Yale historian Kagan: Appeasement always fails
Although the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) understands the enormous international pressure placed on the Israeli government, we nonetheless voice our concern over an Israeli government decision to engage in appeasement by easing its legal blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The ZOA sees such concessions to international pressure as rewarding the terrorists and their sympathizers who organized the violence onboard the ship Mava Mamara belonging to the Gaza flotilla in an effort to break the Israeli blockade.
Any concessions on the operation of the blockade necessarily weakens its effectiveness in keeping out of Gaza any weaponry, war materials and other contraband that can serve the present and future war efforts of Hamas, an organization dedicated in its Charter to the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). Among the items that now be permitted to enter Gaza is concrete, a vital ingredient in the construction of bunkers and fortifications as well as often used in the warheads of the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Such a concession can only strengthen Hamas, which will also be perceived as having won a great victory. This will in turn further entrench its regime. This Israelis action also only encourages efforts to further erode the blockade, encourages more anti-Israel actions and more international pressure.
The New York Times spoke of Israel â€œbowing to worldwide pressure and condemnationâ€ when it announced a relaxation of the blockade: â€œIn what amounted to a reversal of the system of the last three years, Israel said it would create a list of items not permitted to enter Gaza for security reasons, rather than allowing in only those items that were specifically approved, as before â€¦ the language of the announcement on Sunday suggested a possibility of more sweeping change. Israel said it would expand operations at the land crossings already operating to enable processing of â€˜a significantly greater volume of goodsâ€™ and â€˜the expansion of economic activity.â€™ It spoke of opening more land crossings in the future â€¦ Hanin Zuabi, an Israeli Arab member of Parliament who was aboard the Turkish boat, said the announcement amounted to a victory for the flotilla. â€˜This is the beginning of the total collapse of the siege,â€™ she told Ynet, an Israeli news Web site â€¦ Israel said that as part of its easing of restrictions, it will expand the inflow of material for construction projects in Gaza that are carried out with Palestinian Authority approval and under international supervision. Construction materials had been strictly limited until now, with Israel arguing they could help Hamas build bunkers and rockets.â€ (Isabel Kershner, â€˜Israeli Easing of Blockade of Gaza Draws Praise of U.S.â€™ New York Times, June 20, 2010).
Yet, as eminent Middle East authority Barry Rubin observes, â€œThe theory is that international agencies will make sure the materials are used for building nice things, not pillboxes and reinforced bunkers. No doubt Israel will report on whether this promise is kept (though reports to the contrary will probably be ignored) â€¦ What does Israel give up? The entire strategy of trying to reduce Gaza’s economy and the rewards that Hamas can give its supporters. In other words, while Hamas’s military capacity is kept as low as possible it can politically consolidate and stay in power for decades â€¦ As if thatâ€™s not bad enough. Obama administration officials and Quartet negotiator Tony Blair complained that Israel had didnâ€™t give enough unilateral concessions. It should be clear by now that no matter what Israel does this U.S. government will never return the favor but simply line up for the next unilateral concession. Israeli governments will bear this in mind; Western media will fail to understand why Israel rejects demands by those who neither keep their promises nor provide benefits for increased risks. So, this is the future: A revolutionary Islamist statelet, an outpost of Iran, a base for spreading terrorism and subversion, a source for genocidal antisemitic propaganda has been established for the long term on the shores of the Mediterranean â€¦ Hamas will be in power in the Gaza Strip for a long time â€¦ It will return to war against Israel at the first opportunity. It teaches its children to hate the West, be terrorists, kill Jews and wipe Israel off the mapâ€ (Barry Rubin, â€˜Flash: Israel Revises Gaza Policy; World Gets What it Wants: Terrorist, Genocidal, Antisemitic, Revolutionary Islamist Statelet on the Mediterranean ,â€™ Rubin Reports, June 20, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, â€œThe easing of the blockade is not only a mistake â€“ but an obvious one: Israel imposed the blockade for the sound, legal, moral and strategic reason of seeking to deny Hamas weaponry and materials to rebuild their war capacity. If Israel could have previously made the exemptions and alterations to its blockade regime that it has now made under international pressure, including from President Barack Obama, it would have done so all along. Clearly, Israel is running new security risks.
â€œWho believes that dual-use materials like concrete, a vital ingredient in building bunkers and fortifications, wonâ€™t find its way to Hamas? Who believes international observers will prevent this happening or make public protests when it does? Who believes that Hamas will not benefit? And who believes, that with these important unilateral Israeli concessions, that this is the end of international demands for yet more concession, including by President Obama?
â€œEminent Yale classicist and historian Donald Kagan has written in his book, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace that there is not one historical instance in which a policy of appeasement could be said to have warded off dangers, prevented aggression or otherwise eased the geopolitical situation. Kagan concludes that, looking at 3,000 years of history, appeasement has always failed. If anyone believes that easing the Gaza blockade will assist the cause of peace, weaken Hamas, turn Palestinians towards compromise and amity, they will be disappointed. It is incumbent upon all friends of Israel to speak out against the policy of pressuring Israel to undertake steps such as these and to do so without delay.â€