Israel now is ruled by the “far right” that uses an “iron fist” and arrogantly ignores American concerns even though the Obama administration voted against the Palestinian Authority in the UN vote on raising its status, charges Thomas Friedman, The New York Times long-time guru of the Middle East.
Friedman, who once described Israeli “settlers” as the country’s version of Hizbullah terrorists and wrote that “settlements” are “insane and a “cancer,” charged in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper that the Likud party is disconnected from the world.
He wrote that the Iron Dome anti-missile system and the “wall,” meaning the security fence, were successful but “have so insulated the Israeli left and center from the effects of the Israeli occupation that their main candidates for the Jan. 22 elections…are not even offering peace ideas but simply conceding the right’s dominance on that issue and focusing on bringing down housing prices and school class sizes.”
His conclusion reflects a view of foreign media and Western leaders that was defined in a Netanyahu government statement Wednesday as ignoring “the map" of Israel's security. Virtually all Israeli parties, with the exception of the Arab factions and the ideological left-wing Meretz party, reject any idea that Israel would surrender major Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria.
Friedman wrote, “A rising group of far-right settler-activists…are convinced — thanks, in part, to the wall and dome — that Palestinians are no threat anymore and that no one can roll back the 350,000 Jews living in the West Bank.”
Actually, polls show that a rising group of Israelis do not believe that there is anyone on the other side interested in peace.
His column implicitly stated that domestic "social justice" issues in Israel are secondary to following the Obama administration's wishes for the "peace process," which has become a term for accepting, without exception, all of the Palestinian Authority's territorial and political demands.
Freidman gave his readers a quick course on history in the region, neglecting to mention that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, with the temporary exceptions of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that voted for non-democratic Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood regimes.
He suggest that with Alawites and Sunni Muslims killing each other in Syria, Christians hiding in fear and the Jews long gone from the country, the only “governing options” in the Middle East today are “Iron Empires, Iron Fists or Iron Domes.”
Friedman then jumps back 400 years to the Ottoman Empire, which he praises for, in his view, allowing the relative co-existence of majorities and minorities. “Alawites, Shiites, Christians and Jews, though second-class citizens, did not have to worry that they’d be harmed if they did not rule,” he wrote.
He wrote that Britain and France’s replacing the Ottoman Empire with countries “that did not correspond to the ethnographic map” resulted in power struggles among minorities.
Once Britain and France withdrew, “minorities were exposed, [and]…in the late 1960s and 1970s, we saw the emergence of a class of Arab dictators and monarchs who perfected Iron Fists,” according to the columnist.
Arabs now are beginning to “rise up against the iron-fisted dictators,” he states, but Friedman ignored Israel’s having granted Palestinian Authority Arabs freedoms and local self-government they never enjoyed during the Jordanian occupation after the re-establishment of Israel as a country in 1948. He also ignored the fact that the "Arab Spring" seems to be replacing one dictator with another, and taking a large toll of civilian lives.
Israel is the only country in the region that grants rights to all minorities while having weathered wars and tough economic times under a functioning democratic system.
Ignoring that, Friedman argues, “Israelis have responded to the collapse of Arab iron fists around them — including the rise of militias with missiles in Lebanon and Gaza — with a third model. It is the wall Israel built around itself to seal off the West Bank coupled with its Iron Dome antimissile system.”