Appeasement of terrorism and "Islamic fascism" is as wrong and dangerous today as was the submission to Hitler in the Munich Agreement signed 70 years ago on Sept. 29, 1938.
The warning came from former Australian Prime Minister John Howard at a four-day conference marking the legacy of the ill-fated agreement, in which Britain and France ceded part of Czechoslovakia to the Nazi leader.
Drawing an analogy between the popular moods of 1938 and 2008, Howard perceived "a similar reluctance to face up to the threats" and urged the West "not to tire of the fight against an enemy with endless patience."
"The lesson of Munich is that we must never surrender when our cause is right," Howard said, adding that "President Bush's policy in Iraq has been largely vindicated."
Howard spoke during a session of the conference sponsored by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), co-founded by commentator Avi Davis, who also co-founded the Israel Christian Nexus.
AFA's mission, he said, is to defend "the values that make the United States of America a symbol of freedom" and "to counter the growing influence of ideologies that deny the sanctity of the personal conscience."
Also speaking at the session at the Museum of Tolerance were the consuls general of France, the Czech Republic and Germany.
German Consul Christian Stocks acknowledged that it was not easy for a German diplomat to speak at a Munich commemoration, but noted that after the nightmare of World War I, no one in Europe thought it could happen again.
"But Hitler did not want an agreement, he wanted war," Stocks said.
In addition, four Czech survivors of World War II and the Holocaust recounted their experiences.
As an ironic backdrop to the speakers was a blown-up photo of former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain carrying an umbrella and addressing a jubilant British crowd after signing the Munich Agreement.
"[I have] returned from Germany, bringing peace with honor," Chamberlain declared. "I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Museum of Holocaust Construction Starts
Construction began Monday on the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park, according to E. Randol Schoenberg, president of the $20 million project.
Contractor Winters-Schram Associates expects completion in 2010. The 15,000-square-foot building will include exhibits, a library and an archive, with Schoenberg anticipating 50,000 visitors a year.
The museum, currently at 6435 Wilshire Blvd., has been located in a series of temporary quarters since its founding by Holocaust survivors 47 years ago. -- TT
Two Diplomats Join Israeli Consulate
Two new diplomats have joined the Israeli Consulate General for the Southwestern states headquartered in Los Angeles.
Deputy Consul General Gil Artzyeli arrived in California with the advantage of speaking Spanish fluently, after serving from 1995 to 2005 in Bogotá, Mexico City and Madrid.
His service in Colombia yielded a special bonus -- his wife, Viviana, who is a psychologist. The Artzyelis have 2-year-old twins, Daniela and Michael, who are growing up trilingually in Hebrew, Spanish and now English.
Gil Artzyeli (photo, right), 44, is a lawyer, a 14-year veteran of the foreign service and a captain in the army reserves. He is a fifth-generation sabra on his father's side, while his mother made aliyah from her native London.
In his present post, Artzyeli will deal primarily with political issues, homeland security, green technology and the Latino community and press.
Arriving in the midst of the U.S. presidential campaign, he finds much to envy in the "orderly" American debates and system, compared to the more raucous Israeli style of freewheeling politics.
Shahar Azani (photo, left), consul for culture, media and public affairs, is a man in a hurry. Born 32 years ago in Ramat Gan into a Yemenite family, he decided at age 10 that he would represent Israel abroad and, after army service, earned both law and MBA degrees at Bar-Ilan University in less than four years.
Even before he was officially accepted into the foreign service, he used a combination of "chutzpah and luck" to talk himself into a position as assistant spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London at 21.
After various other assignments, he served for the past three years as Israel's deputy ambassador in Nairobi, Kenya, whose jurisdiction also included Uganda, Zambia and Malawi.
In the same post, he represented Israel at various U.N. agencies in East Africa and dealt with crisis problems in Darfur and Somalia.
The Los Angeles assignment represents his first encounter with a large Jewish community in the Diaspora, and he cites as one of his major interests the promotion of cultural exchange between Los Angeles and Israel in the areas of theater, dance and music.
Azani married his fellow law student, Elinor, and they are the parents of Danielle, 5, and 2-year-old Yaheli.