The New Third Reich // Some “dumb ideas” are truly dumb

Few things could better illustrate what the Gemara (Eruvin 53b) teaches us about the little boy and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananiah—how a short road can in reality turn out to be terribly long—than Hank Johnson’s simple-minded approach to stopping Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping.

The Houthis, an armed, Shiite Iranian proxy group that controls much of Yemen, including its capital, and whose slogan is “Death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam,” have been firing missiles at commercial and military ships navigating a narrow strip of the sea, a key international trade route. They are demanding an end to Israel’s “genocidal” war on Hamas.

The Biden administration has ordered several strikes on Houthi targets and last week redesignated the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity.

And Hank Johnson? He’s a Georgia congressman who recently tweeted a humblebrag “dumb idea” for putting an end to the Houthi attacks.

“Stop the bombing of Gaza,” he helpfully suggested, and “then the attacks on commercial shipping will end. Why not try that approach?”

The answer to that question lies in the aforementioned little boy’s observation. Just as a short road can turn out to in effect be very long, so can many a seemingly simple “solution” turn out to be a greater problem still.

To appreciate that truism, Mr. Johnson would do well to study some not-so-distant history, specifically, what occurred on September 29, 1938.

That was when then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had a meeting in Munich with Adolf Hitler, ym”sh, during which the British leader felt he had received assurance from the German dictator that Germany would not attack and annex all of Czechoslovakia.

On his return to his offices on Downing Street in London, Chamberlain addressed a large crowd gathered below the balcony where he stood, boasting that he had achieved “peace with honor… peace for our time.”

“Now,” he told the jubilant citizens, “I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.” King George subsequently issued a statement extolling “the magnificent efforts of the prime minister” and expressing his “fervent hope that a new era of friendship and prosperity may be dawning among the peoples of the world.”

When Chamberlain left Munich, according to David Faber in his book about the ill-fated attempt to appease Hitler, German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop questioned his boss about his having signed the agreement the British Prime Minister now happily held in his pocket.

“Oh, don’t take it so seriously.” the Führer replied. “That piece of paper is of no further significance whatsoever.”

And in March of the next year, Germany forcibly annexed the part of Czechoslovakia it hadn’t already occupied. That September, it invaded Poland, beginning World War II.

History, it has been said, “doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” What Congressman Johnson fails to comprehend is that, in as perfect a historical rhyme as could be imagined, Iran is today’s Third Reich.

Precisely that comparison was made back in 2015 by former CIA Director James Woolsey.

Iran, he noted, is trying to expand its empire much like Hitler’s Germany before the Second World War, exerting its influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. It is, he contended, “an imperial power… trying to become more of an imperial power.” And, of course, it hates Jews.

Back in 1938, when Neville Chamberlain made his overly optimistic announcement, Winston Churchill admonished him: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor.

You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” And, as we know, his prediction proved accurate.

Today, trying to appease one of Iran’s proxies (the Houthis) by hampering the effort to undermine another of the mullahs’ minions (Hamas) rhymes 1938 with 2024. Mr. Johnson’s “dumb idea,” if it were implemented, would do nothing at all to stop the Islamic Republic’s determination to expand the ambit of its “imperial power.” What it would do is further encourage and empower the new Third Reich.

Because the enticingly short road of pressuring Israel to halt its quest to destroy Hamas would unquestionably morph into an endless and horribly dangerous road. For it would provide Iran what it needs to, chalilah, succeed where the first Third Reich blessedly failed in wiping out the Jews.

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