Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Richard Cohen's bias and his Arab fans

Richard Cohen's wrote another of his signature op-eds yesterday, where he castigates a minority of Israelis for daring to vote for Avigdor Lieberman. As usual, is it quite dishonest:
The day after the United Nations created the state of Israel, the country's first president, Chaim Weizmann, found time to work on his memoir, "Trial and Error." In it, he issued a warning to the Israeli leaders of today: "I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish state by what it will do with the Arabs." It was Nov. 30, 1947.

Weizmann was an astonishingly accomplished man -- chemist, diplomat, statesman -- but maybe his most uncanny talent was that of seer. Peering into the future, he glimpsed the ugly turn Israeli politics has recently taken and how it is now acceptable to talk in repulsive ways about the country's 1.3 million Arabs. "There must not be one law for the Jew and another for the Arabs," he wrote.

Weizmann's admonition may not be known to Avigdor Lieberman, an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Moldova and now one of Israel's most important political leaders. Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party placed third in the recent election, meaning he will almost certainly be part of the next government. Lieberman is often called a "nationalist." Maybe so, but he is also an anti-Arab demagogue.

The Arabs of Lieberman's antipathy are not Israel's traditional enemies -- either in Gaza, the West Bank or elsewhere in the Middle East. He focuses instead on the Arabs of Israel proper, about 20 percent of the population. They are his fellow citizens, some of them of dubious loyalty, it is true, and most of them with genuine grievances, it is also true. In essence, Lieberman wants to swap them for Jewish settlers now living provocatively in the occupied West Bank. It's half a good idea.
Guess which half? Arabs, according to Cohen, obviously have the right to live anywhere they want in the world. Jews, not so much.
The issue of Israel's Arabs is complicated. They are not Jews, yet they are expected to be loyal to a Jewish state. They are Arabs, yet they are expected to stand by while their fellow Arabs are pounded -- as in Gaza -- by Israeli guns.
Some of whom are fired by - Israeli Arabs.

Cohen purposefully muddies the concept of "loyalty." One can protest against a nation's actions and still be loyal. One can criticize their government and still be loyal. One can even try to change the government legally and remain loyal to the state. But in Cohen's universe, Israeli Arabs have the unique right to demand that their own nation be destroyed, to support Israel's enemies in any way they see fit. Asking all citizens to be loyal - the problematic and mostly symbolic part of Lieberman's platform - is not discriminatory, and it fits in exactly with that Weizmann wrote, despite Cohen's rhetorical gymnastics to indicate otherwise.
Pakistan and India were created in a similar manner -- a population swap of many millions of people. This was the way things were once done.
Who can imagine the untold thousands of people who would have been butchered in Pakistan/India had there not been that population swap? It is never an ideal solution, but it is conceivable that it is better than the alternative - conceivable to anyone who is honest with themselves, and not grandiose moralizers.
Israel, too, engaged some in ethnic cleansing -- or why else all those Palestinian refugees? But the attempt was both chaotic and, as we can see, not wholly successful.
How's that for proof? Take competing claims by both sides about what happened in 1948, disregard the analyses of many distinguished historians, embrace the ones of people like Ilan Pappe, and throw in the existence of refugees as proof of ethnic cleansing! And then say that the existence of one million Arabs in israel today is not a counterproof of the slanderous assertion of ethnic cleansing - rather, it is proof that the genocidal Zionists were not competent to finish the job! Brilliant!
More important, the concept was anathema to important members of the Zionist establishment such as Weizmann.
And does he have a Weizmann quote to back this up? Did Weizmann advocate the return of all the refugees? Of course he didn't - but Cohen pretends otherwise.
It is clear that the world has grown weary of Israel.
Note that the world is not weary of the Arab Israel conflict, it is not tired about the self-defeating decisions made by Arab leaders to keep Palestinian Arabs stateless - in Cohen's world, everyone is only tired of Jews wanting to live in their own state in peace. Is this observation or projection?

Is it any wonder that Al Quds in Arabic trumpets a headline: American Jewish Writer Warns of Ethnic Cleansing Against Palestinians.

Cohen is the Palestinian Arabs' best friend, because he swallows their propaganda whole, with nary a burp.