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Wishing Doesn't Make It So

Those who don't know their history are of course doomed to repeat it, but what of those who ostensibly remember it, but choose to misrepresent it to shill for an agenda of appeasement?

For Exhibit A of this type, see Roger Cohen's piece in today's NY Times in which he admits a profound misunderstanding of Middle East history and counsels forgetfulness of past atrocities as a tonic for lasting accord.

Mr. Cohen begins by wondering about this curious bug that's somehow gotten into Israel's bonnet (emphasis mine):

The anxiety of the diaspora Jews has ceded not to tranquility but to another anxiety. The escape from walls has birthed new walls. The annihilation psychosis has not disappeared but taken new form.

For all Israel's successes -- it is the most open and dynamic society in the region -- this is a gnawing failure.

Gee. I wonder why the Jews' anxiety never abated. Might it have had something to do with their being in a perpetual defensive posture since its birth in 1948? Might this posture have anything to do with their inhospitable Middle Eastern Neighbors (including Iran-sponsored Hamas and Hezbollah) who have relentlessly invaded and terrorized them for 60 years?

Mr. Cohen doesn't think so. He's narrowed it down to something he thinks they've brought on themselves, and which he labels Israel's "perpetual state of exceptionalism", fretting that:

Israel makes a fetish of its exceptional status. It needs to deal with the world as it is, however discomfiting, not the world of yesterday.

There go those Jews again, clamoring for the spotlight, looking for favors. All because their entirely rational counterparts in Syria, Iran, Jordan and Egypt had a misunderstanding over the matter of some land awhile back. Isn't it time to let bygones be bygones?

We've allowed our understanding of the Middle East to become too dramatic, you see. And this drama is unhelpful. Unhelpful to whom, you may ask? Certainly not to Israel, which deals with the barbarism of its neighbors daily and must react in real time. No, this drama is unhelpful to--appeasing Iran, which in Mr. Cohen's estimation is key to making all the unpleasantness go away:

That is to see it as a fight for a different balance of power -- and possibly greater stability -- between a nuclear-armed Israel . . . a proud but uneasy Iran and an increasingly sophisticated and aware (if repressed) Arab world.

This is not a battle between barbarism and civilization, but between various civilizations, whose attitudes toward religion and modernism vary, but who all quest for some accommodation between them.

[ . . . ]

I think President Obama, himself talking down American exceptionalism (it's expensive), is trying to nudge Israel toward a more prosaic, realistic self-image.

Got that? Because Iran's just like us, we can trust that they'll barter for peace if given the chance.

All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.


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Comments (10)

yup, those nasty old Jews, ... (Below threshold)

yup, those nasty old Jews, sitting on a scrap of land the size (almsot exactly) of Kern County, California...compared to their Middle East "neighbors" sitting on land twice the size of the United Sates!

And with a population WORLDWIDE of under 20 million...compared to Islam with a worldwide population of 1.25 BILLION.

Yup...THEY are the problem!

Cohen, meet Chamberlain.</p... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Cohen, meet Chamberlain.

If Israel didn't exist, the... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

If Israel didn't exist, the Arabs would have to invent it.

JLawson....sweet observatio... (Below threshold)
Rich:

JLawson....sweet observation.

If Israel did not exist, th... (Below threshold)
914:

If Israel did not exist, the Ahabs would still blame it on the Joos.

Albert, In you... (Below threshold)
American Musashi:

Albert,

In your post you mention that an alternate explanation for Israel's anxiety could be due to the fact that since its "birth" in 1948 it has been terrorized by its "inhospitable" neighbors. It appears that history's account of the creation of Israel and your rather rosy account may be at odds. According to the historical record Israel did not arise it of the sands as if by some immaculate conception. Instead it was "born" at the expense of the people original country of Palestine. A country that had existed for 200 years. It may be that characterizations of this event in rosy terms only serve to exacerbate th problem. I believe that as Americans we should stand for truth and justice not just when its convenient but when it is difficult.

http://www.representativepress.org/IsraelHistory.html

Thanks for listening.

There was a country called ... (Below threshold)
Al:

There was a country called Palestine in 1948? That had been in existence since 1748?

Who knew!

Al,Thank you for p... (Below threshold)
American Musashi:

Al,

Thank you for pointing out the typo in my original post in your understated yet humorous way. Seeing that your a man of obvious wit and being gifted with an intellect that spans to global issues, I wonder if you would address the broader thesis of my post.

Thanks for listening.

There was a broader thesis ... (Below threshold)
Al:

There was a broader thesis to your post? Other than the one that was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Middle East history...that you brush off as a mere 'typo'? I suggest you quit while you're ahead and use this time to go do some research.

Al, I will encl... (Below threshold)
American Musashi:

Al,

I will enclose at the bottom of my post some brief online history resources for you in the hopes that you might work towards filling in knowledge gaps that you may have heretofore been unaware of. The broader thesis of my original post was to question your characterization of the creation of the state of "Israel" as a birth as if by Immaculate conception. I am interested to know how you can characterize it in such rosy terms. It seems to me that to characterize it in such a way is to gloss over a bloody and tumultuous event that had consequences that continue to this day for Jews, Arabs, Muslims and Christians.

Online Historical References for your review:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Southern_Levant

http://www.jewish-history.com/Palestine/period4.html

Thanks for listening.




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