By Schmoel Yitzhak
The Atlantic magazine has just released a chronological photo history of World War II, beginning with the days when storm clouds had gathered in the early and mid-1930s.
One of the magazine's most vivid pictures depicts Neville Chamberlain in 1938 greeting the English media. The British Prime Minister's plane had just landed near London, following Chamberlain's meetings with Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany.
"Peace in our time," Chamberlain boasted to newsmen after the fateful meeting on September 28, 1938. What's more, thousands of his countrymen truly believed him.
The United Kingdom's leader was referring to what was to be known as "The Munich Agreement between England, France, Germany and Italy. To realists, it was notorious as the re-definement of "appeasement."
After taking power in Germany in 1933, the Nazi Chancellor violated treaty after treaty until 1938 when a World War II seemed a distinct possibility. In fact it appeared so imminent that Chamberlain felt obliged to meet Hitler and, once and for all, hammer out an agreement that would calm fearful nations such as Poland, France and Czechoslovakia, each of which watched Germany fiercely re-arm.
Chamberlain's idea of maintaining "peace" was to give away a portion of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, which Hitler had demanded.
So, what was the response. The British leader, along with his wobbly French counterpart, Edouard DaDladier, arbitrarily handed to Germany a well-fortified Czech province that was protected by one of the finest armies confronting the Nazis. Military analysts believe that if the Germans ever attacked the Czech border, they would have been repulsed by the military and natural fortifications.
The brave Czechs were willing to go to war against Hitler if necessary.
But the English-French "allies" did not even have the decency to invite the Czech leader, Eduard Benes, to the Munch meeting. Clearly, Chamberlain and Daladier wanted no part of Benes because they knew he would oppose any attempt at appeasement.
The Brits should have known better. Hitler already had shown his cards when he annexed Austria in February 1938 after earlier violations of the Treat of Versailles. Furthermore, English spy Hugh Christie -- based in Berlin -- informed the English government that German generals, fearful of Hitler's super-aggressive tactics, planned to overthrow the fuhrer if Chamberlain would forcefully support the Czechs.
But Hitler -- along with his Italian counterpart Benito Mussolini, who also signed the Munich Agreement -- had intimidated and conned the two allies. They were bullied by his bluster, blinded to what he had done to Austria and naive enough to believe that by putting their signatures to a piece of parchment, it would make everything hunky-dory in the world.
For Chamberlain, reality set in a mere six months after he left Berlin. In March 1939, the Munich Agreement was tossed in the round file as Nazi troops -- unprovoked -- marched into Prague, annexing Czechoslovakia with only variations on the manner in which Austria was put in Hitler's pocket.
Thus, Chamberlain's "Peace In Our Time" period of calm enjoyed a September 1938 through March 1939 shelf life and before Summer had ended the Nazis were marching into Poland, igniting World War II.
What does this have to do with Israel?
For starters, let's turn the calendar back to 1993 and the Oslo Accords. Shimon Peres became Israel's Neville Chamberlain to the Palestinian Authority's Yassir Arafat.
In many ways, Oslo was as bad as Munich because it had the sinister aspect of only one unrepresentative group of Israeli doves attempting to appease the Arabs. Like the Czech's Benes being outlawed from Munich, the Israeli non-appeasers were kept out of Oslo. In some ways it was remniscent of a Hitler putsch.
The Arabs "Little Hitler," Arafat, was no less deceptive than the fuhrer and Peres, Inc. learned that lesson after a pair of intifadas, among other destructive indignities.
Or did Peres ever learn that lesson? One wonders.
Now we hear that Israel's President -- whatever that means -- is having secret talks with Arab (alias Palestinian) negotiator Saeb Erekat. We're also told that they are "going over maps" in an effort to determine how the land must be reconfigured if a peace pact is to be blueprinted.
We can love Shimon Peres for a lot of things, starting with his primary role in developing Israel's (shhh!) atomic arsenal. But that does not mean that the indomitable politician should be permitted to do another "Munich" on Israel like the one that happened in Oslo.
Nor should we overlook the most important fact that the very clever Erekat represents the PA which, at last look, was not spelled Hamas.
Compared to Hamas, the PA only appears more moderate but the Palestinians embrace several factions including some of the more violent groups in the world.
Erekat's predecessors, including onetime PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, have one priority above all; they want to wipe out Israel the way Hitler effectively erased Czechoslovakia. And if it means signing some useless piece of paper, that would be just the beginning of the beginning of the end of Israel. Check out the following statement once uttered by Muhsein and you'll see what I mean:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means of continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.
"For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
Benjamin Netanyahu is aware of the no-longer-secret Peres-Erekat meetings. Bibi knows that the Arabs still refuse to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish State.
Bibi knows a lot about Oslo, not to mention Munich, Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain.
He's well aware that to appease the Arabs -- not to mention the European Union and Uncle Sam -- Ariel Sharon gave away Gaza. The product of that bit of appeasement has been the unleashing of endless rockets into Israel. a phony Goldstone Report and other indignities against the Middle East's only democracy.
It's time for Israel to do just the opposite of appeasement. Let Peres do a latter-day Eduard Benes and tell the Arabs that there will be no capitulation.
And, most of all, let Bibi follow the path of Winston Churchill who never walked the road of appeasement because he knew that that path led to a dead end!