. We must mobilize the means to counter those dangers faster than others would. And we must act to thwart that danger sooner than others would.

In the last few years, we have already seen the tragedy that is wrought by false hope and magic solutions. Our enemies are real and they declare their intentions openly. Yet as was true decades ago, those who point out these dangers are called fearmongers and prophets of doom.

But the truth, a truth we recognize today, is just the opposite. It was those who clearly saw the dangers and those who courageously confronted those dangers who ultimately brought their people victory and hope.

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At 5:49 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Bibi should not be PM (he shouldn't even be allowed with 100 meters of the PM's office), but he absolutely indispensible to the State as a spokesman.


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