He should learn some math.
Thomas Friedman is an acclaimed columnist for the New York Times. He won three Pulitzer Prizes for his writing on the Hama, Syria massacre in 1982, the First Palestinian Intifada against Israel, and for his writings about terrorism after 9/11.
One would think he had a pretty good command of the facts about the players in the Middle East. However, a review of Friedman’s op-ed pieces since the Gaza War against Israel in 2014 would reveal disturbing lies.
Author and journalist Thomas Friedman
On May 25, 2016, Friedman wrote an article called “Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine.” The article denounced the addition of Yisrael Beytenu into the ruling coalition government headed by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Friedman wrote that Israel had become “controlled by Jewish extremists.”
Lie 1, “controlled by Jewish extremists.” Israel is a thriving democracy with liberal values in the heart of the volatile, illiberal Middle East ruled by monarchs, military strongmen and dictators. In the 2015 Israeli election, the Likud Party won the most seats in the Israeli parliament (30) and formed a coalition government. That coalition had a slim majority with only 61 of the 120 total seats, making it vulnerable to any single party’s whims to take down the government. To relieve such pressure and instability, Netanyahu sought to add to the coalition, first negotiating with the opposition party, Zionist Union (24 seats), before settling on the nationalist party, Yisrael Beytenu (6 seats).
Yisrael Beytenu, the most right-wing of the parties in the coalition, does not “control” the government. It was added to an existing ruling coalition to provide a broader base of stability.
Lie 2, “controlled by Jewish extremists.” The term “Jewish extremists” is used often by Friedman (as it is at the United Nations). The latter uses the term freely, even as it denounces using the term “extremism” for any other religion.
As detailed in “Palestinian Authority Perfects Hypocrisy,” the political party Yisrael Beytenu, is indeed a nationalistic party, but it is a far cry from Hamas (which Friedman labeled as a group with “an apocalyptic jihadist agenda” in his August 6, 2014 op-ed). It is also much less radical that the Palestinian Authority which Freidman called “moderate” in the same piece. That “moderate” Palestinian Authority calls for all Jews to be banned from the West Bank. It prohibits Jews from stepping foot on college campuses. It calls for the death penalty for any Arab that sells land to Jews.
That’s moderate according to Friedman?
Maybe the PA is moderate relative to Hamas, but Yisrael Beytenu is certainly more moderate than the PA.
Lie 3, “Netanyahu’s steady elimination of any possibility that Israel will separate itself from the Palestinians in the West Bank.” Friedman never mentions that it was Netanyahu that pulled Israel out of half of the Holy Basin of Jerusalem-Bethlehem in 1996 during his first premiership. Friedman also never mentions the various peace talks Netanyahu has engaged in and his freeze on settlements.
Friedman prefers to state that Israel wants to forever “occupy” Palestinian Arabs, as he wrote in February 10, 2016 “Israel [is] determined to permanently occupy all of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live.” Why deliberately not mention Israel’s unilateral move out of Gaza in 2005? Because in exchange for that action, Israel was rewarded with over 10,000 rockets from Gaza in to Israel?
Why not mention the Separation Barrier, built by Israel during the Second “Intifada.” If Israel was intent on keeping all of Judea and Samaria, why did it build a separation wall?
Lie 4, Israel as a country is nationalistic and racist, while the Palestinians are moderate and seeking peace. Friedman does not state this outright, but his various articles repeatedly describe a rightward shift in Israel and refers to any Palestinian Arab that is not Hamas, as a moderate.
At the end of Hamas’s 2014 War from Gaza, Friedman wrote “Either Arab and Israeli moderates collaborate and fight together, or the zealots really are going to take over this neighborhood.” Where are these moderates on each side?
Israelis voted in 2015, and gave its most right-wing party 5% of the seats in parliament. It gave the extreme anti-nationalist Arab Joint List 13 seats, or over 11% of the parliament. That’s twice as many people that wanted to see the country lose its Jewish character, rather than strengthen it. It also meant that 84% of the country did NOT vote on extreme nationalistic lines. Compare that to the millions in the United States voting in 2016 for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Americans have voted on the polar extremes much more than Israel, even while Israel faces existential threats from Iran, and has ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas at its borders.
On the Palestinians side, the Arabs last voted in 2006, and gave the virulent anti-Semitic jihadist terrorist group Hamas 58% of the seats in parliament. The Palestinians have not been able to hold any elections since that time.
Yet Thomas Friedman continues to write that it is Israel that is controlled by extremists, while the Palestinians are governed by a moderate government.
The leader of that moderate government, acting-President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, is simply inept, not extreme, as Friedman wrote “The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only effective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions, not U.N. resolutions.”
For Friedman, Abbas doesn’t do anything extreme. He is a moderate, but simply a poor administrator.
As to the Palestinian people, a poll published by the Anti Defamation League in April 2014 found that almost every single Palestinian Arab- 93% – harbor anti-Semitic views. Friedman never wrote about that poll’s findings.
When people are led to believe that the Palestinians are moderate and are led by a moderate leader, and the only Arab extremists are a few lunatics on the fringe (Hamas), it becomes easy to blame Israel for the stalemate in peace negotiations.
So Friedman leaves his readers with the following summations in his editorials:
“Israel is a really powerful country. It’s not a disarmed Costa Rica. No one expects it to give up everything. But fewer and fewer can understand why it puts so much energy into explaining why it can’t do anything, why the Palestinians are irredeemably awful and why nothing Israel could do would affect their behavior. I truly worry that Israel is slowly committing suicide, with all the best arguments.”
October 28, 2015
“This is not your grandfather’s Israel anymore”
February 10, 2016
“For those of us who care about Israel’s future, this is a dark hour.”
May 25, 2016
The winner of the Pulitzer Prize continues to paint Israel as the extremists “slowly committing suicide.” Perhaps those that care about the country should react strongly and force it to take corrective actions (sound like a J Street call out to US President Obama to side against Israel at the United Nations Security Council?) This is the clarion call for liberals: we condemn Israel because we care, not because we hate it.
There is certainly no call to moderate the “moderate” Palestinians, as pretending they are moderate is core to the belief system of pinning the responsibilities on Israel. It also allows the progressives to align themselves with these moderate, peace-seeking people.
Such is the liberal war against Israel.
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