Roger Cohen swings and misses

Again. As usual.

In today’s NYT column, entitled “Why Israel Refuses to Choose”, he admits that the two-state solution is probably not a real thing. As usual, his column is about what Israel needs to do about it. For “fairness”, also as usual, there are one or two sentences explaining how the “Palestinians” could help, but the article is about how Netanyahu is refusing to choose between having a small Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state, or having one large democratic state.

The current situation, you see, is Israeli “occupation”, which oppresses and humiliates the Palestinian people, and Israel needs to fix it.

First, I don’t know why it’s taken all these years for people to realize the two-state solution won’t work. How do I know it won’t work? Because we already had it and the Arabs didn’t like it.  Remember? From 1948-1967? We had the state of Israel in the pre-1967 borders and no Jewish settlements in the West Bank or Gaza. For “fairness” I should point out that the U.K. version is that the Jews started the 1967 war.

Second, there’s a problem talking about “occupation” as if we all agree on what we’re talking about. In the west, it has always meant Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza, the lands won in 1967. Of course we’re all against “occupation” of someone else’s land, at least when it comes to Israel.  But, in the Muslim world, “occupation” does not mean lands taken in 1967. It means lands taken in 1948, i.e. the State of Israel. Occupation ends when Israel ends.

Most people in this country don’t grasp this distinction and don’t think about this “fallacy of equivocation”. This is particularly true of ignorant but idealistic college students, e.g those  of Portland State who last week passed a resolution defining the founding of Israel as occupation. This is a great triumph for the Iranians and their clients, who have long sought to delegitimize Israel, as well as for anti-semites everywhere who have no problem with the idea of 50 Muslim states but can’t abide the idea of a single Jewish state.

Lastly, Cohen’s article is subject to the same problem that virtually all Tom Friedman’s articles are: the people he knows and writes about on the other side, the victims of this horrible occupation, are the elites. They are people just like us – educated, entrepreneurial people, often Christians (as in this instance), who would not object to living in a pluralistic society alongside others of different faiths.

If Israel had to co-exist only with people like the ones Cohen writes about, the conflict would have been over decades ago. It’s a little ironic that the same Palestinian factions that refuse to make peace with the Jews now would also purge their Judenrein paradise of Cohen’s friends as well, if they ever got the chance.

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