I previously have highlighted the treatment of the “Arab Street” by NY Times columnist Roger Cohen in the midst of the Arab Spring protests, many of which revealed an open and ugly anti-Semitic side:
In the Middle East you expect the worst. But having watched Egypt’s extraordinary civic achievement in building the coalition that ousted Mubarak, having watched Tahrir Square become cooperation central, and having watched the professionalism of the Egyptian army, I’m convinced the country has what it takes to build a decent, representative society — one that gives the lie to all the stereotypes associated with that dismissive shorthand “The Arab Street.”
In fact, post-Tahrir, let’s retire that phrase.
Now Cohen, aware of the rise of Islamists, continues to downplay the threat:
The old Middle East of Israel’s cozy military-to-military relationships with the likes of Turkey and Egypt is gone. A new Middle East where Israel must deal people-to-people is being born. For a democracy this should ultimately be encouraging: People, including Arabs, with control of their lives tend to be focused on improving those lives rather than seeking conflict. The rise of Islamic parties opposed to despotism and adjusting painfully to modernity is cause for caution, yes, but not for manipulative Israeli dismissiveness.
“Cause for caution” The main concern being “manipulative Israeli dismissiveness”? In fact, history is full of examples of people who control their lives seeking conflict, particularly when Israel and Jews are on the other side.
This is a dangerously optimistic view of the forces at work in the region, one which has been all too common among columnists at The NY Times.
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