Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Israelis are not allowed to live normal lives, apparently columnist Roger Cohen, never one for original thought, has jumped on the Time magazine bandwagon and written a column questioning Israelis' desire for peace:

It’s the end of a hot summer. The kids are returning to school. The economy is pretty good. Violence has become rare enough to intrude only lightly. Barriers shield Israelis from the West Bank and Gaza. The beach is beautiful, politicians corrupt. What’s the use of politics, anyway?...

Well, the basic thesis is pretty much right. Israelis aren't much interested in the peace process - they know better than to put any hopes in it after so many false starts before. But, note to the editors of Time magazine: this does not mean they are not interested in peace. They simply recognise that conditions are not ripe at this current time.

But here's my larger problem. Over the past few years, I have read story after story about regular Iraqis, Afghans etc. who struggle to continue with their daily lives despite the chaos and violence all around them. In every version, this is construed as something positive: look how brave these people are, for ignoring politics and starting new businesses, sending their children to school, going to the beach! Isn't it wonderful that they plod on regardless!

Transfer that same scenario to Israel, though, and suddenly the insistance of your average citizen on actually living a little becomes something negative and dirty - in Roger Cohen's world, evidence that the culture is "cynical" and "blase". Increasing numbers of citizens of Western cultures tune out of politics, voting in ever decreasing numbers, because politics seems to have less and less relevance to their lives, and it is politics which is deemed to be broken. But the same process in Israel is somehow evidence of the population's moral degeneracy.

Yet again, Israelis are judged by entirely different standards.

RELATED: Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren has written a rebuttal to the multiplying accusations that Israelis do not care about peace in the LA Times

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