Friday, April 23, 2010

More Condescending Idiocy from Roger Cohen

It's always amusing to see journalists and academic critics belittling Israeli security concerns, which these know-it-alls dismiss as a mixture of manipulation and pathological paranoia. See for example Roger Cohen's latest column along these lines:
To enter Israel is to pass through a hall of mirrors. A nation exerting complete military dominance in the West Bank becomes one that, under an almost unimaginable peace accord, might be menaced from there.
What does Cohen know about qassams and katyushas? What good is "complete dominance" and military superiority when terrorists can fire rockets at your cities and threaten the lives of thousands of civilians?


Noah K said...

Wow, I was hoping to throw this up there with some commentary, but you preempted me. I know you despise Roger Cohen's reporting on the Middle East. Still, "idiocy" seems harsh to me; if not harsh, imprecise. Couldn't you say "lack of empathy?" In general, my good man, I find your patience with foreign and diasporic Jewish observers of Israeli society to be a bit to thin. In this case, it is particularly ironic that you are raging at this man for not sharing your "narrative" of Israeli life, a life of "quassams and katyushas." Isn't the take-home of the column that Obama/Bibi, Americans/Israelis don't share the same narrative? I think it's much more interesting and productive to either critique that claim, or if we accept it, to try and explain the disjuncture, rather than blast away at the likes of Cohen. I am sure Bibi is calling him a "self-hating Jew" right now anyway. Do we have to pile on?

Adam Ehad said...

Actually, I can sort of understand Roger Cohen's position. Not that I agree with it. But he does have a point when he says that we are plenty strong enough to deal with the threats against us, and have no right to fear annihilation to the extent that we do. What he does not realise is that Israel's continued unwillingness to use it's own military strength makes many Israeli citizens feel helpless to the threats of those who want to annihilate them. In a recent interview, a Serbian athlete who had come to work in Israel said that any other country, when faced with the constant rocket attacks etc, from Gaza, would have long since bombed it out of existence - even countries with far less military power than Israel.
So Roger is right. Israel is strong. And it is time for us to stop moaning about annihilation, and prevent it.

Amos said...

My point was simply that you can have all the military might in the world and still be unable to do very much about certain kinds of attacks. We saw this most clearly in the Lebanon war. This has nothing to do with any kind of narrative but with a legitimate security concern based on very recent historical experience. To treat these kinds of concerns only as discourse seems silly and condescending to me. I was not talking about existential fears but about simple security calculations. Cohen reminded me of those critics of Israel who say: Israel has tanks and F-16s, how can Israelis claim that they are worried? I am not talking about strategic security threats. I am talking about ordinary people and their fears of threats to their personal security, on a daily level. To deride these as based on some kind of obsession with victimhood, is a failure of the imagination.

Noah K said...

I totally agree. Indeed I would have replaced "idiocy" with "failure of imagination." But then again, this is the blogosphere.