As for Egypt, the overthrow of Mubarak has been followed by attacks on Israel from the Sinai, the border with Hamas opened to weapons traffic, the assault on Israel’s embassy in Cairo, and an election in which Islamists sworn to the destruction of Israel won 61% of the vote. How then can Panetta instruct Israel that “the best way to address these concerns is through increasing communication and cooperation – increasing communication and cooperation with Egyptian authorities.” What “authorities”? The Muslim Brothers, whose subsidiary in Gaza, Hamas, has written the destruction of Israel into its charter? But Panetta thinks there is international public relations value in making the attempt anyway: “If gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. That is exactly why Israel should pursue them.” Well, for decades Israeli “gestures” and more tangible concessions have been met with violent “rebukes,” and Israel’s international enemies––and now it seems its most important ally––still haven’t seen those “rebukes for what they are”–– the evidence of a desire to see Israel disappear.
Panetta’s inability to see the real motives of Israel’s enemies is also evident in perhaps his most laughably naïve statement: “Egypt’s current leaders, along with Jordan, have made very clear to me privately and publicly that they are committed to their peace treaties with Israel.” Why should Israel worry about the threats to her security if a nation of 85 million on its southern border is dominated by a religious ideology that wants to destroy her? Mr. Panetta has been assured that the peace treaty will be respected. I am reminded of Churchill’s comment about delusional British and Americans who took seriously Hitler’s claims that “Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria,” or that Sudeten Czechoslovakia was his “last territorial claim I have to make in Europe”: “One can hardly find a more perfect specimen of humbug and hypocrisy for British and American benefit . . . What is astounding is that it should have been regarded with anything but scorn by men and women of intelligence in any free country.” One wonders what Churchill would have made of 40 years of Westerners swallowing the “humbug and hypocrisy” of Palestinian leaders assuring them that all they wanted was to live in “peace and security” with Israel in their own state. Panetta should remember the Biblical wisdom: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Panetta’s failure of imagination, his inability (whether real or feigned) to imagine that there might be peoples who have aims different from and hostile to our own, is most obviously manifested in his delusional expectations for the “Arab Awakening”: “I recognize that there is a view that this is not the time to pursue peace and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view. I believe Israel will ultimately be safer when other Middle Eastern states adopt governments that respond to their people, promote equal rights, promote free and fair elections, uphold their international commitments, and join the community of free and democratic nations.” Panetta has no evidence whatsoever that the sort of genuine liberal democracy he describes is likely to appear in Tunisia, Libya, or Egypt; and he is silent on the considerable evidence that Islamist regimes shaped by shari’a law, with all the intolerance and hostility to “infidels” that it implies, are quickly arising in those countries. Such wishful thinking is the worst basis for foreign policy one can imagine.
Israel’s predicament continually reminds me of Czechoslovakia’s in 1938. Particularly similar is the despicable pressure that Israel’s ally has been applying to a country whose very existence is at stake. As Hitler’s aggression against Czechoslovakia relentlessly intensified with each new demand, that beleaguered country’s allies grew more and more impatient with the desperate attempts of the Czechs to save their country. The French warned them that if they were “unreasonable,” France “considered herself released from her bond” to guarantee Czechoslovakia’s security. And the British thought the solution to the crisis was “for Prague to get a real twist of the screw.” Meanwhile Hitler wrote in his attack plan, “It is my unalterable decision to destroy Czechoslovakia by military action in the foreseeable future.”
Under Obama Israel has been subjected to the same pressure from her ally, and she would be well advised not to rely overmuch on this administration’s protestations of commitment to her security.
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