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Monday, January 7, 2013

Roger Cohen, "Israel’s True Friends": Obama, Hagel and Cohen Are Not Among Them

Writing from London, Roger Cohen is back to pontificating about the Middle East.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s True Friends" (, Cohen declares that Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense is the "right choice" primarily because "it will provoke a serious debate on what constitutes real friendship toward Israel." Needless to say, Cohen's opinion piece is laced with delusional supporting "facts."

Cohen writes:

"Self-styled 'true friends' of Israel now lining up against the Hagel nomination are in fact true friends only of the Israeli right that pays no more than lip service to a two-state peace (when it even does that); scoffs at Palestinian national aspirations and culture; dismisses the significant West Bank reforms that have prepared Palestine for statehood; continues with settlement construction on the very shrinking land where a Palestinian state is envisaged (and was granted nonmember observer status at the United Nations last November by 138 votes to 9 with 41 abstentions, including Germany); cannot find a valid Palestinian interlocutor on the face of the earth despite the moderate reformist leadership of Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; ignores the grave implications for Israel of its unsustainable, corrosive dominion over another people and the question of how Israel can remain Jewish and democratic without a two-state solution (it cannot); bays for war with Iran despite the contrary opinions of many of Israel’s intelligence and military leaders; and propels Israel into repetitive miniwars of dubious strategic value."

I am no friend of the Israeli right, I strongly believe in a two-state solution, but I am also appalled by Obama's nomination of Hagel. I do not scoff at Palestinian aspirations and culture, and unlike Cohen, I have routine friendly interactions with Palestinians almost every day of the week, be it with the Palestinian bank manager who granted me my mortgage, or with the Palestinian butcher who occasionally hitches rides home with me.

Cohen tells us of "Significant West Bank reforms that have prepared Palestine for statehood" and describes Abbas as a "moderate reformist." Cohen is apparently unaware of the fact that Abbas's term in office as president of the Palestinian Authority ended on January 9, 2009; however, Abbas has refused to hold new elections. Abbas has steadfastly objected to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and when offered a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with shared control of Jerusalem by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Abbas declined. Most recently, Abbas's Fatah party "chose a celebratory logo for its 48th anniversary that includes a map of the entire land of Israel being replaced by 'Palestine'" (

Israel "continues with settlement construction on the very shrinking land where a Palestinian state is envisaged"? I am not a proponent of Israeli settlements, but it should be observed that Israeli settlements encompass less than two percent of the total territory of the West Bank. Land swaps for these settlements will necessarily be a part of any peace deal with the Palestinians, as was proposed by Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert, if and when the Palestinians are prepared to make peace.

Palestine was granted "observer status" by an overwhelming majority at the United Nations? This is the same United Nations which remained silent over the past two years while some 60,000 Syrian civilians were butchered to death.

The Israeli right "bays for war with Iran"? Rubbish! Everyone in Israel has friends and family who have fallen in battle, and no one in Israel is "baying" for war. On the other hand, Israel's existence has been routinely threatened by Iran, and Jews long ago learned that when someone says that they intend to exterminate you, you have no choice but to believe them. Israel does not have the option of sitting back and quietly waiting to see if the mullahs - who stone to death women, hang homosexuals, torture Baha'is, persecute Sunni Muslims and Christians, and oppress Kurds - are capable of moderation when they obtain atomic weapons.

The Israeli right "propels Israel into repetitive miniwars of dubious strategic value"? Following Operation Pillar of Defense, which was supported by a vast majority of Israelis, missiles and mortar shells are no longer falling on the south of Israel, but why should that matter to Roger in London?

Cohen concludes by asserting that "Hagel, like Obama, is a quiet strong friend of Israel." Hagel's history:

• In 2000, Hagel was one of four senators who refused to sign a Senate letter supporting Israel.

• In 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter asking Bush to focus upon Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.

• In 2006, Hagel was one of 12 senators who wouldn't ask the EU to declare Hezbollah, Iran's surrogate in Lebanon, a terrorist organization. Hezbollah was responsible for the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing, which killed 241 American soldiers.

• In 2007, Hagel opposed an amendment to the defense authorization bill that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

• In 2009, Hagel asked Obama to talk with Hamas, which, as acknowledged by Cohen, calls for the destruction of Israel.

Hagel is a "true friend" of Israel? Only in the myopic world of Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen . . .

1 comment:

  1. I think I'll be philosophical. I am a rebellious and nonconformist type with the expected load of past mistakes and non-mistakes (=just had to be done) and consequences of both, increased by two emigrations/displacements, a person whose position in life is well below the natural endowment and significant overeducation. If this fact was upsetting occasionally in the past, it became much less so when I was forced to visit some of my opportunist friends .. in Bellevue.
    When you see someone who has spent a life of lies, flapping of eyelashes, bullying, grabbing, pushing and the like ... in Bellevue, you start being philosophical. When I watch the Cohens and the Friedmans in action, I think that I know (maybe not for sure) where they we'll end up. You can't have such a life without a total psychological devastation.
    BTW, I recently discovered the Jerusalem post and enjoy some articles and discussions there. However, yesterday I made a mistake and ventured into Eric Yoffie's blog. I am still vomiting. This fearless leader (OK I am not using the German word as I was tempted)of a movement declares officially from the height of position that Hagel isn't antisemite. If he doesn't know that Hagel is a classic antisemite, how did it happen that he ended up as the leader. If he knows, but ... again, how did it happened that he ended up as the leader. The Reform Jews tend to whine that they are not treated seriously. Well .. if their leaders are the Yoffies of the world, what can they expect?
    I left an expressive comment there and immediately the resident anti-Jews showed up with the usual assortment of labels, such as neocon, religious extremists, etc. Since they also extoll Hagel as a hero and defender of the people, the situation is more than comical. Unlike them, I happen to be a Social Democrat (possibly the only one in the U.S.). I am also an unaffiliated agnostic.