Sixty years ago, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from his trip to Germany and declared there would be “peace for our time.” History has shown the consequences of Chamberlain’s na?vet? of Adolf Hitler and his ambitions. In the end, treating Hitler as a “partner for peace” only made it easier for the Third Reich to decimate most of Europe and leave 40 million people dead throughout the continent, including six million Jews in the Holocaust.
Sadly, history continues to repeat itself. Some 55 years after Chamberlain agreed to Hitler’s control over the Sudetenland in hopes of maintaining peace, Israel, through the Oslo Accords, agreed to the same bargain: give up strategically important land for unsubstantiated promises of peace.
It is not surprising, therefore, that much like our experiences in World War II, land did not translate into peace. In fact, it only caused more bloodshed. The reality that more Israelis have been killed by terrorists since signing Oslo than in the preceding 15 years should dispel any notion that a lasting peace can be forged between a democracy and a group of ex-terrorists who are treated like heads of state.
This history is not lost on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations, examined the similarities between the two small democracies, Israel and Czechoslovakia, and lamented that the West once again is attempting to secure peace, however futile, at the expense of an ally.
This view contrasts sharply with the Netanyahu of late, who almost three weeks ago came to the Wye Plantation, agreed to withdraw from a further 13 percent of the West Bank and declared that “Israel and our entire region are more secure.” In exchange for this he received more promises from terrorist-turned-statesman, Yasser Arafat. Promises that have been repeatedly broken over the last five years.
Since Oslo, it has become abundantly clear that Arafat, much like Hitler, is no “partner for peace.” Arafat, in violation of the Oslo Accords, continues to use inflammatory rhetoric to incite violence, including praising dead terrorists as martyrs. He refuses to extradite known terrorists to Israel and employs 13 of them in his security forces. Most importantly, Israel’s first line of defense against terrorists, its vast network of informants in the West Bank, has been systematically dismantled due to Arafat’s Gestapo-like intimidation, guaranteeing more innocent blood will be shed.
In defense of Netanyahu, he did not capitulate willingly. The pressure by the Clinton administration to make concessions has been relentless. While this pressure only will make Arafat more intransigent, knowing the United States will push Israel if the “peace process” falters, it will cause further deterioration of relations with our most important and only democratic ally in the region. American interests and security in the Middle East hinge upon a strong Israel. A Palestinian state encompassing most of present-day Israel, Arafat’s ultimate goal, would severely weaken both Israel and the United States and facilitating its development would be a monumental mistake.
Even the recent conditional acceptance of the Wye Accord by Israel proves we have learned little from the painful history of World War II and the Oslo Accords. This agreement has paved the way for more terrorism, not less. The notion of “land for peace” only has proven to be a way for terrorists to secure land to attack Israel. This cannot and should not continue. The United States must stop being the chief advocate for the Palestinians and start defending its ally. Israel should not be pushed or fooled into believing that “peace is at hand.” Peace only will be forged by strength, not appeasement.
-The writer is a senior majoring in political science.