Fred Maroun
A believer in peace and human dignity

Robert Cohen in wonderland: the fanciful world of anti-Zionist Jews

A British Jewish anti-Zionist named Robert A. H. Cohen took it upon himself to respond to my Letter from an Arab to a Jew who supports BDS.  Cohen is apparently a former Senior Broadcast Journalist at BBC Radio Five Live and is regularly published at Mondoweiss, Tikkun Daily, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Robert Cohen’s boilerplate accusations: “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”, “land grabbing”, “discrimination and oppression of Palestinians”, “massive human rights abuses”, “Gazan children killed, or left orphaned or homeless, or disabled, or traumatized”, and “oppression and injustice”.

Cohen’s response is largely predictable, with the usual boilerplate accusations against Israel that one would expect from any run-of-the-mill anti-Zionist, Jewish or not. There is an immense body of work (including articles that I have written) proving each of these accusations to be lies, wildly exaggerated, or misleading. Consequently, I will not bore my readers with this here.

The more interesting part of Cohen’s response however is that it offers a window into the weird and wonderful world of anti-Zionist Jews.

In Robert Cohen’s world, Arabs have never committed any wrongs towards the Jews of Israel, especially not a centuries-old Arab campaign to deny the Jews the most basic human right of all, the right to exist.

Robert Cohen: “I’m interested in peace with justice”.


Robert Cohen: “Discrimination and oppression of Palestinians creates violent resistance”.

In Robert Cohen’s world, there is absolutely no contradiction between claims of supporting “peace” and excusing Palestinian violence.

Robert Cohen: “Blame Hitler for their murder not the rest of the world”.

In Robert Cohen’s world, only Hitler was to blame for the Holocaust. Contrary to what Alan Dershowitz wrote, in Robert Cohen’s world, all of the following are blameless (quoting Dershowitz):

  • “the guilty governments that cooperated and helped facilitate the deportations and round-ups”,
  • “the countries that refused to accept Jews who might have escaped the Nazis”,
  • “Arab and Muslim leaders also played ignoble roles, siding with the Nazis and conducting their own pogroms against local Jews”,
  • “those who pardoned and commuted the sentences of Nazis convicted at Nuremberg”,
  • and “those who helped Nazis escape prosecution after the war ended”.

Robert Cohen: “The task today is not for Jews to feel they have a ‘safe haven’ in one tiny slip of land. The task, and the way to honor the memory of all who died at the hands of the Nazis, is to make Jews, and all minority groups, feel safe, respected and treated equally wherever they live.”

In Robert Cohen’s world, anti-Semitism does not exist in today’s world, and Jews do not need a “safe haven” because we can already count on Jews feeling “safe, respected and treated equally wherever they live”.

Robert Cohen: “A single state protecting the rights of all its citizens is not the aim of all Jews supporting BDS. However, it is mine. As for the issue of the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees, why is this such an outrageous demand?”


Robert Cohen: “I’ll settle for universal voting franchise and a single legal jurisdiction for all within Israel/Palestine.”

Most fancifully of all, in Robert Cohen’s world, generations of Palestinians, raised on a daily diet of anti-Semitism, will come together into a single state with Jews. In Robert Cohen’s world, that new idyllic state will provide a liberal democratic paradise where an Arab Muslim majority will treat a minority of Jews equally.

In Robert Cohen’s world, the fact that not a single Arab country and only a tiny percentage of Muslim-majority countries come anywhere close to being democratic, never mind liberal, is unimportant. In that world, the high likelihood that a Palestinian state will be a dictatorship that oppresses or even ethnically cleanses its Jewish minority is a fair risk to take.

Assuming that Cohen and other anti-Zionist Jews are truly Jewish as they claim and not anti-Semitic frauds, then there is only one explanation for their behavior. Like Alice in Wonderland, they stepped through a looking-glass and into an alternative universe that the rest of us cannot see. Good for them. That world is probably far more fun than ours is. I simply wish that they would not pretend that they still understand the real world.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities co-exist in peace with each other, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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