Thomas FriedmanI remember when I read From Beirut to Jerusalem many years ago. I thought Thomas Friedman was a naive, star-struck, American who didn’t quite get the Mid-East. I distinctly recall thinking that he was glorifying Arafat, with his rebellious facade and challenging lifestyle (he was moving around A LOT because he thought the Israelis were after him). At the same time, Friedman was going after Sharon with everything he had in his author’s arsenal. While I strongly disagreed with the Lebanon War and its evolution, I couldn’t fathom why Friedman would need to write a book where values are so twisted that the terrorist seems to receive a hagiography while an Israeli general was depicted as, well, as somebody almost as bad as a terrorist or perhaps a Nazi.

Friedman has come a long way since then. He’s won prestigious awards and writes from the pulpit of a senior ME editorial writer at the NY Times. And today he proved he is still somewhat of, well, a naive whitewasher of terrorists.

Today Friedman gave us a taste of why it’s really harmful to any debate when one tries to find moral equivalency between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He attempts to make a point that those settlers and some of their supporters in and outside of Israel who might come to assist in battling the IDF as it seeks to execute the pullout, are no different than Zarqawi’s men in Iraq who are trying to torpedo the elections, or the Fatah and non-Fatah violent factions among the Palestinians who seek to color the Palestinian leadership with their desire for blood.

By attempting to thwart democracy and peaceful moves by established leaderships, Friedman posits, these groups are undermining the rule of law.

Friedman seems to have lost his moral compass. First of all, there is a SIGNIFICANT difference between blowing up Iraqi police conscripts, or slitting the throat of a woman who has spent her lifetime helping others while living as an Iraqi with her husband and children, and protesting the pullout by throwing stones or even wearing orange stars on shirts. There is a VERY SIGNIFICANT difference between entering a restaurant or bus full of families and blowing them up to be followed by cheering and candy distribution (not to mention flying limb art shows at Palestinian universities) and attempting to disobey an order from the IDF to compel your neighbors to leave their homes.

What is wrong with people that they seek to find these parallels where they don’t exist? Do they believe that this is even-handedness and will lead to peace? It simply leads to a self-satisfied, knowing chuckle from the murderers who have turned their murders, with the complicity of dupes like Friedman, into some glorification of a war against settlers, Israel, and yes, THE USA.

Friedman rounds them up and calls the settlers and their supporters, the Iraqi murderers and the Palestinian murderers “messianic militants.” There may be some among the Israeli settler population and their supporters who would like to raise arms against their government and army, but until they do so, it is disingenuous and WRONG to lump them all together. Don’t get me wrong, I am concerned about some settlers and their supporters who are seeking to use their reading of the word of god into actions. I believe those who are promoting those actions are immoral and may be igniting a power keg. However, until they actually do something other than try to influence the political process or campaign vociferously but peacefully, they are entirely different from the other two groups to which Friedman compares them.

Political correctness run amuck!

Oh, and Friedman should stop using the name “Palestine” when referring to the PA and its damaged autonomy. If the Palestinians want to have a “Palestine,” they should learn to wage peace and accept Israel’s existence. As long as they don’t, they do not and will not have a Palestine. Giving it to them by calling their sick government, that can’t build playgrounds or parks for their children but can afford to film and broadcast child martyrdom commercials, “Palestine,” especially when they continue to maintain their physical aggression and reprehensible anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli propaganda, is to give in to the worst elements of their society and to encourage more of the same.

Must be nice to have the NY Times as your bully pulpit.

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  • The geula is definitely approaching. When a Jew gets to spew venom onto other Jews in front of millions of readers including goyim), then we know that the left is mentally preparing itself for that civil war against the settlers and their believing supporters.

    Many former high-ranking Israeli security and public figures have come out in the past year supporting the idea of another Altalena, or even a civil war to rid Israel of the settler problem, and the demonizing of the settlers continues. The ‘CEO’ of Tnuva recently said that settlers are a cancer that needs to be removed from Israel. The Haredim are only ever described as parasites, but settlers are cancer.

    Jew vs Jew.

  • Uh, Josh, please, you’re kinda proving that Friedman might have a point.

    I remind you that the talk about civil war is coming from the Yesha circles. If you’re reading it on the Left, it’s because they’re QUOTING the Yesha settlers.

  • FWIW,
    all the talk about civil war is coming from the Israeli left. The left accuses us that we are going to start a civil war if we keep ‘refusing’. The left accuses us of getting ready to fire on soldiers who come to take us away. The left drools over the opportunity to do another Altalena (live fire on right-wingers and kill another 16 or so). Begin proved that right-wingers don’t want a civil war. When Rabin opened fire on the boat, he ordered his men to withold returning fire – preventing a civil war.

  • I wish it were so, Josh, but actually it is not. I disagree strongly with Friedman’s comments and prognosis of what will happen and why, as well as his comparison of the settlers to the murderers of Zarkawi and Hamas. However, he didn’t pull that stuff out of thin air. He believes it because of stuff like this:

    Speaking to reporters immediately after, the settler leaders described their first formal get-together with Sharon in more than 18 months as “one of the most disgraceful meetings with a prime minister of Israel.”

    “We came here to calm the atmosphere and instead we understood from the prime minister that is an interest of his to cause a rift in the nation and to bring the nation into a civil war,” Eliezer Hasdai, head of the Alfei Menashe Regional Council, said.

    In other words, the democratically elected PM of Israel won’t give us what we want, so we are going to put all of Israel on notice that it’s his fault if there’s a civil war.

  • Are we going back there again?
    Sharon was not democratically elected. In Israel’s parliamentary system, the leader of the party with the most seats gets to attempt to form government. With Barak screwing up, and Mitzna pushing some ridiculous Gaza retreat plan, and Am Yisrael tired of dying like sheep again, the people voted heavily for the Likud to come clean things up. Sharon was head of the likud because he and Barak/Mitzna weaseled the elections so that Bibi couldn’t vie for head of the Likud. The LIKUD was elected on a certain platform in democratic elections. There was no direct election of Prime Minister. The problem is that Sharon has betrayed his party values and platform of eretz yisrael and hijacked the likud by force and lots of pressure on past veteren loyal right-wing lovers of eretz yisrael members of knesset to carry out this retreat plan (phase1) and who knows where it go from there? (Olmert and phase2?)
    So, sure, you can say that Sharon was democratically elected, but is what he’s doing legitimate?
    You’re giving way too much credit to Sharon. Many, many people are afraid that he is leading us towards disaster, and as a good leader, he should be trying to persuade us why we will be better off retreating instead of telling us ‘because I said so’.


    At least the right-wing doesn’t want a civil war as much as the left:


    As for Friedman, Arabs, Europeans, and other twisters of the truth; I don’t support them or think they are on the level with their views, but as opposed to holocaust-deniers which are just proven deniers of fact, I only suggest listen to what these other twisters of the truth have to say because they are legitimate sources of information in the eyes of millions upon millions. The question is not what Friedman is saying but rather how the hell did someone supposedly intellectual get to these conclusions and why are they given legitimacy, in other words, why is the ‘truth’ illegitimate?

  • Are you saying Josh, that Sharon’s political machinations are actually illegal?

  • Josh, if you read my answers to Ezra, you’ll see that I don’t give too much credit to Sharon, although I do give him some, and have many other reasons that preceded his becoming PM for wanting to get out of Gaza and most of Judea and Samaria.

    Your long winded answer does confirm that he’s democratically elected. We could argue plenty about who is “hijacking” the Likud, but I wouldn’t say it’s Sharon. Either way, both the Likud and the Knesset have ways of removing a PM, or at least bringing about new elections and they haven’t thus far.

    You and I both know that Sharon will never be able to persuade you and many of the hardcore settlers. The fact is, there is nothing he can say. As Ezra informed us, Jewish comes before democratic. For some settlers, that also means that not leaving these places which are holy to them, and represent the places god gave to the Jews, is not something they would willingly do for anybody. Everything you say simply dances around that issue.

    Where Friedman and I disagree is about the comparison between violent Iraqis and Palestinians and settlers who keep talking and screaming, but have not blown up their leaders. Well, we disagree about other things, but in this instance this is the primary bone of contention with his ideas.

    Finally, your Sneh quote proves nothing. It’s a “bring it on” kind of statement reacting to the threats coming from parts of the settler population as I point out in my previous comment. By the way, what was the context of that statement? Do you have a longer article showing it?