How frightened should an Israeli teenager really be, how inhabited by the old existential terror, the perennial victimhood, the Holocaust fear and vulnerability from which Israel was supposed to provide deliverance?Cohen, and Carter, miss the point yet again.
Yes, Israel is small — all the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea is scarcely bigger than Maryland — and its environment hostile. This, as former President Jimmy Carter notes in a fine new book, makes it vulnerable. But as Carter also writes in “We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land,” Israel has a “military force that is modern, highly trained and superior to the combined forces of all its potential adversaries.”
Israel's concern isn't only for the nation to survive, but for its people to survive as well. Just because Qassam rockets and suicide bombings aren't an existential threat doesn't mean they are tolerable, because the quality of life is of paramount importance, not just "the state." The threat to Israel's people is an asymmetric threat from which the IDF's conventional strength becomes far less relevant. Ignoring that threat is rhetorical sophistry.
All the tanks in the world would not have saved the World Trade Center, and neither would have negotiations. Are annual 9/11's a manageable risk for the US? Are such fears irrational?
Cohen then papers over Israel's major legitimate existential fear:
Israel has the most dynamic and creative society in the region, one that does not convict American journalists in shameful secret trials, as Iran has just done with Roxana Saberi; it has never fought a war with Iran; and it knows — despite all the noise — that Persia, at more than 3,000 years and counting, is not in the business of hastening its own suicide through militarist folly.Besides Iran's attempts to overthrow and take over the Middle East via Hezbollah, via influencing Syria, through agents in Egypt and by sending weapons to and training Hamas, they have a little thing called a nuclear program. Persia didn't pursue these policies - but the Islamic Republic does. And Islamic fundamentalists have the irrationality that makes the concept of suicide bombing desirable.
Perhaps Iran wouldn't directly shoot nuclear bombs to Israel, but how much of a mental leap does one need to imagine them smuggling nukes to Hezbollah or Hamas? How absurd is it to think that Islamists would happily destroy themselves and their people to hurt or destroy Israel? Isn't that their entire modus operandi today?
Cohen goes on to his familiar meme that the existence of Jews living in Biblical Israel is the real threat to the Jewish state, not Iran nor terror nor rockets nor the threat of an Islamist takeover of "moderate" Arab countries. To Cohen, the Jews should only worry about Jews who actually care about their land. Get rid of them, and the threat to Israel would magically disappear, according to Cohen.
In Cohen's bizarre mindset, the only irrational people are the Jews for being fearful that the much more pragmatic Islamists and Arabs will do something - irrational. Nah, that would never happen!