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Monday, March 16, 2009

Roger Cohen's Fantasyland

Even those who escaped from the Iranian furnace cannot persuade the New York Times' Roger Cohen to drop his imaginary notion that the Iranian regime is pragmatic.
Another distinctive characteristic of Iran is the presence of the largest Jewish community in the Muslim Middle East in the country of the most vitriolic anti-Israel tirades. My evocation of this 25,000-strong community, in the taboo-ridden world of American Middle East debate, has prompted fury, nowhere more so than here in Los Angeles, where many of Iran’s Jewish exiles live.

At the invitation of Rabbi David Wolpe of the Sinai Temple, I came out to meet them. The evening was fiery with scant meeting of minds. Exile, expropriation and, in some cases, executions have left bitter feelings among the revolution’s Jewish victims, as they have among the more than two million Muslims who have fled Iran since 1979. Abraham Berookhim gave me a moving account of his escape and his Jewish uncle’s unconscionable 1980 murder by the regime.

Earlier, Sam Kermanian, a leader of the Iranian Jewish community, said I had been used, that Iran’s Jews are far worse off than they appear, and that my portrayal of them was pernicious as it “leads people to believe Israel’s enemies are not as real as you may think.” He called the mullahs brilliantly manipulative: “They know their abilities and limitations.”

On at least this last point I agree. Just how repressive life is for Iran’s Jews is impossible to know. Iran is an un-free society. But this much is clear: the hawks’ case against Iran depends on a vision of an apocalyptic regime — with no sense of its limitations — so frenziedly anti-Semitic that it would accept inevitable nuclear annihilation if it could destroy Israel first.

The presence of these Jews undermines that vision. It blunts the hawks’ case; hence the rage.
There were those who read Mein Kampf in the 1930's and could not believe that Hitler really meant it, even after the Nuremberg Laws were adopted. Roger Cohen is continuing in their tradition. I urge you to watch this presentation from the Terrorism Awareness Project. Don't let Roger Cohen fool you.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Roger Cohens of the world don't understand the fanaticism of the Muslim mind. That goes too for a lot of Israelis, who live with it daily, somehow have managed to persuade themselves they can have "peace" if they accommodating enough towards enemies bent upon their destruction. The Jerusalem Post ran a remarkable op-ed title "Sunday Confessions," in which eventually resigning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is said to complain about the absence of readiness of the Palestinians to compromise for "peace." They never have and they never will recognize Israel's right to exist. Hassan Nasrallah made that very clear after Shabbat last week and some people, live in the Nazi time, still don't take that kind of rhetoric seriously, just as as some people didn't take Hitler's vow to annihilate every last Jew in Europe in the 1930s seriously.

The unpleasant reality there are people who REALLY want you dead is too much for a lot of Jews to cope with. But denial and wishful thinking will never change the nature of the enemy - or alter for a minute his real objective. As the old saying has it, forewarned is forearmed. The Roger Cohens of our time can't say they didn't know.

At 12:53 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

After reading Cohen's op-ed, I got a good laugh out of how he contradicts himself. In one place, he speaks of Iran's dynamism and pluralism. A few paragraphs later, he belatedly acknowledges the country is an "unfree" society. How he reconciles that with what he said earlier, I leave it up to him to explain. My impression he doesn't really understand Iran and to say it holds "competitve elections" when Mohammed Khatami was forced to drop out is surely the understatement of the year.

The Roger Cohens of the world see only what they want to see and I suspect Obama looks at the Middle East in much the same light that Cohen does.


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