05 March 2009

Iran, the Jews and Roger Cohen

This is a slight modification of the NYT headline Iran, the Jews and Germany, an article by Roger Cohen.

In that article Roger Cohen, NYT op-ed columnist, tries to answer his many critics regarding his series of apologetic articles on Iran. Soccer Dad has dealt with one of these articles - The other Iran - in his post Apologist for the mullahs, which easily made a mincemeat of the article and the author.

In Iran, the Jews and Germany Roger Cohen makes an effort to backpedal (somewhat clumsily) from some of his stronger sentiments in the previous articles. Well, the "flawed but vibrant democracy" is muted a bit by "Iran is an un-free society with a keen, intermittently brutal apparatus of repression, but it’s far from meeting these criteria [of a totalitarian state]". Things like this, a bit of glossing over some too obvious signs of adoration.

No attempt, however, was made by Mr Cohen to gloss over another, more pernicious statement: "Iran has not waged a war of aggression for a very long time." Of course, wishful thinker like Cohen can't allow himself and errant thought about the terrorist bombings in Argentina. Or about the unending flow of weapons to Hezbollah - the cancer on the Lebanon's body. Or about incessant military support of Hamas. Or about fomenting unrest in Iraq with willing assistance of Shia clerics... the list could go on and on, and why should Iran wage a war of aggression by its own lily-white hands? To cause unneeded wrath of Roger Cohen?

Another clumsy attempt at backpedaling - in a different direction, though, becomes clear when you compare the last article's passage:

If you’re thinking trains-on-time Fascist efficiency, think again. Tehran’s new telecommunications tower took 20 years to build. I was told its restaurant would open “soon.” So, it is said, will the Bushehr nuclear power plant, a project in the works for a mere 30 years. A Persian Chernobyl is more likely than some Middle Eastern nuclear Armageddon, if that’s any comfort.
where Cohen assuages the worry about Iran's nuclear aspirations, with an older article's statement:
The Iranian nuclear program, which Iran implausibly says is for civilian purposes, is “the greatest challenge” now facing 21st-century leaders.
Clumsy as heck, but whatever works...

So what is it Mr Cohen (assaJew, mind you, he wouldn't let you forget) trying to say in his latest article about Iran and its Jews?
  • Iran is un-free society - check
  • It is managed by a virtual dictatorship of one Khamenei - check
  • Its mouthpiece "president" is most active Holocaust denier in the world - check
  • The fanaticism does exist - check
  • The threats to annihilate Israel are issued - check
  • Life in Iran is more difficult for Jews than for Muslims - check
  • The nuclear development is clearly not for peace - check
  • The air you breathe in Iran is not suffocating!
  • Ahmadinejad's rival in the next presidential elections, Mohammad Khatami, once spoke in a synagogue!
  • Anything but mad, the mullahs have proved malleable!
  • Internet and satellite television is widespread, the BBC’s new Farsi service is all the rage!
  • Iranians are not cut off, like Cubans or North Koreans!
The last but not the least:
  • No fire has burned the Majlis, or parliament, down!

Iran’s Islamic Republic is no Third Reich redux!

Please don't laugh, because really Mr Cohen is motivated by an essentially overwhelming force, the one beautifully expressed in this paragraph:
One Iranian exile, no lover of the Islamic Republic, wrote to me saying that my account of Iran’s Jews had brought “tears to my eyes” because “you are saying what many of us would like to hear.”
Dear Iranian exile: Mr Cohen indeed performs a great service to many people: he just tells them (and himself) what they (and he) want to hear. It is so simple... and so pathetic.

And, to my sorrow, Mr Cohen in his naivety (?) reminds me too strongly about the uncountable fellow travelers from the West visiting Soviet Union during Stalin's time and bringing back the usual laudatory reports. While people were incarcerated and died in droves.

But could Roger Cohen, a journalist of such caliber, achievements and standing, be so naive? Well, it's another can of worms I really don't wish to open. No, sir...

Afterword: Stumbled on this accidentally on Soob (thanks Jay):

Notice the source. Apparently the mention of Germany by Mr Cohen was relevant, after all...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.