Monday, July 17, 2006

Richard Cohen is a mistake
Tom Smith

Richard Cohen here mouths what I gather is the emerging wisdom of the American quasi-left -- that Israel is a "mistake."  I suppose we should contrast Israel to the immaculate way in which other nations were conceived?  Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon were all created, as I recall, by social contracts formed behind meticulously draped veils of ignorance.  And of course, the various Arab nations of northern Africa, all created when settlers came upon empty land, and built societies there with enough and as good left for everybody else.  Much as was the case for the United States, of course. 

Forgive me if I generalize, but my impression is that Israel has more warrant for existing than do most countries.  People say of the US that people came here seeking religious freedom, but I don't recall the Church of England killing millions of anybody.  Burned a few here and there, of course, cut the occassional head, but hardly anything to get excited about.  And what countries in Africa are not imperial in origin?  Indeed, I gather from BBC World Service that the hip POV in Kenya now is that throwing the English out was a terrible mistake.  Which it was not, of course, except in the sense of the consequences.  So Europe, after doing its best to exterminate every last Jew, says, gosh, we were wrong, let's allow a refuge for Jews, a position that it has, in its wisdom and generosity respecting Jews, subsequently repented.  And Richard Cohen comes along and says, creating that refuge was a mistake.  Well, maybe it was not as good an idea as not having a Holocaust in the first place would have been, and I'm sure most Jews would agree.  You could have a referendum about it, except that most of the people who should vote were murdered in their millions by good Europeans.  Not that the Arabs would not have, given the chance.  Oh yes, and Pakistan.  Where did that come from?  I recall something about English colonialism,  countries splitting up.  Whatever. 

I suppose if Israel had originated in an uprising in which everyone who was not Jewish was murdered in riots, and colonizers responsible for such civilization as there was, thrown out, then it would be a nice, legitimate country like the rest.  What I am trying to say is -- Israel has a much better case to make for its existence than do the vast majority of countries, including our own.  Richard Cohen's argument seems to be, you know, you Jews, you will never be welcome in that part of the world.  You will never be loved.  How will you manage?  But I think the whole point of Zionism is to reject the idea that Jews have to have the permission of anybody else to exist, that they should not have to beg anymore to be allowed to live. 

This is the root of Richard Cohen's and a lot of other leftists' mistake, at least those of good will, which is not all of them by any means.  They can't get their arms around the fact the large groups of humans just get possessed for long periods of time by thoroughly depraved hatreds.  They are not the product of legitimate greivances, or if they start that way, they metasticize far beyond it. The only way to really "understand" them would be to become a monster yourself. The people in the WTC were not a bunch of little Eichmanns, and if you can really see why someone would think you, you need meds.  People get devoured by hate, as the Nazis were and as many in the Arab world are now, not only for any slightly different sort of Muslim, indistinguishable to the rest of us (like you could really explain to me without checking the difference between Shiite and Sunni), but also, for some reason, especially the Jews.  The people fighting Israel now say, shamelessly, that their goal is the destruction of Israel, and you know, in their cups, they would avow they would love to see every last Jew dead.  That is who they are.  And wanting some place with a wall around it and plenty of guns to protect yourself from such people is a mistake

If I ever would have thought it was, the smoking hole in Manhattan filled with human ashes convinced me otherwise.  Israel was and is a collective act of self-defense by the Jewish people , perhaps the most well justified act of self-defense in the history of the planet, which Europe, in an untoward moment of decency, somehow let slip by.  But if it was a mistake, it was of the best kind, and Europe and the Arabs should now have to live with it.  If the existence of Israel bothers the Arab nations so much, they can distract themselves by trying to build even one country that is not a pit of tyranny and medieval barbarism.  But of course, now the idea seems to be that the whole rest of the world should be brought down to that level, one planeful full of innocents at a time.  Richard Cohen and the rest of us need to face it -- we are all Israelis now.

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Tom Smith

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This is very well done: . . . The people fighting Israel now say, shamelessly, that their goal is the destruction of Israel, and you know, in their cups, they would avow they would love to see every last Jew... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2006 10:20:07 AM


Well said!

Why is it that the one group in the world that has been treated as badly as - or worse than - any other group in history and has (generally) behaved as well as - or better than - any other group in history is a legitimate target for hatred and genocide (at least among the liberal intelligentsia)? The Jews are held to impossibily high standards while the conduct of those who behave despicably toward the Jews is excused or ignored. Clearly a double standard here.

Posted by: krm | Jul 18, 2006 6:40:22 AM

Having a long history, pre-Diaspora, of self-defense, the reaction of modern day Jews is to be expected. A Jewish friend once pointed out that many Jewish holidays are celebrations of Jews with weapons beating the crap out of whoever was trying to do them in. I was only when they tried to conform to others views that they ran into trouble. So why should anyone be surprised that the Israelis are dominating their little corner of the world is curious. To be sure, they’ve had a powerful ally in the U.S. but that has mostly been in supply and logistics, and political cover in the U.N.

Posted by: Stan Morris | Jul 18, 2006 8:04:44 AM

To give Cohen some slack, the "mistake" he refers to is setting up Israel in the middle of the Arab world, not the founding of Israel.

The interesting thing is, the Israelis and the Palestinians started out at about the same time, with about the same holdings. We see the difference today in what Israel has become - a flourishing state - and what Palestine has become - or rather, not become.

Some might say that's because of all the help and support the US gave to Israel. That's certainly a factor, but we have to wonder why the Palestinian's wealthy Arab brothers never gave them a dime. (A cynic might say it's because without the downtrodden Palestinians, the Arabs would have nothing to complain about.)

(I'll say "Palestine" for convenience, even though it is only a geographical area - sort of like "North America".)

The rest of Cohen's piece seems to side with Israel - against "Hamas. It is a fetid, anti-Semitic outfit whose organizing principle is hatred of Israel."

On the other hand, he completely misses it when he says "The smart choice is to pull back to defensible ... borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank -- and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else."

History may get distracted, but the Hamas/Hezbollah fanatics never will. Any retreat by Israel will be seen as a sign of weakness, of surrender.

Posted by: Mike Z | Jul 18, 2006 5:28:59 PM

Mr. Smith: Bravo. Well Struck.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | Jul 18, 2006 5:54:33 PM

The 'wait it out' suggestion was one of the most idiotic of the piece. The arab/jew problem has only been a hot one for what, 4000 years?

Posted by: krm | Jul 19, 2006 6:33:59 AM

Tom, you left out that everywhere you dig in Israel (and nearby Jordan) you find Jewish artifacts several thousand years old. If Jews treated Muslims the way Muslims treat Muslims, the conflict would be over.

Posted by: abc123 | Jul 20, 2006 2:08:40 PM

I support Israel, even though I think it is behaving badly in deliberately punishing the Lebanese for not having the muscle to kick heavily armed terrorists out of their cities and villages. Better to directly attack the terrorists rather than civilian infrastructure and transportation. But that means risking Israeli lives in close combat and Israel may not have the stomach for it. On the other hand, punishing Lebanese civilians will eventually turn even longtime supporters away.
Also, Mike Z. is correct. Cohen doesn't say Israel is a mistake, just its location in Islamville. It should be in Europe. He is obviously correct. But by now, it is what it is and I wish Israel victory, even if it takes American intervention on her side.
Once Israel wins, God willing, I "look forward" to the American Jewish community restarting their campaign against the disproportionate influence of Christians in America (when they are not attacking academic types for suggesting the same about Jews). Go figure.
Go Israel, destroy your tormentors.

Posted by: mikem | Jul 22, 2006 11:20:55 PM