Solomon Critiques Cohen Column Backing Israel

By: E&P Staff

Syndicated columnists Richard Cohen and Norman Solomon have very different views about what Israel is doing in Lebanon.

Cohen, in a Tuesday column for the Washington Post Writers Group, supported Israel’s actions. The Creators Syndicate-distributed Solomon responded by criticizing Cohen’s comments in a Wednesday piece that appeared on The Huffington Post.

In his column, Cohen wrote that it would be “a recipe for doom” for Israel to respond proportionately to threats. “The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general…,” he said. “For Israel, a small country within reach … of a missile launched from any enemy’s back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.”

Cohen added: “The only way to ensure that babies don’t die in their cribs and old people in the streets is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price.”

He also said that Israel is “unfortunately located, gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood.”

Cohen concluded: “After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel’s enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.

Solomon responded that Cohen “likes to sit in front of a computer and use flip phrases like ‘punch out your lights’ as euphemisms for burning human flesh and bones with high-tech weapons, courtesy of American taxpayers.”

He added: “Cohen’s moral certainties are on a par with his technical ones. While he condemns rockets fired into Israel, he expresses pleasure about missiles fired by the Israeli government. That the death toll of civilians is far higher from Israel’s weaponry does not appear to bother him. On the contrary, he seems glad about the killing spree by the Israeli military.”

Solomon also noted that Cohen’s gentrification comment has “bigoted overtones.”

And Solomon concluded: “Cohen — like so many others in the American punditocracy — depicts the death of an Israeli civilian as far more tragic and important than the death of an Arab civilian. There’s something really sick about such righteous support for civilian death and destruction. Osama bin Laden, meet Richard Cohen. Richard, meet Osama.”

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