Monday, November 12, 2012

Thumbs Down to Tom of the Times

From Tom Friedman's latest screed: (and the comments were quickly closed)

ISRAELI friends have been asking me whether a re-elected President Obama will take revenge on Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for the way he and Sheldon Adelson, his foolhardy financier, openly backed Mitt Romney. My answer to Israelis is this: You should be so lucky.

How, exactly, did Netanyahu "openly back" Romney?

You should be so lucky that the president feels he has the time, energy and political capital to spend wrestling with Bibi to forge a peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I don’t see it anytime soon. Obama has his marching orders from the American people: Focus on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not on Bethlehem, Palestine, and focus on getting us out of quagmires (Afghanistan) not into them (Syria). No, my Israeli friends, it’s much worse than you think: You’re home alone.

Finally.  Friedman openly displays callous indifference to Arabs getting murdered by their own people.

...The combination of America’s internal focus, the post-Arab awakening turmoil and the exhaustion of Palestinians means Israel can stay in the West Bank indefinitely at a very low short-term cost but at a very high long-term cost of losing its identity as a Jewish democracy...

To, I'll take that as I think the odds are in our favor.  All that democracy-in-danger hype is just that.  No more.

The other day, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority declared: “Palestine for me is the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital. This is Palestine. I am a refugee. I live in Ramallah. The West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. Everything else is Israel.”
This was a big signal, but Bibi scorned it...

Because he didn't mean it, Tom.  He's fooling you.

So my best advice to Israelis is: Focus on your own election — on Jan. 22 — not ours. I find it very sad that in a country with so much human talent, the Israeli center and left still can’t agree on a national figure who could run against Netanyahu and his thuggish partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — a man whose commitment to democracy is closer to Vladimir Putin’s than Thomas Jefferson’s. Don’t count on America to ride to the rescue. It has to start with you.
My president is busy.

Funny, from here, Obama seemed just a big thuggish sometimes in some ways.


I'm updating with material I picked up from David Gerstman:

Thomas Friedman used the occasion of President Obama's re-election to return to his favorite topic: bashing Israel, in his Sunday column My President is busy...[and] demonstrating his ignorance about suing Google, .
Since he has nothing substantive to criticize Israel for, he returns to the trope about the demographic threat. But the occupation has, for the most part, been over since late 1995. The only remaining need is to establish the boundaries of a Palestinian state. However now Fatah, due to Abbas's mismanagement, is too weak to make a deal and Hamas cannot be trusted to make one, what is Israel to do? Obama could insist on a deal, but it would never work. It is good not "unhealthy" that he ignore the Palestinian issue right now.
Seth Mandel wrote an excellent rejoinder to the Shavit argument that Friedman embraces. Frankly, I don't know if Shimon Peres would have been warmly received at UCLA during the 1990's. The problem isn't Israeli policy or politics, but the vicious hatred of Israel perpetuated in certain precincts during the past several decades. Friedman, with his bashing of Israel provides cover for this ugliness. (If his reference here to the "Israel lobby" is a sly reference to Congress, then he is part of the vast anti-Israel crowd.)
The most charitable explanation for Abbas's statement was that it was a public relations gambit to change Israeli public opinion. However, as Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out, Abbas's own campaign to define the right of return as "sacred" meant that there's little support among the Palestinian public for any sort of compromise. There is plenty of blame to assign to the Palestinians for the lack of a final agreement; one only criticizes Israel exclusively if one is willfully ignorant.



Mike Carmel said...

I've never been able to understand the often accepted term "Jewish democracy".
This term is meaningless.
You can have democracy and you can have Jewish but a democracy can't be subjected to an adjective which excludes a lot of its citizens. Democracy is something for everyone - it means that everyone has equal rights.
How then can it be only Jewish?
You can have a democratic country whose principal national character is Jewish, but not a Jewish democracy any more than you can have a Christian democracy or a Buddhist democracy.

YMedad said...

Read this; and this as well as this.

Mike Carmel said...

Thanks for the references but they seem to be focussed on the notion of attempting to explain the inexplicable and even inexcusable.
The proverb of "doing figure 8's in the air" springs to mind.
The historical facts are indeed facts but nation states change over time and in the 21st century you can't have a western democracy based on religion and/or culture stemming from that religion.
The national anthem issue is a case in point. HaTikva is a song not even appropriate for all Jews, but only for Ashkenazi Jews.
Iraqi and Yemenite Jews didn't have their eyes pointed to the East, to Zion.
Other citizens, such as myself, can't identify with it at all.
By the way, I even served in the IDF, as did my children, but they are Jewish and I am not.
By all means have a national Jewish character but don't call it a Jewish democracy, that's all, because the linking of the two terms is as meaningless as having a secular theocracy.