INTO THE FRAY: Inane …Again! Tom Friedman on Gaza

By Martin Sherman, IISS

Tom Friedman’s last piece on Gaza is a “masterful” blend of personal bile & bias, liberally laced with logical inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies and even blatant non-sequiturs

What if all two million Palestinians of Gaza marched to the Israeli border fence with an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other, saying, “Two states for two peoples: We, the Palestinian people of Gaza, want to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish people — a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed adjustments. – Thomas L. Friedman, Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature, New York Times, May 22, 2018.

…the American conduct of the peace process bears an unhappy resemblance to the custom of treating diseases by placing leeches on the body of the afflicted person: It was based on an inadequate understanding of the pathology it attempted to cure, it did not solve the problem it was intended to fix, and it sometimes made it substantially worse. – Michael Mandelbaum, The Peace Process Is an Obstacle to Peace, Commentary, April 14, 2016.

The really disconcerting thing about the New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, is that, at times, he can actually produce some sensible and insightful articles—as long as he is not writing (or more precisely, ranting) on Israel. Or Trump. Or the Palestinians. Or Barack Obama…

Sadly however, whenever he makes one of his far-too-frequent forays into any of these “touchy” topics, his journalistic output invariably degenerates into patently partisan pamphleteering.

Lip-service to “balance”

But even compared to his past inanities, his latest column, “Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature”, is a real doozy—a “masterful” blend of personal bile and bias, liberally laced with logical inconsistencies, factual inaccuracies and even blatant non-sequiturs.

Friedman begins his column feigning journalistic impartiality and paying perfunctory lip- service to “balance”, with some cursory condemnation of Hamas, acknowledging “its utter failure to produce any kind of decent life for the Palestinians there, whom Hamas has ruled since 2007”.

He accuses the Islamist terror group of “Cynici[al] and Reckless Disregard for One’s Own People in Pursuit of a Political Fantasy [capitals in original- MS] ”, and of “facilitating the tragic and wasted deaths of roughly 60 Gazans by encouraging their march, some with arms, on the Israeli border fence in pursuit of a ‘return’ to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel”.

But then, predictably, he quickly reverts back into his almost Pavlovian, Israel-bashing, Bibi-phobic mode—basically dismissing the importance of his previous censure of Hamas and shifting the onus onto…Israel: “So much for the “bad” Palestinian leadership. What’s Israel’s approach to the secular, more moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank…Answer: nothing.”

Moderate, secular Palestinian Authority??

The secular moderate Palestinian Authority!

Really??

Gee, I wonder if Friedman was referring to the same “moderate secular” Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, not too long ago, referred to the Jews as desecrating the Temple Mount with their “filthy feet”? Or who recently explained that the slaughter of millions of Jews during the Holocaust was due to their practice of usurious moneylending? Or who orchestrated a vicious campaign of incitement against the Jewish state, and praised the bloody violence in terror attacks against the Jews, proclaiming: “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”

That moderate, secular Palestinian Authority???

Friedman has of course, been long been captive to the seductive deception of two-statism. At the base of this dogma is the belief that, among the Palestinian-Arabs, there is a leader sufficiently reasonable to cut a deal acceptable to Israel and sufficiently authoritative to ensure its implementation.

Accordingly, in order to sustain their political credo, (or rather, “cult”), two-state adherents have to conjure up imaginary Palestinian-Arabs and an imaginary Palestinian-Arab society, significantly different from those that actually exist on Planet Earth.

Favoring fantasy over facts

Indeed, Friedman would do well to heed the somewhat contrite confession of yet another dogged advocate of two-statism, Aaron David Miller, formerly a senior State Department official, deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and today, vice president of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In a recorded exchange, with the suitably gloomy title, “Today’s Bleak Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace”, Miller acknowledged: “I would draw from my own experiences that when we failed in diplomacy, and particularly in the pursuit of Arab- Israeli negotiations, it was almost always because Americans – let’s forget the Israelis and the Palestinians for a moment—chose to see the world the way they wanted it to be, rather than the way it actually was.” 

Significantly, this closely parallels the assessment expressed in the opening excerpt by Michael Mandelbaum, Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, that “the American conduct of the peace process …was based on an inadequate understanding of the pathology it attempted to cure.”

Indeed, Mandelbaum puts his finger precisely on what Friedman, and those of his obsessive ilk, refuse to acknowledge. Writing in the final stages of the Obama administration, Mandelbaum counsels: “The next administration should tell the truth about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: namely, that the responsibility for creating and perpetuating it rests with the Palestinian side.

Friedman: Favoring fantasy over facts

Of course, Friedman will have none of this hardnosed realism. For that, heaven forfend, would be to admit error of staggering proportions.

Accordingly, he embarks on a flight of fantasy into the realm of “what if”.

Wistfully, he asks: “What if all two million Palestinians of Gaza marched to the Israeli border fence with an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other, saying, ‘…:We, the Palestinian people of Gaza, want to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish people …’”

Well, perhaps the question Friedman should ask himself is: Why don’t they??

A truthful answer to this would be: “Because it is not in their nature!”

For, if they did, they would not be who they are! Indeed, as I have argued repeatedly in the past, the Gazans are not the hapless victims of their leadership. To the contrary, they are the very crucible in which that leadership was formed and from which it emerged.

After all, it was the general public that elected Hamas into power, over a decade ago, in an election generally considered free and fair—and with the outcome by-and-large reflecting prevailing electoral sentiment. Even today, there does not seem to be a major anti-Hamas metamorphosis in the overall attitude of the Gazan public.

Scant regret over Hamas?

Quite the opposite.

According to the findings of a very recent poll, conducted just as the unrest on the Gaza border began to flare up, by the leading Palestinian polling institute (in conjunction with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung), in a presidential election, a Hamas candidate would trounce Fatah’s incumbent Mahmoud Abbas by almost 2 to 1. Even in legislative elections, it seems that Hamas would hold its own against the rival Fatah faction.

Underscoring just how detached Friedman’s prescription is from reality is another finding in the poll: Almost 70% of Gazans support a return to an armed intifada. Moreover, Gazans chose “Armed Resistance” by about 2 to 1 over “Negotiations” and “Popular Non-Violent Resistance” as the preferred course of action against Israel.

Indeed, Friedman’s idea of Palestinian-Arabs, extending an olive branch with one hand, and placards proclaiming peaceful intent with the other, is not entirely new. He proposed the identical formula back in a 2011 anti-Bibi screed shortly after the fall of Mubarak in Egypt and in which virtually all his analyses/prognoses proved to be embarrassingly mistaken.

Yet, unchastened by his massive misreading of Mid-East realities back then, Friedman sallies forth yet again with his implausible proposal—now, if anything, even more implausible than before.

Banking on amnesia or ignorance?

Friedman empathizes (at least partially) with the Gazans’ rage: “I appreciate the Gazans’ sense of injustice. Why should they pay with their ancestral homes for Jewish refugees who lost theirs in Germany or Iraq?

Of course, unless Friedman is woefully misinformed, he is wildly—perhaps even willfully—misleading!

For the Arab residents of Israel did not lose their homes during the 1948 War of Independence to accommodate Jewish refugees, fleeing persecution in Europe and the Arab countries.

They lost them because of the failure of their Arab patrons’ aggressive initiative to annihilate any vestige of Jewish political independence. Accordingly, the 1948 displacement of Arabs was a result of categorical Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state and of the resultant Arab defeat in the Arab attempt to destroy it.

Friedman goes on to speculate on how better things might have been “if only” the hopelessly improbable haD transpired. He laments: “If Hamas had chosen to recognize Israel and build a Palestinian state in Gaza modeled on Singapore, the world would have showered it with aid and it would have served as a positive test case for the West Bank. Hamas chose otherwise.”

On reading this, one can only shake one’s head in puzzlement and wonder whether Friedman is banking on the ignorance or the amnesia of his readers.

After all, the international community has showered aid on Gaza, only to have most of it diverted into construction of military infrastructure to be used against Israel, or into the personal bank accounts of the corrupt cliques who rule the enclave, and their complicit cronies.

Surely Friedman must know that Gaza has not degenerated into the current cesspool that it is because of any lack of international funding or of Israeli largesse. It has done so despite an abundance of both!

Infuriating and disingenuous

Friedman “graciously” acknowledges that “Israel has no choice but to defend its border with Gaza with brute force.”

But then, nimbly sidestepping the morass in Gaza, he goes on to berate Israel anyway, regarding Judea-Samaria: “… I find it a travesty that a country with so much imagination in computing, medicine and agriculture shows so little imagination in searching for secure ways to separate from the Palestinians in the West Bank…”

Of course to accuse Israel of showing insufficient endeavor in searching for ways to “separate” from the Palestinians is both infuriating, and disingenuous. Indeed, Israel has gone to incredible—even recklessly irresponsible —lengths to try and foist self-governance on the Palestinians—whether in terms of negotiated sovereignty under the 1993-5 “imaginative” Oslo Agreements or in terms of the unimaginably asinine unilateral abandonment of Gaza in the 2005 Disengagement, where even Jewish graves were unearthed to accommodate “separation”.

As it turns out, the real problem is not achieving “separation”—as the Gaza episode clearly shows. The real problem is to ensure that the post-separation realities will not be those that arose following the separation in Gaza—i.e. that Israel will not face a hostile mega-Gaza on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv, overlooking Ben Gurion Airport and abutting the trans-Israel highway.

Blatant Bibi-phobic bile

But oblivious to all this—to past precedents, present realities and future probabilities— for Friedman, the real culprits are easily identifiable: Netanyahu and Trump!

Clearly willing to stand up for his so called “liberal” principles down to the last Israeli, Friedman pontificates: “Israel has never been stronger than it is today. Hamas has never been weaker. If there were ever a time for Israel to take a few calculated risks to try to nurture a different pathway with Palestinians in the West Bank, it’s now”.

Leaving the reader to puzzle over what on earth a weak Hamas in Gaza has to do with taking huge risks in Judea-Samaria, Friedman rails on with puerile pique: “Unfortunately, its [Israel’s] prime minister is too cowardly, and America is too slavishly supportive, for that to happen”.

 

While I have many criticisms of Netanyahu, it is patently absurd to accuse him of being cowardly, unless Friedman is suggesting that to be “courageous” Netanyahu must bow to enemy demands; unless to be “courageous” is to concede to pressures to expose Israeli citizens to unacceptable risks…

And as for the overly “slavish support” of America, Friedman seems to have forgotten that for eight years, the White House was occupied by a president who was anything but “slavishly supportive” of Israel—and yet nary a sign of separation appeared on the horizon… I wonder why!

Clearly then, drivel is drivel, even when it appears in the purported paper of record—leaving one to wonder how this stuff gets published!

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

May 24, 2018 | 19 Comments » | 1,624 views

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19 Comments / 19 Comments

  1. THOMAS FREEDMAN IS MISTER EQUIVALENCE

    I followed up one of Martin’s links to here

    “It may be that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are incapable of surprising anyone anymore, in which case the logic on the ground will prevail: Israel will gradually absorb the whole West Bank, so, together with Israel proper, a Jewish minority will be ruling over an Arab majority. Israel’s enemies will refer to it as “the Jewish apartheid state.” America, Israel’s only true friend, will find itself having to defend an Israel whose policies it does not believe in and whose leaders it does not respect — and the tensions between the U.S. and Israel displayed in Washington last week will seem quaint by comparison.”

    It is quite interesting that he says that America is Israel’s only friend. But how about inverting that.

    Israel is the only true friend that America has because Israel is a liberationist state based on a liberationist philosophy, that tends to line up with the principles that made the Great American Revolution, and after all in the Great English Revolution I believe that Cromwell saw that and lined up with the Jews.

    I have said from the beginning that the Democrats are not Fascist but are Fascist becoming, which is an untidy formulation. Things are in transition and the Democrats are trying to close down Infowars on the basis of some positions Jones took on Sandy Hook. That is their fascism becoming. Jones has a right to say what he wants about any dammed thing under the sun. Friedman comes out of that Fascism in the making.

  2. @ Felix Quigley:

    Much of what you say, Felix is very true, especially about Cromwell (don’t forget the Irish benediction (“The Curse Of Cromwell Be Upon Ye”), although his liking for the Jews wasn’t able to translate into officially allowing them back into England, being voted down by the other Protectors. They had to do it surreptitiously, a trader here, a trader there, a warehouse here and there, a silent, secret family sneaking in, and gradually over the many years the English Jewish Community built itself up again to what it is today. They were NEVER officially invited back into the country……..

    As for Martin’s article, far, far too long to pick out a few parts to comment on..it has style, textual accuracy, and excellent prose neatly laid out contiguously. why do you not double it and publish it as a book…?

    My suggestion is to just accept that Freedman’s voyage into Fantasy-Land was concocted in a room completely filled with clouds of marijuana smoke. His head must have been spinning…LITERALLY ….because he even got himself turned around from due West to East, when pouring pathos in the most pitiable terms, (like syrup on pancakes) on the poor barbarians just wanting to “come home” to their “ancestral lands”……

    FREEDMAN…..TOMMY….!! …!!!…… The “Ancestral Lands” of the Gazans (mud huts with no windows or doors, already occupied by their old friend “trachoma”) are in EGYPT…. EGYPT… That’s where they mostly come from, they even acknowledge it themselves. I, you, Martin, and many others have seen accounts where (one of) their “machers” has stated unequivocally several times that he personally knows in Gaza at least

    “30 unrelated families whose family name is Al-Misri”…

    “Game, Set and Match”…..

  3. Tom Friedman is a fraud. He writes because he gets paid to write. Facts sometimes are correct but many many times not. He is self absorbed and basically full of shit. He makes sure he stays left of center because otherwise he would no longer get paid at the NY Times.

  4. Tom Friedman led a pro-pal solidarity group in college but became famous by claiming to have been pro-Israel once but disillusioned. He’s been exposed over and over as a fake news propagandist not a journalist. The fact that the NY Times continues to employ him says more about the Times than about any issue they cover. They’ve been doing this at least since Walter Duranty whitewashed the Stalin’s Soviet Union and the Moscow Trials in their pages in the 30s. He got a Pulitzer too, if I recall. “Progressive” fake news goes way back. From 2015:

    “…Such lies should not surprise anyone familiar with Friedman’s track record.
    He was a junior reporter on the New York Times staff when he was sent to cover the Israel-Lebanon war in 1982. He was catapulted to fame by a series of articles blaming Israel for the Lebanese Christians’ killings of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, which he then parlayed into a best-selling book, the aforementioned From Beirut to Jerusalem.’

    ‘The major theme of the book, and the many interviews he gave about his time in Lebanon, was disillusionment. He set out, he claimed, as a passionate supporter of Israel…But that was a lie.
    Friedman did not become a critic of Israel in 1982. He was strongly pro-Palestinian at least eight years earlier, as a leader of a Brandeis University student organization called the “Middle East Peace Group…”http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17442

  5. Moreover, if Friedman was pro-Palestinian 8 years before 1982, that puts him in 1974, the year Arafat issued his infamous 10 point plan of phases, article 2 and 3 of which declared, “2. The Palestine Liberation Organization will employ all means, and first and foremost armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian territory and to establish the independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated. This will require further changes being effected in the balance of power in favor of our people and their struggle.

    3. The Liberation Organization will struggle against any proposal for a Palestinian entity the price of which is recognition, peace, secure frontiers, renunciation of national rights, and the deprival of our people of their right to return and their right to self-determination on the soil of their homeland.” http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ten-point-plan-of-the-plo-june-1974

    So, he was a left-wing terrorist sympathizer calling for genocide against Israel long before the two state solution and long before liberals got on the pro-pal bandwagon.

    The man is an ultra-left anti-semitic nutjob like Vanessa Redgrave! He should be fired and blacklisted. At a minimum, it should just be assumed that anything he writes is a lie. No point in even debating this creature. He just needs to be exposed for the pro-Hamas terrorist sympathizer and traitor that he is wherever he goes.

  6. Signs should read, “Tom Friedman or Tokyo Rose”? He should be protested and shouted down just like the left does. Two can play that game.

  7. @ Edgar G.:
    Why do you think I was attempting to contradict or dispute anything your wrote? Did not address your commentary.

    I was simply spelling out my diastase for Tom Friedman.

  8. @ Bear Klein:

    I didn’t think so. Not at all. My comment was merely my thought out-aloud that it seems a bit non-productive for several people posting on the same article to be saying more or less the same things with no reference to one another. Just my opinion.

    So unless I have something original or extra to say, I always respond to a point that someone else has made and then develop it further if called for. Just my idiosyncracy.

  9. @ Bear Klein:

    The sad thing about it is that probably, on this site alone, thousands of people have already read his so-called article, yet only a handful felt involved enough to comment.

  10. Friedman’s tactic dates back to the Garden of Eden when Satan deceived Eve. Start out with some truth and then spin the topic to slip in the lies.

    The MSM are hardly doing it this way any more, they generally just get straight to the lies and filter out the Truth altogether. That’s simply Fake News. Friedman’s articles are sneaked in because he writes quite well and sounds reasonable, people swallow his garbage. Like Obama’s speeches, very well spoken but elaborate lies more often than not.

  11. The last War, Jim Fletcher, cheap on kindle, 4.46 euros.

    The fragment on google alerted me to this book…They (The Arabs) saw the new environment which Jewish nationalism created …page 161. Links in to “From Time Immemorial”.

    In every corner of the earth Islam shows itself to be parasitic. The Muslims wait and pounce.

  12. As for Bibi, his Tahrir lesson is obvious: Sir, you are well on your way to becoming the Hosni Mubarak of the peace process. The time to make big decisions in life is when you have all the leverage on your side. For 30 years, Mubarak had all the leverage on his side to gradually move Egypt toward democracy — and he never used it. Then, when Mubarak’s people rose up, he tried to do it all in six days. But it was too late. No one believed him. So his tenure ended in ruin.

    Israel today still has enormous leverage. It is vastly superior militarily and economically to the Palestinians, and it has the U.S. on its side. If Netanyahu actually put a credible, specific two-state peace map on the table — not just the same old vague promises about “painful compromises” — he could get the Americans and Europeans to toss in anything Israel wanted, including the newest weapons, NATO membership, maybe even European Union membership. It could be a security windfall for Israel. Does Bibi have any surprise in him or do the Palestinians have him right: a big faker, hiding a nationalist-religious agenda under a cloak of security?
    https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/opinion/25friedman.html

    This is a political line being displayed here by Friedman which is also the line of many forces in politics, from Bill Clinton in his support for Izetbegovic, to Hillary Clinton in her glorying at the murder of Gadhafi, and very much to Mubarak. These are all very interesting cases.

    To explain this we need to include many factors. But one of them is well showed here in what Friedman writes. Friedman leaves out the massive force of Islam that was against him. There WERE massive forces of Islam against Mubarak in all of his years in power. He could not be a Napoleon. He showed his weakness. he maneuvered. But Friedman makes little of the force against him which was Islam.

    These things are nearly mysterious. Bush and Blair made fatal mistakes in the iraq War. Then they recalculated and embraced Gadhafi. Then the mysterious happened again, the EU with the British PM spouting hard nonsense went to war, starting with the no fly zone which China and Russia went along with. They know they were double crossed. The result is what Alex Jones mysteriously calls “Globalism” as mysterious a word as I have ever heard. (Jones is out of the “Knights of Malta”)

    Daniel Pipes writes that the Alawites were using a method of deceiving of the Jihad, which is a bit awkward to say, perhaps “deceivers of the Jihad”. Gerald Honigman has written many articles about how minorities, like the Berbers, had to try to deceive the Jihad also. the Kurds too.

    In the article last week I tried to show that Israel needs to make a strategic change, which is as “the light to the nations” to become the leaders in the fight against Jihad.

    But in his hammering of Mubarak note that Friedman was preparing the ground for Morsi and The Muslim Briotherhood.

    But I have also seen it written that the Egyptians are not ethnically Arabs, their origins like the Berbers go far back to another ethnic. Just like the Irish are not simply Christian. They go back to the Celts. Even that is not totally true the Irish go back to the people who preceded the Celts. Who left their stone monuments which the Celts found mystifying and then created they the Celts their own myths around these things they saw in the landscape.

    So that explains the deep opposition that emerged out of the soul of Egypt to Morsi and The Muslim Brotherhood, resulting in the very tense “discussion” between Morsi and El Sisi.

    A common theme in all of these, from Redgrave and Healy, to Friedman, is that they do not understand the lethal power of the Jihad. The Jihad conquered the Visigoth civilization in Spain in a cool 10 years.

    By the way that is what Israel has faced day after day and is facing day after day.

  13. It is questionable that Healy, Redgrave, Friedman from the Establishment, the present wsws.org, the SWP in Ireland, Sinn Fein, the present Irish Government, that they underestimate the Jihad. They do not understand these things because they have superimposed onto study something else, which is dogma. Why they do this is somewhat of a mystery or at the very least is very difficult to pin down. Rather than study reality, or try to study reality, they impose their own dogma. This can have huge practical effects. The Israeli leaders have allowed the numbers of Arabs to sky rocket right up. This is what is happening big time in Europe today. The Irish are well on the way to becoming a minority in their own country, almost unnoticed. This is what is facing all European and American countries. Yet the link with what has happened to Israel is not drawn and you find even forces like Infowars engaged in Antisemitism in recent weeks over Gaza. Gil White was correct in what he said to Sherman about six months ago. The big issue today is how to confront the international Jihad and it must be done not nationally but internationally, or more precisely BOTH together, nationally and internationally.

  14. @ Russell:
    The most effective lies have to have a little bit of verifiable truth sprinkled in now and then so people will swallow the rest without thinking. Tom Friedman and especially Noam Chomsky are examples of pseudo-scholars whose words are considered infallible by the anti-Israel anti-America Left. Somebody just posted some nonsense by Chomsky on Facebook. Serious historians need to spend some serious effort debunking this guy if any progress is going to be made, hasbara-wise. I believe that what brought the Crown Heights Riots and the anti-semitic hysteria in the Black Community to a halt in the 90s was some scholarly work that was done debunking Farakhan’s lies which was then prominently displayed in CUNY schools.

    The Forward just had to eat crow because their allegations that Professor Jordan Peterson was followed by Nazis were shown to be complete fabrication. But, the New York Times seems to wear teflon armor. No matter now much CAMERA exposes them, liberals don’t even hear about it or if the do, they don’t believe it.

  15. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    “Will still stink as far as I am concerned, if it “don’t smell right”… Talking about roses, I once, in ancient times, had a garden with, eventually 56 rose bushes, gathered over a period of about 7-8 years; all different, and every one had a most beautiful scent. People walking by would stop, and inhale (not what you’re thinking-that didn’t come on the scene until many years later.) sometimes for several minutes. One morning I came out and saw that 2 of my rosebushes had been dug up…stolen.

    I never cared for any flower which had no scent, so believe me when I say that “Tokyo Rose” sounded sweet, she must also have been doused with “attar of roses” in my imagination anyway. …. That was good enough for me.

    I thoroughly agree with you comment below/above, about Chomsky et al. They must have been laughed at by other kids in their schools (Jewish of course) which gave them an ‘anti-Jew” complex which has lasted a lifetime. The tzorus is that it affects others who, although they may never have even met a Jew, are affected and influenced by these dogs.

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