Dan Cohen, an independent journalist who until about two and a half weeks ago was based in Gaza, made one of his first appearances back in the U.S. at a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) meeting on Thursday night, Feb. 5. Cohen was there to present his views about what he believes truly happened during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli military operation in Gaza last summer. Cohen started off by giving a cursory account of his time in the West Bank before the conflict began, followed by an account of his experiences in Gaza during and after the military operation. 

Cohen made very clear to his audience that we shouldn’t actually call Operation Protective Edge by that name. In Hebrew, he explained, the name for the operation is Tzuk Eitan, which actually translates roughly as “firm cliff” or “resolute cliff.” Cohen claimed that this difference in semantics has drastic importance for how one sees the purpose of the operation by Israel. While Operation Protective Edge has a very self-defensive sound to it, and for Cohen makes Israel look like it is defending itself, the more accurate translation reveals that Israel allegedly wanted to present a “firm cliff” to the people of Gaza and push them out, crushing them completely in order to discourage further attacks. 

Cohen made many controversial – and even some false – claims during his talk to about 35 people in a lecture hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. For instance, he claimed that Gazans were “forcibly expelled” from “historic Palestine,” and that this was the cause of their suffering. He also claimed that Israel used Gaza as a “laboratory” for its weapons technology, much of which is provided by companies like Raytheon, which Cohen was quick to point out is the second-largest employer in Tucson.

The climax of Cohen’s presentation came when he showed a video that showed a July 14 prayer vigil for Israeli troops in Jerusalem. Cohen said that he “expected there to be a somber mood,” and then showed Israeli teenagers dancing in the streets and laughing as they draped Israeli flags across their back. Interviewing them in the midst of their celebration, he filmed them saying that they wanted Palestinians to “die,” that they wanted to “rebuild” Gaza with Israel in control, and that the Palestinians should go away because “they have Egypt, they have Syria.” Cohen paid little attention to the points when the teenagers shouted things like “love and peace,” and said they wanted “Hamas, not the people of Gaza,” to go away, instead highlighting the more violent remarks. 

The audience was largely sympathetic to Cohen’s presentation, and their questions highlighted their sentiments. Cohen, in answer to one of the questions from the audience, said he tried not to broadcast his Jewish identity while in Gaza. In response to another, he claimed that people who claim Hamas was using civilian facilities (hospitals, schools, U.N. buildings) as bases for rocket attacks are crazy. He made this claim despite the fact that there has been established proof to the contrary, even by Hamas itself. 

Cohen parted with these comments: Movements like BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) are really all that the Palestinians have left in the fight against Israel. But if violent resistance is used, Cohen apparently supports it: “What is more American than shooting someone that comes into your home?” Although one can debate whether the analogy that Cohen used was appropriate, one thing that is clear is that there is no love lost between Cohen and the Israel he believes to be slipping toward the propensity to commit genocide, as he put it.

Jordan Brunner is a public relations intern at the Hillel Jewish Center at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Need to Know is an occasional column that looks behind the headlines. Contact the editor at sal_caputo@jewishaz.com.

(3) comments


Are you serious man! You cherry-picked what you want to say bro!
You are so biased, and I just don't see how can you be a journalist and not provide the whole context of his speech.

Carl Goldberg

Cohen is just another in a long line of self-hating, anti-Semitic Jews. Our Moslem enemies love people like him.

Carl Goldberg

It is appropriate to quote from the Hamas Charter in order to prove that the Israelis are up against genocidal anti-Semites. Students for Justice in Palestine supports of Hamas.

Introduction -- Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory). … Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.

Article 1 -- The Islamic Resistance Movement: The Movement's programme is Islam.
Article 2 -- The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.
Article 6 -- The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.
Article 7 -- The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).
Article 8 -- Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.
Article 11 -- the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day.
This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force,
Article 13 -- There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad
Article 14 -- The question of the liberation of Palestine is bound to three circles: the Palestinian circle, the Arab circle and the Islamic circle.
The liberation of Palestine is then an individual duty for very Moslem wherever he may be.
Article 15 -- The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. … the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis.
Article 27-- The Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion
Article 28 -- "So Israel with its Jewishness and its Jewish population challenges Islam and Muslims."
Article 31 -- It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.