I’ve known Richard Cohen, the well-known and deservedly well-placed Washington Post columnist, for years. We’re certainly not close, and there has been a low-key ideological (and psychological) distance between us for years. I think some of his writings on the Palestinians are—let me be gentle—frightfully soft. I would guess that he probably thinks that some of my writings on the Palestinians are frightfully ferocious.
But he is no enemy of Israel. In fact, however critical (and he is critical), he is hardly an antagonist of the Jewish state.
I suspect that he has seen something very pernicious in the hysteria over the Turkish flotilla, a hysteria that is without measure or balance. In it there is a fascistic strain that actually goes back to the pre-Nazi period ... and survived into the Arafat era and our own.
The intellectual ancestry of Palestinian nationalism is an ugly one. And ancestry usually goes on to be history ... for a very long time. Cohen alludes to a new book by Paul Berman, The Flight of the Intellectuals, (dedicated to me and to Leon Wieseltier) which argues Palestinianism’s Fascist family tree. It keeps many Palestinians of today very much in line. And then there are the Palestinians of hope, Salam Fayad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, whose real fight is against his own hard right (or is it hard left?).
In any case, read Cohen’s piece in yesterday’s Post.
Hamas is a threat to the Palestinian cause
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; A19
It’s a pity that Israel, while substantially loosening its grip on Gaza, will continue to enforce a blockade when, with just a little imagination, it could insist on a deal with the activists once again steaming its way: You can proceed to Gaza if, once you get there, you demand that Hamas cease the persecution of women, institute freedom of religion, halt the continuing rocketing of Israel, release an Israeli hostage, ban torture and rescind an official charter that could have made soothing bedtime reading for Adolf Hitler. This may take some time.
In fact, these demands would never be met. Gaza is a mean and brutal place with a totalitarian government steeped in a cult of violence and death. This hardly means that the government does not have a measure of popular support and did not, as some of the activists naively point out, come to power by democratic means. So did the Nazis.
The term “Islamic fascism” gets thrown around a lot. I initially recoiled from it because I prefer to reserve fascism for fascists. The term is too loosely employed -- New York City cops were called fascists by Vietnam-era peace demonstrators -- but Paul Berman, in his new book “The Flight of the Intellectuals,” makes a solid case that it can, with justice, be applied to Hamas.
Piece continues at washintonpost.com