Richard Cohen gets it wrongAcknowledging the scourge of anti-Semitism and its likely continued prominence in the Arab world, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen argues that now is the time for Israel to settle with the 'Palestinians.'
There are nearly no Jews in Arab lands - they were kicked out after Israel was established in 1948. Nowhere in the Middle East is peace with Israel popular. Nowhere in the Middle East is anti-Semitism considered aberrant or weird. It is inconceivable to me that Arab politicians will not attempt to harness both sentiments, combining nationalism with anti-Semitism - a combustible and unstable compound. History instructs about what follows.Sorry, but no. No, because there are no terms on which the 'Palestinians' and their Arab patrons are willing to settle that would not make Israel's continued existence not viable. No, because at a time when the anti-Semites are emboldened, making them generous settlement offers only whets their appetite for more. And no, because, as Cohen acknowledges, a settlement will not satisfy the anti-Semites or the 'extreme Arab nationalists' - descriptions that fit the vast majority of our neighbors' populations - but a settlement will weaken Israel's defenses against its enemies.
Israeli leaders are well aware that they face a new reality in their region. Whatever regime arises in Egypt, it is likely to chill even further what is already called a cold peace. The same might hold for Jordan. King Abdullah is secure for now - the Bedouin tribes need him to avoid chaos - but he, too, will have to listen to popular sentiment.
Consequently, now would be the propitious time for Israel to settle with the Palestinians. I am aware that resolution of the Palestinian issue will not satisfy anti-Semites or extreme Arab nationalists - Israel is not going to give up all of Jerusalem nor, for that matter, disappear - and both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have only been emboldened by recent events. Still, the creation of a Palestinian state - the lifting of all the onerous restrictions on Palestinian movement - will take some air out of this particular balloon and, possibly, improve Israel's deteriorating moral standing in Europe and elsewhere. This is no small matter.
Contrary to Cohen's worry about Israel's 'deteriorating moral standing' in Europe, the Europeans don't matter. They hate us at least as much as the Arabs do and possibly more. They always have and they always will. From the genteel British who did all that they could to prevent the State of Israel from coming into existence, to the orderly Germans who until recently were too embarrassed by their actions in the 1940's to say anything, the Europeans are the original anti-Semites. We cannot fool ourselves by thinking that a 'Palestinian state' - even if agreement could be reached on where and how to establish one - would change their thinking.
Sorry Richard, but no.