Op-Ed: Roger Cohen and the New York Times: Useful Idiots
Ari Lieberman, View from NYThe writer is an attorney and former prosecutor who writes on Israel military matters
As Operation Pillar of Defense entered its sixth day, the New York Times continued its unrelenting propaganda war against the Jewish state. This time it is employing Israel-basher Roger Cohen, the Times’ convenient point man for its anti-Israel crusade, to do the dirty work.
In his November 19 screed, “Gaza Without End” Cohen implies that Israel’s defensive military campaign was motivated by a desire to improve Netanyahu’s standing with Israel’s electorate. We’ll get back to this convoluted absurdity momentarily. but it’s worthwhile taking a brief moment to examine Roger Cohen and his radical views on Israel and the Muslim world.
In February 2009, Cohen showered praise on Iran for its benevolent treatment of its Jewish hostages. He conducted “interviews” with Iranian Jews who, under the watchful eye of a government “interpreter,” had - how surprising - nothing but praise for the oppressive mullahs.
In June 2011, he dismissed Israel’s legitimate concerns over a nuclear armed Iran as a “nuclear bogeyman obsession.” In fact, so enamored were the Iranians with their trophy Jew that he became a favorite with the Tehran Times, an official government mouthpiece.
Cohen was one of Israel’s harshest critics when Israel intercepted the Turkish terrorist boat, the Mavi Marmara.
In a 2011 piece, he adopted the classic anti-Semitic line that Israel-bashers routinely employ to drive a wedge between the United States and Israel – the use of American casualties ostensibly caused by Israeli “aggression.”
But Cohen’s anti Israel shrill reaches new heights with his latest diatribe. The suggestion that the Prime Minister Netanyahu was motivated by petty electioneering is ludicrous and beyond defamatory. With a strong economy and unemployment rates of under 7%, recent surveys conducted shortly before the outbreak of hostilities showed Netanyahu and his Likud poised to lead again.
The fact is that with nearly 2,000,000 of its citizens living in bomb shelters and normal day-to-day activity coming to a halt due to incessant and indiscriminate rocket attacks, Israel had no choice but to initiate defensive action. However, Cohen, so skewed with hatred of Israel, sees only conspiracy theories and conjures up the most asinine of blood libels in an attempt to smear the only democracy in the Middle East and bolster his Islamist pals in Gaza.
Cohen states that past Israeli military actions, such as Operation Cast Lead, were “self defeating” but in typical Cohen fashion, fails to note why. In fact, Cast Lead was a remarkable success. It reinforced Israeli deterrence, resulted in the deaths of over 700 terrorists (including 50 bomb makers) and in the intermediate term, resulted in a dramatic decrease in rocket fire emanating from Gaza. These facts are conveniently omitted by the self-hater.
Cohen gives new meaning to the phrase “Yellow Journalism.” He conjures up a false and misleading prelude to Operation Pillar of Defense, where Palestinian casualties are referred to as “boy[s]” and “teenagers” while all of Israel’s casualties are “soldiers.” While he doesn’t say so explicitly, Cohen’s implication – that Hamas targets soldiers while Israel strikes out at civilians – is difficult to ignore. Only someone completely divorced from reality or alternatively, a visceral anti-Semite can conjure up such a blatantly false narrative. The whole world knows that the opposite is true.
It is beyond dispute that Israel has done more to safeguard the rights of civilians during conflict than any nation in history.
It is beyond dispute that Israel has done more to safeguard the rights of civilians during conflict than any nation in history. Moreover, Israel has achieved an astonishingly high terrorist to civilian casualty ratio, leading one commentator to conclude that, “no army in history has ever had a better ratio of combatants to civilians killed in a comparable setting.”
Cohen somehow fails to note that in the weeks preceding Pillar of Defense, hundreds of rockets reigned down on Israel’s southern towns and cities. That civilian casualties were kept to a minimum is testament to the extraordinary lengths that Israel will go to safeguard its civilians and not to Hamas’ proficiency at minimizing collateral damage, as Cohen would have us believe.
Israel’s Iron Dome shield is not infallible however and on October 24, two Thai workers were critically injured in a terrorist rocket strike. Three Israelis were killed in Kiryat Malakhi, others have been wounded. This fact is conveniently omitted in Cohen’s tit for tat, moral equivalency narrative. Perhaps Cohen doesn’t regard Thai or Israeli casualties as worthy of mention. Perhaps they weren’t “Palestinian” enough to gain recognition as casualties. We will never know for certain why Cohen deems certain casualties worthy of note while others unworthy.
One thing we do know for certain, when it comes to Israel, Roger Cohen and his paymasters at the New York Times are precisely what Joe Stalin had in mind when he coined the phrase “useful idiots.”