We Are For Israel Blog

1 Response to We Are For Israel Blog

  1. Phil Cohen says:

    My buddy, Roger Cohen
    I love Roger Cohen. Maybe it’s because we share a last name; I doubt it. I think I love him because he’s a terrible thinker and an even worse writer. The New York Times columnist consistently writes from the wrong side of the political spectrum. His February 28 column “Zero Dark Zero,” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/global/zero-dark-zero.html?_r=0 is a case in point.
    It’s a mish mash of assertions and quotations with the conclusion that Israeli military force, bolstered by American support, has allowed an economically sustainable status quo in Israel that is, alas, morally bankrupt. The onus this falls squarely on Israel’s shoulders, as Israelis have long been comfortable with their roles as conquerors, who live easily with the oppression they support, and who are assured the military means to maintain this state of things.
    The opening words of the article alone make my case. “A minister in the outgoing Israeli government put it to me bluntly during a recent visit to Israel: “For the first time in these elections, the Palestinians did not come into it.” Israelis for the most part are comfortable enough to ignore their neighbors. If they are on the Titanic they prefer not to think about it.”
    The observation that war and peace wasn’t an election issue this time around–by February 28 is old news. Anyone even superficially observing the elections knew this. The question is, why? The reasons seem to run like this. First and foremost, economic issues dominated. The gap between rich and poor and the inability for young people to acquire affordable housing are of deep concern to Israelis and so this is what the candidates spoke of.
    Second, as I understand it, there is a general consensus that the Palestinian partner for peace doesn’t exist. Sure, maybe Abbas, perhaps Fayyad, but the latter is not empowered and the former is afraid and does not really represent the Palestinians, his term in office having long ago expired. Meanwhile, what about Hamas and the possibility of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank? Why run the very real risk of a Palestinian state that may become an extension of Hamastan on the Gaza? Right now there is a feeling in Israel that a relatively high degree of safety has been achieved, enough to justify a sense of domestic comfort while awaiting the Godot of a peace partner who may or may not arrive, but, like the Messiah, ain’t on the horizon.
    Is this what Roger means when he says, “A strong Israeli nationalist current — we won all the land on the battlefield, so it’s ours! — will prevail over the peace-talk fatigue among Israeli liberals and a splintered Palestinian movement.” ‘A splintered Palestinian leadership’—this is not ordinary lack of cooperation between two political parties; this is Hamas and Fatah, enemies who from time to time attempt for public purposes to appear on the verge of a breakthrough. As for the triumphalism of Roger’s statement, the general sentiment among Israelis is that, yes, a two-state solution is desirable, but not now, and for good reasons. Why must folks like Roger assume the responsibility falls entirely, or at all, on Israel’s shoulders? Why must Israel be the increasingly right wing state smugly satisfied with its role as conqueror, and the poor Palestinians merely “splintered” politically?
    Israel may well be the Titanic, to use my buddy Roger’s metaphor. The demographic time bomb that will bring the entire region to a Palestinian majority may be ticking. Festering anger on the West Bank may bring another intifada. Things in Lebanon and especially Syria may boil over into northern Israel. The increasing Islamic vice, which holds Egypt in its grip, may produce significant anti-Israel action. But Israel is relatively safe. There is little that can happen within Israel’s borders, and none of what could happen would constitute an existential threat.
    Isn’t a strong defense in part at least the outgrowth of all these years of uncertainty. If Israel is the Titanic, a word with which Roger begins his article but which actually becomes less apt as the article continues, it is not without Israel’s numerous, recent attempts. One must, I suppose, rehearse all of the opportunities from Oslo to Camp David to Taba to Olmert’s offer to Abbas to the abandonment of Gaza to remind folks that Israel is committed to peace and had been willing to make painful concessions. This is not to mention Netanyahu’s freeze of construction on the West Bank, which went unmet by any peace talks.
    But somehow to the mind of Roger Cohen, and to the surprising plethora of individuals who posted comments to this piece, the onus will always lie with Israel. The causality leading to the status quo is Israel alone. The Palestinians are the victims and Israel the conqueror.
    And this is why I love Roger Cohen (no relation). His bumbling naïveté, which the Times generously displays on its op-ed pages on a regular basis, reflects the worst sort of reasoning. I should add, calling himself a Liberal Zionist, as he does in this article, damages both the word “liberal” and the word “Zionist.” If “liberal” means blaming Israel then I have no idea what Zionist means in that construction. If the status quo is undesirable because of the moral implications of Israel’s continuing rule of the West Bank (note: no longer is Gaza included in this statement), then one must question who bears that responsibility. But I need go on no longer. Mr. Roger Cohen has done his job.

    Damon Winter/The New York Times
    Roger Cohen
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    Israelis for the most part are comfortable enough to ignore their neighbors. If they are on the Titanic they prefer not to think about it.

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