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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Roger Cohen, "The Community of Expulsion": The War Against Israel Continues

Two weeks ago, we learned that 15 civilians were killed in a coalition airstrike on Kfar Daryan in Syria. Subsequently, protests against the US were held in 40 Syrian towns and villages. As reported by Yahoo News in an article entitled "White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths" by Michael Isikoff:

"Asked about the strike at Kafr Daryan, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Tuesday that U.S. military 'did target a Khorasan group compound near this location. However, we have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties.' But Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Yahoo News that Pentagon officials 'take all credible allegations seriously and will investigate' the reports.

At the same time, however, Hayden said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a 'near certainty' there will be no civilian casualties — "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The 'near certainty' standard was intended to apply 'only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,' Hayden said in an email. 'That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.'"

Was there outrage from the Western media in response to this decision to do away with the "near certainty" standard? Heck no! Israel was not responsible for these civilian deaths, including children, in Kfar Darwan, and the disaster quickly faded from collective "progressive" consciousness.

On the other hand, Roger (Iran is "not totalitarian") Cohen, writing from the safety of London after attending High Holy Day services in a Reform synagogue in London, would again remind us of Palestinian civilian casualties suffered over the summer in Gaza. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Community of Expulsion," subtitled "For Israel, a Time of Self-Scrutiny," Cohen writes of the sermons he heard from British rabbis:

"I listened with interest but without feeling challenged. The one subject not addressed was the one most on the minds of congregants: Israel and its recent war in Gaza, with the deaths of more than 70 Israelis and more than 2,100 Palestinians, including about 500 children.

. . . .

However framed, the death of a single child to an Israeli bullet seems to betoken some failure in the longed-for Jewish state, to say nothing of several hundred."

Concerning Palestinian casualties:

  • Cohen doesn't tell us how many of those Palestinian dead were combatants.
  • Cohen doesn't tell us how many Palestinians died as the result of errant Hamas rockets.
  • Cohen doesn't tell us if the number of Palestinian dead includes Palestinians executed by Hamas for collaboration with Israel.
  • Cohen doesn't tell us if the number of Palestinian children who died includes teenagers bearing arms.
  • Cohen doesn't tell us of the 160 Palestinian children who died digging Hamas's tunnels.

Needless to say, Cohen also makes no mention of a BBC article entitled "Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures" by Anthony Reuben, Head of statistics, BBC News, which relates to the Palestinian casualties in the recent fighting:

"An analysis by the New York Times looked at the names of 1,431 casualties and found that 'the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll. They are 9% of Gaza's 1.7 million residents, but 34% of those killed whose ages were provided.'

'At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71% of the population and 33% of the known-age casualties.'

The list of names and ages of the dead published by al-Jazeera also found men aged between 20 and 29 to be significantly overrepresented."

Cohen's conclusion:

"Palestinians have joined the ever-recurring 'community of expulsion.' The words of Leviticus are worth repeating for any Jew in or concerned by Israel today: Treat the stranger as yourself, for 'you were strangers in the land of Egypt.'"

Once again, Cohen makes certain not to remind his readers that that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Cohen also ignores the fact that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements. In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

But why should any of this matter to Cohen? He knows his audience.

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