We Will Not Be Czechoslovakia!

Elyakim Haetzni
October 13, 2001

Sharon's comparison between Israel's position today and the tragic fate of Czechoslovakia in 1938 - Is it correct? Is it fair?

Czechoslovakia, which was the only democracy in her region, suffered from a strong belligerent minority group in her midst, over 3 million Germans. To make the situation even worse this hostile element occupied the Sudeten Mountains, the backbone of the country, without which the remainder was indefensible. If this was not enough, these mountains lie directly on the border of Germany, and so the Sudeten Germans, although a minority in their country, relied on the huge German "Big Brother" right across the border. Czechoslovakia offered these Germans Autonomy, which they refused, demanding annexation to Germany. Actually - never in history had the Sudeten belonged to Germany. Czechoslovakia was a very strong country, the morale of the people was superb, and they were quite ready to fight the Germans. Czechsolovakia had a solemn defence treaty with France, behaved consistently as Frances' staunchest and most loyal ally. But France (and her ally Britain) betrayed her in the moment of truth.

Israel's democracy vis a vis the Arab dictatorships, Judea-Samaria in comparison to the Sudeten, "Palestine" never having existed in history, the IDF and the Czechoslovak army, Israel and the US - the similarity is striking. After the Munich 1938 betrayal of Czechoslovakia, and surrender of the Sudeten, there was no physical possibility any more to hold on to the remainder of the country, the people and the army were demoralized and as a result, in March 1939 the Germans took Prague without firing a single shot.

Against this background, here are some instructive quotations from Winston Churchill's Second World War Memoires "The Gathering Storm":

  • A leading article in the London "Times" carried this "friendly" advice: "make Czechoslovakia a more homogeneous state by the cession of that fringe alien population who are contiguous to the nation to which they are united by race." Churchill concludes: "This, of course, involved the surrender of the whole Bohemian fortress line."

  • In the British government "some ministers found consolation in such phrases as 'the rights (of the Germans.E.H.) to self-determination', 'the claims of a national minority to just treatment', and even the mood appeared of 'championing the small man against the Czech bully'". In the language of Israel's critics: The German David versus the Czechoslovak Goliath…

  • "The Czechs had a million and a half men armed behind the strongest fortress line in Europe, and equipped by a highly organized and powerful industrial machine".

  • After Germany's defeat, Marshal Keitel (the German chief of Staff) was asked - "Would the Reich have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 if the Western Powers had stood by Prague?" "Certainly not" was his answer…

And so it was Appeasement, Chamberlains' craven hope to gain "Peace in our time" by sacrificing Czechoslovakia, which caused the loss of 50-60 million lives in WW2.

...And the Sudeten Germans? After Germany's defeat they were expelled, they lost all their property and resettled in Germany. But : Unlike the Palestinian refugees they rebuilt a future for themselves, and unlike the Arabs, the new German democratic state makes no claims to re-settle them in the Czech Republic, nor claims restitution of property, admitting the German guilt and the principle of Crime and Punishment, a notion unheard of in all Arabia.

This is as far as the comparison between Israel 2001 and Czechoslovakia 1938-1945 can carry us.

There is, however, one big difference between Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush: The former wanted to avoid war, any war, at all costs, whereas the latter is ready - even eager - to fight . Only he doesn't want his war to be perceived as "Zionist" or "Israeli", in one word - as a Jewish war. And here, Sharon could have drawn a perfect parallel which, too, goes back to the dark days of Nazi-rule.

Why didn't America take in the St. Louis passenger ship, sent by the Nazi- government with the express purpose of testing the attitude of the "Free World" vis a vis the persecution of Jews? Why were the wretched refugees sent back to their cruel destiny?

Why did the Allies refuse to bomb the railway tracks to Auschwitz? Why, even when the terrible dimensions of the extermination of the Jews were already known, did the West keep the gates tight shut, abandoning the Jews to their fate?

Why, in all the anti-Nazi war propaganda, against the "Kraut" and the "Huns", the mass murder of the Jewish race was kept out?

There is only one explanation: The British and American authorities knew full well the anti-Semitic sentiment of their peoples (and their armies), and they believed that underlining the Jewish aspect of the war would do harm to their war effort. Conversely, the Nazi-propaganda kept claiming that the allies were spilling their blood "for the Jews". It is important to note today, that this insane claim did indeed make an impact.

And - why, of all places was refuge in Palestine, which had been designated to function as the "Jewish National Home" - denied to the Jews by a British "White Paper" of 1939, why were refugee ships sent back into the inferno even from the "National Home"?

Because the British felt the need to appease the Arab world, which was largely sympathetic to Hitler.

Sharon could have made his point even as to the period before 1938, of the Race Theory, Mein Kampf, the Concentration Camps, the Nuremberg Laws. Facing all this the Democratic Powers showed no concern because nobody wanted to be identified as "being with Jews".

Such was the atmosphere in those times, even in the enlightened parts of Europe, even in America. The climate changed only retrospectively, better - posthumously, when humanity was confronted with the ghastly visible results of the West's passive anti- Jewish attitude. And then it was too late.

It is relatively easy to erect today in Washington and elsewhere Holocaust Museums, and feel righteous in a virtual yesterday, which today is politically correct. But in the real yesterday the persecution of the Jews - active or passive - was mainstream political correctness!

Under the impact of the Holocaust, Jew haters still cannot come out into the open, so they use synonyms, such as being "anti-Israel", "anti-settlers" etc. Had the free world, in Hitler's early days, internalized that the Jew was a human being just like anybody else, also - that evil and injustice done to the Jews many times only precedes all the others, then Hitler would - and could - have been stopped in time and 50-60 million human lives spared.

Osama bin Laden is not very original in using for his war against Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian ethics the Jewish issue as a disguise. Hitler preceded him. And in this sense, George W. Bush is not original in distancing himself from Israel and sponsoring an anti-Israeli, pro-Arab "peace"-plan: Roosevelt, Chamberlain, Churchill and De Gaulle preceded him.

Sharon's reminder of Czechoslovakia's fate was not meant as an affront, but as a warning, that sacrificing the Jews will appease neither the Arabs nor militant Islam, and that there was a second part in Bin Laden's declaration, swept under the carpet by the media : The cleansing of all Arab lands from the infidels. After the Jews - the Arabian peninsula, to be cleansed of the Americans, and then, maybe, the restoration of Islam to Granada and Andalusia, to the Balkans, and so on.

We in Israel, if called upon to chose between "politically incorrectness" with today's US establishment or a second Holocaust Museum, on our ruins and graves - our choice is clear.