Why the Czechs voted with Israel against “Palestinian” UN status upgrade

I’ve seen a number of people wondering why — aside from the USA, Canada, and the small Pacific Island nations that usually vote with the USA — the Czech Republic voted with Israel against upgrading the “Palestinian” representation at the United Nebbich. (Incidentally, “nebbich” itself comes from a Czech word.)

But seriously, this vote is no mystery at all for anybody who knows the history of the area around WW II: the Czechs have been in this movie themselves before. Consider the following:

  • suppose you have a big bully with a supremacist ideology
  • you have a minority in your country that is ethnically and linguistically related to the big bully, part having settled in your country in the Middle Ages, part later
  • the loudest voice of that minority is a party directly in the pay of the bully
  • lots of harassment, claims of “oppression” and “discrimination”, and specious claims of “atrocities” ensue
  • the bully demands to “liberate” his oppressed kinsfolk (numbers of whom are themselves lukewarm at best to the idea)
  • in the name of “preserving peace in our time“, the big powers of the day force your hand to give up those territories
  • [here the parallel ends, thus far] eventually the big bully gobbles up what’s left of your country anyway and declares it a “protectorate” (which is what “dhimmi” status literally means).

In the above, substitute either “Palestinians” or “Sudeten Germans” for the minority. Can the parallels be any clearer?

Now guess what happened after WW II: the Czechs, having no desire to go through such a thing twice, decided to expel virtually the entire Sudeten German population (about 1.6 million people) across the border to the American occupation zone of Germany. (Note that this was not a peaceful process: a joint German-Czech commission in 1995 reached an estimate of 15,000-30,000 dead out of about 1.6 million expellees/deportees.)

Summing up: if anybody understands the predicament of the Israelis — and understands that Israel is acting with an almost superhuman level of restraint that they themselves (understandably, after “the butcher of Prague” and his successors) were unable to exercise in the past — it would be the Czechs.

Sherrod Brown needs a history lesson

The latest Deemocrat [sic] with more zeal than knowledge to fall afoul of Godwin’s Law was Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who claimed that (link via Best of the Web)

You know, I look back in history, and some of the worst governments we’ve ever had–you know that one of the first things they did? They went after the trade unions. Hitler didn’t want unions, Stalin didn’t want unions, Mubarak didn’t want independent unions. These autocrats in history don’t want independent unions.

James Taranto makes some predictable word jokes about the Soviet Union, but misses the real historical point. Not only was the Comintern deeply involved in trade union activity outside the Soviet Union (including both the creation of new Communist-controlled ones and attempts at subverting existing social-democratic or Christian-democratic ones) but… the vast majority of workers in Nazi Germany were members of a trade union federation named the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front). Its leader, Robert Ley, was to be in the dock at the original Nuremberg Trial (not for his union activity, obviously, but for his complicity in the large-scale mistreatment of foreign slave labor) but committed suicide before he could stand trial.

The DAF was created as a forced merger of the Weimar-era trade union federations with the NSBO (Nazionalsocialistische Betriebszellenorganization, or National Socialist Factory Cell Organization). Theoretically, membership in the DAF was voluntary; in many sectors of the economy, it was however basically impossible to get a job without being a DAF member.

It would be too much to ask of a politician, however, to actually learn something about the history of the world’s darkest regimes  before making specious comparisons of their present-day political opponents to them.

UPDATE: After I hit “post”, I felt compelled to point out what may not be as obvious to some readers as it is to me: that the above detracts in no way from the heroism displayed by opponents of the Nazi regime (such as July 20 co-conspirator Wilhelm Leuschner) who happened to be (pre-DAF, later underground) trade union activists.