In the H.G Wells novel and subsequent film, "The Invisible Man," the main character takes a dangerous drug and slowly disappears.
That is a metaphor for what is happening to Israel as it plans its latest unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which it once occupied for security purposes. Israel is slowly disappearing, and the twin drugs of appeasement and self-delusion are responsible.
The disengagement later this month (which is actually a retreat and is seen that way by Israel's enemies) will not be the end, anymore than previous retreats, concessions, goodwill gestures and written documents have produced security or peace in the region.
Only after Israel is destroyed will the West realize what it did and failed to do, but it will find convenient and comforting explanations to absolve itself from any blame. Jews, you see, are always responsible not only for the world's problems, but for bringing destruction upon themselves by virtue of their being Jews.
Some Israelis are placing faith in a formal letter of assurance that President Bush addressed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, in which the president assured Sharon that the United States would back Israel's claim for defensible borders, which Israelis take to mean the West Bank. The Palestinian and Arab sides have not agreed to any borders.
Israel trusts the word of the president, even as the State Department continues its pro-Arab ways and pressures Israel into real concessions while accepting as gospel empty promises from the Palestinian side, a side that has lived up to only one pledge: to eradicate the Jewish state.
Does anyone doubt that the moment (or even before the moment) the last Jewish "settler" is dislodged from Gaza and the last thriving business closed, that Hamas and its legion of demons will rush into Gaza, expand their terror operation and begin close-up attacks on Israel?
Who will stop them? It won't be the Europeans, or the Palestinians, or any Arab state that helps subsidize them. When the next formal war is launched against Israel, will the United States send troops and planes? With so little land left to defend, it is likely such a war will be over soon after it starts with Israeli cities reduced to rubble and casualties running to perhaps tens of thousands, or more.
No responsible business owner would give something to his customers without receiving something in return, or he would not remain in business for long. Why should Israel be required to do all the giving and none of the receiving?
Have we forgotten what produced the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip? In May 1967, the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria gathered on Israel's borders in another attempt to eradicate Israel. These armies enjoyed backing from several other Arab countries, much as Hitler's final solution enjoyed similar support from some of the same Arab states. Israel's pre-emptive strike allowed it to gain control of Gaza and the West Bank.
Has anything changed in the Palestinian and Arab world? Has the rhetoric in mosques, schools and media cooled toward Israel or the objective of eliminating it? It has not. If anything, the rhetoric has become even more volatile. The Israelis are held in such contempt that they must dig up their dead from cemeteries in Gush Katif, including six graves of area residents murdered by terrorists, to avoid the desecration they've experienced in the past. Not a single Jew, living or dead, will be allowed to remain.
Based on past performance, once Israel's retreat is finished, the Palestinian-Arab side may digest its latest prey like a giant boa constrictor swallowing a large mouse. But after swallowing, it will want more. Look for another intifada and then look for the State Department and the rest of the administration to again pressure Israel to do more.
The formula is wrong. Just as the character in "The Invisible Man" was unable to find an antidote and restore what he had lost, Israel's slow disappearance from the region cannot now be reversed. Assurances, agreements, promises and documents will not be able to bring her back.
The West, having failed 60 years ago to save millions of Jews from the murderous ways of the Third Reich, will have new blood on its hands which history will not, and should not, allow it ever to wipe clean.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist and a host on Fox News Channel. Readers may leave e-mail at www.calthomas.com . His column appears on Tuesday and Thursday.