Faster, Please!

Israel's Version of Bob Woodward

I guess every free society has its own celebrated “investigative reporters,” and the Israeli version of Bob Woodward—the reporter believed to be the ultimate insider—is Ronen Bergman of Yediot Aharanot. Like Woodward, Bergman is important in understanding the thinking of a part of the political class, but, like Woodward, he’s not always reliable when it comes to reportage and analysis.

Take, for example, his article in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, in which he tries to argue that the Wikileaks cables do not provide any reason for Israelis to be pleased.  He says “Transcripts of meetings between Gulf Arab leaders and U.S. officials show that while Arab hatred and fear of Iran is considerable, hostility toward Israel is just as great.”

That’s quite an astonishing statement.  Do you remember reading any cable in which an American diplomat reported on any Arab leader urging the United States to bomb Israel?  I certainly do not, but I read quite a number of cables quoting Arab kings, princes and ministers calling for us to attack Iran.  So it seems to me empirically false to claim, as Bergman does, that Arab “hostility toward Israel is as great as their hatred of Iran.”

Then Bergman thinks deeply about the meaning of it all:

History teaches us that it is impossible to run an effective campaign against rogue states without a wall-to-wall coalition of responsible partners who are aware of their role in preserving the safety of the family of nations.

It always makes me nervous when somebody starts talking about “lessons of history,” especially when he talks  about a “wall-to-wall coalition” that I don’t understand at all.  Was the People’s Republic of China a member of our big coalition against the Soviet Empire?  It seems likely, doesn’t it?  Well, if that’s the case, would you say that Mao et al. were committed to “preserving the safety of the family of nations”?  Or what about Libya?  Was there a big coalition involved in the very effective campaign that compelled Gadhafi to abandon his nuclear program?  Or was it rather the example of an American president who did not hesitate to unleash lethal force in the region?

So forgive me for not being impressed.