The Problem with Roger Cohen


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Roger Cohen is a curious sort. His weekly columns obsessively spew forth hateful anti-Israel rhetoric while professing accolades for those stalwarts of democracy in Iran and Turkey. In the make-believe world of Roger Cohen, the Jews of Iran are in Utopia, “living, working and worshiping in relative tranquility,” and Israel is obsessively paranoid over Iran’s nuclear program, which he dismisses as “the nuclear bogeyman obsession.” Cohen is so in tune with the party line that even Iran’s theocratic mullahs have taken a liking to him, republishing at least one of his articles in their propaganda apparatus, the Tehran Times. He has since backtracked somewhat on the Iranians, having witnessed their brutality following Ahmadinejad’s theft of the country’s fraudulent elections, but his vitriol against the Jewish state is ever increasing and is matched only by his propensity to engage in sensationalist, and often times misleading, rhetoric.

Take for example Cohen’s recent article, “Israel Isolates Itself,” in which he calls on Israel to apologize to Islamist Turkey for actions against the Mavi Marmara and bemoans the loss of Furkan Dogan, a “19-year old U.S. citizen” and “aspiring doctor” from “upstate New York.” Cohen’s misleading description of Dogan conjures up images of a freckled face, bespectacled Norman Rockwell archetype dressed in the requisite graduation cap and gown. What Cohen cleverly omits is Dogan’s journal entries where he professes to dream of martyrdom. Also omitted is the fact that though Dogan was fortuitously born in the U.S., he was born of Turkish parents and lived in Turkey for nearly his entire life, having moved there at the age of two. Dogan was a U.S. citizen on paper only. In every other respect, he was a radicalized Turkish Islamist who sought martyrdom. Dogan knew what he was getting into when he joined his fundamentalist IHH mercenary cohorts. If he was not among those who cheered when IHH and other assorted Islamist demagogues lectured on the evils of the “Zionist entity,” he was certainly within earshot of those lectures. Make no mistake, Dogan was neither freedom fighter nor humanitarian, and he was likely part of a well-organized group of thugs armed with machetes, daggers, metal bars and other assorted goodies that violently attacked a group of Israelis who boarded the Mavi Marmara with nothing more than paintball guns.

As with all Israel haters, Cohen is very adept at driving a wedge between Americans and their only stable, democratic ally in the Middle East — Israel. And there’s no better way to do that than by claiming (falsely) that Israelis kill innocent Americans. For over 40 years, the David Duke types have been pushing the asinine and fringe conspiracy theory that in 1967 the U.S.S. Liberty was deliberately set upon by Israeli forces with premeditation and intent to kill Americans. More recently, they’ve focused their efforts on the 9/11 attacks, claiming that Jews were warned to stay away from the World Trade Center by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Now, Cohen attempts to place a new spin on this age-worn anti-Semitic canard by claiming that Dogan was executed by Israeli soldiers, or in his own nebulous words: “something close” to being executed.

Cohen notes further that the panel set forth a recommendation that Israel issue “‘an appropriate statement of regret’” on the incident. He then takes a sudden leap, asserting, “Yes, Israel, increasingly isolated, should do just that. An apology is the right course and the smart course.” Did I miss something here? How did we jump from an “appropriate statement of regret” to an “apology”? The Palmer Report, which upheld the legality of Israel’s blockade and laid much of the blame for the debacle on Turkey and its affiliate, the IHH, called on Israel to offer a “statement of regret.” Israel has already accepted the report’s findings (with some reservations) and has issued such a statement along with an offer for compensation. The Turks, who rejected the UN-sanctioned report, also rejected Israel’s overtures and made clear that they would accept nothing short of a full apology, along with a lifting of the blockade. So much for compromise. But Cohen neglects to mention any of this and stubbornly clings to the party line of bashing Israel no matter the cause or circumstance.

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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.