Wishing Doesn’t Make It So

Those who don’t know their history are of course doomed to repeat it, but what of those who ostensibly remember it, but choose to misrepresent it to shill for an agenda of appeasement?

For Exhibit A of this type, see Roger Cohen’s piece in today’s NY Times in which he admits a profound misunderstanding of Middle East history and counsels forgetfulness of past atrocities as a tonic for lasting accord.

Mr. Cohen begins by wondering about this curious bug that’s somehow gotten into Israel’s bonnet (emphasis mine):

The anxiety of the diaspora Jews has ceded not to tranquility but to another anxiety. The escape from walls has birthed new walls. The annihilation psychosis has not disappeared but taken new form.

For all Israel’s successes — it is the most open and dynamic society in the region — this is a gnawing failure.

Gee. I wonder why the Jews’ anxiety never abated. Might it have had something to do with their being in a perpetual defensive posture since its birth in 1948? Might this posture have anything to do with their inhospitable Middle Eastern Neighbors (including Iran-sponsored Hamas and Hezbollah) who have relentlessly invaded and terrorized them for 60 years?

Mr. Cohen doesn’t think so. He’s narrowed it down to something he thinks they’ve brought on themselves, and which he labels Israel’s “perpetual state of exceptionalism“, fretting that:

Israel makes a fetish of its exceptional status. It needs to deal with the world as it is, however discomfiting, not the world of yesterday.

There go those Jews again, clamoring for the spotlight, looking for favors. All because their entirely rational counterparts in Syria, Iran, Jordan and Egypt had a misunderstanding over the matter of some land awhile back. Isn’t it time to let bygones be bygones?

We’ve allowed our understanding of the Middle East to become too dramatic, you see. And this drama is unhelpful. Unhelpful to whom, you may ask? Certainly not to Israel, which deals with the barbarism of its neighbors daily and must react in real time. No, this drama is unhelpful to–appeasing Iran, which in Mr. Cohen’s estimation is key to making all the unpleasantness go away:

That is to see it as a fight for a different balance of power — and possibly greater stability — between a nuclear-armed Israel . . . a proud but uneasy Iran and an increasingly sophisticated and aware (if repressed) Arab world.

This is not a battle between barbarism and civilization, but between various civilizations, whose attitudes toward religion and modernism vary, but who all quest for some accommodation between them.

[ . . . ]

I think President Obama, himself talking down American exceptionalism (it’s expensive), is trying to nudge Israel toward a more prosaic, realistic self-image.

Got that? Because Iran’s just like us, we can trust that they’ll barter for peace if given the chance.

All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

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