During the 1930s Winston Churchill stood nearly alone against the growing menace of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. He railed about Germany’s re-arming throughout the decade.
“From his backbench seat in Parliament, Churchill badgered, "Germany is arming – she is rapidly arming – and no one will stop her." But Winston was seen as an alarmist distraction by the coalition government of Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties focused primarily on domestic issues … But Churchill would not be silenced. In a barrage of speeches, broadcasts and articles he raised public awareness of Germany's rearmament and Britain's lack of preparedness.” (an excerpt from the “Gathering Storm:”)
Churchill was prescient and prophetic. Germany was re-arming. Hitler was preparing for war. The world was lurching toward the abyss. Yet Churchill’s voice in the 1930s wilderness was seen by many as “an alarmist distraction.”
Today, Benjamin Netanyahu too is crying out in the wilderness of 2013. He is sounding the alarm against an Islamic regime bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. He is warning the West its recent Geneva agreement makes the world a more – not less – dangerous place. He sees the churning of thousands of Iranian centrifuges and sees another, but this time nuclear, abyss.
Yet today – like Churchill – for some he is “an alarmist distraction.” For example, British (ironically) Foreign Secretary William Hague warned: “We would discourage anybody in the world, including Israel, from taking any steps that would undermine this agreement and we will make that very clear to all concerned.”
In this crucible of our times, perhaps Netanyahu sees a historic parallel between himself as today’s Israeli prime minister and yesteryear’s British prime minister.
During last week’s visit to Moscow, Netanyahu sat down with Israeli and foreign reporters for an off-the-record briefing. This reporter asked Netanyahu the following question, a question his spokesman did allow to be “on the record:”
“During your U.N. speech, you quoted from [the prophet] Amos [about Israel not being uprooted again from the Land after returning from a 2000 year exile]. Given the Iranian nuclear threat, in what way do you feel the weight of Jewish history on your shoulders? Do you feel a bit like Churchill in 1938?”
“He was in opposition then. That was different. And there are many other differences. But I think that securing the future of the Jewish state is the responsibility of the government … That’s my job. I need to make sure I do everything in my power in the time that I have as the leader of Israel to make sure that the chain of Jewish existence and the chain in the life of the Jewish people in the Jewish state is not severed … This is my responsibility."
Churchill bore the criticism and scorn of the political class. Yet history proved him right. Netanyahu can expect the scorn and criticism of those seeking appeasement with a genocidal regime. My sense is that, like Churchill, time will show him to be on the right side of history and – like Churchill – a man for the hour.