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Manfred Gerstenfeld: Extremist Islam:European appeasement
Neville Chamberlain, the much despised pre-World War II British prime minister, could not have imagined that his failed appeasement policy would be revived after the Second World War. The essence of his policies has been widely practiced by Western European governments for decades already.
One example of how Germany followed this policy occurred after the murders of 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics by Palestinian terrorists. Recent releases by the Israel State Archives reveal how the Germans failed miserably during their attempts to fight the terrorists.
The German paper Der Spiegel disclosed that a few months after the murders, the German government sought contact with the terrorists of Black September in order to come to an agreement. After the hijacking of a German plane, three Palestinian terrorists held were set free. The Germans made no effort to have the terrorists recaptured and brought to account.
Symbolically speaking, this German attitude of appeasement toward Palestinian murderers after Munich 1972 was an – albeit much smaller – opposite of Munich 1938 when Czech democracy was delivered to Hitler by the British and the French. This time, it was democratic Germany which capitulated to the criminals.
German appeasement of terrorists after the Munich Olympics does not stand alone. Bat Ye’or writes that in the 1970s France, England, Italy and Austria made informal agreements with the PLO to protect their countries against terrorism. In 2008, former Italian President Francesco Cossiga wrote that an agreement existed of "don’t harm me and I won’t harm you" between the Italian government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as with the PLO. Christian Democratic Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who approved this agreement, was later murdered by Italian terrorists.
One country went beyond appeasement and identified with the murderers. In 1988, Greek Socialist Minister of Justice V. Rotis overruled a Greek court and freed the Palestinian Abdel Osama Al-Zomar who was to be extradited to Italy to stand trial. He had murdered a Jewish child and wounded 34 people in front of a synagogue in Rome. Rotis called Al-Zomar a "resistance fighter" and allowed him to leave for Libya.
The current European refusal to call Hezbollah a terrorist group is yet another example of appeasement. Appeasement also explains the unwillingness of European governments to bring Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah Khamenei before an International Court to which they are committed under the UN Genocide Convention. Lukewarm European support for sanctions against Iran is a further illustration of the appeasement mentality.
Much of this fits Martin Gilbert and Richard Gott’s description of how pre-war appeasers behaved in their book, The Appeasers: "The essence of their craft was weakness, vacillation and uncertainty." The pages on how the Chamberlain government undermined its public declarations and the guarantees it had given to Poland are also worth reading.
There is also much appeasement among Christian bodies. Many liberal Protestant circles are often far more inclined to blame Israel than to draw attention to crimes against Christians in Muslim countries. The Vatican often remains silent about attacks on Catholics in Muslim countries.
In Germany, there are other aspects of appeasement as well. Recently in Rostock, the university refused to hold a pro-Israel lecture sponsored by the German-Israel Friendship Society, out of fear of violence by opponents. This was done after consulting intelligence services. The event was held elsewhere without problems.
The Rostock case illustrates how Israel’s enemies attain their goals out of fear of their violence without having to resort to it. This attitude only encourages additional violence, such as the recent attacks on Jews in Berlin. It also encourages extremists to publicly shout 'kill the Jews,' as there is little risk of them being arrested. These are all signs that aggressive members of the Muslim community in Germany and their allies have managed to impose fear upon the German authorities. The only way to fight this is to "blame and shame" these authorities thoroughly after each incident.
Such shaming took place in Duisburg in January 2009. There the police removed two Israeli flags from an apartment after participants in an anti-Israel demonstration organized by the Turkish extremist group Milli Gorus, had started to pelt it with objects. This scandalous attitude was heavily criticized and police had to apologize afterwards.
We live in different times than Chamberlain did. A major challenge today is how to deal with the multi-faceted aggression and intimidation emanating from the world of extremist Islam. As so often happens, the experiences of the Jews are very good indicators of what is occurring in Europe. The Mohamed Merah murders in France and the recent attacks on identifiable Jews in Germany and Austria are some indications of who pays disproportionately for the appeasement of violent extremist Islamists.
Hitler’s democratic European opponents paid heavily for appeasing him. The Jews were forced to pay even more. The same happens today with Jews and Israel. But ultimately, Western democracies will also pay heavily for their appeasement of Islamist totalitarians and terrorists.
Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)