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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Richard Cohen has an epiphany!

Richard Cohen, who famously said a couple of weeks ago that Israel was a mistake (and got deservedly hammered for it,) and then had a change of heart and wrote about how Israel is fighting for its survival, now has belatedly realized the crux of the issue, even if he is a bit fuzzy on the timing:
This seemingly abrupt shift to the ideological, to the religious, is the most noteworthy and ominous development of recent times. The fight is no longer over territory -- the West Bank, Gaza -- but over the very existence of Israel. The people who seem to hate Israel most, who will kill to kill it and die for it to die, are not reclaiming ancestral land -- no Iranian pines for his lost orange grove near Jaffa -- but instead cannot abide the very idea of Israel.
While the second half of the paragraph is accurate, it is hardly an abrupt shift. If Cohen had been watching the history of the Middle East these past sixty years with his newly clear vision rather than through the dhimmi lens of the "enlightened" West, he would know that there is nothing new here. Secular Arab leaders have been willing to sacrifice thousands of their own people to destroy Israel since the beginning. The PLO was founded in 1964 with that goal, and Hezbollah was founded over thirty years ago with the same goal.

The only thing to have changed is the pretense of a religious justification for a genocide against Jews in the Middle East. But make no mistake - the only difference is the pretense, not the goal. The shift towards suicide operations is tactical and a result of cultural brainwashing, not ideological nor religious. "Culture of death" is not just a right-wing cliché but an accurate depiction of today's Muslim world (especially Arab), where Muslims from Iran to Indonesia pledge to kill themselves for their war.

Now, if Cohen will keep his mind open long enough, he will soon realize that there has been an important shift in the Muslim psyche since the rise of Islamism, but it is only peripherally related to Israel. The radical Islamist world, which is much larger than the West is willing to believe, wants nothing less than total world domination. It is a supremacist political movement disguised as religion. Petrodollars and daily incitement against the non-Muslim world have combined to create the real enemy, and Israel is just the first phase in this war.

Before, Israel was an unpardonable affront to the Arab psyche. Now, it is a symbol of the hated West, where in the free marketplace of ideas, Islam loses big time. It is a reminder of the cultural backwardness of much of the Muslim world. It is a daily poke in the eye to the Koranic worldview that Jews are defined as weak, second-class citizens who are fated to be dominated by their generous Muslim masters. And this symbol is right in the middle of the Muslim world itself.

The West's ascendancy and existence is a direct contradiction to the Islamic worldview, and Israel is the lightning rod.

It is gratifying to see that Cohen no longer seems to believe the accepted liberal truth that if only Israel would give up territory, peace will result. But Cohen seems to have a ways to go before he realizes what the world is really up against.