Breathtaking Folly — Surprise! — on the pages of the NYT: Roger Cohen’s Black Hole

I guess I’m like Charlie Brown with Lucy’s football. I am continuously amazed at how foolish our pundits are and how ready major newspapers are to give them full rein on their editorial pages.

lucy and the football

I’ve already fisked Roger Cohen before for his naïve PCP1, but this surpasses credulity (his and mine).

Middle East Reality Check

By ROGER COHEN
Published: March 8, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

So were the Nazis an entrenched part of political and social movements in Germany and Austria. Including them in diplomacy didn’t make peace possible, it made it impossible. What on earth makes someone like Cohen think that by “including” a group that has a virulently anti-semitic platform and calls on its people to commit genocide, that somehow that will lead to peace?

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”

Hallelujah.

This “Hallelujah,” more than anything else in the article, has me slackjawed. It’s one thing to clench your teeth and take your medicine like a man, it’s another thing to cheer as your being rearended by roadrage. The only reason I can come up with for such an extraordinary show of joy is double: 1) Cohen has no knowledge of what Hizbullah and Hamas are really about (how characteristically inappropriate for a pundit), and 2) he’s so convinced that being nice will work that, now that we’re being nice, it’s time to cheer because everything is about to work. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to agree with oao and cynic here, we’re in deep doodoo.

Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza. It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there.

One difference is that Hezbollah is in the Lebanese national unity government, whereas Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 elections to the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority, only to discover Middle Eastern democracy is only democracy if it produces the right result.

And here I thought that that kind of nonsense was going to disappear quietly as Hamas showed its true colors. Apparently, not to the color-blind. What drives me crazy about these kinds of formulas is that they at once grant the status of “democracy” at the same time as they fail to hold the population responsible for their vote. “What, you have a problem with the Nazis? They were fairly elected.” The superficiality of such formulations, combined with the joy of ceding to the perverse choices of the Arab electorates in question, strike me as sure signs of a massive loss of common sense.

The United States should follow the British example. It should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah. The Obama administration should also look carefully at how to reach moderate Hamas elements [sic!] and engineer a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

A rapprochement between the two wings of the Palestinian movement was briefly achieved at Mecca in 2007. The best form of payback from America’s expensive and authoritarian allies — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — would be help in reconciling Gaza Palestinians loyal to Hamas with West Bank Palestinians loyal to the more moderate Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas.

Because that will result in a non-authoritarian state?

Resolve is not the most conspicuous characteristic of those three allies. But Obama must push them to help. As long as Palestinians are divided, peace efforts will flounder.

And when they’re “united” with Hamas in the picture, peace will be impossible… unless the peace one imagines does not include a state of Israel. What kind of bizarre mantras have Mr. Cohen and his friends hypnotized themselves with. Instead of new thinking this is just a repetition of the worst of old thinking. And it’s all predicated on this bizarre notion that the Palestinians want peace. Where does that come from? Certainly not empirical evidence.

With respect to Hamas, the West has bound itself to three conditions for any contact: Hamas must recognize Israel, forswear terrorism and accept previous Palestinian commitments. This was reiterated by Clinton on her first Mideast swing.

The 1988 Hamas Charter is vile, but I think it’s wrong to get hung up on the prior recognition of Israel issue. Perhaps Hamas is sincere in its calls for Israel’s disappearance — although it has offered a decades-long truce — but then it’s also possible that Israel in reality has no desire to see a Palestinian state.

There’s something really frightening about seeing this man think outloud. He’s read the charter, and, hey, they might be serious (there are ways to keep track), but they have offered a decades-long truce (so they can prepare for the final battle), but, whatever, Israel might not be in favor of a Palestinian state, so it’s all the same, no?

One view of Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, Gaza blockade, West Bank walling-in and wanton recourse to high-tech force would be that it’s designed precisely to bludgeon, undermine and humiliate the Palestinian people until their dreams of statehood and dignity evaporate.

The argument over recognition is in the end a form of evasion designed to perpetuate the conflict.

This is presumably Cohen’s view. It puts all the agency with the Israelis; none with the Palestinians (and is, I would argue, unconsciously racist as a result). It assumes that the Palestinians are like us: they want dignity and statehood. The problem is, if that’s what they wanted, they’d have had it long ago. Instead they tried to destroy Israel, forcing Israel to build the security fence just to keep their mad youth from suicide terror attacks. And Cohen turns this into a plan to rob the Palestinians of what they have despised. As I asked with Tony Judt: Is this stupidity or malice?

Israel, from the time of Ben Gurion, built its state by creating facts on the ground, not through semantics. Many of its leaders, including Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, have been on wondrous political odysseys from absolutist rejection of division of the land to acceptance of a two-state solution. Yet they try to paint Hamas as irrevocably absolutist. Why should Arabs be any less pragmatic than Jews?

This is close to unbearable. The Palestinians (and their Arab “allies”) have tried repeatedly to create “facts on the ground” (wiping out Israel) and failed. Their idea of how to do so is so extreme that they don’t know how to be “pragmatic.

tsunami

The Israelis have repeatedly accepted compromises and shown pragmatism. And in Cohen’s analysis, it’s “same-same.” This column is an intellectual drive-by.

Of course it’s desirable that Hamas recognize Israel before negotiations. But is it essential? No. What is essential is that it renounces violence, in tandem with Israel, and the inculcation of hatred that feeds the violence.

Good luck with that. How about starting there.

Speaking of violence, it’s worth recalling what Israel did in Gaza in response to sporadic Hamas rockets. It killed upward of 1,300 people, many of them women and children; caused damage estimated at $1.9 billion; and destroyed thousands of Gaza homes. It continues a radicalizing blockade on 1.5 million people squeezed into a narrow strip of land.

At this vast human, material and moral price, Israel achieved almost nothing beyond damage to its image throughout the world. Israel has the right to hit back when attacked, but any response should be proportional and governed by sober political calculation. The Gaza war was a travesty; I have never previously felt so shamed by Israel’s actions.

Well, I guess we know where all this deranged “reasoning” is coming from. He’s taking vengeance on Israel for embarrassing him. Shame, as any Arab will tell you, leads to rage. No wonder we get the drive-by. Cohen isn’t thinking, he’s spewing.

No wonder Hamas and Hezbollah are seen throughout the Arab world as legitimate resistance movements.

It’s time to look at them again and adopt the new British view that contact can encourage Hezbollah “to move away from violence and play a constructive, democratic and peaceful role.”

Ah, the liberal regains his composure as he puts a sheep’s skin on the wolves, and talks peace.

The British step is a breakthrough. By contrast, Clinton’s invitation to Iran is of little significance.

There are two schools within the Obama administration on Iran: the incremental and the bold. The former favors little steps like inviting Iran to help with Afghanistan; the latter realizes that nothing will shift until Obama convinces Tehran that he’s changing strategy rather than tactics.

That requires Obama to tell Iran, as a start, that he does not seek regime change and recognizes the country’s critical role as a regional power. Carrots and sticks — the current approach — will lead to the same dead end as Hamas and Hezbollah denial.

The Neville Chamberlain award of the day to Roger Cohen. And leave it to the NYT to have someone like this on its editorial page.

77 Responses to Breathtaking Folly — Surprise! — on the pages of the NYT: Roger Cohen’s Black Hole

  1. oao says:

    rl,

    Chas Freeman and Preemptive Cringe
    http://sandbox.blog-city.com/chas_freeman_and_preemptive_cringe.htm

    1st, why should you be amazed? this is exactly what I would expect from both pundits and the media.

    2nd, isn’t this how the world DID respond to the nazis? I already said that we are again in 1930? and thete is no learning from history because there is no history?
    so it repeats.

    3rd, the response in the west is always material interest and fear. it is the exact response that the likes of chas freeman give:

    Chas Freeman and preemptive cringe
    http://sandbox.blog-city.com/chas_freeman_and_preemptive_cringe.htm

    4th, just like in the 1930s, the consequences of engaging with jihadists will be the same as it was then. And now (a) there won’t be a white knight US to ride in and save the world, because it’s bankrupt, in disarray and itself in the process of appeasement (b) elsewhere the west, which is also bankrupt, is undermined from inside by a 5th column to which it’s already abrogated much control.

    What alternative thesis do you have, at this stage?

  2. JD says:

    That was entertaining. More Zionology from a lefty american. Hits all the big spots–the imperial hubris recasting everything bad as responsive to American failures, the corollary causation likewise that everything bad as merely responsive to Israeli actions, and the American NE liberal insecurity that seeks in a European nation the validation (here supposedly) of his own anti-American opinion. As always, Arab voices and government action against Hezbollah and such is ignored.

    This article is the writer’s attempt to reorder his world view to fit with the realities that Hamas and Hezbollah won’t shut up.

    I believe I saw this guy on Charlie Rose a few months back. He was clucking with Charlie that is was a shame not what Hamas believes, but they wrote it down on paper. They both clucked how they wish it would go away. It was something to see. This article admits Hamas’ thoughts, but quickly wraps them up like how a lawyer in his final argument belittles the facts against his client.

    “Shame.” Like Tony Judt, they psychologically infantilize Israel. Must be embarrassing to go to all those Western European cocktail parties and feel forced to explain Israel.

  3. E.G. says:

    The superficiality of such formulations, combined with the joy of ceding to the perverse choices of the Arab electorates in question, strike me as sure signs of a massive loss of common sense.

    If it were common, Mr. Cohen would lose his status as pundit.
    Roger and out.

    (with excuses to the one and only Cynic)

  4. oao says:

    Because that will result in a non-authoritarian state?>/i>

    We have authoritarian states everywhere in the arab and muslim world. Some of them are the only thing between us and a world sharia khalifate. Yet idiots other idiots wants us to “democratize” the ME and cut out our support to dictators.

    between the idealists who want us to democratize and the “realists” who want us to dictatorize, we don’t stand a chance.

  5. oao says:

    i wish it were possible to take all the freemans, freedmans, roses, hillaries and obamas and make them live in the swat valley under sharia law for about a year. then ask them if they changed their mind.

  6. oao says:

    JD,

    That was entertaining.

    Not anymore.

    About the only thing I find entertaining is that the NYT is bankrupt. I wish it collapsed already and stop publishing all this crap.

  7. JD says:

    “At this vast human, material and moral price, Israel achieved almost nothing beyond damage to its image throughout the world.”

    Typical lefty imperial hubris, thinks he knows what the “world” thinks, but is really projecting what he hopes “the world” thinks.

    “Israel has the right to hit back when attacked, but any response should be proportional and governed by sober political calculation.”

    How about getting all the Arab states save Syria to tacitly approve it? Including the tacit support of Fatah. That’s some good calculating, but does not fit into Cohen’s anti-Israel narrativeology.

    “The Gaza war was a travesty; I have never previously felt so shamed by Israel’s actions.”

    Help! We need a psychologist here to explain this! Another victim of collective guilt.

    ——————————————

    Yes, I do find this entertaining.

  8. JD says:

    Just read the bio of Roger Cohen. He is English. This might account for his over-fantasization about the signigicance of one English diplomat’s statement.

    He also spent most of his career in international journalism and western Europe. This would account more for his Euro-lefty-snob attitude.

  9. E.G. says:

    JD,

    Typical lefty imperial hubris, thinks he knows what the “world” thinks, but is really projecting what he hopes “the world” thinks.

    I beg to differ. Given his position, he’s hoping to shape what the “world” thinks. At least the world that counts.

  10. nelson says:

    There are now in the world only two significant Jewish populations: the Israelis and the American Jews.

    The first is in real danger while the second is much less safe than it thinks it is. BTW, my impression is that most of the American Jews don’t really see themselves as a separate group with its own interests and threatened by specific dangers. They’re much less conscious of being Jewish than Arabs or Muslims all over the world are of belonging to the Ummah.

    Unfortunately, most of the world and, as it seems, many Americans (in the campi or the left, for instance) don’t see the American Jews as just simple Americans. The more they try to act, behave and look like regular Americans, the less they are seen as such. And it seems to be getting day by day more difficult to make it sink in their minds that they are not free to be or consider themselves whatever they want in spite of the way the rest of the people sees and judges or imagines them.

    Thus we have, for instance, four in five American Jews voting for Obama and people like Roger Cohen or Tony Judt. Well, where are the Arab/Muslim Cohens and Judts? Nowhere to be seen. There’s no more urgent task today than making the American Jews realize that, whatever they wish, they are and are seen as Jews and that they are actually endangered. Is there anything that can be done about this?

  11. nelson says:

    “wish it were possible to take all the freemans, freedmans, roses, hillaries and obamas and make them live in the swat valley under sharia law for about a year. then ask them if they changed their mind.”

    Sorry, but what mind?

  12. pst314 says:

    Neville Chamberlain award?

    More like Walter Duranty award. Or maybe even Vidkun Quisling.

  13. oao says:

    Sorry, but what mind?

    touche.

    i meant whatever they have in their skull. not much, but iguarantee you that living under sharis, even they will realize their mistake.

    but maybe not. even that is not impossible.

  14. oao says:

    The first is in real danger while the second is much less safe than it thinks it is.

    this is nothing. just watch.

    but their behavior does suggest they sense it. why do you think they are so desperate to disassociate from israel and jewishness?

    they are proving to the arabs/muslims how decadent they are.

  15. oao says:

    And it seems to be getting day by day more difficult to make it sink in their minds that they are not free to be or consider themselves whatever they want in spite of the way the rest of the people sees and judges or imagines them.

    why should they know? during nazism they did not know despite jewish history. and now they dk because they did not bother to learn that history either.

    and i guarantee you that if another holocaust occurs, if any of them remain they will again not know in decades from it.

    those who keep not remembering won’t have a different fate.

  16. oao says:

    There’s no more urgent task today than making the American Jews realize that, whatever they wish, they are and are seen as Jews and that they are actually endangered. Is there anything that can be done about this?

    You can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

    The question is if they themselves don’t take care of themselves, why should anybody else do something about this?

  17. nelson says:

    For several reasons, my parents, both of them camp-survivors, weren’t much in touch with the Jews here in Brazil, neither were I as I grew up. As I have never been religious and so on, I started to inform myself about several Jewish matters only in my teens, by reading Leon Uris’ novels and similar stuff. I still look a the Jewish community from the outside and, in a way, consider myself a Zionist goy. And the more I get to know the Jews as a collectivity, the less I understand them. Here in Brazil there are basically only two kinds of Jews (obviously, with individual exceptions): either they are totally uninformed about what’s going around or, if the do politics in any way or are intellectuals, then they are lefties and anti-Zionists. Anyway, the kind of data, information and analysis that can be found in this blog is totally ignored, unknown, even unsuspected by Brazilian Jews.

  18. oao says:

    And the more I get to know the Jews as a collectivity, the less I understand them.

    After all that’s done to them in history any people would be hard to understand.

    either they are totally uninformed about what’s going around or, if the do politics in any way or are intellectuals, then they are lefties and anti-Zionists.

    that’s how more or less what the people amongst whom they live; it’s called assimilation. it gives them an illusion of security.

    Anyway, the kind of data, information and analysis that can be found in this blog is totally ignored, unknown, even unsuspected by Brazilian Jews.

    not only brazilian jews.

    assimilation works for a while, until a crisis occurs, at which time it fails, no matter how hard they try to behave in ways whose purpose is to deny it.

  19. Rich Rostrom says:

    Comparing Cohen to Chamberlain is an insult to Chamberlain. The Nazis were nowhere near as explicit in their intentions as Hamas and Hezbollah.

    What is amazing is that Cohen seems to think it is too much to ask that Hamas renounce its intent to annihilate Israel.

    Nelson: Don’t confuse American universities with the highly politicized academies of South America. The left poison is endemic, but only a handful of activists are seriously concerned with these issues or come out to wave signs. The vast “silent majority” of students and scholars are at most mildly concerned about alleged Israeli abuses, or are sympathetic to Israel. (Remember that American evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly pro-Israel.)

    They can gin up a nasty demonstration at Columbia, or Berkeley. But not Texas Tech, or Notre Dame, or Boise State.

    Also, remember that there are proportionately a lot more Jews in the U.S. than elsewhere. That means people have a lot more exposure to American Jews that doesn’t involve Israel. It also means that the American left is itself heavily Jewish. They don’t identify with Israel, and aren’t identified with Israel by others.

  20. Margie says:

    “The Gaza war was a travesty; I have never previously felt so shamed by Israel’s actions.”

    A pretty shameful statement in itself.

  21. This one is a mega-tip-off of the self-destructive futility of the progressive agenda:

    “That requires Obama to tell Iran, as a start, that he does not seek regime change and recognizes the country’s critical role as a regional power. Carrots and sticks — the current approach — will lead to the same dead end as Hamas and Hezbollah denial.”

    Cohen, effete leftist that he is, does not come out and say it directly but it is clear he advocates a “carrots only” approach. Just as the stimulus package offers only salve for the unproductive non-workers and inefficient industries, and in the same vein in which our schools struggle to rationalize failed ideologies as “progressive” productivity, responsibility, self-reliance and logic are penalized.

    When you have only carrots, you get only fat donkeys who don’t go anywhere and kick you whenever your back is turned. The only consolation is that when Obama and Clinton realize what return they are getting on their largess, they will be so self-righteous and enraged by it they might just become as savage as their erstwhile friends.

  22. Cynic says:

    oao,

    i wish it were possible to take all the freemans, freedmans, roses, hillaries and obamas and make them live in the swat valley under sharia law for about a year. then ask them if they changed their mind.

    Nah. Stockholm Syndrome!

    E.G.
    (with excuses to the one and only Cynic)
    What excuses you making to me?

    RL,
    he’s so convinced that being nice will work that, now that we’re being nice, it’s time to cheer because everything is about to work. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to agree with oao and cynic here, we’re in deep doodoo.
    By the way I posted a link on your response to Noam and I think it would fit in here:
    Jewish-Muslim Dialogue in Nashville, Tennessee

    His actually said Jews could learn about submission from Muslims.

    Ay yai yai yai yai

  23. Cynic says:

    YbM,

    When you have only carrots, you get only fat donkeys who don’t go anywhere and kick you whenever your back is turned.

    Don’t forget that when goobers were tried it only got a monkey and what tricks he got up to.

  24. Cynic says:

    Nelson,

    Anyway, the kind of data, information and analysis that can be found in this blog is totally ignored, unknown, even unsuspected by Brazilian Jews.

    I have been receiving Jornal Aleph, and Noticias da Rua Judaica
    Noticias da Rua Judaica
    which are trying to keep people in Rio informed but they could do with some insight.
    Obviously they don’t even know of this blog’s existence.
    To have someone translating stuff from this blog needs someone competent because of the topics and terminology.
    And it’s in the comments as RL has pointed out that the full flavour of his posts comes to the fore.
    Actually at times I feel that he is teasing it out of uswith carrots. No stick! :-)

    As for the people you describe; the mix seems similar to other parts. Those on the left and anti; those who couldn’t care less and those who identify but confused for lack of intel.
    I was in Rio during the 80s and with only the MSM for news I can understand how easy it is to be misinformed after discovering some time later what the facts were for several international incidents.

  25. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    What excuses you making to me?

    For trespassing on your non-Oxfordian lawn…

  26. Cynic says:

    Nelson,

    There are now in the world only two significant Jewish populations: the Israelis and the American Jews.
    The first is in real danger while the second is much less safe than it thinks it is.

    For deluded Jews have a look at the South African community where the labour Union’s spokesperson came out and told the Jews to leave the country:

    COSATU spokesperson calls on Jews to leave SA

    My Way or the High Way for SA Jewish Community

    Doron Isaacs, the organiser of the controversial South African ‘Human Rights’ Delegation to Israel, has written a passionate op-ed in this week’s South African Jewish Report (SAJR) imploring the community to adopt a more critical posture towards Israel in order to avert rising anti-Semitism.

    Ay yai yai yai yai

  27. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    OK. So how do you explain yourself for this egregious abuse of my territory?

    Trust you “dark blues” to assume multi-culti diversity permits you to walk on the grass.

    But seeing as I am a reasonable person we can discuss this contretemps but I must limit you to the Merriam-Webster version.

  28. Richard Landes says:

    it’s amazing. compare to Thomas Friedman’s rage (described in From Beirut to Jerusalem) at the Sabra and Shatilla — a far more shameful incident at least for those israelis involved. In both cases, Western alleged “journalists” felt personally betrayed, threw fits and took it out on Israel by using their platform as writers for the NYT to excoriate Israel. Oh would there were some Arab journalists with that kind of “integrity.”

  29. Cynic says:

    Oh would there were some Arab journalists with that kind of “integrity.”

    Oh were there any journalists with that kind of integrity to excoriate the doings of Hamas and Hezbollah.

    RL,
    Why should those two feel personally betrayed; because of “collective guilt”?
    Now shouldn’t their moralistic multi-culti diverse democracies have absolved them of that?

  30. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    So how do you explain yourself for this egregious abuse of my territory?

    Elementary, a matter of timing. I got here before you did. Note, I didn’t occupy your territory, merely stayed a short while, to get inspiration from that greenest of greens. I’m sure that, had I asked your permission, you’d have generously given it. Alas, you weren’t in.

    You should be proud to be setting such an example for the younger generation. Especially when all due respect and recognition are clearly expressed. And that the results seem to deserve a Merriam-Webster archaism.
    Should I repent?

  31. E.G. says:

    RL,

    Magdi Allam – Corriere della Serra.

  32. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    I don’t think it’s guilt. It’s more like assuming responsibility, in my view.
    “Children of Israel are responsible for each other”.

  33. Cynic says:

    Elementary, a matter of timing. I got here before you did. Note, I didn’t occupy your territory, merely stayed a short while,

    Ooops! Did I perchance forget to lock the door? You didn’t help yourself to the little bear’s porridge, did you?

    You are welcome as long as you maintain the standard set by the travails of negotiating the misleading and devious MSM way.

    Repent, repent. The time is nigh.

  34. oao says:

    What is amazing is that Cohen seems to think it is too much to ask that Hamas renounce its intent to annihilate Israel.

    i wonder. is it possible that he does not know what hamas declares? hard to believe. and if he knows and ignores it, what does it say about his “hallelujah”?

    The vast “silent majority” of students and scholars are at most mildly concerned about alleged Israeli abuses, or are sympathetic to Israel. (Remember that American evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly pro-Israel.)

    i would bet they don’t much care.

    That means people have a lot more exposure to American Jews that doesn’t involve Israel. It also means that the American left is itself heavily Jewish. They don’t identify with Israel, and aren’t identified with Israel by others.

    a bit of contradiction there, ain’t it?

    Cohen, effete leftist that he is, does not come out and say it directly but it is clear he advocates a “carrots only” approach.

    if he believes that it’s all our fault, then of course he provides only carrots.

    when Obama and Clinton realize what return they are getting on their largess, they will be so self-righteous and enraged by it they might just become as savage as their erstwhile friends.

    i doubt it. the more ineffective they become the more they’ll appease, in order to seem they were wrong and not to engage in a fight which their policies ensured they will lose.

    Nah. Stockholm Syndrome!

    the trick is not to make them aware it’s temporary.

    His actually said Jews could learn about submission from Muslims.

    submission to muslims! muslims want all infidels to learn that.

    To have someone translating stuff from this blog needs someone competent because of the topics and terminology.

    i am skeptical if it’ll help. if they dk is not just because they have no access to info, but because they’re not interested. and part. in a period of rising anti-semitism they would want even more to stay away from these things.

    Doron Isaacs, the organiser of the controversial South African ‘Human Rights’ Delegation to Israel, has written a passionate op-ed in this week’s South African Jewish Report (SAJR) imploring the community to adopt a more critical posture towards Israel in order to avert rising anti-Semitism.

    i rest my case. the sad thing is they’ll do it and get what they think they don’t deserve, but they actually do.

    In both cases, Western alleged “journalists” felt personally betrayed, threw fits and took it out on Israel by using their platform as writers for the NYT to excoriate Israel.

    friedman probably does not know it, but he is an asshole. i came across recently on yet another piece which assessed his predictive record on the 9 most important issues he pontificated on. he failed miserably on ALL. would you trust such an idiot to respond differently to moral issues?

  35. Eliyahu says:

    EG, Magdi Allam is good. I first read him when he was still with La Stampa -or was it La Repubblica. Now he’s with Corriere. I have a book of his here, with its title in English: Kamikaze made in Europe. But I don’t have time to get to it. There was also another Allam, Khaled Fuad Allam [no relation to Magdi, I think], who wrote against suicide bombing in one of the Italian papers. In fact, this other Allam came to Jerusalem for the International Book fair maybe two or four years ago, to talk about his book, in Italian, on suicide bombing.

    RL, Youssef Ibrahim, once with the NYTimes, now maybe freelancing or with the WSJ, seems to have reformed to greater accuracy. Meanwhile, the American press generally seems to have deteriorated. The British imports like Cockburn and Roger Cohen, don’t seem to help. Cohen’s drivel does make me ashamed. But the cognitive environment over in the UK may be very powerful in persuading the rabble of the pen, the so-called Fourth Estate.

  36. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Ooops! Did I perchance forget to lock the door?

    One should never lock the door to one’s green pastures. Always leave it open for an erring cow to gain a few doubts about her dried dogmas.

    You didn’t help yourself to the little bear’s porridge, did you?

    Of course not! I went directly to the bar.
    Grand nectar!

  37. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    I don’t know about the other Allam, but isn’t it curious that most Arab writers who criticize Arab/Islamic anti-Israeli acts also convert?

  38. oao says:

    how is this folly less breathtaking:

    Taliban: Obama’s call for talks with “moderate Taliban” are “illogical”
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025178.php

    i ask you: why should the taliban desist when pakistan, russia, somalia institute sharia law and the US signals: we’re weak, pls kick us?

  39. oao says:

    and more:

    Canadian dhimmiplomat cuts short discussion of antisemitism in Islamic texts at UN Human Rights Council
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025171.php

  40. oao says:

    and more:

    Afghanistan: British help establish sharia courts to counter Taliban’s appeal
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025172.php

  41. oao says:

    and more:

    Obama and the “Alliance of Civilizations” [Michael Rubin]

    The Turkish press is reporting that when President Obama visits Turkey (April 7-8), he will attend the “Alliance of Civilizations” conference, an organization created under Kofi Annan’s auspices by Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and advised by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, among others. His trip to Turkey comes at a time when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is cracking down on civil society, the media, and political opposition and slowly easing Turkey toward a Vladimir Putin-style dictatorship.

  42. Rich Rostrom says:

    oao:

    s it possible that [Cohen] does not know what hamas declares?

    No. Cohen, in a colossal feat of cognitive egocentrism, has persuaded himself that they don’t really mean it – it’s just a pose they have to take, and it be humiliating or something to make them change it.

    i would bet they don’t much care.

    They may not care much, but that is far from supporting or even tolerating any sort of anti-Jewish campaign.

    a bit of contradiction there, ain’t it?

    What is?

  43. E.G. says:

    Rich,

    Self persuasion was my impression too.

  44. [...] either a racist, a fool, or suicidal. His utterly stupid column this week has been parsed by plenty of others, and I have no desire to rehash his [...]

  45. Cynic says:

    One should never lock the door to one’s green pastures.

    Yeh, yeh! leave it open for those who think the grass is greener on the other side.

    By the way I hope you know that in Yiddish a griner, pronounced greener, means a newcomer?

  46. oao says:

    No. Cohen, in a colossal feat of cognitive egocentrism, has persuaded himself that they don’t really mean it – it’s just a pose they have to take, and it be humiliating or something to make them change it.

    there is no doubt many do that. i would also guess that they also think at some level that israel deserves it, given the genocide it inflicts on the poor pals. that’s part of understanding his hallelujah.

    They may not care much, but that is far from supporting or even tolerating any sort of anti-Jewish campaign.

    that’s how it starts. given the constant drumming in the MSM and universities (including classes) and now govt policies, in time indifference turns to worse, particularly since there is a lot of conformity enforcement. besides, all that it takes for evil to thrive is for good people to do or say nothing. you know, they came to get the jews…

  47. Eliyahu says:

    EG, I know that Magdi Allam was personally converted by the Pope in a very public ceremony at the Vatican. I was disappointed. I was hoping that he would join us. Maybe go to Riccardo di Segni, the chief rabbi of Italy. I suppose it was inevitable that he would convert to Catholicism since his wife is an Italian Catholic.

    But I don’t think that we can generalize about Muslims/Arabs who are sympathetic to Israel being converts. There was Abdul-Razek Abdul-Kader, who was a Marxist. Actually he was more honest in his anti-imperialism than the French Commies and Trots. So he was given refuge here in Israel and died a few years ago on a kibbutz where he was living. Btw, he was a descendant of the Abdul-Kader who led the struggle against the French in Algeria.

    Khaled Fouad Allam did not convert, as far as I know. I believe that he teaches sociology or poli sci somewhere in Italy. He published an interesting article in La Repubblica, 9-11-2003 on the anniversay of the Twin Towers tragedy. Here he stressed an aspect that we often discuss here. That was psywar or cogwar. He wrote how Osama bin Laden was deliberately using a script in those videos in which he appeared in rocky, arid surroundings in order to emphasize the aridity of This Life [dunya] compared with the world to come:
    “Bin Laden’s strategy consists … in superimposing a mythical time for the time of our everyday life… the landscapes, the mountains, the rocks that symbolize the aridity of life … and the recitation of hadiths … all that constitutes a linguistic apparatus that essentially has the function of updating the sacred time of Islam in the ongoing conflict. .. What is clear therefore is the use of religious language in order to construct a new historical and ideological conscience.”

    Kh F Allam also argues that this use of visual symbols shows Bin Laden’s own Westernization by rejecting Islam’s rejecting of images, its hostility to visual symbols.

    Stu might take notice.

  48. Eliyahu says:

    EG, btw, it’s funny indeed, very curious, that none of Abdul-Razak Abdul-Kader’s books was ever translated into English. Written in French, one of them also appeared in Italian and Spanish. But none in English.

  49. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    I was thinking of Nonie Darwish and Walid Shoebat.

  50. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    The green cousin?
    Her grandchildren are Goracle militants.

  51. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Where do cousins come into this?
    Her= Gaia?

  52. oao says:

    e.g.,

    eliyahu description of allam’s work comes close to what we were discussing elsewhere but did not have a good term for it.

    it probably has some insight into OBL’s endeavor,
    but frankly i don’t need it to understand what’s going on.

  53. E.G. says:

    oao,

    What, terrorism?
    As far as I understand from Eliyahu’s description, it’s about Riefenstahl/Soviet style use of visual symbolism and modern tech. That would be the admiration inducing side. I was referring more to the intimidation complementary one.

  54. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    NYC Juice folklore, early 2Oth. Everybody had a grune/grine cousine, mit der kinderlach and mahasanim…

    Her= Gaia?
    Originally Golde’le Berkowitz, Americanised to Gaia Baldwin.

  55. [...] The best form of payback from America’s expensive and authoritarian allies — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — would be help in reconciling Gaza Palestinians loyal to Hamas with West Bank Palestinians loyal to the more moderate Fatah of …Read More [...]

  56. oao says:

    one difference is that R’s visuals were fully controlled and designed; OBL’s could just do it big, destructive and murderous, but he did not design/control the visuals (recall that he did not know the towers would collapse).

    anyway, saying that both use visuals to achieve their objectives (admiration vs. fear) is not some brilliant insightand and allam could say this in the simple language i used rather than his sophisticated one without losing much.

  57. [...] The 1988 Hamas Charter is vile, but I think it’s wrong to get hung up on the prior recognition of Israel issue. Perhaps Hamas is sincere in its calls for Israel’s disappearance — although it has offered a decades-long truce — but then …Read More [...]

  58. Eliyahu says:

    “What is clear therefore is the use of religious language in order to construct a new historical and ideological conscience.” Kh F Allam

    oao, Allam puts the matter succinctly. I would like to go further and draw the conclusion that a long-term cog war effort, to use Stu’s term, has been going in several major Western countries, including the USA, for many years in order to accomplish the same end. That is, “in order to construct a new historical and ideological conscience.”

    Since I was living in the USA in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, I could not help but notice the very drastic changes in mores and basic beliefs and prejudices that were taking place and took place. Prejudices still abound in the USA [as elsewhere] but they are often different from those of yore [the 1950s]. And when they are the same, they are often old wine in new bottles. I remember hearing in the 1950s that “the Jews have all the money.” This often came from non-Jews who were themselves rather prosperous, even wealthy. God bless good old Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. I wish I only had 1/2 of 1 percent of their wealth.

    Now, this prejudice has morphed into “the Jews have all the power,” “the superpowerful Israel Lobby denies my freedom to criticize Israel in the mildest terms,” to paraphrase Chaz Freeman, who was and is in fact a lobbyist for at least two foreign govts [maybe three if Burma/Myanmar is included]. Now the Obama regime is already off to a very ugly start with its continued failure to reverse economic decline and its pro-Nazi moves outside the USA, of which the aborted Freeman appointment is just one example. The NYTimes has severely distorted the Freeman issue with articles that avoid mentioning that Freeman is a Saudi lobbyist. Freeman himself refuses to look in the mirror and see a lobbyist there.

    That’s a common prejudice in the USA. In Western Europe, where Jews were historically considered alien and did not have equal rights anywhere there until the French revolution, Jews are still considered alien. Now, the pretense is that Jews are alien to the Middle East with the parallel pretense –sometimes– that the Jews are really Western Europeans just like everybody else, their skin whiter than white, except that they are the last of the colonialists whereas we other Europeans, we the righteous, gave up colonialism long ago.

    Now psywar/indoctrination agencies have been working for many years to promote this notion [which is old wine in new bottles] for many years, especially in the UK, not only the seat of the Mother of Parliaments but the seat of probably the most sophisticated cog war/psywar operations in history.

  59. Cynic says:

    I remember hearing in the 1950s that “the Jews have all the money.”

    Eliyahu,

    In the late 70s in Brazil I met a person who had fled Mozambique and who was trying to get a loan to start a coffee plantation. In our discussion he stated that the juice wouldn’t lend him money.
    All the banks he had approached were neither owned nor controlled by Jews and to add to it he refused to accept that as a recent out of pocket arrival more refugee than credit positive entrepreneur he had nothing to offer in return.

    At the time each state (some 25 states at the time) had its own bank making, along with the private sector some 50 plus avenues of credit available.

  60. E.G. says:

    What? Hernandez and Pinto are not juice?
    A Lubavitcher recently told me he received a very touching phone call from a lady surnamed Pinto, who RSVP’d that although she’s a Portugese concierge she’d love to attend the Purim Spiel he invited her to…

  61. oao says:

    “in order to construct a new historical and ideological conscience.”

    if so, it would be much harder to achieve the objective if there were still proper education to use as defense. without any, it’s like heat thru butter. my guess is that’s what you observed.

    Now, this prejudice has morphed into “the Jews have all the power,” “the superpowerful Israel Lobby denies my freedom to criticize Israel in the mildest terms,” to paraphrase Chaz Freeman

    yes, because in a time of crisis, part. if it’s self-inflicted, or when some scary enemy arises, the the scapegoating instinct, which is again — more powerful the less education there is. and it’s not a surprise the elites exploit it to defend themselves and to stop the plebos from realizing it and revolt.

  62. oao says:

    it’s not much different, btw, from how the arab elites use israel to prevent the street from revolting against them.

  63. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    There might be a Jewish “Hernandez” in Britain but quite unlikely to be a Jewish banker in Brasil.
    Apart from some “conversos’ making an appearance now, those Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition to Brasil, ended up fleeing to what was then New Amsterdam.
    The only Jewish, Jewish banker who owns a bank is of Lebanese extraction.

  64. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    In some people’s minds, banker is synonymous to Jewish. That the historical context has changed from the days when, de jure, only juice were allowed to exert this profession, somehow fails to be seen as relevant.

    O/T: have you read An Agent of Cynicism?

  65. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    The #@§!°” filters ate my reply. Till/if they regurgitate it, have you seen Peter Wehner’s Commentary article?

  66. Cynic says:

    allowed to exert this profession

    E.G.

    By extension from having to collect taxes for the kings, “Black Adder” and the Sheriff of Norwich – forced to exert this profession.

    Re: O/T no. Not yet.

    Whatever it is, filters/PC leftist liberal fascists/ something ate a comment or two of mine made last Friday.
    Don’t remember what I wrote and have forgotten the threads.
    The only ones to get through the embargo were in reply to Ray to the effect that with you and others resorting to ad hoc abbreviations MS will replace text editing with a toon processor to provide nuance, now unavailable because of the reduction in the comment “space/time” continuum, through visuals.

  67. Cynic says:

    Managed to find that Peter Wehner article but whoever wrote the webpage has part of the print overwritten by adverts in the right hand pane.
    They seem to insist on only admitting one OS and browser in their monochromatic world.
    Why can’t they code according to W3C standards?

  68. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Funny, I have no trouble reading Commentary articles online- no interfering adverts. And, ad hoc shmad hoc, I do my best to avoid abbreviations (sour face)!
    (As an educated person you would not count RSVP as one, of course) (rolling eyes).

  69. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    (As an educated person you would not count RSVP as one, of course) (rolling eyes).

    RSVP = Reply soon and very politely?

    Now if I was unilingual I might.

  70. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Have you checked M-W?
    intransitive verb!

  71. Eliyahu says:

    roj cohen has another piece in the Int’l Herald Trib, see link:

    http://jewishrefugees.blogspot.com/2009/03/meeting-iranian-jews-has-taught-roger.html

    This piece tells us more about him of course than about Iran and/or the situation of the Jews there. For some reason, he was invited to speak to Iranian Jews at an LA synagogue. Some Bahais came too. He was obtuse as you might expect. Lacking in understanding. Shockingly lacking in understanding. But at the end of his report he thows in a remark about the withdrawn candidacy of Chaz Freeman for a high post in US intelligence. This remark, an absurd non sequitur, coming out of left field, so to speak, sums up his nature as a pro-administration hack or PR flack. He is not a reporter. He is a mouthpiece for certain policies and policymakers and would-be policymakers. Is he really obtuse or is he more of a lackey? Or is his obtuseness a function of his lackeyness?? And he is published by a supposedly intelligent newspaper!! He writes:

    “Pragmatism is also one way of looking at Iran’s nuclear program. A state facing a nuclear-armed Israel and Pakistan, American invasions in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and noting that North Korea was not hit, might reasonably conclude that preserving the revolution requires nuclear resolve.

    “What’s required is American pragmatism in return, one that convinces the mullahs that their survival is served by stopping short of a bomb.

    “That, in turn, will require President Obama to jump over his own bonfire of indignation as the Middle East taboos that just caused the scandalous disqualification of Charles Freeman for a senior intelligence post are shed in the name of a new year of engagement and reason.”

    Americans used to laugh at stories about Stalin’s shameless propaganda hacks years ago. Now they’re right at home.

  72. oao says:

    Americans used to laugh at stories about Stalin’s shameless propaganda hacks years ago. Now they’re right at home.

    i had referred to an article i wrote about the similarity between the US and soviet systems.

    americans are so used to marketing propaganda that they can be easily manipulated by political propaganda.

    how many americans today REALLY know anything about the soviet system or can reason?

  73. Cynic says:

    Trying once again (comment disappeared) to get this link of some more about RC
    No, Roger Cohen, No!

    Obama’s new Middle Eastern diplomacy and engagement will involve reining in Israeli bellicosity and a probable cooling of U.S.-Israeli relations. It’s about time. America’s Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy has been disastrous, not least for Israel’s long-term security.

  74. Cynic says:

    Some more about Roger Cohen’s state of mind from Powerline:

    The Case of Roger Cohen
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/03/023172.php

    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.

    Because of the vehicle (NYT) he is using to transport his nuttiness far and wide we cannot simply write him of as just anutha nutta.

  75. Eliyahu says:

    America’s Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy has been disastrous, not least for Israel’s long-term security.

    Notice the similarity between Roger Cohen’s concern here for “Israel’s long-time security” and noam’s concern for the same, whatever noam’s exact words were. I can’t recall them now but they were similar. Now, Rog Cohen is a hack for the NYT & IHT, whereas noam is supposed to be a “conscience-stricken” Israeli. Not only is Cohen a NYT hack but he’s a British import [in addition to having a Jewish name], like Alexander Cockburn and Christopher Hitchens, both long-time darlings of a “leftist” American periodicals and media in general. How is it that a “conscience stricken” Israeli thinks in the same concepts as a British-educated [or "schooled"] journalistic hack??

    Of course, the USA has never had a “Israel-can-do-no-worng” policy. Go back over official State Dept declarations since 1948. You will find plenty of criticism of Israel. Only a hack with a mission could write such a lie as Cohen did. Or maybe a brainwashed baboon.

  76. [...] Now there’s an interesting comment. Not only does it call up images of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but it parallels the attitude of current pundits on Islam — the more outrageous it is, the more reasonable it appears in their view. [...]

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