Open Letter to NYT’s Roger Cohen – Even Harder Truths

Dear Roger,

Over the past few months I have saluted your courage in seeking to open the eyes of New York Times’ readers to some of the differences between Zionist propaganda and what the facts on the ground in Israel/Palestine are telling us.

Your latest column, Hard Mideast Truths, published on 12 February and which I tweeted, was, I think, your most explicit to date. (I imagine you got a bucket load of organised hate mail for it).

You didn’t pull any punches on a number of key issues. “Domestic U.S. politics constrain innovative thought – even open debate – on the process without end that is the peace search… The United States ends up as ‘Israel’s lawyer’ rather than an honest broker (that was you endorsing Aaron David Miller’s observation)… The conflict gnaws at U.S. security, eats away at whatever remote possibility of a two-state solution is left, clouds Israel’s future, scatters Palestinians and devours every attempt to bridge the West and Islam… Past persecution of the Jews cannot be a license to subjugate another people… Nor can the solemn U.S. promise to stand by Israel be a blank cheque to the Jewish state when its policies undermine America’s stated aims…The U.S. objective is a two-state peace. But day by day, square meter by square meter, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing… America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility… It does not make sense for America to bankroll Israeli policies that undermine U.S. strategic objectives.”

Some of us with lengthy, firsthand and intimate experience of the conflict have been saying this and much more for many years, but we were, and still are, denied a hearing in the mainstream media, in America and actually everywhere. This has happened mainly because the mainstream media censors itself out of fear of offending Zionism too much or at all. (All of you who write for the New York Times will know exactly what I mean). So the fact that you, Roger, are being allowed to cross some of Zionism’s red lines in public print is, I hope, a sign that the prospects for “open debate” in America are improving. My own contribution to the process of assisting what passes for democracy in America to work for justice and peace in the Middle East is a an epic book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the American edition of which is being published by Clarity Press in three volumes (Volumes 1 and 2 published, Volume 3 coming).

In your 12 February piece you also noted that the “existential threat” to Israel is “overplayed” (in reality Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger). So there was, you added, room “for America to step back and apply pressure without compromising Israeli security.”

You also wrote this (my emphasis added) “If there are not two states there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews. What then will become of the Zionist dream?

One implication, whether you intended it or not, is that Zionism is on its way to committing suicide in the sense that the Jewish state (actually it’s a Zionist state not a Jewish state) could be voted out of existence. Sadly there is another very possible scenario and the purpose of this open letter is to draw it to your attention.

When Zionism’s in-Israel leaders finally get the message that the Palestinians are not going to accept two or three Bantustans on parts of the occupied West Bank which they could call a state if they wished, it’s by no means impossible that they, Zionism’s in-Israel leaders, will resort to a final round of ethnic cleansing. It could start with the “transfer” of Israeli Arabs, which some Israeli leaders openly advocate; and it could end with Israel creating a pretext to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever. A Zionist, Nazi-like, final solution to the Palestine problem. A Zionist holocaust.

Put another way, and to answer your question, the Zionist dream becomes (as I think it was always bound to become) a terrifying nightmare for all, and by all I don’t mean only the Arabs and Jews of the region. I mean all of us, everywhere.

That really could happen.

Something to think about?

Best wishes,


PS I’m sure my American publisher would be delighted to send you a copy of my book. Should I ask it to do so?

6 comments on this post.
  1. Assaf:

    I don’t see Mr. Cohen’s ideas as being radical at all. The idea to pressure Israel to withdraw to 67 lines is not new by any means. Many in the Israeli left have called the USA for years to play a much more aggressive role in the region and stop its blind support of every Israeli action. I, too, feel the need for a decisive American stance on this issue, one that will coax Israel to relinquish its dreams of annexing the West Bank and thus save the Zionist project from self destruction. But there is a vast difference between calling the USA to put pressure on Israel in order to save it from itself and calling the USA to pressure Israel because it is a rouge state. The former takes Israel’s right to exist as a given. The latter does not even acknowledge Israel has any right whatsoever. America has made many mistakes in this region but its basic policy is morally correct. Denying Israel’s right to exist is denying the Jewish people of their right for self determination. This, very simply, is racist.

  2. Shari Peterson:

    Unfortunately they were never the original inhabitants of Israel, with the exception of the few Jews that lived on the land indigenously along with the Arab Semites when the Ashkenazis moved in, those that came in the late 1940s to the early 1950s when the underground Zionist movement was attacking Arab Jews in their homelands under the guise of being Arab, to scare them into emigrating to Palestine, as well as the Semitic Jews that emigrated from Ethiopia starting in the 1980s.

    Today still in Israel the Ethiopians are treated as second class citizens even though they are the purest progenic link to Abraham. They are the only true sons of that land and so too are the Semitic Palestinians whose ancestors lived on the land side-by-side.

    Today the vast majority of Jews identify with cultural and sometimes religious Judaism but very, very few are true ethnic Semites, children of Abraham.

  3. dolores fitchie:

    The conflict gnaws at U.S. security
    Indeed. The US’s and everybody else’s too.
    the Zionist dream becomes (as I think it was always bound to become) a terrifying nightmare for all, and by all I don’t mean only the Arabs and Jews of the region. I mean all of us, everywhere.
    Indeed doubled.
    Dear Mr. Hart. Just a quick, comprehensive thank you. For this site. For your stance on this most vexed of questions. For your courage. For your Hart of the Matter series (even if it came to me over a year after it finished). If I had hand-picked the guests I couldn’t have done half as well as you did.
    It’s somehow reassuring to find out, after a quarter of a century of saying most of what you and your guest say, that I’m not totally mad. It’s also incredibly sad. But is good that more and more people are finding the courage to say what need to be say, as loudly as possible.
    Be well and keep up the excellent work. By the way, I hope there will be a H.o.t. M. part II. Sooner rather than later?

  4. mary:

    What is radical is not Cohen’s thoughts, but that he was able to get them published in a mainstream newspaper in the US. I have seen a few of them recently in the NY Times, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for anything similar to appear in the Washington Post (or the Washington Times!).

    It is the kiss of death for any journalist to ever utter the words saying that Israel does not have the right to exist.

    If the world has ignored the plight of the Palestinians for 62 years, it is not going to bat an eye if the time comes when the Zionists “transfer” them to Lebanon or Jordan. Something must be done to prevent this inevitability.

  5. syed mehdi hasan ashraf:

    What to say exept that it is good call for justice,hoping the concerned people will give it a thought;

  6. Leticia:

    Wonderful. I agree.

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