Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The reviews are in on Richard Cohen's latest, "Hunkering Down with History" and the self selected ones I've seen have been uniformly negative.

Little Green Footballs:
At the Washington Post, Richard Cohen agrees with Hamas and Hizballah that “Israel is a mistake.”

And he’s open to the argument that Israel is a “crime.”

Israel Matzav - his post is aptly title History Lesson
Cohen's article reflects a total ignorance of Jewish history, and of the Jewish connection to the land of Israel dating back to biblical times, which is inexcusable even for an assimilated Jew (which I assume Cohen to be). In fact, even Christians should be offended by Cohen's writing them out of the history of the Holy Land. Cohen adopts the Arab narrative of the last century of history lock, stock and barrel, without even considering that it might be false. Note, I said Arab and not 'Palestinian,' because the 'Palestinians' by their own admission are a fiction created by that Arab narrative.


Someone explain to me why anyone in their right mind would think that the "smart choice" is to pull back to borders that are not impervious, while terrorism continues, while "waiting and hoping" that history will "move on to something else"?!

The life he has cheerfully resigned himself to sacrificing might be your own, but that's what you get for being born in a mistake-state, right?

After reading the latest from Richard Cohen, we have to wonder what the Washington Post columnist has been smoking...

Yag's thoughts
In it he calls the creation of Israel "a mistake". OK. That's fine. It would be surprising to my father, who is a 6th generation Jerusalemite. It might be insulting to my mother, a holocaust survivor who moved there from Germany after the war, but OK. I’ve read worse ...

Infotainment Rules
So says the hysterical Richard Cohen in the Washington Post, in the first (current) case of a Jewish pundit desperately trying to feed Israeli Jews to the crocodile in the hope that he will be eaten last.

Blue Crab Boulevard
Hunkering down is never a strategy for winning a war. It is a way to die. Israel did not choose this war, it was thrust on them. Sitting back and taking it will not make it better and will not fix the underlying problems. I do not profess to know the ultimate solution, but I highly doubt it is the one Mr. Cohen charts.

Richard Cohen advises Israel not to be overly aggresive. He theorizes that Israel would be best serve to "hunker down" in a defensive position and wait for the nations which surround it to develop into peaceful neighbors. It is an excellent hypothesis provided one does not have to face the consequences of testing it.

Sierra Faith
Richard Cohen is a useful fool tool for Anti-Semites the world over.

I can see the smile cross the face of the evil Ahmadinejad as he reads these words in a prominent American newspaper.

We should all weep for the lack of moral clarity in these times from many in America.

The Belmont Club
"Never Again" lasted all of sixty years.

Though not addressed to Cohen's column this recent Dry Bones provides a rebuttal to Cohen's argument.

And while I don't think that Cohen probably meant something less offensive than it sounds - when he calls Israel a mistake he probably means a historic accident given the unlikelihood of a third commonwealth being founded after 2000 years - it's hard to get past the article without feeling that he's giving ammunition to Israel's enemies.

But when Cohen writes
In his forthcoming book, "The War of the World," the admirably readable British historian Niall Ferguson devotes considerable space to the horrific history of the Jews in 19th- and 20th-century Europe. Never mind the Holocaust. In 1905 there were pogroms in 660 different places in Russia, and more than 800 Jews were killed -- all this in a period of less than two weeks. This was the reality of life for many of Europe's Jews.

Little wonder so many of them emigrated to the United States, Canada, Argentina or South Africa. Little wonder others embraced the dream of Zionism and went to Palestine, first a colony of Turkey and later of Britain. They were in effect running for their lives.

you get the impression that he is providing ammunition to the Arabs and their sympathizers who argue that since the Holocaust is a European crime why should Europe repay Jews by taking the Palestinians' land from them. As President Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Der Spiegel (where he's clearly having trouble with the idea that the Holocaust did take place)
We don't want to confirm or deny the Holocaust. We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not. If it did, then those who bear the responsibility for it have to be punished, and not the Palestinians.

Cohen doesn't mention the historical ties of Jews to Israel and no mention of persecution of Jews in Arab and Muslim lands. Nothing to provide a context that Israel is a refuge for Jews, not just from Europe, but from the world over.

To Cohen Israel's founding is a reaction to the Holocaust. Toleration of Israel is a sign of civilization and an acknowledgement of the wrongness of the Holocaust. But there are those who don't accept his premises. They too must be tolerated no matter how outrageous (and murderous) their behavior. Until they come around. Somehow that's not very comforting or convincing.

UPDATE: Welcome Memeorandum readers.

AbbaGav's title says it all Israel's Mistake: Existing. Remedy: Cower Passively, Hoping They Run Out of Rockets . Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Daled Amos writes of the many aspects of history that Cohen ignores ...
Or the history of Safed, the city in Israel that is currently known for being struck by Hizbullah missiles, but back in the 16th century was home to a Jewish community which included Rabbi Joseph Caro who wrote the compendium of Jewish Law used till today.

Kesher Talk
Winston Churchill knew Saudi Arabia was a mistake. Don't blame the Brits for letting Jews finally have tiny Israel back after they had repeatedly returned and gotten slaughtered and exiled again and again for 2000 years. Blame the Brits for giving Arabia to the Wahabis, arguably the mistake which has shaped the last 100 years more than any other.

On the topic of Kesher Talk's zinger read this.

UPDATE II: Welcome to Buzztracker readers.

Captain's Quarters
Richard Cohen channels National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" in today's Washington Post opinion section in writing about Israel. He argues that since Israel's birth came out of the Holocaust and that many in the Muslim world refuse to acknowledge that genocide, Israel should "hunker down" and apparently allow terrorist groups to attack then without fear of reprisal.

And by all means check out Deteriorata. It's a riot.

A Barbaric Yawp

In short Cohen agrees that the critics of the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza were correct and that these moves were seen as weakness by Hezbollah, Hamas and company. Cohen also admits that UN peacekeeping troops are not the answer.
His solution is to withdraw again to what he calls defensible borders. Isn't the definition of insanity continuing to do the same thing over and over again with the hope that it will yield different results.

Right Wing News on noting the column sounds like satire

Maybe they can just replace Cohen with Frank J., Liberal Larry, Scott Ott, or Iowahawk. The conservatives would think it was funny, the liberals would have trouble telling the difference, and the bloggers would probably work much cheaper than columnists like Cohen.

Hot Air

Picture yourself perched in the turret of a tank, scanning the horizon with night-vision goggles, pondering whether the order that sends you north across the blue line is the order that might end your life. You’ll be sent over into Lebanon to take out a Hezbollah rocket cache, but it’s heavily defended and there’s every chance in the world that Hezbollah has an ambush waiting for you. At that moment, the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen wants you to remember: Israel is a mistake.

Thoughts by Seawitch

But I will say this, far from being a mistake, Israel is the greatest miracle to have occured in the 20th century. The Jewish people returned to their ancient homeland and have created a vibrant society while at the same time defending itself in numerous wars from neighboring countries and from terrorists groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah.

LawHawk - expanding on KesherTalk's point

Israel's existence was a mistake? You could say the same thing about every border drawn by Europeans in Africa, the Middle East, and anywhere else for that matter, where countries were invented along borders that never existed before (Palestine, TransJordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey were all part of the Ottoman Empire until its breakup after WWI by the Europeans).

Common Folks using Common Sense in a similar vein

By the way, if Israel is a historical mistake, then so are Pakistan and Bosnia, and probably others. Anything noteworthy about them, Sir Cohen? Maybe we should return Iran to the Zoroastrians, Egypt to the Copts, Lebanon to the Maronites, western Turkey to the Greeks, Iraq to the Assyrians, and eastern Turkey to the Armenians. Why don’t we turn the whole world over to the Roman Empire?

Boker Tov Boulder

After acknowledging in this very same column that 95.7 percent of Poland's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, Cohen has the audacity to suggest that Israel wait and hope "that history will get distracted and move on."

Common Sense and Wonder

Ah yes, if only those Europeans hadn’t foisted the Jews they didn’t manage to kill off on the poor Arab world where no Jews had been before. If only the few million Jews already living there under British rule and Turkish before that agreed to permanent dhimmitude under the enlightened Arab rulers after the British left there would be no troubles at all. I’m sure the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem would have been happy to carry on the unfinished work of the Germans and then there would be no ‘problem’ with the Jews at all.

Or as Tinkerty Tonk puts it succinctly

Cohen would have Jews continue to run for their lives.

Iowa Voice
Gateway Pundit
Confederate Yankee

UPDATE III: TBIFOC gets some expert opinion on Cohen. Katz say, "meow."
If creating a nation of European Jews was a horrible mistake, I guess the morons who came up with the idea of expelling 600,000 Jews in Arab lands to force them to move there and cement the Jewish hold on those lands have got to be the dumbest, most ignorant people who ever lived.
And he's soliciting. Opinions that is.

Maryland Conservatarian starts with
As of this writing, Richad Cohen’s column - Hunker Down With History - in today’s Washington Post has already generated 87 blog linkings according to the Technorati sidebar. A quick sampling of them indicates the trend is definitely anti-Cohen…and deservedly so because his column today is mind-numbingly inane.

(Emphasis mine) and he doesn't let up.

Partisan Times also noticed the similarity to Ahmadinejad and links to a few others.

Some general criticisms including Cohen:
Life of Rubin - the long version
Beit Frumpy Chic - the short version

UPDATE the final: I never mentioned any of Cohen's defenders. Here's Mahablog after noting that it isn't clear what Cohen wanted, writes
Righties, who have below-average reading comprehension skills at best, have variously interpreted this column...

Well yes there's a lack of clarity in the column and that would explain the various interpretations of Cohen. That's the fault of the writer, not the critics. But for the most Cohen was criticized for his ignorance of history. By focusing strictly on Jews coming to Israel after the Holocaust he was leaving out an awful lot of history. His central point was very weak.

Mahablog approvingly quotes Matt Yglesias
Israel itself is a mistake . . . the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now” is a bit too quick and easy. … The “mistake” here would be Arab rejection of the UN partition plan which, at the time, I’m sure looked to them like a really clever piece preventative security gambit but obviously turned out to be a total fiasco. The lesson would be something about not pushing things too far, not rejecting reasonable favorable compromise proposals, not doing things with giant downside risk, etc.

But Cohen's column was directed towards Israel not the Arab/Muslim world. And Cohen seemed to be saying that the conflict won't end as long as Israel's viewed as a mistake so Israel better get used to it. If anything that seems to be encouraging Israel's enemies, not cautioning them.

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