In a Channel 2 interview at the Saban Forum, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is known as a fierce critic of Israel, spoke to journalist Dana Weiss regarding President-elect Donald Trump's presidential victory.
Have you gotten used to the idea of President Donald Trump?
I fully recognize he won, he won fair and square, he won more electoral votes. I have no problem saying "President Donald Trump." I'm hoping for the best. But I'll never forget we did something reckless. It may turn out that this reckless thing, this shake of the dice, will have more good impacts than bad, and it may not. But one thing is indisputable to me, we've done something more reckless than we've ever done as a nation in my lifetime. But there you have it - he's our president, and I'm ready now to be open-minded and give him a chance.
Minister Bennett said Trump's election is an historical change for Israel. Many share his view. Should they open champagne bottles or should they wait?
I had a chance to talk a little with Minister Bennett about it. Israel has never been "more home alone" in my lifetime. In terms of not being abandoned, America's friendship is stronger than ever. But in terms of its freedom of action it can do whatever it wants. Israel is home alone. What it chooses to do or not do, more will be on you than ever before. I hope it chooses wisely....I don't see him [Trump] coming out with a speech and demanding Israel freeze settlements.
Do you see him investing time and effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
He has no conception, frankly, of the amount of energy and political capital an American president would have to spend to cut a deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Should Netanyahu expect an easier four years in Washington, with Trump in the White House and not Obama? It's not a secret that it wasn't the best relationship, between Obama and Netanyahu.
If you look at Israel today on the surface, the waters have never more calm.
But if you look underneath the surface, there are treadlines there, that if Israel doesn't get ahead of them, in a creative and imaginative way, if it just sits back and enjoys the calm and lets the inertia and dynamism of Israeli politics to take its hold and take Israel deeper into the West Bank - it could find itself five years from now saying, "If only we had had a Clinton pushing us when we needed to be pushed."
My viewers can say, "You still don't get it. After you've failed to get what's going on in these elections, you've failed to understand what's going on in Jerusalem."
Maybe they're right. Let's talk in four years. Maybe they're right, and I'm perfectly open to that. Maybe Israel will be better off in fact with a one-state solution. Maybe that is the only solution left. I really don't know. My criticism of Israel is not that she's not withdrawing from the West Bank. I understand the security environment, I've lived in the Arab world and I'm not ignorant, but prudence tells me not that Israel should surrender, should withdraw, should say "yes" to BDS. But it should show a little imagination, when it has such overwhelming power to shape its environment to reduce the odds that these landmines out there may be ignited in the future.
If Israel were stock, I would buy it. Because in the age of acceleration, I think it has a lot of very strong attributes to thrive. But it lives in a neighborhood were you're going to see a lot of collapsing states. I don't think Syria is the last. And the accelerations are like a tornado... The biggest fence you're going to have to build is not to Palestinians, and not even to the Arab world. It's going to have to be to the masses of people who want to get out of the world of disorder into the world of order... Look what's happened to Europe - and that's just the beginning.
Friedman has voiced strong anti-Israel opinions in the past, even going so far as to say Washington was "surrounded by Zionist conspirators" who held former President George Bush under "house arrest." His current interview may well reflect a change of thinking influenced by the end of US President Barack Obama's term in the White House.