Columnist's application of globalization theory to Arab-Israeli conflict is delusional.
by Giulio Meotti
Thomas Friedman is one of journalism's greatest celebrities, the single most famous US interpreter of the Middle East and the liberal columnist who has the most influence on the way Americans understand Israel. His 1989 book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” has been a best-seller, as was “The world is flat.”
Friedman also plays a major role in shaping Obama’s rhetoric about Israel’s return to the pre-1967 armistice line, which the late Abba Eban dubbed the “Auschwitz borders.”
For the first time now, the four digits (1967) have become formal American policy. It was also a Friedman victory. It was he, after all, who invented the so-called “Saudi plan for peace in the Middle East.” And it was Friedman who wrote that the White House is “disgusted” with Israeli interlocutors.
In Manhattan, Friedman is an elegant and wealthy Jewish intellectual. But what are the consequences of his ideas for Israel, the only UN member surrounded by neighbors willing to kill themselves to destroy the Jews, and the nation globally elected to be an emblem of evil?
Friedman has created a myth of personal disillusionment with Israel that is designed to lend credibility to his indictment against the Jewish State. His method is simple and delusional: Applying the globalization theory to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Mutual respect, money, education, computers, Internet, hedonism and modernity are Friedman’s solutions to the nationalistic bloodbath. Economics trumps politics in his technocracy.
As a Jewish reporter in Beirut and Jerusalem, Friedman confessed, he was unable to remain objective because of the “tribal” nature of the conflict. He has described his personal biography as the story of “a Jew who was raised on . . . all the myths about Israel, who goes to Jerusalem in the 1980s and discovers that it isn’t the summer camp of his youth.”
The famous columnist has always been a militant of the Palestinian cause. By the time he graduated from Brandeis University, he was identifying with “Breira”, a pariah group within the American Jewish community. He belonged to the steering committee of a self-styled “Middle East Peace Group” that vigorously opposed the mounting storm of protest among American Jews over Yasser Arafat’s appearance before the United Nations in a time when the Palestinian leader proudly claimed Jewish lives.
In 1985, after the Shiite hijacking of a TWA airliner, Friedman attacked Israel for not releasing the 700 terrorists whose freedom the hijackers were demanding. Israel’s refusal, he claimed, “certainly contributed” to the hijacking.
Friedman has always defended Yasser Arafat and failed to draw attention to his evident connections to terrorism. Friedman then demonized Ariel Sharon, while praising Arab dictators such as Saudi Prince Abdullah. Friedman also “criticized” the Israeli settlers, an entire population group that loyally serves in the army, pays its taxes and defends the state, demonizing them in global columns.
According to the US columnist, Israeli settlers are a “cancer for the Jewish people” and those who “collaborate” in the building of settlements are “enemies of peace” and “enemies of America’s national interest,” no less. Friedman has compared Islamist fanatics who want to destroy Israel to the “lunatics of the Likud” and Arab dictators whose endorsement of suicide bombings threatens Islam to the “collaborators” whose support for a “colonial Israeli occupation” threatens coexistence.
Friedman has always been diligently undermining Israel’s claim to the moral high ground by placing victims of terrorism on the same plain as their barbaric perpetrators. “What Israeli settlers and Palestinian suicide bombers have in common is that they are each pushing for the maximum use of force against the other side,” he wrote after the killing of Kobi Mandell.
For Friedman, building a home on disputed territory is apparently the moral equivalent of stoning Jews to death. To equate the two, as Friedman always does, is to create moral mush. At age fourteen, Kobi was immobilized and stoned to death, his body hidden in a cave. The terrorists soaked their hands in the boy’s blood and smeared the walls of the cave with it.
Friedman also compared terrorist militias in Iraq, who butchered Americans and Iraqis alike, to the Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria. One of Friedman’s columns in 2004 was particularly shocking: “...Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he’s had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates.”
Friedman’s language resembled that of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. His incredible words, coming at a time when anti-Semitism is skyrocketing globally, were repulsive. From Friedman’s mansion in the Maryland’s woods the Middle East maybe looks really flat. But that’s not an excuse for pushing what can be called Zionicide.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -