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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "A Wonderful Country": A Wretched Columnist

Thomas Friedman is back in Israel, and this would-be Middle East expert has written a New York Times op-ed entitled "A Wonderful Country" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/opinion/sunday/friedman-a-wonderful-country.html?ref=thomaslfriedman&_r=0) that defies comprehension and that only his mother could love. Meandering from a description of a popular Israeli comedy program named "A Wonderful Country" to an encounter with an Eritrean refugee "near the bus station," Friedman ultimately deigns to inform us:

"The PowerPoint maps that Israeli military briefers use for Sinai, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria today consist of multicolored circles, and inside each are clusters of different armed groups. Israel is like a Petri dish of the new world, with nonstate actors, armed with rockets, dressed as civilians and nested among civilians on four out of its five borders: Sinai, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

I understand why all this makes even some moderate Israeli military leaders more wary about any West Bank withdrawal. But the status quo is not neutral. Israel needs to do all it can to avoid turning itself into a kind of forced binational state — with a hostile minority in its belly — by permanently holding onto the West Bank and its 2.5 million Palestinians. That’s exactly the kind of states blowing up in the world of disorder. And it’s why the success of John Kerry’s peace mission is so important for Israelis, and Palestinians."

What Friedman doesn't mention is 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?

Kerry doesn't know. Neither does Friedman.

But heck, Tom, any time you get tired of interviewing Eritrean refugees "near the bus station," give me a call. I just might be able to arrange for you a few meetings with a couple of remarkable Israeli hi-tech companies that are seeking to cure cancer and restore vision to blind people.

You see, although it's not without its troubles, Israel truly is a wonderful country and an important American ally.

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