I do not normally find Roger Cohen worthy of response. His writing connotes a detachment from the situation, and I do not find him particularly creative, insightful, or critical; just read on for one such example.
In his final New York Times column of 2014, “Gaza is Nowhere,” Cohen first tells us that life in Gaza is devoid of hope, and that the last war in Gaza changed nothing.
But the last war changed many things. It destroyed an enormous stockpile of weapons. It raised public (if not just military) awareness of terror tunnels. It taught Israel that, rather than using Israel’s material aid of cement and concrete to build schools, homes, factories and roads, Gaza uses Israel’s aid against itself. It confirmed, yet again, that no matter how just Israel may be in waging war, or how justly Israel wages it, Israel will suffer from international scrutiny and gratuitous censure. When the video of the Muslim pogrom against a Paris synagogue went viral the world saw how far and how deep Arab anti-Semitism reaches. So the war has taught Israel and the world quite a bit. Why the Gazans have not learned anything, and why they have not sought a better life, remains a question.
Roger, you describe a Gaza without hope, but you, Roger, can give hope to the hopeless. You tell us, for example, that despite its genocidal charter, Hamas is not monolithic. But you also tell us that Robert Turner, the director of Gaza’s UNRWA, describes a drift toward more radical groups in Gaza (until IS I did not know there were Islamic groups more radical than Hamas). So a variety of thought within Hamas may not be the hope we were all hoping for.
Roger Cohen ties it all up in a bow by telling us all who can fix Gaza: it is the Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Americans. (Most of Africa and Asia get a pass.) Sure. Everyone is responsible to turn Gaza into a productive society. But really, the only way the hopelessness of Gaza can be averted is with a change of Gazan mindset. Instead of using the billions in aid they receive for war and destruction, they should try using it for its intended purposes. That would be a nice start.