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Under his breath, Richard Cohen whispers, ‘Israel, beware’

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Richard Cohen is a real smart guy. I think he’s an Israel lobbyist in the sense that W&M defined the job, he is using his position to try and preserve the Jewish state against all critics (including Walt and Mearsheimer, who got him to sing the Hatikvah), but he is a smart guy. A few years ago he gave me one of my inner koans: Israel was a mistake. To hear an Israel lobbyist say this, with intellectual clarity, which Cohen promptly disavowed with a lot of emotional attachment– well, it helped me to think about Partition, and the fact that no Arab was for Partition, and it was their part of the world (though later Arabs were for Partition; and Israel rejected the UN division). Shlomo Sand says that Israel was created by a "rape," but that the child of a rape deserves to live. Another mantra I go to.

Long preamble. Cohen is issuing another koan. In a piece all about declining American power, he names a key risk, deep in the piece.

[Turkey] no longer needs the United States as a Cold War ally, and it even blocked military access to Iraq at the start of the war. The waning pull of the American present can no longer match the pull of the Ottoman past. Israel, beware.

This is a koan because it’s so charged with meaning. It is not just about American power, it is about the truth of the Nakba finally catching up. It is about suppressed narrative. It is about the Palestinian diaspora and the expulsion and their keys.

And of course it is about Gaza. Cohen says nothing about that. Gaza caused Erdogan to go crazy. And guess what, Richard, it caused a lot of American Jews to go inwardly crazy. Gaza is real. Gaza is suffering. Gaza, where Israeli forces shoot at nonviolent demonstrators, killing one two weeks ago.

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