There’s no use writing much of a refutation of Roger Cohen’s silly column. If you can imagine every fashionable lefty cliché that has been written about the Israeli-Arab conflict since, oh, the Six Day War — that is Cohen’s column. Yawn.
But there is one thing beyond what Emanuele noted that’s worth commenting on. It is the following claim, stated after Cohen notes Ehud Olmert’s recent habit of articulating the Meretz Party line on Israeli security:
“The fact such views come from a former Likudnik is a measure of how the political ground has shifted in Israel ahead of elections early next year.”
This is embarrassing. Cohen clearly has not been following Israeli politics, not even slightly. Olmert’s sudden transformation into a caricature of a peacenik tracks perfectly with the revelations of his corruption, the blame he rightfully earned after the 2006 Hezbollah war, and his resulting historically low public-approval numbers. Ehud Olmert is reviled by the Israeli people, and he is busy returning the favor in the most effective way possible — by going around saying all the bad things about Israel that dumb western liberals wish to believe.
Okay, so Cohen hasn’t been keeping up with the Olmert psychodrama. But he does say that the “ground has shifted” in Israeli politics, and he implies that political opinion has moved toward Olmert’s newfound views. So, which party’s political fortunes have in fact risen precipitously? Likud’s. The latest polling shows Bibi & his team winning a substantial 37 Knesset seats, as opposed to 25 for Kadima and just 7 for Labor. Support for other hawkish parties has risen, and support for the dovish parties has fallen. The political ground is indeed shifting in Israel — it is running away horrified from the ideas contained within Ehud Olmert’s recent tantrums.
Between Roger Cohen and Nicolas Kristof, the Times is truly at the bottom of the barrel in Israel commentary. But we probably shouldn’t take offense. At this point, that observation holds true for most everything the Times covers.