The Problem with Roger Cohen

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor.


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That Cohen chooses to side with Turkey’s Erdogan, the man who allowed the Mavi Marmara to set sail from Turkey and whose Islamist rhetoric inspired the doomed voyage, speaks volumes of his duplicitous nature. Cohen, the writer-intellectual, chooses to side with an Islamist thug, who, in typical authoritarian fashion, has all but managed to stifle any meaningful dissent in his country, assuming near total control over a once independent judiciary and press. It is almost comical that while Cohen demands an apology from Israel to Turkey for the killing of nine fundamentalist Islamists in self- defense, he issues no such demand on Turkey for committing genocide against Armenians, for denying its Kurdish citizens basic civil rights, for routinely violating Iraqi territorial sovereignty, nor for its occupation of northern Cyprus and the disappearance and presumed murder of Greek Cypriots during the 1974 Turk-Cypriot conflict.

Feigning concern for Israel, Cohen notes (as his article title suggests) that Israel’s failure to apologize will result in a “needless road to an isolation that weakens Israel[.]” Cohen should spare us his sanctimonious lecturing and crocodile tears, because he is dead wrong on this issue, as he is on nearly every other matter concerning the Middle East. In some respects, Israel’s diplomatic circumstances are better than they were in the 1970s and 1980s when the Eastern Bloc and so-called non-aligned countries were beholden to oil interests, liberation theology and Marxist dogma. Israel, of course, does not have diplomatic relations with countries like North Korea, Venezuela, Pakistan, Iran and Syria. If Turkey wants to join this ignominious group of rouge nations, so be it, but it’s certainly no badge of honor. In fact, Turkey’s downgrading of relations with Israel has produced surprisingly positive consequences for Israel’s relations with other countries, including Greece and Cyprus; nations with whom Israel had icy relations in the past. Israel now maintains good ties with both of these nations in all spheres.

But most troubling of all, beyond Cohen’s knee-jerk tendency to cozy up to petty autocrats and his penchant for providing misleading information, is his outrageous hypocrisy. Cohen is a man who could probably cite every single anti-Israel UN resolution, chapter and verse. In fact, he frequently refers to them when engaged in his Israel bashing. But true to form, he will not accept that rare, almost exceptional U.N. finding in Israel’s favor. He still calls on Israel to apologize when no such demand is made by the U.N. panel. But could we expect anything more from a person who gushes when it comes to Iran and even had the gall to characterize the 1979 Khomeini revolution as an act of liberation, under which “freedom has ebbed and flowed”?

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  • effemall

    Cohen had a column on September 9th that had great appeal to his hemorrhaging-heart liberal followers in which he prattled on about his daughter and little children and how terrible hate is and that this hate by hateful Americans is even preventing Sharia law from being adopted here, etc. I simply had to respond to this and sent the following comment to the NY Times but they didn't print it. I wasn't joking. I am convinced that Mr. Cohen is in bad need of psychiatric help.
    Here is what I wrote:

    Preventing Sharia law from being adopted in our country has nothing to do with hate or with 9/11 for that matter. I won't attempt to educate you here because it is probably a waste of time. I happen to be one of those rare people who don't know how to hate but I'm perfectly capable of killing an intruder if I feel my life is endangered. If I live in the country and find a rattle snake on my property, I will kill it because I don't want it to harm my family. I don't hate snakes. I find them fascinating. But I know that rattlers kill. Hate is for the weak and sick and frustrated incapable of acting in their self-defense. I don't want to be insulting, Mr. Cohen, and I'm not being facetious, but you might benefit from a few sessions with a psychiatrist. I find your thinking pattern terribly bizarre.

  • JAYSON REX

    COHEN IS NOT ALONE AS A SELF-HATING JEW BUT THIS IS NO REASON TO PROMOTE HIS STRANGE PERSONAL AGENDA AND THAT OF HIS BRETHREN.

    AFTER ALL, WE AMERICANS, IN RESPECT FOR THE VICTIMS OF 9/11, HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO LISTEN TO HIS NEVER-ENDING LEFTIST RANT POSING AS (ANTISEMITIC) OBJECTIVITY. SIMPLE AND CLEAN.

  • Will Dupre

    I've been reading Mr. Cohen's column when I happen to run across it. I know he doesn't like Israeli nationalists very much, but I figured I'd give him a chance. You know, you can learn something from everyone; even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and so on.

    Unfortunately, I have concluded that Mr. Cohen's analysis — not only about Israel, but about other subjects, too — is quite superficial. As if he reads what the leftist commentators have to say and then regurgitates is for his readers. Not terrible, but neither is it original or enlightening. I imagine the Times keeps him on the payroll because he has one important credential: he is is a consistent critic of the Israeli government. But I understand this. Times has to demonstrate that it's not in Israel's pocket. But, you know what? That's OK. That's freedom of the press.

    But didn't Mr. Cohen just change his beat? I think I remember him saying that he wasn't going to be doing the Israeli beat, but will be covering a greater variety of subjects. (?)

    Anyway, if you want good coverage of Israel, why look for it in the Times when you have the excellent news sites at your online fingertips:
    The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com)
    HaAretz in English (www.haaretz.com)
    HaAretz in Hebrew (www.haaretz.co.il)
    Ynet in English (www.ynetnews.com)
    Ynet in Hebrew (www.ynet.co.il)
    Arutz 7 (www.israelnationalnews.com/)

    • Misha

      And how is Haaretz different from The Grey Old Lady?
      They call Jewish teenagers with spray cans "terrorists" while calling real Arab terrorists "militants". If anything, their columnists are much more delusional since they live there and should know better.

  • Zvi

    Excellent Points. I am hoping that the average Jewish Democrat(as indicated by yesterday's election in the Ninth district) that there is a realization that there is real problem with Israel and the left which is so aptly represented by the Richard Cohen's of the World.

  • Jim

    Brings up J street . When pressed by an Israeli about the crimes against Israel a J street spokes man mumbled around for a time and came up with what he thought a perfect answer. He called it the long term view.
    "If America no longer supports Israel we will be destroyed. We can't fight every body so we must work to be on good terms with our enemies"

    Odd they worry about America no longer supporting Israel then work against organizations that are trying to keep America's support for Israel.