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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Not the Same Old, Same Old": When Things Went "Poof,"or Explaining Away Kerry's "Flotz"

What's a "flotz"? We'll get to that in a moment.

Yesterday, I mentioned that my son is getting married (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/04/david-brooks-long-obedience-my-son.html). My future daughter-in-law? A lovely young woman, whose mother is her father's second wife. "His second wife?" you ask. "What happened to the first wife? Did her father divorce her?" No, he didn't divorce her. In fact, more than 30 thirty years ago, Palestinian terrorists crossed the border into Israel, entered his home while he was away, and murdered his first wife and several of their children. (My future daughter-in-law has a charming sister from the first marriage, who survived because the rifle of one of the terrorists jammed.) Palestinian "terrorists"? Yes, terrorists. Of the murdering kind that Israel was expected to release in order to keep Kerry's hopes for a Nobel Peace Prize alive.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Not the Same Old, Same Old" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/opinion/not-the-same-old-same-old.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Thomas Friedman not surprisingly takes its upon himself to explain away US Secretary of State John Kerry's delusional effort to bring about a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Friedman writes:

"Israel, from its side, has become a more religious society — on Friday nights in Jerusalem now you barely see a car moving on the streets in Jewish neighborhoods, which only used to be the case on Yom Kippur — and the settlers are clearly more brazen. Many West Bank settlers are respectful of the state, but there is now a growing core who are armed zealots, who will fight the I.D.F. if it tries to remove them. You did not go to summer camp with these Jews. You did not meet them at your local Reform synagogue. This is a hard core."

Of course, this is pure nonsense. When Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005, there was violent opposition from the settlers. There was also opposition when Israel evacuated the settlement of Yamit in 1982 in order to achieve peace with Egypt. "Hard core" opposition in 2014? No, the settlers in both instances didn't go to summer camp with Tom, and they also were not members of reform synagogues. In addition, they probably also would not have voted for Obama in 2008, given his 20-year association with an anti-Semitic spiritual mentor. But "hard core"? Please spare the theatrics!

Friedman goes on to write:

"And it is not an accident that Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, who comes from a pro-settler party to the right of the Likud, approved a tender for 700 homes in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, across the Green Line — just as Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace talks were coming to a head."

Some 700 new homes in Gilo caused the collapse of Kerry's folly? Oh really? As Jonathan Tobin recently wrote in a Commentary opinion piece entitled "Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame" (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/04/08/why-did-kerry-lie-about-israeli-blame-peace-process-palestinians/):

"Kerry knows very well that the negotiations were doomed once the Palestinians refused to sign on to the framework for future talks he suggested even though it centered them on the 1967 lines that they demand as the basis for borders. Why? Because Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t say the two little words —'Jewish state'—that would make it clear he intended to end the conflict. Since the talks began last year after Abbas insisted on the release of terrorist murderers in order to get them back to the table, the Palestinians haven’t budged an inch on a single issue.

Thus, to blame the collapse on the decision to build apartments in Gilo—a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that would not change hands even in the event a peace treaty were ever signed and where Israel has never promised to stop building—is, to put it mildly, a mendacious effort to shift blame away from the side that seized the first pretext to flee talks onto the one that has made concessions in order to get the Palestinians to sit at the table."

Friedman concludes:

"Kerry, in my view, is doing the Lord’s work. But the weight of time and all the changes it has wrought on the ground may just be too heavy for such an act of friendship. If he folds his tent, though, Israelis and Palestinians will deeply regret it, and soon."

Of course, this is pure idiocy. Palestinian Authority President Abbas declared to Jackson Diehl in 2009 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803614.html):

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

In fact, nothing has changed for Abbas over the past five years, and this logic, premised upon survival, still guides Abbas, now in the tenth year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Or stated otherwise, Abbas is not ready for peace.

Should Israel release additional Palestinian prisoners, i.e. murderers, to ensure that Abbas remains at the negotiating table, notwithstanding the fact that he is unwilling to sign off on a peace agreement? No way. Even if you went to summer camp with Friedman, you wouldn't want such killers roaming freely around your neighborhood.

Which brings us to the meaning of "flotz," as it pertains to things going "poof" for poor John Kerry. "Flotz" is Hebrew for fart, and I am confident that you now know more Hebrew and more about the Middle East than Tom Friedman.

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