Into the Fray: Perfidious Pete, treacherous Tom – Part 2 (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By MARTIN SHERMAN 04/20/12)
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After so many years of being wrong about the Palestinians being ready
to make peace with Israel, it is difficult to take New York Times
columnist Thomas Friedman’s Middle East advice columns seriously. But
his latest effort in this genre contains some whoppers that got our
attention even if they only provide more proof the veteran writer is
still hopelessly out of touch with reality. – Jonathan Tobin,
Commentary magazine, April 4, 2012
Beinart’s total disregard for reality, his sanctimonious obsession
with moral abstractions, is a great obstacle to real reconciliation
because it protects the enemies of peace while making impossible
demands on those who really want it. – Daniel Doron, The Jerusalem
Post, April 15, 2012
Hast thou betrayed my credulous innocence; With vizor’d falsehood and
base forgery? – John Milton, Comus, 1634
The latest offerings of ignorance and arrogance from Peter Beinart
and Tom Friedman triggered a deluge of well-deserved outrage and an
array of caustic critiques of the dubious duo’s duplicitous drivel.
Betrayal of professional integrity
While several commendable ripostes were posted, the first two
excerpts above caught my eye as being particularly apt in the way
they conveyed the essence of Beinart’s and Friedman’s portrayals of
reality – as hopelessly detached from the truth and devoid of context.
Indeed, both men have betrayed their professional integrity by
conveying to their readers a picture which is not only wildly
distorted and deceptive, but apparently deliberately so.
Both make the dismayed question of the “Lady” in Milton’s 17th-
century masque regarding the exploitation of innocent credulity
through falsehood and forgery distinctly apposite today.
In last week’s column I pointed out how much of Beinat’s condemnation
of Israeli actions was founded on evidence that ranged from the
flimsy to the false, and how his inflammatory accusations were based
on a selective and slanted presentation of events. This week I will
focus on the New York Times’ Friedman.
If not objective at least ‘well-founded’
Of course, it is unlikely that the followers of the opinion columns
in the “paper of record” expect the views expressed in them to be
objective in the sense that they abstain from taking sides on any
given issue. However, one assumes, they would expect them to be well-
informed, in the sense that should be moored to some factual
foundation, however contentious, rather than fraudulent figments of
It is one thing to hold unfavorable opinions of Israel and its
government. It is quite another to feign factual support for those
opinions by gross misrepresentation.
To his discredit, this is precisely what Friedman has done over a
considerable period, with his most recent piece on Israeli arguably
outdoing all his previous perversions.
Perhaps a preliminary tour d’horizon of the disingenuous denigration
of Israel that has characterized his columns would be useful in
setting the context in which the “whoppers”– as Tobin dubs them – in
Friedman’s most recent article on the Middle East conflict should be
Constant condescending contempt
Over recent years, Friedman has vented his bias and bile on Israel
through a series of articles which convey his condescension and
contempt for the Jewish state. One of the most egregious pieces was
the disdainfully headlined, “Driving Drunk in Jerusalem” (March 13,
In it, Friedman adopts the most malevolent elements of anti-Israel
He suggests that the Israeli government was putting the lives of
American troops at risk – because during a visit by Vice President
Biden, the Interior Ministry announced the approval of an interim
planning stage for expansion of a Jerusalem neighborhood situated
closer to the Knesset than Du Pont Circle (in central Washington) is
to the Capitol.
Approvingly, Friedman quotes Biden’s mindless allegation that “what
you are doing here undermines the security of our troops who are
fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and
endangers regional peace.”
Had it not been for the carefully choreographed commotion the Obama
administration elected to make over the incident, the announcement,
in all likelihood, would have gone largely unnoticed.
With breathtaking disregard for the truth, Friedman feigns
dismay: “Continuing to build settlements in the West Bank, and even
housing in disputed East Jerusalem, is sheer madness. Yasser Arafat
accepted that Jewish suburbs there would be under Israeli
Why “feigned dismay?” Well, for starters the article was written in
March 2010, during a 10-month building freeze on all settlement
construction in the “West Bank” which Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu imposed despite powerful opposition from his political
base, as an unprecedented goodwill gesture, which the Palestinians
Is it remotely plausible that Friedman was unaware of this crucial
and widely publicized information? Was he appalling derelict or
deliberately deceitful in creating the impression that Israel was not
in fact abstaining from the “sheer madness” of settlement
Moreover, since the neighborhood involved, Ramat Shlomo, falls within
the confines of Jerusalem, it was not subject to the construction
freeze. Indeed, most of its initial development was undertaken under
the government of the Nobel peace laureates Shimon Peres and Yitzhak
Rabin in the mid-1990s. So if we are to take Friedman at his word, it
would be included in the “Jewish suburbs that Arafat accepted would
be under Israeli sovereignty.”
So why would approval of building there be in any way objectionable –
let alone “sheer madness?”
But, of course, Friedman’s take on Arafat’s position is – to be
charitable – highly “creative.” Indeed, in Tobin’s terminology, it
might well be deemed another “whopper.”
For in stark contradiction to his claim that “Arafat accepted that
Jewish suburbs [of East Jerusalem] would be under Israeli
sovereignty” in a peace agreement, Akram Hanieh, a close Arafat
adviser, and a member of the Palestinian Camp David team,
states: “Arafat firmly rejected any fragmentation of... the Jerusalem
issue and stuck to the Palestinian insistence on Palestinian
sovereignty over all East Jerusalem” (Journal of Palestine Studies,
Vol.30, (2) p. 87) It would be intriguing to learn on what sources
Friedman draws to substantiate his extraordinary claim.
But Friedman misleads his readers not only with what he says – but
with what he does not.
So while he applauds Vice President Joe Biden’s display of anger at
Israel’s building in east Jerusalem, he conceals the fact that it was
none other than Sen. Joe Biden who supported/sponsored and/or
cosponsored at least half-a-dozen congressional resolutions calling
not only for US recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital
of Israel but for the US to relocate its embassy to the city.
These included a resolution (S. CON. RES. 21) which... calls upon the
President and Secretary of State to publicly affirm as a matter of
United States policy that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital
of the state of Israel; and urges United States officials to refrain
from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject.
So when Friedman fawns that he is “a big Joe Biden fan [because] he
is an indefatigable defender of US interests abroad,” was he
referring to Biden’s earlier endorsement of Israel’s sovereignty over
an undivided Jerusalem or his later excoriation of Israel’s actions
that reflect that sovereignty? Or perhaps the good Tom is so
unscrupulous that he is actually lauding Biden’s blatantly
hypocritical condemnation of Israel for creating precisely the
reality he himself called for?
In his “I Believe I Can Fly” (January 13, 2010), Friedman chides
Netanyahu for not extending the building freeze that expired three
weeks earlier, for another 90 days. Curiously – or perhaps not – he
makes no reference to the fact that the 300-day moratorium on
settlement construction did not produce the slightest sign of
Palestinian willingness to resume negotiations; nor does he offer any
reason why an additional 90 days would do so.
He does, however, have the effrontery to suggest that the refusal to
extend the freeze “makes Israel look like it wants land more than
Really? One can only wonder how Friedman would reconcile this absurd
accusation with the fact that Israel has:
• evacuated the entire Sinai Peninsula, forgoing its oil resources
and strategic depth;
• withdrawn unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, unearthing its dead
• demolished settlements in Northern Samaria; and
• allowed armed militias to deploy adjacent to its capital and within
mortar range of its parliament.
All this in the hope of peace. So might we not ask: Has the New York
Times’ foreign affairs columnist lost his mind – or just his moral
Endorsing the ‘Elders of Zion?’
But perhaps most distressing element in his torrent of invidious
invective is Friedman’s endorsement of anti-Semitic slander
reminiscent of the “Jews rule-the-world” themes in The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion. You have to read it to believe it.
In his snide “Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir” (December 13, 2011), he
jeers: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,
understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress... was
bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
In his “Israel: Adrift at Sea Alone” (September 17, 2011), he makes
the staggering accusation that the US commander-in-chief is hostage
to the Israeli leadership “because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in
an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at
the UN, even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own
interest or America’s.”
Get this: These perfidious US Jews are so wicked – and apparently
stupid – they will, for the sake of their kinfolk, coerce their own
country to adopt a policy is that not only inimical to its national
interest but also to that of their kinfolk, in whose name they are
Confusing, isn’t it? This, of course, begs the question of how these
treacherous wretches attained positions of such awesome power that
enable them to bring the most powerful man in the world to heel, when
they are so dumb that they cannot – unlike Friedman – differentiate
between policies that are in their interests and those that are not.
Embracing a mass murderer
One could, of course, go on cataloging the myriad times Friedman has
misread or misrepresented events – from endorsing the Arab Spring as
the harbinger of democratic change to applauding Fayyadism as the
herald of Palestinian economic vigor. With the Islamists ascendant
across the region and the international community on the verge of
despair regarding the sustainability of the Palestinian economy, how
loopy do his analyses and prognoses seem today?
But Friedman really hits a bizarre note in his most recent column on
the Arab- Israeli conflict – “A Middle East Twofer” (April 4, 2012).
Apparently losing patience with recalcitrant realities that regular
refute his assessments, he embraces convicted mass-murderer Marwan
Barghouti (as left-leaning liberals are wont to do).
Echoing precisely the sentiments that were propounded to legitimize
engaging Arafat in the 1990s – and we know how well that worked out –
he cites Haaretz in anointing Barghouti as “the most authentic leader
Fatah has produced [who] can lead his people to an agreement.”
It should be recalled that Barghouti’s alleged “authenticity”
reflects itself in his conviction for five murders – all perpetrated
after (!) Ehud Barak’s far-reaching – indeed, irresponsible – 2000
Camp David peace proposals.
Miraculously, Friedman manages to see Barghouti’s recent statement
from his prison cell as a call for “nonviolent opposition.”
Indeed, if anything is it quite the opposite. As Ramzy Baroud points
out it was a call to cease negotiations with Israel, and for
the “launch of large-scale popular resistance... to oppose the
occupation in all means.” All means, Tom, not nonviolent ones.
Condoning ‘nonviolent’ murders?
It turns out that Friedman has a very “unconventional” notion of what
the term “nonviolent” signifies, for he appears to include – or at
least condone – stonethrowing.
Does Friedman really need to be reminded of the lethal consequences
of Palestinian rock-throwing, which recently took the lives of one-
year-old Yonatan Palmer and his father, Asher? Or of infant Yehuda
Shoham who died in hospital a week after a rock hurled by
Palestinians through his parents’ windscreen crushed his head.
Friedman’s cavalier attitude to “every rock the Palestinians throw”
spurred Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York who himself experienced
a “nonviolent” Palestinian rock-attack, to dispatch a letter to the
New York Times editor.
Koch writes: “Many Israelis as well as foreign tourists have been
badly injured, sometimes permanently maimed, in such ‘nonviolent’
assaults. Israelis have even been murdered by rock throwing.” He ends
by asking, “Can’t we all agree that in the English language, the
terms ‘nonviolent’ and ‘rock-throwing’ are mutually exclusive?”
No allegation too egregious
As with Beinart, so with Friedman: it seems there no accusation is
too egregious, no allegation too outlandish for them to stoop to.
They are inflicting great – and greatly unmerited – calumnies on the
State of Israel. They are curtailing its ability to fend off the many
dangers facing it and its citizens.
It is time to hit back, time for Israel – and its supporters across
the globe – to let its detractors know that their unfounded invective
has consequences. Just as they conveyed that message to judge Richard
Goldstone. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/20/12)
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