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Thomas Friedman created a firestorm with his most recent NY Times article, “Newt, Mitt, Bibi, and Vladimir,” in which he intensifies his “friendly” assault on Israel.
Given the heightened concentration of poison in his already-toxic anti-Israel venom, it is necessary to contextualize Friedman’s latest attack on the Jewish state, to understand who Friedman is, the ideology he promotes, and how this shapes his views on, and actions towards, Israel.
Friedman is a self-professed “friend” to Israel only because Israel represents the ultimate litmus test of his “progressive” agenda. If only Israel could make peace with the Palestinians—should a glorious symphony be crafted out of Middle East chaos—then, to him, this would vindicate his far-Left ideology. If it can happen in Israel, then peace can be forged anywhere and everywhere. And this is Friedman’s goal, an objective which has come to define his being—the quest for trans-national, fully-integrated world peace, beginning with the “two state solution” in the Middle East, and then radiating outwards.
Given this perspective, it is not surprising that Friedman refers in his article to pseudo-dictator Vladimir Putin. He does so, ostensibly, to imply that Israel, led by Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is transforming into authoritarian Russia, its democracy being undermined by “right-wing” elements. However, I propose a different, perhaps even subconscious reason to evoke Putin. In reality, for Friedman, the struggle to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace constitutes a type of ideological “Cold War,” with Israel playing the part of the former USSR. If only stubborn Israel would “democratize” (i.e. make peace with the Palestinians), then his Cold War—the battle against global turmoil, inequality, poverty, death and destruction—would be won, leaving in its wake a grand utopian village.
What Friedman fails to recognize, though, is that the real Cold War ended a long time ago—and the world is still an imperfect place. Moreover, Friedman has it backwards: in fact, it is the Palestinians that represent the “USSR” in his twisted analogy. Israel wants peace, has stated so many times, and, more importantly, has taken “bold,” tangible steps to achieve peace (see comprehensive proposals tabled to the Palestinians in 2000 and 2008, as well as the Gaza withdrawal in 2005). More concretely, Israel has already made peace with two Arab nations—when there was a real peace to be made. The Palestinians, on the other hand, fundamentally reject the notion. Whether it is preaching “death to Jews” to children in official PA schools and media, or the recent reunification between alleged “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, his Fatah party, and Hamas, Palestinians across the board unequivocally call for Israel’s demise, and overtly work towards that goal—by refusing to recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy; by “de-Judaizing” Jerusalem by decimating archaeological sites while concurrently fabricating historical falsities to justify their claim to the holy city; by foregoing negotiations, and instead seeking a unilateral declaration of independence at the UN, etc.
Nevertheless, Friedman targets Israel uniquely, presumably since “the Jews should know better.” And this is where his elitism comes into play. According to Friedman, only Israel can make peace; the Palestinians, being “weak” non-entities cannot possibly be held accountable for their actions given Israel’s “supremacy.” Hence his obsession with Israeli policies and complete disregard for Palestinian belligerence.
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