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Poor Column

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen uses the suicide bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem to compare different types of terrorist. Apparently, there are “unjustified” and “justified” terrorists:

The difference between Israel and Iraq is palpable. The Islamic militants who are suspected in the UN bombing are mostly coming from elsewhere. They do not represent a national movement, like the Vietcong or, for that matter, the various Palestinian liberation movements. Not only are they not indigenous, but they cannot really promise a better life for the average Iraqi. A Taliban-like state would propel Iraq into the dark ages – no lights and no freedom.

There is some suggestion that the moths are being lured to the flame – militants from all over the Islamic world flocking to Iraq to assist Saddam loyalists in the battle with the US. The flame, of course, always wins, but real life is not a metaphor. There is always the possibility these militants will make matters so nasty that we will give up and, as with Vietnam, leave.

But that’s not likely. The pool of militants is not infinitely deep. Without the backing of an organised state – the US support of the Afghan mujahideen, for instance, during the Soviet occupation – they are not likely to win. Things may get worse before they get better – but sooner or later they will get better.

Israel, on the other hand, is in a different position. It unmistakably squats on land that was once Palestinian – never mind its international right to do so. That grievance, particularly when it comes to the West Bank, is not likely to be mollified by turning on lights or giving everyone a blender.

The Palestinian grievance is real and continuing, exacerbated by Israel’s persistent encroachment on West Bank territory.

The two brands of terrorist are not the same. The Palestinian ones are indigenous, maybe funded by others, but coming from the very communities that Israel occupies. What’s more, some of the suicide bombers are not religious militants but merely people who in their own way are saying they can’t take it any longer.

The trick for Israel is, as always, to pull out of the territories, build its fence – and wait for a new generation to accept the status quo.

If ignorance is bliss, then Richard Cohen is in seventh heaven.

This op-ed is riddled with inaccuracies and a complete misunderstanding of the middle east conflict. For a start, the issue is not the settlements, unless you count the entire state of Israel as a settlement. The terrorists are not for compromise. They do not want to live side-by-side with a Jewish state but rather supersede it. Cohen also claims that Israel squats on land that was once palestinian, ignoring the fact that this land was once Jewish. Furtheremore, some of this land has actually been purchased from its previous palestinian owners.

On the subject of the terrorists’ origins, Cohen contends that they come from “the very communities that Israel occupies”, ignoring the ever increasing amount of terrorists who come in from the Arab states, including Al-Qaeda operatives. The inherent weakeness of his argument is never more manifest than in his statement that “some of the suicide bombers are not religious militants but merely people who in their own way are saying they can’t take it any longer”, implying that even Cohen realizes that many of the terrorists are religious militants, rendering his premise that the palestinian terrorists are different from the rest as flawed.

It is irresponsible, lazy journalism like this that contributes so greatly to the palestinian’s propoganda, in effect helping their cause and prolonging this conflict.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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