Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Today's garbage from Roger Cohen

Roger Cohen in the New York Times says that Israel's refusal to apologize to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara is terrible for Israel:

Overall, the panel finds that Israel should issue “an appropriate statement of regret” and “make payment for the benefit of the deceased and injured victims and their families.”

Yes, Israel, increasingly isolated, should do just that. An apology is the right course and the smart course. What’s good for Egypt — an apology over lost lives — is good for Turkey, too.

...[L]ocked in its siege mentality, led by the nose by Lieberman and his ilk — unable to grasp the change in the Middle East driven by the Arab demand for dignity and freedom, inflexible on expanding settlements, ignoring U.S. prodding that it apologize — Israel is losing one of its best friends in the Muslim world, Turkey. The expulsion last week of the Israeli ambassador was a debacle foretold.

Israeli society, as it has shown through civic protest, deserves much better.
First, let's get Cohen's usual sloppiness with the facts out of the way.

The Palmer Commission recommended that Israel express regret, not that Israel apologize. And Israel did just that - over a year ago.

Israel reiterated that regret on Friday when the report was released. So Cohen is claiming that Israel obstinately refuses to do what Palmer recommended - when Israel already did.

Moreover, Israel did give a full apology to Egypt after the deaths of soldiers in the Sinai as Israel was pursuing terrorists - and Egypt rejected that apology as insufficient. In other words, demands for apologies in the Muslim world are a political tool, not an actual reflection of national pride, and acceding to them just engender more demands.

But what do you expect from a prestigious New York Times columnist - actual facts?

Let's look at the larger context. Cohen is insisting that Israel spologize for killing Turkish citizens who were violently attacking IDF soldiers with clubs, knives and chains as well as throwing soldiers overboard.  The reason is that Israel's refusal to apologize hurts Israel-Turkish relations.

Last I checked, relations are a two way street. So it is equally accurate to say that Turkey's demand for an apology that it does not deserve is hurtful for Israel-Turkey relations. The Palmer Commission report, that I doubt Cohen actually read, blamed Turkey for not doing enough to stop the flotilla as violence was fairly likely.

To Cohen and his friends, however, Turkey's trumped up demand for dignity is inherently more important than Israel's dignity. Only Israel should bend its knee in abject apology (an apology that would probably also be deemed "insufficient") - in order to save the relationship. Israel must adhere to the demands of realpolitik while Islamist thugs are free to demand more and more to protect their own pride.

As usual, Israel is expected to act like the grownup, to look beyond intangibles like national pride and indeed the truth of what happened on the Mavi Marmara, while Muslim countries are expected to act like children that can make demands of apology from Western states whenever they want to - and then raise the stakes when the apologies aren't abject enough.

Cohen would never require any Muslim or Arab nation apologize for anything done to the West. That's just not how things are done in the Middle East. To him, only Arabs and Muslims have pride - Westerners don't.

As stupid and inaccurate as Cohen's piece was, he looks absolutely sane next to MJ Rosenberg, who used Cohen's piece as a springboard to come to the hilariously imbecilic conclusion that Turkey is Israel's best friend for demanding an apology and not acting like an "enabler."