Thomas Friedman Thinks Palestinians are Crazy in the Margins, While Israel is Crazy in the Mainstream

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.

Thomas Friedman
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 wroteEither 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.


Related First.One.Through articles:

What do you Recognize in the Palestinians?

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

Abbas Knows Racism

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Palestinians aren’t “Resorting to Violence”; They are Murdering and Waging War

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The Only Religious Extremists for the United Nations are “Jewish Extremists”

On March 21, 2016, Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid for the occupied Palestinian territory (yes, that’s an actual title), condemned an arson attack in Judea and Samaria/ East of the Green Line (EGL)/ the “West Bank” in which no one was injured. Without any evidence, he called out the Jews:

“I strongly condemn today’s arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists on the home of Palestinian Ibrahim Dawabsheh in the occupied West Bank village of Duma. Mr. Dawabsheh and his wife were at home during the attack and sustained light injuries as a result of smoke inhalation. I wish them both a full and speedy recovery.”

As it turns out, the blaze was set by Palestinian Arabs who tried to frame Israelis. The person who fabricated the story is now in police custody.  Oops.

The UN does not waste a moment in vilifying Jews, even when there’s no supporting evidence. Incidents and allegations are opportunities to validate their opinion that all of the problems in the region stem from Jews living in homes that they purchased.

Meanwhile, the United Nations never calls out Muslim terrorists.

When Muslim terrorists killed five members of the Fogel family while they slept in their home, the UN condemned the attack, but never referred to the attackers as “Muslims” or “Palestinian Arabs.”  It never even called the attack “terrorism.” However, when an arson attack killed three Palestinian Arabs a few miles away, the UN called the attack “terrorism” three times and placed blame on “Jewish extremists.”  That phrase seems to have a certain ring at the UN.

The United Nations singularly uses the term “extremists” when it comes to Jews.

On March 17, just four days before the UN jumped to conclusions and blamed “Jewish extremists” for a Palestinian Arab crime, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the UN Human Rights Council. He referred to his new “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism,” which clearly spoke of violent extremism generically, and not tied to any religion in particular. In fact, the UN specifically tried to distance religion from the term “extremism.”

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore said at the event that “selective application of the term “violent extremism” only to Muslim believers reinforces intolerance and discrimination.”

Kate Gilmore
Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
(photo: UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre)

She would do well to look at the UN’s record, which only uses the term “extremism” in conjunction with one religion in the world: when it discusses Israeli Jews. She will then better understand the embedded “intolerance and discrimination” that Israeli Jews feel from the UN.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The United Nation’s Ban Ki Moon is Unqualified to Discuss the Question of Palestine

The Hollowness of the United Nations’ “All”

UN Media Centre Ignores Murdered Israelis

The UN Can’t Support Israel’s Fight on Terrorism since it Considers Israel the Terrorists

UN Press Corps Expunges Israel

UN Concern is only for Violence in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” not Israel

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“Extremist” or “Courageous”

Popularity versus Position, Pervasiveness and Power

The word “extremist” appears like a loaded word. That partially stems from the fact that it conveys two different meanings. The first is that it describes a person who has an extreme position. The second is that it portrays a person at the edges of society.

A person who holds a position at the far fringe of society is pretty straightforward. If someone believes that the moon is purple and 99.9% of the rest of society does not, that person could be called an extremist. The label could be viewed as appropriate simply because the opinion is not popularly held.

The pervasiveness of a position, as opposed to its popularity, is a more subjective criterion. Someone believing that the moon is purple is one thing. However, painting their entire house purple, dying their hair purple and changing their name to Professor Purple Plum, would be viewed as “eccentric” and “obsessive” at a minimum, and possibly even “extreme”.

The “extremist” label sticks best when the person’s actions impact other people. For example, an individual may believe that life starts at conception, but if that is simply a personally held viewpoint, most people would not describe that person as an extremist. However, if a person used that position to justify destroying abortion clinics and harming the people inside, the violent actions would lead people to use the “extremist” label.

Violent extremists are typically painted in two camps: “right-wing” extremists use power to protect religion and capitalism; “left-wing” extremists use violence to flatten social hierarchies, and are often viewed as anti-religion and anti-capitalism.

Religion: Popularity and Power

Popularity is a matter of simple statistics. As an example, if one looks at the distribution of world religions, one can see a few widely held beliefs and some unpopular belief systems:

  • Christians: 31.5%
  • Muslims: 23.2%
  • Unaffiliated: 16.3%
  • Hindus 15.0%
  • Buddhists 7.1%
  • Folk Religionists 5.9%
  • Jews 0.2%

By the measure of popularity, all Jews could be viewed as “extremists” because they have a belief system that is not held by 99% of the world. However, as Jews do not enforce their belief system on others, the “extremist” label would largely be considered inappropriate. Conversely, Islam is a very popular religion, but the various Muslim groups that seek to enforce sharia law and forced conversion of people are often called “extremists”, especially if people that refuse to succumb to their religious edicts are killed. Popularity is not considered the gauge; it is violent actions and/or actions that harm others that define extremists.

 Arab “Residents” and Israeli “Settlers”

Using such distinction between popularity and power, review how mainstream media uses the extreme label in regard to Israel.

On October 23, 2014, the New York Times reported on the story of an Arab that rammed his car into a crowd of Jews killing two people including an infant. Ignoring the Times’ generally terrible coverage overall, the nature of inverted reality and anti-Israel bias was typified in a particular paragraph in the story, where the non-aggressive party was labeled an extremist:

Mr. Shaloudy was a resident of Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood
in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed,
a step that has not been recognized internationally. An influx of right-wing Jewish settlers who have acquired property in the area in recent years have made
the neighborhood a flash point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Mr. Shaloudy, the Arab man who killed two people, is described as a “resident of Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood”. This description made him sound like a peaceful neighbor living among his people. He is tied to the majority and therefore, by implication, not an extremist if one were to use the popularity measure.

The paragraph continued that the neighborhood is in “territory that Israel captured…that has not been recognized internationally… right wing settlers…acquired property in the area.” The New York Times painted the Jews as “right wing” extremists. On what basis? That they moved into a “predominantly Palestinian neighborhood”? That they moved into houses that “has not been recognized internationally” to be part of Israel? That just made those Jews a minority in the neighborhood, and Israel’s claim on the territory a minority-held position. However, the actions taken by this group were peaceful: they purchased apartments; and moved into them legally. They harmed no one. As such, they took no actions that warrant being called “right wing”.

However, the Arab “residents” that the Times described, sought to kill Arabs that sell homes to any Jews, in accordance with Palestinian law. This particular Arab “resident” murdered innocent Israelis.  Yet, for some reason, these Palestinians that have laws calling for murdering Jews, who do ultimately commit murder, are not labeled extremists. This is both a perversion and inversion of reality where violent actions are considered the appropriate norm and unpopular positions are considered extreme.

A few paragraphs down, the Times called Israelis extremists again:

“Many of the recent clashes have centered on visits to the compound
by hard-right Israelis who have been increasingly demanding the right to pray there.
The mosque is on the Temple Mount, revered by Jews as the location
of ancient Jewish temples and the holiest site in Judaism.”

The juxtaposition of the sentences was unfair- the Jews had no interest of praying in the mosque, but were seeking to pray nearby on the holiest spot for Judaism. Were these “hard-right Israelis” seeking to hurt anyone? Were they seeking to destroy a mosque or convert anyone? Not at all. So how can their action be considered extreme?


It is true that Jews are a minority in the world. It is true that Israel is surrounded by dozens of Arab and Muslims states that either refuse to recognize Israel or call for its outright destruction. But simply being unpopular doesn’t make Jews or Israel “extreme”.

Jews seeking to buy and live in apartments like anyone else is neither illegal nor extreme. Jews seeking to pray at their holy sites is not extreme. It is exactly the opposite: those people that seek to murder Jews for doing basic activities should be labeled “extremists”. Pinning terminology that make the Jews look like unpopular invaders and therefore extreme, ignores history, decency and honesty.

Shame on the New York Times.  If these were blacks in the 1960s moving into predominantly white neighborhoods in the US, the Times would more likely call these people “courageous”.

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Sources:

World religions: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/04/04/global-religious-diversity/

NY Times “right wing settlers” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/world/middleeast/2-israeli-soldiers-wounded-near-egypt.html?_r=0

First One Through articles on Silwan:

False facts on Jews in Silwan

Obama supporting Jew-free state

UN echoing Palestinian narrative