Roger Cohen, shamed by Gaza, is the realist heir to tribalist Tom Friedman’s chair

Roger Cohen has a brilliant column in today's Times in which he repeats his epiphany of the last 2 months: his utter shame over Gaza. Then he moves to pure realism: about Israel's threat to its neighbors and the importance of recognizing that Iran is a regional power. And so what that Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist! We're negotiators not epistemologists. Steve Walt (whom Cohen has obviously read) asked a week or so ago, why isn't this guy in the print edition? Good question. Cohen:

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Couple comments. Tom Friedman's career was made by Lebanon
'82: he was the Jew who could explain Israel's shocking behavior to
American Jews/the Establishment. Gaza was bound to create the next Tom
Friedman. We all thought it might be Ethan Bronner or Jeffrey Goldberg.
Goldberg failed because he is a tribalist; he made the wrong call at the start (and since) and defended the slaughter. Bronner failed
because he didn't have the chi, or chutzpah necessary, to call a slaughter a slaughter. Roger Cohen has been completely
elevated by Gaza. He didn't take the Jewish talking points. He understood it
was a "travesty," as he repeats; and Gaza has transformed his thinking, has revealed Israel to him. And now even a great scholar, Michael Walzer, is running to try and catch up with Cohen's moral understanding by speaking of the "awfulness" of Gaza!

I think this is a religious issue. Consider: Cohen does not speak as a Jew to Jews, as Friedman, who had grown up cheerleading the Six-Day war did. Cohen speaks as a successful Jewish CFR type in the new establishment. He has breadth and sophistication. He knows the new historians of Israel's history, he listens to Arabs and Iranians. This is the new Jewish presence in the establishment, and it's universalist. Obverse of the neocons. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Beyondoweiss, Gaza, Iran, Israel/Palestine, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 36 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Richard Witty says:

    Cohen is right to call the extent of the Israeli response excessive, but is WRONG to imply in any way that no response would have been appropriate.

    Hamas was warned that if it continued shelling Southern Israel that a military response would occur, and that it would be intense.

    It instead escalated its shelling to longer distance, greater accuracy.

    It INSISTED that Israel respond militarily. Cohen should observe the human cost of the war and object, and object to the appearance of callousness by a military (NOT unusual for military in hostile setting).

    But, he should ALSO severely object to the DECISION and actions by Hamas to resume shelling of civilians.

  2. Madrid says:

    How about a gentile with foreign policy creds. getting some kind of gig on the NY Times editorial page?

    When will that ever happen?

    When will the NY Times allow gentiles to have opinions about foreign policy, (besides the vacuous opinions of Kristof on the plight of Russian prostitutes and strippers)?

    Probably not in my lifetime…

  3. Chris Berel says:

    It would seem that Cohen is attempting to get Arabist credentials. Possibly the pay is better, but he would have to sacrifie his western based morality, for an Islamic code.

  4. Richard Witty says:

    He's emotionally effected by what he's seen. Its a good motivation.

    I don't believe that he's seen the results of recent summary executions of Fatah members in Gaza though, or recently reviewed the history of suicide bomb operations that Hamas undertook from 1993 to 2003, largely to intentionally subvert the prospect of Oslo from maturing.

    1993 is not that long ago. I'm certain that he considered Oslo to be hopeful, that he is NOT invested in any non-compromising political approach.

    Its tough to maintain one's hope for any justice or reconciliation when Hamas and Likud are the two powers that be.

  5. jim byers says:

    Dear Witty, Did you miss that it was Israel who broke the recent truce on nov. 4th? Are you aware that it appears that jihadis came into Gaza when Israel forced the breakout into Egypt and they, not Hamas appear to be the launchers? Those rockets remind me of the rocks that Palestinian young men throw at tanks. They are an act of defiance.

  6. LD says:

    Witty is delusional.

    His explanation only functions if Israel's actions were the only options. This is easily dismissed by the cabinet meeting with the Head of the Shin Bet on the 23rd of Dec. when Israel REJECTED HAMAS'S PROPOSAL.

    This is further confirmed by 2 recent articles in the Hebrew press and Haaretz English.

    Witty is dishonest as usual. He once again EITHER equates the conflict logistically (implication) or removes all context from Hamas's actions.

    He avoids context/facts when it comes to Israel as well, when it is convenient for him, rhetorically.

    Witty is – in and of himself – a diversion. Forget him. He's morally bankrupt.

  7. jim byers says:

    @ LD' I appreciate Witty. It seems that he has changed some. It's like you have a very large ship in the ocean. You turn the wheel and it takes a long time before you can tell it is moving.

  8. Chris Berel says:

    Hamas' attempt to enter israel, thwarted by Israel in Novenber of 2008 may have been the reason Hamas escalated its rocket attacks, but there is no question that Hamas broke the truce. Anyone professing otherwise is delusional and/or lying.

    It appears that the Hamas proposal was worth next to nothing and was rightfully rejected.

    I'd say LD was morally bankrupt, but he never had any morals so certainly could not be trying to pay for anything with them.

  9. LD says:

    Or maybe I'm being a dick?

    I didn't understand your analogy lol.

    I don't know. I go to Richard Silverstein's blog quite often as well, and it's the same thing. Then again, Witty could say the same for me!

  10. LD says:

    Berel seems to think that morals are for sale. How fitting for a Zionist pig.

    God, you ZioPuke really FAIL at trolling.

    And Hamas's proposal was simple: extend the truce to the W. Bank and lift the blockade.

    Those are the words of the head of the Shin Bet.

    I guess he's antisemetic though.. Or Hitler… Or a Nazi…

    Anyways, for anyone other than the Zionist shortbus, check out Silverstein's blog for a Hebrew translation of an article on a recent Israeli army radio broadcast.

    Very interesting. Basically, confirms what has been known since the beginning of the massacre.

  11. Julian says:

    "Dear Witty, Did you miss that it was Israel who broke the recent truce on nov. 4th?"

    According to Jimmy Carter Hamas was digging a "defensive" tunnel into Israel to help Israeli citizens escape into Hamastan.
    Why would Israel want to stop such a noble gesture?

  12. jim byers says:

    fron Berel "Hamas' attempt to enter israel"

    We only have the israeli claim that they were going to do so. Were they Hamas or Islamic Jihad? Who decides what someone is going to do? Or do you just claim that they planned something and justify an assasination?

  13. LD says:

    Considering Israel has been the entity that breaks these cease-fires most often WHILE in-action destroying Palestinian self-determination by continued oppression/occupation and settlement expansion, I'd tend to believe the latter.

  14. Richard Witty says:

    LD,
    What was the specific wording of the Hamas proposal? And, what date was it transmitted, to whom and by whom?

    And, it is accurate to state that the Nov 4th skirmish was over at least a threatening tunnel to Israel, having the same MO as what was used to abduct Shalit.

    I don't think many regard that as conclusively "breaking the cease-fire", especially as the cease-fire was restored from mid-November until mid-December.

    At that point, it was CLEARLY Hamas that initiated and escalated that current shelling of civilians. Hamas DEMANDED that Israel either respond militarily or accept the shelling of civilians on its sovereign territory, which it is responsible as a state, to defend.

    Again, the extent of the military action is subject to criticism, but NOT that some response was necessary.

    It is important to self-reflect. I do. I read. I question. I initiated correspondence with Norman Finkelstein to open-mindedly consider his perspective.

    He doesn't think that "there is any other explanation" for nearly any material conclusion that he's stated. Its oil and water, even as we agree on a 67 border, for a two-state solution.

    The two areas that I contested from his lectures was his assertion that both Hezbollah and Hamas had integrity, and could be believed. I sited two material lies by Nasrallah, one in 2006, one recently, as evidence of his untrustworthiness. He acknowledged the lies, but still insisted that Hezbollah's communications were reliable.

    We disagreed on this very interpretation of the events from November 4 to December 18th. He stated that "Israel violated the cease-fire". I stated that it didn't add up to that from what I've read. (NY Times, Haaretz, Nation, even Z).

    I would feel that I betrayed my intellectual integrity to respond to the force of name-calling RATHER than convincing, if the question of "who was to blame" was relevant at all anyway.

    Hamas is cornered now. They are not trusted, and they don't consider any plausibility for that conclusion, or consider that of any importance.

    Israel on the other hand KNOWS that its military efforts in Lebanon and Gaza were objected to for the scale, but NOT for the reasons.

  15. LD says:

    Witty,

    You say Hamas "demanded" – in what way? Once again, only if you remove all the context does Hamas seem like this overbearing threat that forces poor Israel to kill indiscriminately. Oops, cause collateral damage I mean.

    I'll respond to you in-depth when I get back. Going to see Watchmen. D:

  16. Not Norman says:

    Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?

    Thus the latest ceasefire ended when Israel first killed Palestinians, and Palestinians then fired rockets into Israel. However, before attempting to glean lessons from this event, we need to know if this case is atypical, or if it reflects a systematic pattern.

    We decided to tally the data to find out. We analyzed the entire timeline of killings of Palestinians by Israelis, and killings of Israelis by Palestinians, in the Second Intifada, based on the data from the widely-respected Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem (including all the data from September 2000 to October 2008).

    We defined "conflict pauses" as periods of one or more days when no one is killed on either side, and we asked which side kills first after conflict pauses of different durations. As shown in Figure 2, this analysis shows that it is overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict: 79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day). In addition, we found that this pattern — in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause — becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.

  17. Ed says:

    Witty: "Cohen…is WRONG to imply in any way that no response would have been appropriate."

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

    So where did Cohen imply what you say he implied?

  18. marc b. says:

    I don't believe that he's seen the results of recent summary executions of Fatah members in Gaza though, or recently reviewed the history of suicide bomb operations that Hamas undertook from 1993 to 2003, largely to intentionally subvert the prospect of Oslo from maturing.

    RichardW, there is much wrong with this comment, but I will limit my response to two general points. First, according to news reports what likely occurred were extra-legal executions (admittedly illegal) in response to Fatah providing information to aid Israel's targeted assassination of Hamas leadership, to include, if I recall, the chief of security for Hamas. (And, Israel has operated an assassination program against Hamas that pre-dates the December war.) Second, with regard to Oslo, didn't Shamir (of the Irgun/LEHY) publicly state after the 1992 election of Rabin that he (Shamir) was just dragging the Oslo negotiations along for the purpose increasing the settler populations in the OT? In other words, Oslo was stillborn, so there was nothing to kill.

  19. Richard Witty says:

    Not Norman,
    The analysis doesn't address the specifics.

    The question of whether the tunnel was offensive or defensive, is not knowable from Jimmy Carter for example. So, to derive one's conclusion that "Jimmy Carter said" really doesn't cut it.

    My sense is that the tunnel was proposed for an abduction. That sounds like the most plausible explanation that I can discern. Do you know of other SPECIFIC explanations that I might consider?

    Is attacking it violating a cease-fire, or is the tunnel the violation? Hard to know.

    You don't know.

    If the cease-fire was restored until December 18th, wouldn't a shelling allowed by Hamas on December 19th, be the change in status, not an event in early November?

    Hamas made a DECISION. They are responsible for their decisions, as Israel is.

  20. Richard Witty says:

    "Witty: "Cohen…is WRONG to imply in any way that no response would have been appropriate.""

    The implication applies to the situation that Israel finds itself in, which is currently a no-win one. If it responded proportionally as Cohen suggests, that would be a repitition of the "war of attrition" defined in the statements of Hamas as they will outlast Israel. "We'll chase them away, in a great victory".

    Israel did apply the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force as a statement of deterrence.

    It clearly was difficult to call it appropriate in a highly populated region, but Cohen makes the comment that

    "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."

    Renounce violence is exactly what it did not do. Israel did for the 9 days before assaulting Gaza.

    "Enough is enough" is what is said about Israeli expansion of settlements in the West Bank rightfully. "Enough is enough" is what is said about Hamas shelling civilians, rightfully.

    Cohen functionally if not literally apologizes for their "resistance".

  21. Richard Witty says:

    Marc B.
    Oslo had contradictions but was NEVER still-born. It was a path to reach another crossing point.

    Hamas desired that the parties NEVER proceed to that next crossing point. The 1990's terror was timed intentionally.

    They have moderated from that idiotic fascist mode of "dissent", but not enough to be taken seriously as a responsible governing entity. It will take de facto acknowledgement of Israel as PERMANENT, at least for the lives of all current Hamas members, and therefore require an approach that fosters reconciliation, rather than an approach that has any iota of seeking the elimination of Israel as a state.

    Do you know what a summary execution is? Its NOT an accurate and fair trial.

  22. D. says:

    to Madrid up above:

    You seemed to imply that the NYT's Nicholas Kristof was not Jewish. That is incorrect. All five Times in-house columnists writing on foreign policy (Friedman, Cohen, Brooks, Kristol, and Kristof) are Jewish Zionists.

    (Amazing coincidence, no?)

  23. Dan Kelly says:

    Renounce violence is exactly what it did not do. Israel did for the 9 days before assaulting Gaza.

    It's already been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that Israel broke the ceasefire; that in fact "Operation Cast Lead" was planned months to a year in advance of implementation. Leading Israeli journals have publicized this, quoting people from the Israeli military, intelligence, and political realms.

    Yet you continue to voice typical pro-violence propaganda, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    The Hamas "rocket" attacks (which the Israeli military itself has admitted are ridiculous – barely a threat in any meaningful sense of the word – which is why they never hit anyone or anything, except by accident every blue moon) are a RESPONSE to Israeli naked aggression and occupation.

    Until you understand and accept this fundamental truism, and change your "reasoning" accordingly, your comments will continue to be viewed, properly, as hasbara talking points.

    If you are SERIOUS about affecting change, you will recognize the proper sequence of events, just as you should recognize the absurdity of equating Hamas retaliatory violence with that of the incredibly sophisticated (by some accounts, the most sophisticated in the world), heavily-armed Israeli military, which has time and again INITIATED violence in the expectation of a response, which can then be used as propaganda to further the ridiuclous notion that the world's 4th largest military state is somehow in need of "security" from "militants" (again, the agenda is carefully planned and has been admitted to by countless ISRAELIS in the country's own journals).

  24. Shirin says:

    "Hamas was warned that if it continued shelling Southern Israel that a military response would occur, and that it would be intense.

    It instead escalated its shelling to longer distance, greater accuracy."

    That is not even remotely consistent with the facts.

    - According to the Israeli MOD and the right wing Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas meticulously observed the June, 2008 ceasefire, and did a creditable job of reining in other groups that were not parties to the ceasefire, and are not under Hamas' direct control.

    - Also according to the Israeli MOD and the Intelligence and Terrorism Informatino Center rocket fire was reduced by 99% between the start of the ceasefire and November 4 when Israel broke the ceasefire by attacking inside Gaza, triggering a resumption of rocket fire.

    - Interestingly, both the Israeli MOD and the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas was not involved in any rocket fire during the ceasefire. In fact, the majority of the very small number of rockets came from Hams' rival, Fatah.

    - The IMOD termed the resumption of rocket fire after Israel broke the ceasefire as "retaliatory", thereby admitting that Israel initiated the resumption of hostilities.

    - The December attack on Gaza, including the timing, was planned as far back as March, 2008, and was still being planned even as Israel was negotiating the ceasefire (cynical is too mild a word, isn't it?). The timing was a critical component of the attack, which was intended to begin during the last weeks of the Bush administration, and end just before Obama's inauguration. This all by itself puts the lie to the claim that the December attack was a response to Hamas' resumption of rocket fire. In fact, the entire sequence of events was choreographed by Israel in advance.

    Richard Witty, either you are a bald-faced liar, or you have no clue what you are talking about here. In any case, you fool no one here except the handful of people who wish to be fooled.

  25. LD says:

    Witty, if I said the tunnels were defensive 'cuz Carter said so' – then I was wrong. Not absolutely wrong about the possible 'fact' but wrong in that I wasn't thinking critically enough about the issue.

    I merely cited a source. I felt it was a credible source. Hence, my resulting statement was that – if you could not produce a substantiated argument against Carter's description – I'd keep assuming he was right. He's not Carrot-top. He's Jimmy Carter.

    That's not to say he's God, but he has a lot of credibility.

    Ok, so anyways, I just want to know the story behind the tunnels. I can't imagine why this hasn't been explored more in the press anyways. If they were being used to kidnap Israeli soldiers then where's the 1000s of articles trumpeting them? Wouldn't that be a compelling part of the hasbara campaign?

    When I apply the proper context Witty – such as the Guardian article quoting Israeli Army Radio as saying there was a 'big operation' in the works – from Feb. 08. Or the various Haaretz articles documenting that Israel had consulted lawyers on whether they could kill the Gaza policemen and get away with it – months before the incursion.

    Etc. Etc.

    The destruction wreaked and the assessment of the BBC for example, who describe it as "WANTON".

    I mean, I have my reasons then don't I? I have my context. It's not irrational. It's coming from a place of truth.

    I just can't see it your way. You usually end up squeezing every last drop out of Hamas's use of terror BUT you do so in the most weak way. By sensationalist adjectives.

    I mean, I can't even think of how to describe the blockade in any way that would make it worse than it already NATURALLY is.

    Hamas's acts of terror are naturally horrible. No need to say "nail-studded" or "murderous" – they are superfluous.

    Now, if you had something more to say Witty, then I wouldn't put too much focus on these adjectives. But they are the crux of your argument – quite often.

    So when people read your stuff, they are turned off not only by your analysis and dismissal of lots of facts (maybe you didn't read them) but your style as well.

  26. Shirin says:

    LD, you should ask Richard Witty when the last Hamas suicide bombing took place.

  27. Shirin says:

    Philip, on what possible basis do you equate Roger Cohen to that phony, overblown self-important great useless bag of hot gaseous substance, Thomas Friedman? Friedman is all about self-aggrandizement, and never had a meaningful, coherent thought in his life, and isn't even a decent imitation of a low-level orientalist. Roger Cohen seems at the very least like a decent human being with a brain and a modicum of integrity, and that alone puts him in a different class from Friedman. I don't think you should mention the two of them in the same paragraph.

  28. LD says:

    Finkelstein on Friedman:

    link to menac.org

  29. LeaNder says:

    Ok, so anyway, I just want to know the story behind the tunnels. I can't imagine why this hasn't been explored more in the press anyways. If they were being used to kidnap Israeli soldiers then where's the 1000s of articles trumpeting them? Wouldn't that be a compelling part of the hasbara campaign?

    A very good point. Let me elaborate, jabber away:

    1) If one looks at the tunnels from the Israeli perspective they are transport routes for terror material. If you block all natural flow, including sugar since it also can be used to build bombs, you necessarily must confront the idea that every group of humans will be really creative to find alternative ways. Which leads to suspicion.

    Israeli propaganda treats the tunnels as only serving ONE aim. This is repeated over and over again. Although the people in charge surely knows they are lifelines in and out of the cage, traffic for wares and business.

    The tunnels question Israel's control and ultimately the wall too. Ever heard about the tunnels in this connection?

    2) The problem is Israel's extensive use of prevention both in military warfare and in arrests without a chance to be heard in court, secret evidence. (Guantanamo?) May this in fact be Israels main innovation in the field of warfare?

    If I were in charge of public opinion, and had to write the accompanying tale to justify a planned war, I would have chosen exactly such an a "planned kidnapping" incident. It firmly focuses the mind on well established stories, elaborated tales, that everybody can easily recall. It is both ideal for the home front to get people in line, the necessary human factor, it could be your friend, son, neighbor and for abroad. It firmly grounds the rest of the tale in the real via this connection.

    Prevention of course is something that is hard to disprove. Nobody can present: What would have happened without the "prevention". How? That would need a person able to stop time, go back and explore parallel worlds. A time machine.

    Israel of course jails thousands, but every single one caught in revenge not only questions its authority, but also creates pressure on the home front. So I ultimately give them at least the benefit of doubt. Although the scales of the evidence clearly seem to indicate Israel, and not Hamas.

    Who has the biggest interest to kill a whole class of Hamas policemen? Israel to make the area more secure for its Arab agents (agent provocateur?) whom one can meat on a trip to Israel? How reliable are they any way? And are there bonuses for what seems to be relevant information? Can one learn after a while what the other side want to hear, is most interested in? Many, many questions. Too few answers.

  30. Witty's anonymous critic says:

    Witty, if you are going to criticize Hamas for its killing of alleged collaborators (they don't receive a trial, they are just murdered), then by the same logic you should condemn Israel's policy of targeted assassinations, which also occur without a trial and which often kill innocent bystanders.

    "It clearly was difficult to call it appropriate in a highly populated region"

    I hope that is ironic understatement–would you say that suicide bombing against Israeli teenagers is "difficult to call appropriate" or would you use harsher language?

    One could defend Israel if they had tried shooting at the actual sites where rockets were launched–anything beyond that was excessive, and they went way beyond that. Israel is the aggressor here–they impose sanctions,) something which doesn't seem to bother you), they continue to build settlements, they practice a form of apartheid on the West Bank. What Hamas and Fatah do to each other and to Israelis is comparable to the actions of Inkatha and the ANC in South Africa. They engaged in killing which was unjust and deserved condemnation, but only an apologist for apartheid would have put most of the blame on them, rather than the apartheid state.

  31. Chris Berel says:

    The difference between hamas' murder in the street and Israel's assasinations is that Hamas has the man in custody. Easy enough to have a trial. Israel, on the other hand, would expose dozens of soldiers to danger as well as 100's of civilians to accidental death as these palestinian terrorists always operate where 1000's of civilians congregate.

    Capishe?

    And why blame South Africa, or Saudi Arabia?

  32. Richard Witty says:

    Those here that stated that "without a doubt, Israel violated the cease-fire" (of course ignoring that the cease-fire restored from November 18 – December 18), are lying to themselves.

    They do not know "without a doubt". Its impossible to to know from the sources that are available.

    An Israeli "plan" is not what you infer, its a preparation. There are likely 1000 "plans". Better that they be planned, than not prepared.

    Hamas similarly likely has a dozen "plans". I'm sure that the US does in the middle east.

    Then, the next question for a dissenter is, if you acknowledge that you do not know, what do you do then?

    Finkelstein does not "know". He interprets from the set of facts that he has available (some of which he regards as reliable, some unreliable and "unknown"), through a series of possible theses (some of which he's thought out and some of which he hasn't, some of which the facts are consistent with, some inconsistent).

    He describes his process as "research", but more humbly his research is thesis, which he describes as "the only possible conclusion".

    It ain't necessarily so.

    Hamas faces difficult political relations with Israel, Egypt, Europe, US, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, PA. Even more radical Islamicists influence them.

    The last Hamas suicide bombing was in January of 2005.

  33. Richard Witty says:

    You do get that historically Hamas has timed its suicide missions intentionally to STOP any genuine reconciliation between any Palestinian effort and Israeli.

    They opposed that Oslo represented any reconciliation in any form, so they sabatoged it.

    Oslo wasn't perfect, but it was the first acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Palestinian claims, with the prospect of consenting more comprehensive subsequent reconciliation.

    The signficance of terms "brutal" with descriptors following, about Hamas terror ACTS, is that the term "murder" is dismissed.

    The exageration and confusion of the current left, and of the Israeli unconditional expansionist right, is that they are in a state of war with the Palestinian people, rather than only with Palestinian factions and fanaticism.

    I personally do not see how a person motivated by compassion can conclude that solidarity with terror is dissent. When Hamas renounces terror on civilians whether through close (suicide bombing) or far (shelling towns over borders) means, then there can be a discussion.

    It is the same dilemma with Hezbollah.

    "Realists" in Great Britain announced that they were re-establishing direct contact with Hezbollah. That's a good idea. Hezbollah does not refuse to recognize Great Britain. And hopefully, Hezbollah will realize that Lebanon is mostly cosmopolitan and geographically close to Europe (Mediterranean is not giant, and Turkey – alternately European and Asian, is its immediate neighbor). And, that Israel is PART of that peer cosmopolitan Mediterranean society.

    One can hope. One can hope that they are more mature than angry solely, and that they are more independant than client.

  34. marc b. says:

    Yes, Richard, I know what a summary exeuction is, which I why I identified the practice as 'admittedly illegal'. With regard to Oslo, if Israeli involvement in the negotations was undertaken as an artifice to freeze any debate about further settlements, then Oslo was stillborn. Have you seen that filmic abomination, 'Weekend at Bernie's'? Just because Oslo's arms were moving and its head nodding with the assistance of Israel, doesn't mean it was alive.

  35. Richard Witty says:

    And just because Edward Said described confusions in a confusing situation and described DOA, did not make it dead.

    Not in the slightest. It was a relative move forward, waiting the next.

    The left seeking some odd political magic, ended up rejecting it ("thank you" Noam Chomsky). Hamas used it for its own power manipulation. ("Heroic")

    The net result is return to the starting point for Palestine, and starting three large steps back.

    Towards whatever goal. Single-state (how is that going to happen in an environ of DEEP and multi-pronged animosity?)

    Two-state (how is that going to happen with the extent and political standing of the settlers)

    NOWHERE, but loudly.

    All because of the ABSENCE of acceptance and genuine reconciliation.

    In the interviews that Adam reported above, the Gazans did not state that they thought that it was good that Hamas was shelling Israel, on the contrary, they stated "We are human beings. Israelis are like us, human beings, why is this going on and going on?"

  36. Roger Cohen is absolutely correct. Israel should respond completely in proportion to Hamas attacks by randomly raining missiles down every few days on Gazan civilian centers. It should start interfering with its networks' childrens' programming to make sure that Israeli children are instructed (as in Palestinian television) that their opponents are "apes and pigs" and that martyrdom in killing the infidel is what they should aspire to). Israel, acting proportionately, should kill a number of its domestic political opponents and murder the journalists who write in opposition to its regime. Israel should finally put women and gays in their respective places by mandating "modest" dress for women, promoting "honor killing" and putting gays back into the closet if not the gallows. The next bit of proportion should be to murder and maim the secularist writers and artists who criticize Judaism or make an image of Moses the Prophet. Oh, and Israel should start talking about taking back its holy cities of Medina and Alexandria and Damaseq. I presume Roger would approve of all of this and become revolted by any Muslim opposition to this.

    Roger doesn't offer any solution to the real problem faced by Israel. I.e., it withdrew from the Gaza but didn't get any stop in violent attacks by the Gazans on its citizens. The obvious moral of the story is that Israel shouldn't have withdrawn and should have maintained its complete ability to rapidly respond to the actions of Gazan militants. No withdrawal or peace efforts, quite clearly, will bring peace.

    Roger thinks he knows better, but Roger also thinks that the small percentage of Iranian Jews who remain in Iran are living in the height of the Golden Age. Roger thinks that Dhimmis subject to show trials will talk freely on the record (with a government supplied translator in tow).

    Roger will be happy when Israel opens the borders and allows the Hamas-idal maniacs to properly do their job of exterminating a few thousand Jews. Then, and only then, can Israel, according to Roger, proportionately respond by killing the exact number of Gazans.