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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "The Third Intifada": Tom Terrific to Kerry's Defense

As you might have heard, the feelings of US Secretary of State John (Assad is my "dear friend") Kerry were hurt by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials. What happened? After Kerry warned on Saturday of an "increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up" if peace talks initiated by Kerry with the Palestinians unwind, Netanyahu declared that boycott threats "will not achieve their goal," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel will not "conduct negotiations with a gun pointed to its head," and Israeli Economics Minister Naftali Bennett responded that "We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier" (see: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/02/02/netanyahu-dismisses-kerry-warning-about-boycott-threat/).

Kerry was stung by these rebukes, and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice rushed to his defense, tweeting "Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable." (see: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/02/03/Susan-Rice-Blasts-Israel-on-Twitter).

Now, right on cue, New York Times columnist and Obama administration cheerleader Thomas Friedman is also hurrying to prop up Kerry in his latest op-ed entitled "The Third Intifada" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/opinion/friedman-the-third-intifada.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0). Observing the willingness of Palestinian President Abbas, currently in the tenth year of his four-year term in office, "to let Israeli troops stay for five years as they make a phased withdrawal from the West Bank to the 1967 lines and to then let U.S.-led NATO forces fill in any strategic void to reassure Israel," Friedman concludes:

"Israelis are right to suspect some boycotters of using this cause as a cover for anti-Semitism, given how Israel’s misdeeds are singled out. But that doesn’t mean that implanting 350,000 settlers in the West Bank and turning a blind eye to dozens of wildcat settlements — that even Israel deems 'illegal' — is in Israel’s interest or smart.

If Israel really wanted to slow down the boycott campaign, it would declare that as long as Kerry is trying to forge a deal, and there is hope for success, Israel will freeze all settlement activity to give peace its best chance. Unlikely, I know. But one thing I know for sure: this incessant trashing of Kerry by Israeli ministers, and their demand that Palestinians halt all 'incitement' — but that Israel be free to keep building settlements in their face — is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America. It is only energizing the boycotters."

Well, does anyone really want US troops on the ground again in the Middle East? Of course, no mention by Friedman of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing by Hezbollah, which killed 241 American servicemen and led to a swift evacuation of American peacekeeping forces from Lebanon. Does anyone believe that Hamas or Islamic Jihad would not be targeting American soldiers on the West Bank?

Moreover, Israel will never allow any other country to take responsibility for its security. Consider how UN forces were evacuated from Israel's border with Egypt at Nasser's demand immediately prior to the Six Day War. Similarly, UN forces in the past have been notoriously ineffective in controlling Hezbollah attacks against Israel from Lebanon.

And although Friedman is quick to allude to "350,000 settlers in the West Bank," he makes a point of ignoring the fact that according to none other than Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/erekat-olmert-offered-palestinians-territorial-equivalent-of-west-bank-1.393484). Friedman also makes certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. What more can Israel offer?

But what do any of these facts matter? Kerry feels insulted, and his dignity needs to be restored.

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