July 6, 2020

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Tom Friedman’s fact-free column includes an antisemitic trope


Yesterday we were treated to another Thomas Friedman column in the New York Times where he repeats his fact-free memes, ignoring reality in the face of his world class expertise in fantasy:

Netanyahu is setting himself up to be a pivotal figure in Jewish history — the leader who burned the bridges to a two-state solution and to the Jewish diaspora at the same time.

… It worked perfectly to deflect the U.S. president from pressing the relevant questions: “Bibi, you win every debate, but meanwhile every day the separation of Israel from the Palestinians grows less likely, putting Israel on a ‘slippery slope toward apartheid,’ as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently warned. Where is your map? What are you going to do with 420,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank? Where is your imagination for how to reverse this trend that will inevitably lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish democratic state?”

 Friedman’s favorite newspaper, Haaretz, only last month revealed exactly how far Netanyahu was willing to go for a two-state solution. It answered every question Friedman asks, in detail. It was Abbas who refused both the Israeli and American draft peace frameworks.

But that contradicts what Friedman knows in his heart. So he must ignore evidence and facts.

Note also that Friedman knows that he cannot actually argue with Netanyahu by saying Bibi wins every debate. Obviously, what Friedman knows in his heart is more important than actually being able to argue it effectively.

It gets worse:

I won’t waste much time on Bibi’s deft manipulation of President Trump to shift all the blame onto the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the absence of progress in the peace process. Bibi masterfully distracted Trump with a shiny object — a video of extreme statements by Abbas (with no mention of extremist actions by Israeli settlers).

Let’s assume that some “settlers” really do perform extreme actions. Friedman is postulating two things that are, simply, stupid:

1) The actual antisemitic and pro-terror statements of the political head of the Palestinians are not as important than the actions of people who are acting against the laws of the State of Israel.

2) Israel must provide a balanced view of itself to the world, showing both its good and bad sides when engaging in diplomacy. This is a unique requirement not demanded of any other nation on the planet.

It’s even worse.  Friedman, although obviously not an antisemite, is engaging in antisemitic tropes. This paragraph comes very close to saying that the Jews control the White House. Undoubtedly that was not his intention but there is very little difference between him saying Netanyahu is manipulating Trump and antisemites saying Jews control Washington.

Jews are very sensitive to antisemitism. Yet no one seems to be upset at Friedman’s statement here. The ADL is never going to issue a statement against someone they agree with so often. This statement of Friedman’s in the most prestigious US newspaper  is arguably far worse than the many topics that engage people’s time (like websites that fail to list Israel in their list of countries or retailers that resell anti-Israel T-shirts.)

He gets a pass because he is a superstar  to liberal American Jews and because his statement is as much about Bibi’s diplomatic skill as it is about Trump’s supposed naivete.

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