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Friday, March 27, 2009

Roger Cohen, self-hating Jew

I know I can be quick to attach the label 'self-hating Jew' (among other labels) to people I believe are behaving outrageously. In fact, my wife has often made the argument that I weaken my own arguments by my propensity to be too quick to attach labels to people. If I haven't said it yet, I have certainly believed for a while that Roger Cohen is, in fact, a self-hating Jew.

Scott Johnson, on the other hand, has the patience of Job (a book Dr. Rusty says he read this week). Scott goes through a lengthy analysis that - in my opinion anyway - proves without a doubt that Roger Cohen is a self-hating Jew (assuming that Cohen is Jewish), and Scott never uses that phrase. Here's some of it:

In his New York Times Magazine profile of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Cohen showed himself still to be carrying the torch for Bill Clinton, but also full to the brim with malice toward Israel. When Cohen quoted "a Druze Knesset member" commenting that Livni "has nothing Clintonian about her," it was to be taken as a criticism of her. In Cohen's world, George Bush's "with-us-or-against-us school in Washington" was the obstacle to perpetual peace between Israel and the Palestinian tribes including Hamas. Saeb Erekat said so.

Cohen's malice coud be discerned, for example, in his description of the West Bank as providing "a primer on colonialism" and in his description of Israel as "compromised by a 40-year occupation, its kibbutznik uniqueness compromised by a globalized commercial culture[.]" The article is full of such loathing, even self-loathing. But you have to crawl all the way to the penultimate paragraph of Cohen's long cover story to find this:

I strolled through Rabin Square, which has all the beauty of Warsaw at the height of Communism. In one corner is a small shrine to Rabin at the spot where he was murdered on Nov. 4, 1995. An inscription says that here Yitzhak Rabin was murdered "in the struggle for peace." Another says, "Peace shall be his legacy."

Alongside these words is a photograph, seemingly from a faraway era, of Rabin shaking Arafat's hand beneath the sunny gaze of President Bill Clinton. I found myself fighting back tears: how much had been lost since then and how close Israelis and Palestinians had come. A peace of the brave it was; it is brave to see beyond grievance, hurt and history to the innocence in every child's eye.

In Roger Cohen's world, Yasser Arafat was a true partner in "the peace of the brave" represented by the Oslo accords. It is a bit difficult to follow Cohen's train of thought through the tears he sheds. Apparently only the murder of Rabin intruded to prevent the peace that was in the making at his death and apparently only the coming of another Rabin is what is called for now that Israel faces heightened existential threats partly created by Oslo itself, among other things. In addition to demonstrating the usual Times malice toward Israel, Cohen's article showed Cohen himself to be an utter fool.


"I don't think I'm naive," Cohen told his Los Angeles audience. On the contrary, he views himself as a sophisticated cosmopolitan. The case of Roger Cohen presents a tangled mix of psychology and ideology combined with journalistic pretense that cannot easily be explained but that should not be ignored. In his most recent column, Cohen crows that "Obama has now taken all the steps I called for" vis a vis Iran. Whether or not this is entirely accurate, Cohen's thinking is not simply idiosyncratic. He signifies something important beyond himself.

Emphases all mine of course.

Read the whole thing. Roger Cohen is actually quite dangerous.


At 6:54 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

I don't believe Cohen and his ilk are "self-hating Jews". In fact, it seems to me that they are very much in narcissistic love with themselves. They see themselves as valiant, enlightened intellectuals able to rise above ancient prejudices and tribal instincts – true citizens of the world who have evolved beyond the need for religious or national identities. This is why religious Jews and a Jewish sovereign are the object of such contempt. In their view, other Jews – by virtue of their intelligence, scholarship, and liberal values – should aspire to the same “noble” ideals as their own. To Cohen, Zionism is a vulgar anachronism.

Arabs and Muslims on the other hand, are viewed sympathetically as a benevolent and pious people who have simply not yet advanced to the enlightened universalism of Cohen and his circle of elitists.

Thus, Cohen is not a self-hating Jew but more precisely, an observant-Jew-hating lapsed Jew.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Samson said...

Reminds me of an often told story from Groucho Marx:

‘In the 1920s two friends of the Marx Brothers were walking along 5th Avenue. The first was Otto Kahn, a patron of the Metropolitan Opera. The second was Marshall B. Wilder, a hunch–backed script writer. As they walked past a synagogue Kahn turned to Wilder and said, “You know I used to be a Jew”. And Wilder said, “Yeah and I used to be a hunchback”.’

At 8:04 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I'm not sure Roger Cohen understands Israel and why it doesn't look as naively on the Palestinians as it did in the Oslo days.

Saeb Erakat wrote an article this weekend in the Washington Post blaming Israel for blocking peace. He's the chief PA negotiator and nowhere does he accept a measure of Palestinian responsibility for the deathh of the "peace process."

The Roger Cohens of the world are the people who keep the Palestinians from ever growing up.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...



I saw Erekat's column and debated commenting on it, but I saw only one blog had linked it(!) and I figured that if I commented on it, it would make it more likely to be picked up a bot and given more prominence, so I let it go.


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