Richard Cohen’s suggested strategy for achieving peace among Israel and its neighbors shows the hazards of basing foreign policy on revisionist history. From the Washington Post (via LGF): “Hunker Down With History”, with thanks to Hugh Fitzgerald:
The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and
terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.
This is why the Israeli-Arab war, now transformed into the Israeli-Muslim war (Iran is not an Arab state), persists and widens. It is why the conflict mutates and festers. It is why Israel is now fighting an organization, Hezbollah, that did not exist 30 years ago and why Hezbollah is being supported by a nation, Iran, that was once a tacit ally of Israel’s. The underlying, subterranean hatred of the Jewish state in the Islamic world just keeps bubbling to the surface. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and some other Arab countries may condemn Hezbollah, but I doubt the proverbial man in their street shares that view.
Never mind the fall of the Shah, and the Islamist takeover of Iran. Put the highlighter down; that’s not important.
There is, though, a point in cautioning Israel to exercise restraint — not for the sake of its enemies but for itself. Whatever happens, Israel must not use its military might to win back what it has already chosen to lose: the buffer zone in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip itself.
But worse than what is happening now would be a retaking of those territories. That would put Israel smack back to where it was, subjugating a restless, angry population and having the world look on as it committed the inevitable sins of an occupying power. The smart choice is to pull back to defensible — but hardly
impervious — borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank — and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else. This will take some time, and in the meantime terrorism and rocket attacks will continue.
How’s that for strategy? Retreat and hope.
The remainder of Cohen’s piece proceeds as something of a non sequitur– a few historical anecdotes, and it ends. Fortunately, Israel Matsav has supplied a thorough rebuttal (see “A History Lesson”; thanks again to LGF and Hugh Fitzgerald):
At Little Green Footballs this morning, Charles Johnson points to an article in today’s Washington Post with the comment, “At the Washington Post, Richard Cohen agrees with Hamas and Hizballah that ‘Israel is a mistake.’ And he’s open to the argument that Israel is a ‘crime.'”
If that sounds like an overly blunt characterization of what Cohen wrote in this morning’s Washington Post, it’s not. Cohen’s article reflects a total ignorance of Jewish history, and of the Jewish connection to the land of Israel dating back to
biblical times, which is inexcusable even for an assimilated Jew (which I assume Cohen to be). In fact, even Christians should be offended by Cohen’s writing them out of the history of the Holy Land. Cohen adopts the Arab narrative of the last century of
history lock, stock and barrel, without even considering that it might be false. Note, I said Arab and not ‘Palestinian,’ because the ‘Palestinians’ by their own admission are a fiction created by that Arab narrative.
The term “Palestina” was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian. The Romans wanted to rename Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) after the Philistines, the longtime enemy of the Jews. Hadrian believed that by renaming the Jewish homeland after the Jews’
archenemy, he would be able to forever break the bond between the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.
The rest of Cohen’s argument is standard leftist drivel about how Israel has to ‘hunker down’ and allow itself to be beaten rather than decisively winning a war (and that’s what we’re in now) and being able to find peace on its own terms. The fact that Israel has tried to ‘hunker down’ and give away its territory time and time again in a bid to make ‘peace’ with the ‘Palestinians’ – and that the ‘Palestinians’ and their Arab supporters have come back to fight another day each time – shows the fecklessness of that policy. It’s very simple: the Arabs will not willingly tolerate any Jewish
presence in this part of the world. There is no amount of land that we can give them that will entice them to live in peace with us. Until we decisively defeat them, they will come back to fight another day and another day. There is no need to give any more of an answer than that.
Israel is neither a mistake nor a crime. It is the beginning of the culmination of more than 2000 years of Jewish yearning to return to our homeland. The manner in which the Jewish people has chosen to govern the Land of Israel has its faults. But being a ‘mistake’ created in ‘Arab land’ – let alone being a ‘crime’ – is not among those faults. We Jews have to learn to stop listening to liberals like Cohen and to start fighting – with God’s help – for our existence. Hopefully, the current battle marks a turning point.
Read it all, especially the superb set of quotations of primary sources.