To read New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is to live in another universe. While he once had some basic understanding of the Middle East, that seems to be a long time ago.
Friedman’s view – and that of almost every journalist for The Times – is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a right wing lunatic, while his counterparts around the Arab world including acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II are simply weak and incompetent. The left wing media will have you believe that the Arab people are peace-loving people who are frustrated with their economy, while Israeli public are racists. The media tells this narrative over-and-again in various ways.
But the reality is much more shocking for both pro-Zionists and pro-Arabs and those who seek an enduring peace in the region.
The Arab leaders are indeed very weak. They hold onto whatever power they have by criticizing Jews and Israel to gain public support. The Arab masses are broadly antisemitic and celebrate any insult and setback of the Jews and their leaders are happy to supply the red meat.
Netanyahu knows all of this. He therefore allows his Arab counterparts to rant and rave while saying and doing nothing, to keep a lid on the Arab masses and stability in leadership. He knows that if the Arab leaders appear to be on overly positive terms with the Jewish State, the Arab street will turn on their leaders and remove them from power.
So when the Jordanian king claims rights over the Christian sites in Jerusalem even though he has none, Netanyahu stays silent. In 2010, when Jordan denounced the rebuilding and reopening of the Hurva Synagogue which it had destroyed in 1949, Netanyahu decided to skip the re-dedication. When Abdullah cries that the biggest crisis in the Middle East is the lack of a Palestinian State while millions of Syrians, Iraqis and Yemenites are slaughtered by fellow Arabs, Netanyahu lets the venting at him proceed without comment.
The theater is because Abdullah needs Netanyahu to prop up his veneer of strength, and noting does that better than castigating the “little Satan” on the world stage for everyone to see and hear. For his part, Netanyahu needs to keep the Arab masses from tearing the Jewish State apart and to keep Jordan as a stable buffer from the crazy Islamic radicals at home and beyond.
The dynamic is not different regarding the two major Palestinian political parties, the terrorist group Hamas and the politely antisemitic Fatah.
Hamas has a stated goal of seeking the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. Yet Netanyahu has not assassinated the entirety of its leadership even though he could do so easily. Instead, he allows hundreds of millions of dollars to flow through into Gaza from Qatar to give Hamas a little breathing room with its populace. By controlling the spigot of cash, Netanyahu exerts additional leverage over Hamas.
In exchange, Hamas keeps the rocket attacks to a minimum over the Israeli election season. Fatah occasionally keeps its incitement in check and coordinates security with the Israeli police. Netanyahu goes on to victory and the Palestinian parties get some ammo to trade with Netanyahu down the road.
Right wing Zionists would be upset to learn that Netanyahu is softer than he appears and right wing Arabs would be appalled how their leaders actively consort with their enemy even as the Arab leadership gives public lip service to the masses. For its inept part, the media cannot cover the political machinations anywhere close to as well as they write about every nuance of The Game of Thrones. Their liberal goal is to undermine American support for Israel, not to tell the news.
The leader of the Jewish State has learned how to survive in the turbulent Middle East, playing politics to its fullest both inside and outside of Israel. He leaves behind a media scratching their heads only able to call out “victor” as fact and “right-wing radical” as uninformed biased opinion.
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