Three classic examples of appeasement have had a tremendous impact upon the World and especially upon the Jewish People. These are the Munich Pact of 1938, the Camp David Accords of 1978, and the Oslo Agreement of 1993. There are several fundamental problems with appeasement besides the loss of national dignity. Perhaps the latter could be tolerated. However, not only does it not result in peace but the end product is war under the most advantageous conditions for the aggressor.
The three agreements have the following commonalities:
1. They all involve the transfer of strategic territories from democratic states to dictatorships.
2. The agreements are made under duress in which the dictatorial entities promise to mend their brutish ways and enter into an era of peaceful, cooperative coexistence with their democratic neighbors.
In each case we shall examine the assumptions made by the democratic powers in ceding land in the hope of peace and the resultant realities. There are a number of ways to evaluate history. One is that of the Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, "A nation that does not learn the lessons of its history is destined to relive it." The former prime minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, during the 1996 election campaign stated that he emphatically repudiates history, "I have become totally tired of history because I feel history is a long misunderstanding. The past interests me like last year's snow. There is nothing to learn from history."
I belong to the Santayana school. It is from this perspective that the three major historical events will be examined.
I. The Munich Pact between France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy - September 1938.
A. Background to the situation: on March 9, 1935 Germany announced that she is scrapping the Versailles Treaty and in the following year, on March 7, 1936 Hitler remilitarized the Rhine region; on March 12, 1938 Germany marched her troops into Austria and annexed that country - anschluss.
B. Soon after the Nazi anschluss with Austria, the Germans in that part of Bohemia that bordered on Germany and Austria began organizing an intifada against the Czechoslovak Republic. Hitler claimed that he could not permit his Germans to be persecuted and threatened to invade Czechoslovakia. The latter had a defense pact with France who in turn was allies with Great Britain. The Czechs were admonished by their western allies to make every effort to accommodate the demands of the Sudeten Germans for autonomy. It was all to no avail. In September 1938 the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Neville Chamberlain, flew three times to see Hitler to plead for peace. Hitler solemnly vowed that the Sudetenland was absolutely Germany's last territorial claim in Europe and that he has no further interest in Czechoslovakia. On September 30, 1938 at 2 A.M. the Munich Pact was signed by France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy. Czechoslovakia was given ten days to evacuate the Sudetenland, beginning on October 1st. Note that the victim was not even present at the conferences that sealed her fate. Great Britain sternly chastised the president, Eduard Benes, for objecting to the decisions taken at Munich. Prime Minister Chamberlain solemnly promised to defend what remained of Czechoslovakia after Poland and Hungary proceeded to also seize parts of the now helpless country. Within six months the government of Great Britain conveniently reneged on that promise.
Soon after the Munich Pact was signed, Gertrude Stein, a born in Pennsylvania to assimilated Jewish parents, was part of the large American expatriate community living in Paris. A minor radical writer of the time, Gertrude Stein visioned herself being an important literary figure. She was so elated with the Munich Pact that she circulated a petition which she sent to Norway urging that Hitler be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. To no ones surprise most of the signatures were like minded Jews. Upon reflection though, perhaps Gertrude Stein was not so far off the mark. Since Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain were equally deserving of the Prize in 1939.
When people focus solely upon blessings of peace and the horrors of war, regardless of circumstances, they may well arrive at disastrous decisions. In the December 15, 1938 edition of the LONDON TIMES, a sincere peacenik of that era wrote the following excerpt: " The warmongers (Winston Churchill and others, those who would make war against another country without having counted the costs, ought to be impeached and either shot or hanged... There has never been a prime minister in the history of England who in nine months achieved such agreements as those Mr. Chamberlain has made with Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Hitler in Munich."
Almost half the Jews of Israel and probably the overwhelming majority of the Jews of the United States are like that peacenik in 1938 and like Gertrude Stein and her idealistic Jewish cohorts. The question that every Jew today needs to face and that is do they want a similar fate to destroy Israel and that remnant of the Jewish People that miraculously survived the Holocaust?
C. Military situation before the Munich Pact - the Czechoslovakian Army consisted of 40 of the best trained and equipped divisions in Europe, behind an elaborate system of fortifications facing Germany, built with French assistance. Behind the Czech Army was the famous Skoda Arms Works. Unbeknown to the West, the German General Staff was of the opinion that their army was ready to fight the combined forces of the Czechs in the East and France and Great Britain in the West. They were prepared to depose Hitler to prevent a war at that time.
D. What did France and Great Britain expect to achieve by sacrificing Czechoslovakia? - "Peace in our time!" to quote a joyous Neville Chamberlain on his return from Munich to a deliriously happy welcoming crowd that greeted him at the London airport. On March 10, 1939 the British Home Secretary addressed an enthusiastic peace-loving British audience that a new Five-Year Peace Plan had been devised that would lead to a "Golden Age." Just four days later on March 14th Germany seized the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Without its fortifications and the strategic terrain of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia was helpless. While this act exploded Western optimism with regards to Hitler's intentions, the allies made no move to save the Czechs. Oh, yes the British gave President Benes and his family sanctuary in their country. In April 1939 the British finally began rearming and preparing for war, just about four months before the outbreak of World War II. The Munich Pact gave the German military a whole additional year in which to prepare and they no longer needed to concern themselves with the once formidable Czech Army on their eastern flank. France did nothing. The rest is history.
II. The Camp David Accords of September 5, 1978
A. What were Israel's expectations for the huge sacrifice in handing the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt based on the promises written into the Accords and guaranteed by the United States?
1. Full diplomatic recognition and an end to the constant threats of war.
2. Friendly economic, cultural, and scientific relations.
3. An end to the Egyptian participation in the Arab boycott of Israel.
4. An educational process terminating the customary Egyptian demonizing of Israel and everything Jewish.
5. As the most important Arab country, Egypt would use its influence to encourage the development of peaceful relations between the other Arab states and Israel.
6. 38 Annexes to the Accords were signed by all three parties, detailing how this intensive normalization process would take place. Not all have even been published to date. The United States is a full participant and guarantor to all the provisions of the Camp David Accords.
B. What did Israel actually surrender in relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula?
1. An area three times the size of Israel, including Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, with the best possible defensive barrier , the Suez Canal, and a 150 kilometer wide buffer against an Egyptian invasion.
2. Nine air bases, including two among the most strategically located, Eitam in the north and Etzion in the south near Eilat. In the fall of 1979 I was serving in Israel as a colonel in the U.S. Army. The Chief of Operations of the U.S. Air Force came on a visit and I was his escorting officer. We traveled around the Sinai Peninsula in an Israeli Air Force helicopter. He voiced absolute surprise that any country would give up the military bases in the Sinai. He went on to say that in his opinion the Israelis are "absolutely stupid to surrender the military advantages in retaining the Sinai Peninsula and especially the air bases at Eitam and Etzion."
3. The vitally important naval base at Ophera at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Several months before the Sinai Accords were signed, General Moshe Dayan stated that it is more important for Israel to keep possession of the Ophera naval base than to have a peace treaty with Egypt.
4. Because of the small size of Israel, many of her most important training areas were relocated to the Sinai Peninsula. This was especially true for her armor and artillery training as well as for the air force. Considering the size and sophistication of Israel's armed forces today, the training areas available in the Negev are inadequate.
5. The oil wells of the Sinai made Israel independent of importing petroleum. With the continued Israeli development of the petroleum resources of the Sinai, Israel had the potential of becoming a minor oil exporting nation. At the time of Israel's relinquishing of the oil wells in 1980, they were earning approximately three billion dollars a year. In addition the Sinai probably has other valuable exploitable minerals.
6. In the ten years after the Six Day War, Israelis developed some impressive settlements in the Sinai Peninsula in a stark desert area that was practically devoid of habitation except for a few thousand impoverished bedouins. These included Ophera, Taba, Nahal Yam, and particularly Yamit, the spectacularly successful farming community near the Eitam IAF base in the northeast corner of the peninsula.
7. In all Israel relinquished something like eleven billion dollars in infrastructure investments.
8. The cost of the redeployment from the Sinai was about eight billion dollars. The money was loaned to Israel by the United States and it is currently being repaid at 10% interest per annum. A similar amount of money owed by Egypt was forgiven by the United States in 1991, at the time of the Gulf War.
9. The Sinai Peninsula was seized from Egypt in a desperate war for survival in June of 1967 in which Egypt was blatantly the aggressor. Furthermore the Sinai Peninsula was never considered a part of Egypt.
C. What did Israel actually receive in compensation for relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula?
1. A prolonged armistice with an exchange of ambassadors.
2. In direct violation of the accords, Egypt has been in the forefront of efforts to foment hostility toward Israel in Africa, the Arab world, and at the United Nations.
3. Egypt never permitted her citizens to participate in commerce, tourism or cultural and scientific exchanges with Israel.
4. Egypt has not only failed to carry out most of the positive clauses of the Camp David Accords but for the past fifteen years has waged a relentless propaganda campaign against Israel and Jews in its government controlled media reminiscent of the Nazi era in Germany. Caricatures of Jews from Hitler's times are constantly being reprinted.
5. Egyptian military threats against Israel resumed in 1987 when the Defense Minister, General Abu Ghazzala stated the Egypt's "principal and sole enemy" was Israel and that together with Syria she would achieve a crushing victory over the Jewish state. On January 23, 1995 General Amin al-Huweidi, the former Minister of War and of MILITARY Intelligence declared, "War is inevitable--- The efforts and the agreements which are now taking place are not building peace; they are agreements leading to war."
6. As a result of the Camp David Accords, Egypt was able to enter into a far-reaching alliance with the United States. Egypt is today the principal U.S. ally in the Middle East with a war machine now based upon U.S. equipment and doctrine. Egypt is presently manufacturing the main U.S. Army battle tank in her own factories.
III. The Oslo Agreement of 1993
A. What were Israel's expectations in exchanging "Land for Peace?"
1. End of Israeli rule and conflict with the Arabs of Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.
2. That Yasser Arafat will vigorously pursue the struggle against Arab terrorism originating in his territory and extradite murderers of Jews to Israel in compliance with the Oslo Agreement.
3. Lead to a normalization of relations with the Arab world. 4. Israeli security will be enhanced by a more peaceful Middle East and that Israel will be accepted by most of the Arab states.
5. In order to placate world pressure and especially from the United States to satisfy Arab demands.
6. Those provisions of the PLO Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel will be revoked.
7. Arabs who cooperated with Israel will not be harmed and will be accepted into Arab society.
B. Benefits the Arabs received from the Oslo Agreement to date.
1. Approximately 95% of the Arabs in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria as well as all their cities are no longer under Israeli control.
2. An electrical infrastructure, built by Israel at a cost of approximately one billion dollars, was handed over to Arafat's Palestine Authority, gratis.
3. They have their own governmental structure, with a significant military establishment under the guise of a police force.
4. The Western nations have given the Palestine Authority generous financial assistance. Israel has provided Arafat with both money and weapons.
C. The Palestine Authority's violations of the Oslo Agreements
1. After almost five years it has still not carried our its pledge to rescind the anti-Israel provisions of the PLO Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.
2. It has not cooperated in the prevention of terrorism against Israel nor extradited murderers as required.
3. Yasser Arafat has conducted a murderous campaign against Arabs who cooperated with Israel and ordered the death of any Arab even suspected of selling land to Jews.
4. The Palestine Authority raucously demands that Israel comply not merely with the provisions of the Oslo Agreement but with their expectations even when not called for. As an alternative they threaten violence.
5. Contrary to specific provisions in the Agreement, incitement against Israel has never abated. Arab educators, academicians, and intellectuals remain in the forefront of this antisemitic hatred. The same holds true in the two other Arab countries which have signed peace treaties with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, with the latter probably the most extreme.
D. How has Israel fared under the Oslo Agreement?
1. More Jews have been killed by Arab terrorists since Oslo than in the previous 45 years of Israel's existence.
2. The most violent terrorist acts generally accompany progress in the so-called "peace process."
a. The February 1996 bus bombings in Jerusalem occurred soon after The government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres transferred control of the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria to the Palestine Authority.
b. The terrorist outrages at the Mahane Yehuda Market and the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall took place with the handing over of most of Hebron to Yasser Arafat.
3. While Arabs from everywhere are safe to walk, work, visit, get medical care, etc. in any Israeli city, a Jew going to the PA controlled areas almost assuredly forfeits his or her life.
4. During the Arab rioting against Israel in September 1996, the Palestine Security forces not only did not try to control the stone throwers but they turned their Israeli provided weapons on the IDF soldiers, killing 16 in clear violation of the Oslo Agreement.
5. There has been no significant thawing in the collective Arab/Moslem attitude of intense hostility toward Israel or toward Jews in general.
Until now I have offered, what I believe are irrefutable facts regarding both the Camp David and Oslo Agreements. In conclusion I shall offer my opinions.
1. Once Israel completed the three-year phased withdrawal fro the Sinai Peninsula in April 1982, it became obvious that all that Israel could expect is a very cold peace which would last at Egypt's convenience. The fundamental reason was offered by King Hassan of Morocco. In 1984 he reported a conversation with Hosni Mubarak that the Treaty was no longer of interest to Egypt since, "Cairo had obtained from it what it could." There was never any question of the United States pressuring its now most important ally in the Middle East to abide by its commitments.
2. Anwar Sadat was assassinated in September 1981. What was his background this great man of peace who secured all of his demands at Camp David?
a. During World War II he was an officer in the Egyptian Army and was imprisoned by the British as a spy for the commander of the Nazi forces in North Africa, Erwin Rommel.
b. As the editor of the most influential newspaper in Egypt in 1953 he wrote an article to the effect that his only complaint against Hitler is that he did not wipe our all the Jews who he characterized as the "world malignant evil."
c. In an interview in "New York Times" reported on October 19, 1980 Sadat summarized the Camp David Accords as follows, "Poor Menachem Begin has problems.... I already got back 90% of the Sinai plus the oil fields and what has he got in return? A piece of paper."
3. While the so-called "Peace Camp" in Israel led by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, and the post-Zionist intellectuals trumpet "the new Middle East" of brotherly love and grandiose delusions of economic prosperity for all its inhabitants, all indications point to the Arabs being quite satisfied with the old Middle East. If there is anything new in the Middle East, it is the introduction by the Arabs of new, more dangerous weapon systems, all aimed at Israel.
4. I do agree with those who point to the Camp David Accords as the model for agreements that Israel may arrive at with the Arabs during the "land for peace" process, including Oslo. The results of the Camp David Accords are a clear indication of Arab intentions toward Israel and what the Jews can expect by returning to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.
5. The very existence of Israel is an affront to the Arabs and to the entire Moslem world. Peace with the Arabs can only be maintained by a balance of power, comparable to that which existed between the United States and Russia during the decades of the Cold War. Peace was assured between those two superpowers through a balance of nuclear terror. The appeasers in the United States advocated succumbing to the constant brandishing of the USSR with the motto, "better red than dead." Fortunately there were wiser leaders and a sufficiently patriotic public in the United States from the time of President Harry Truman through Ronald Reagan. Eventually the ruthless communist dictatorship succumbed and the forces of freedom prevailed. Israel is in a similar situation vis-a-vis the Moslem World.
6. Soon after the Six Day War in June 1956 the many facades of Jewish self-hatred manifested itself as a campaign for peace. Unfortunately for Israel self-hatred is a disease with which Arabs and Moslems are not afflicted. They are firm in the belief that the whole truth is on their side and that justice demands that the entire Zionist entity must be destroyed.
7. The root cause of Israel's problems as regard security or even existence are not the Arabs but the Jews who even in the Jewish State repudiate their own heritage and believe that their salvation lies in their own incredulous utopian fantasies. The immoral self-loathing of these self-haters is unique among ethnic groups and the source of the greatest danger to Jewish survival.
8. What about solutions to Israel's dilemma?
a. Until the Arab world undergoes a massive societal change, the most plausible peace that Israel can hope to achieve is based upon a balance of power which means that the Jews of Israel must remain strong and determined to defend their country. Military strength may be defined as a multiplica- tion factor equal to firepower x mobility x terrain. Contrary to the conventional wisdom espoused in certain devious circles, critical terrain and maneuver area in- creases in importance with advances in military technology.
b. There are no quick remedies to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those who "demand peace now" are like spoiled little children who insist upon instant gratification irrespective of the consequences which happens to be national suicide in the case of Israel. The latter is regarded as a cancer in the Arab midst and may be tolerated at best for lack of ability to destroy her, but never accepted or legitimized. Therefore, the Jews of Israel will only enjoy peace by remaining stronger than the combined Arab forces and project a clear message to the Arab World that the Jews of Israel are physically and emotionally united in the determination to defend their country. Motivated by such a commitment, Israel's security situation is far from hopeless but at the slightest sign of weakness it is fraught with danger.
Appeasement whets the appetite of the aggressor and results in war not peace under the most disadvantageous conditions. Winston Churchill, Great Britain's brilliant wartime prime minister analyzed how World War II might have been avoided, "....how the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous. We shall see how the counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger; how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead to the bull's eye to disaster."
Dr. Irving Kett, is a Colonel U.S. Army (Retired) is presently Professor of civil Engineering at California State University in Los Angeles. Kett writes frequently on Israeli military and strategic affairs.