In praise of Neville Chamberlain

As a distant lover of Israel, I have been genuinely puzzled by its failure to produce a statesman equal to the challenges faced by the country over the past 20 years. In every area of modern life the country boasts a genius that on a per capita basis must be unrivaled. Yet on the world stage its politicians seem almost retarded.
The country has never had a public accounting for the utter disaster that was Oslo. Its politicians seem to keep the country’s citizens in the dark about the nature of its national security strategy and the actions taken to pursue it. Indeed, it seems incapable of having such a conversation for lack of a strategy to begin with.
Symptomatic of the delusional political thinking that has brought Israel so much grief is the fact that there has as yet been no public accounting for the disaster of Oslo itself. Vital advocates of Oslo such as Shimon Peres are still respectable public figures playing significant roles and urging the same policy. It is as if Neville Chamberlain (if he had still been alive — he had the grace to die in 1940) were still advising Winston Churchill on the statesmanship of appeasement in 1942.
Today in the Jerusalem Post Sarah Honig extends this train of thought to Israel’s peace activists such as Uri Avnery and, by contrast, finds Neville Chamberlain worthy of emulation: “In praise of Chamberlain.”
Honig writes: “Imagine, if you will, Neville Chamberlain maintaining unwavering faith in Hitler’s intentions even after the invasion of Poland and the bombing of London. Imagine him sticking to his guns and obstinately insisting that appeasement wasn’t wrongheaded, there just wasn’t enough of it.
“Imagine Chamberlain, no longer in power, blasting Churchill’s pugnacity and crossing the battle lines for photo-ops with the Fuehrer. Imagine him rushing to Berlin after the downturn in Axis fortunes to parley with the man in charge because he was the democratically elected leader and symbol of the renascent German nation.
“Imagine Chamberlain again making it to Hitler’s bunker on the eve of Nazi collapse in a last-ditch effort to save his beleaguered peace partner, proclaiming he’d personally volunteer to serve as his human shield. Preposterous? Not in our bailiwick. Our appeasers keep appeasing.”


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