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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The education of Richard Cohen

A year ago this month, Richard Cohen wrote a column in which he referred to the creation of the State of Israel as a 'mistake' and noted his openness to calling it a 'crime.' Some of you may recall that I took him to task for that column. Richard has been working hard for the last year, and he has now reached the point where he is ready to admit that Israel's existence is 'right,' or as Soccer Dad succinctly put it, "he seems to be over his Israel is a mistake period." Here are the key paragraphs:
Still, the chief reason for the cheering on Sept. 11 was U.S. support for Israel. Sometimes that support has been mindless and sometimes it has been over the top, but fundamentally it is based on certain truths. The first is that Israel is a legally sanctioned state, created by the United Nations in 1948 and recognized soon after by most countries, including -- amazingly enough -- Cold War adversaries the United States and the Soviet Union. The second truth is that at least one Islamic state (Iran) and a host of militant organizations -- Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and, of course, al-Qaeda -- fervently wish for Israel's destruction. There is no way the United States could appease these groups and not, in the process, trample on its own moral values. Israel on occasion is wrong -- and the settlements are an abomination -- but its existence is right.


But, in a way, America has little choice about being hated in some parts of the world. The United States is never going to be truly popular as long as it insists on adhering to certain principles. Russia, which is creeping back to totalitarianism, does not have this problem. China, which is already authoritarian and obstructionist on Darfur, does not have this problem. Cuba, which is authoritarian, obstructionist and vile, also does not have this problem. Many Serbs hate America for the NATO bombing of that country, but the bombing stopped the killing in the Balkans. Tell me that was the wrong thing to do.
Captain Ed is upset with some of Cohen's comments about Iraq and Abu Ghraib but agrees that regarding Israel, Cohen is dead on:

However, in his main point, Cohen is dead on. For six years, we have heard people say that America must address why people like the Palestinians hate us so much that they would cheer our deaths. What they mean is that we have to abandon Israel, as Cohen notes. We've known that for decades, and we have refused to respond to it. Israel has been the one stable democracy in the region with Western values such as free speech and free practice of religion, while the lunatics who cheer for mass murders have no respect for our values. Why should we align ourselves with them?

Americans want to believe that everyone can be our friends. We would certainly like that, and thanks to our diversity, we can relate to a wide range of cultures and sensitivities -- but we seem to have a blind spot about values and motivations. Not everyone wants American friendship, and even if we did abandon Israel, they would still hate us for other, secondary reasons, such as our support for moderate Arab oppressive states like the Saudis. The more radical populations hate us on our own, regardless of Israel, precisely for the values of free speech, gender equality, and religious expression that bind us to our Israeli allies.

Does anyone want to give those values up, as well as turn on our reliable friends? What kind of nation would we be if we did? What would we win with the friendship of those who ululate in glee at our destruction?

I'm annoyed that Richard refers to American support for Israel as sometimes being 'mindless' and 'over the top' and I vehemently disagree with his characterization of the 'settlements' as an 'abomination,' (one day, I would like to spend half an hour explaining to Richard why Ariel Sharon was correct when he compared Netzarim to Tel Aviv). But I'm pleased to see that Richard now seems to understand that US support for Israel is grounded in our shared values, and that Israel is a 'mistake' only in the minds of those who do not share America's values. America will never be popular for supporting Israel, but it is gratifying to see the world's dominant power doing something because it is right and not because it's expedient. I hope and pray that Richard's seeming epiphany will spread to the 9/11 'truthers' that dominate the US Democratic party's discourse these days.

It should be a fun day at Daily Kos and Huff Po today.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Thanks for the mention and the quote.

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

years ago Cohen had an article criticizing the then Senator D'Amato for going after the Swiss Nazi collaborators who pocketed Holocaust money.
Cohen's argument was that the Senator was just doing this for Jewish votes.
Perhaps COhen was right, maybe D'amoto was just out for votes(he got traditional Jews, but libs would vote for a pro abortion nazi).
However the article made me wonder. Why was a goy going after the Swiss. Why wasn't COHEN? How come he didn't write articles about the Swiss or the Swedes?In fact why wasn't the federations, reform Jewry, ADL, AJC ?etc.
The anwewr my friend is blowin in the wind.


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