There are many things that one could accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being or doing. And of all things, the New York Times’ Tom (Breira) Friedman chose to describe him as being worse than an Arab election-rigging dictator. That really is a weird hit, reflecting on the character of Mr. Friedman as being perversely weird.
He did so in his latest op-ed column, Power With Purpose, while extending support to Ami Ayalon's "unilateral disengagement" plan, what has now been modified and currently termed - “coordinated” and “constructive” unilateralism – but still unworkable and not providing an adequate counter to the Arab opposition to Zionism and the state of Israel (as for Ayalon’s 2008 opinion, see here). The NYT probably thinks highly of Ayalon, after providing him a platform back on April 24. And as David Gerstman pointed out, all of this hinges on Israel accepting the Arab narrative of they being victims of Israel’s aggression – pre- and post-1967 – in that “the problem is that the onus for peacemaking falls strictly on Israel.” In any case, despite Friedman nasty calumny, Netanyahu really does represent the majority of the electorate of Israel.
Moreover, as David continues, while Palestinians feel humiliation, as Friedman supposes, “ is it really the ‘most powerful human emotion’? And he continues, "Would it not be hate or love?...Put another way, is the "humiliation" that Friedman cites the result of Israeli policies or of Israel's existence?”
But to return to Friedman’s desire to humiliate Netanyahu, he writes:
He avoided early elections by adding a new centrist coalition partner to his right-wing cabinet, giving him control of 96 of the 120 seats in Parliament. There are Arab dictators who didn’t have majorities that big after rigged elections.
And he he adds:
...The U.S. election silences any criticism coming from Washington about Israeli settlements. The Israeli peace camp is dead, and the Arab awakening has most Arab states enfeebled or preoccupied. So Israel gets to build settlements, while the Arabs, Americans, Europeans and Palestinians fund and sustain a lot of the occupation. No wonder then that for most Israelis, the West Bank could be East Timor. “We see the writing on the wall, but we don’t care,” says the columnist Nahum Barnea of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, referring to the fact that Arabs could soon outnumber Jews in areas under Israeli control.
As for “silencing”, we all doubt that. As for the Israeli peace camp being “dead”, well, I admit that I would feel too unhappy with that appraisal but with all the US liberal camp money inflowing – and not going to “settlements” - and the NYT’s help, I doubt that as well. And to quote Barnea, well that is the proverbial Devil and the Bible.
I left a comment there [it's now up] which I’ll rephrase:
Friedman writes in agreement with Ayalon’s claim that "Arabs could soon outnumber Jews in areas under Israeli control" in Judea & Samaria (or does he include the state of Israel as well?). In any case, that claim is unproven and all recent demographic data, including population registries, birth rate, fertility rates, et al. all indicate a solid Jewish majority while Arab stats fall.
As for the "East Timor" comparison, well, why not talk about "East Jordan", i.e., the part of the original Mandate which was to become part of the Jewish national home by decision of international law but was removed? Why not rejoin the geographical unit and redivide more equitably? Or have the Hashemite Kingdom serve as the political expression agent for Arabs who, living in Israel, cannot identify with the state's purposes as the Jewish national home?
Another item about that nasty East Timor comparison that Friedman knows well: unlike Indonesia, Israel did not invade an existing political entity in 1967 one bright morning. It is the Arabs who term themselves "Palestinians", in their 'inventivity model of nationalism', who rejected all diplomatic efforts at compromise since 1920, who have exclusively used terror and violence, who established first the fedyeen and later the Farah to "liberate" Israel.
But Friedman does understand something:
At the same time, Bibi is prime minister for a reason. He was elected because many Israelis lost faith in the peace process and see chaos all around them.
It's just that Friedman doesn't like democracy besides misunderstanding the Middle East, misrepresenting the issues, providing less-than-factual data and promoting his youthful Breira philosophy.
To finish off, he asks:
Does Bibi have the will?
Where there's a way, Friedman will use it against Israel, having no other way and very little Jewish will.
P.S. I left a second comment
there at the NYTimes:
Oh, and in that comparison between Bibi being worse than Arab dictators who rig elections, TF is purposefully fomenting hatred and deprecation. No wonder we have assaults on Israel's democratic character (& I am thinking of the new Beinartism) if this is the type of rational thinking the NYTimes displays.
Click here to return to Blog home page