Roger Cohen’s Times Tirades

October 20, 2013 5:10 pm 21 comments
Office of The New York Times, in New York City. Photo: WikiCommons.

Office of The New York Times, in New York City. Photo: WikiCommons.

Roger Cohen’s repetitive lacerations of Israel in The New York Times Opinion page have managed to lower the bar even further for responsible criticism of the Jewish state in the world’s most self-consciously uncomfortable Jewish-owned newspaper.

Cohen, a London-born Jew, is an Oxford graduate who joined the Times in 1990. As a self-described “Globalist,” he became senior editor for the International Herald Tribune before becoming a Times columnist in 2006. His conventionally Jewish assimilationist critique of Israel has included denunciations of Jewish settlements, a call for ending the Gaza blockade (which would open Israel’s Negev region to Hamas infiltration, rockets, and weapons stockpiling), and the accusation that Israel killed “hundreds of Palestinian children” in Operation Cast Lead, which led him to proclaim that he had “never previously felt so shamed by Israel’s actions.”

But Cohen, like so many other Jews who are ashamed when Israel builds new communities in its biblical homeland and defends itself against enemies sworn to its destruction, has recently launched a crusade. Two weeks ago, he castigated Prime Minister Netanyahu for his “Tired Iranian Lines” (October 4). Praising the Islamic Republic as “an island of stability,” Cohen conceded that it was an “authoritarian” –  not “totalitarian” – state. But it was Netanyahu who has a “credibility issue,” rooted in the “distorted priorities” – protecting Israel from an Iranian nuclear attack – that he enunciated in his recent speech at the United Nations.

It was, Cohen alleged, a “diversionary strategy” that ignored “the real challenge to Israel”: its failure to achieve “a two-state peace” with the Palestinians and “the prolongation of a West Bank occupation that leaves Israel overseeing millions of disenfranchised Palestinians.” Netanyahu, Cohen advised, “should cut the bluster” against Iran and make the Times happy by embracing a Palestinian state.

Clearly enamored of what he wrote, Cohen repeated himself two weeks later (October 18). Conceding that Israel is “a miracle of innovation and development,” Cohen nonetheless remains apprehensive – and critical. There are “hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank.” Palestinian “incitement against Israel” persists. Trust in a two-state solution has diminished on both sides. But peace can come, “with painful concessions.”

The concessions, of course, must come from Israel. “No democracy can be immune to running an undemocratic system of oppression in territory under its control. . . . It is corrosive. A democracy needs borders.” But it also needs a Palestinian leadership that recognizes Israel as the state of the Jewish people and is prepared to relinquish its demand that descendants of refugees (4,950,000 based on UNRWA registration numbers) are entitled to a “right of return” that will obliterate Israel as a Jewish state.

Cohen seems shocked – genuinely shocked – that Jewish settlers “have the right to vote as if within Israel” while Palestinians are “disenfranchised subjects without rights.” But settlers are Israelis who live in territory west of the Jordan River where Jews were guaranteed the right of “close settlement” under international law ninety years ago, a right that has never been rescinded. And Palestinians are, of course, free to vote in their own elections; indeed, it is they who in 2005 elected Mahmoud Abbas as their president to the four-year term that has yet to expire. (Even Hamas does not recognize his legitimacy.)

But if Israel is to remain “a Jewish and democratic state,” Cohen writes, then “something has to give.” And it is, predictably, Israel that must give: its land and its security. “Netanyahu knows this,” Cohen concludes. Perhaps.

Nowhere in Cohen’s analysis can one find mention of the recent wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks as a possible deterrent to peace. In late September two Israeli soldiers were murdered. Then an Israeli nine-year-old was shot in the neck outside her home in the settlement of Psagot. The Facebook page of Fatah, the organization chaired by Palestinian Authority President Abbas, praised the child’s attacker as “the sharpshooter of Palestine” who had also killed one of the Israeli soldiers in Hebron. The terrorist “left a manly signature . . . as he tells the tale of those who love the homeland.”

But Roger Cohen’s incessant harping on Netanyahu, and blithe avoidance of Palestinian terrorism, fits comfortably into New York Times policy: All the news hostile to Israel that fits we print.

Jerold S. Auerbach is author of the forthcoming Jewish State, Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy, to be published by Quid Pro Books.

21 Comments

  • I read that the owner’s father belongs to the Jewish Family that owns the NY Times, but his mother is Episcopalian. His parents are divorced and he was raised Episcopalian. Later he said he was agnostic. He apparently does everything possible to prove his lack of Jewishness. He brags how well his paper is doing.

  • The NYTimes is not Jewish-owned and hasn’t been for a very long time. the original family, i believe, had been jewish and converted to a form of Protestantism…and that’s what they are now.

  • Would those who designate Roger Cohen a “self-hater” also
    call Sasha Polakow-Suransky a “self-hater” for writing about the secret Shimon Peres P.W. Botha 1975 military cooperation agreement in his “The Unspoken Alliance,” Israel’s Secret Relationship With Apartheid South Africa?”

  • Roger Cohens obsessive love for Iran has made him look foolish. When he visited the Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles he was lambasted and couldn’t answer any of their points.I understand he left dismayed and in a huff.
    He also fails to mention an Iranian Jewish youmg man that was found shot for having been dating a high ranking Al Quds officer’s daughter.I don’t think he should have been dating her in the first place but thats a whole different disscusion,He also forgets to mention what happened to 80 something Jewish Iranian woman who lived in her home for her whole life. The mosque next door demands she give them her house she refuses.She was sawed to pieces

  • Every time someone blames Israel for the lack of a treaty one small detail is always neglected.

    The other side has not, will not, and has never considered abandoning the right of return. Short of this, is there any point to negotiating ANYTHING but temporary truces, and timorous expansions of autonomy in strictly regulated fashion?
    Right of Return = NO ISRAEL
    Every Palestinian, arab, and thinking human being understands this.
    Even Mr. Cohen

  • The new CEO of the New York Times is Mark Thompson. He was he Head of the BBC. He is a Leftie. I used to work for the BBC and I know what they are like. They have become very left-wing and pro-Arab. I worked in the World Service Newsroom (Radio) when I was 30 and then at TV Centre. I worked on the 60th Anniversary of Auschwitz programme with Lawrence Reiss. Transcribed the tapes of Commandant Rudolf Hoess of Auschwitz. I am now retired. When I saw that Mark Thompson was going to the New York Times, I thought what have they done!

  • If you listen to the (alleged) rabbis at most Reform and Conservative synagogues, you will realize that our next generation of assimilated Jewish kids are already lost. Their parents have become fat, dumb, and happy (and oh, so politically correct). These kids lack strong, proud Jewish role models.
    Now, for the good news. The orthodox community (including “Modern Ortho”) are raising our kids in a more positive Jewish environment.
    I’m not surprised at folks like Cohen, or that the mainstream media uses them to slander the most humane nation in the Middle East, Israel.

  • Roger Cohen is another one of the sad, tired self haters. Far from being embarrassed at being Jewish, I am proud to belong to a people who have changed the world in many ways, no matter how persecuted. Great Scientists, inventors, writers, artists, philosophers, etc. etc., etc., from a people that make up less than 1% of the worlds population. Where are the Amorites, the Romans, , and all the others from early on to present day who have tried to destroy us? We are still here, and will continue to be.

  • Cohen has no friends so he hopes that our enemies become his friends. He is in fact liked by Fatah & Hamas who gladly quote him in their propaganda machines. The only thing Fatah & Hamas can agree on together: Cohen’s diatribe

  • MY PUBLISHED COMMENT TO COHEN ARTICLE
    The bottom line is, again, a list of concessions that Israel, not the Palestinians, have to make. Cohen ignores the fact that agreement with Israel is an ISLAMIC issue where WAQF, the Islamic conviction that all mandatory Palestine is Islamic land that can be owned by Muslims only, not Jews or Christians. For them Tel Aviv is a “settlement”. Ask Abbas or Hanniye of Hamas “what are the Palestinian occupied territories?”, and find that they are talking about Israel proper. More, it is a process of reconciliation that must take place: the Palestinians have to prepare, educate, encourage the belief in coexistence with a JEWISH state. The media, schools, Friday sermons must be directed to peace which is not done so far. The propagation of hate as stressed recently in the NYT by Steinitz is the root of an agreement that should be lasting. Cohen believes that successful negotiations will solve the conflict, but there were 24 such negotiations with massive Israeli painful concession (leaving Gaza). President Clinton and Denis Ross books outline the refusal of Arafat to any agreement. Cohen traditional criticism of PM Netanyahu fails to understand that it takes two to tango and Abbas is not representing Hamas and is not a powerful leader as Cohen wants to portray him. His re election is behind by 5 years. He is 76 years old with prostate cancer whose main function is to distribute the flood of money and embezzle some. EU just found that 3,5 billion dollars are un accounted for……

    Oct. 18, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.

  • aviwen39@gmail.com

    a hater of Israel

  • Last week, the NY Times announced that yet another 8 floors of their NYC tower has been emptied of NYT staff and put up for lease. Carlos Slim, the major “bank” of the Episcopal Church run tabloid, has announced he may no longer keep funneling cash to the imploding near bankrupt Anti-Jew Anti-American rag to keep it afloat. So my question is: why is anyone showing any real concern for a soon to be defunct piece of neo-nazi crap that, after having to sell off the Boston Globe at a fire sale retains as its only remaining global ally the gaza based nazi owned haaretz

    • @ Arie…This is as crazed a response as any vitriol pouring from the Arab press. You are truly their brother under the skin. For a Jew to call an Israeli newspaper “the gaza based nazi owned haaretz” is on the same level as the Jew haters who call the Israelis nazis. You seem, like Hamas, to come from a world of dangerous fools.

  • In a world where everybody hates everybody else, anti-Semitism nevertheless stands out as the most powerful and persistent of hatreds.

    http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/AntiSemitism.html

    Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that for many people, to be Jewish is to be embarrassed.

  • Torquemada was the only one ?

  • Well said. Both Roger Cohen and the Times are blind to reality. Everyone, including Abbas, knows that the minute Israeli soldiers leave Judea and Samaria, Hamas will take over, just as it did in Gaza. Or, worse, that the area will become another Somalia, where Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Quaida and other terrorist groups vie for power and compete to prove themselves the true Party of G-d against the Zionists by carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. And there sit Roger Cohen and the Times editors, half a world away, in their bourgeois Manhattan offices, safe from the violence, condemning Israel. I hope there is a special place in hell for them. (Thomas Friedman included.)

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