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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Dear Guests": Wrong Again

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear Guests" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/opinion/thomas-friedman-revelations-in-the-gaza-war.html?ref=opinion), subtitled "Revelations in the Gaza War," would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman concludes:

"Here is where Israel does have a choice. Its reckless Jewish settlement project in the West Bank led it into a strategy of trying to keep the moderate Palestinian Authority there weak and Hamas in Gaza even weaker. The only way Israel can hope to stabilize Gaza is if it empowers the Palestinian Authority to take over border control in Gaza, but that will eventually require making territorial concessions in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, because it will not act as Israel’s policeman for free. This is crunchtime. Either Arab and Israeli moderates collaborate and fight together, or the zealots really are going to take over this neighborhood. Please do not return to your routines."

A "reckless Jewish settlement project in the West Bank"? Apparently unbeknownst to Friedman, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has acknowledged that 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). But why should Friedman concern himself with facts? They only get in the way of his opinions.

The Palestinian Authority "will not act as Israel’s policeman for free"? Oh really? Again, unbeknownst to Friedman, this is exactly what the PA has been doing in the West Bank vis-a-vis Hamas over the past several years. Why? Some five years ago, 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 since that time, and this logic, premised upon survival and the suppression of his Hamas rivals, still guides Abbas, who is in the tenth year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Then, too, there was the bloody June 2007 Battle of Gaza between Hamas and Fatah. Revenge is a particularly strong motivating force in the Middle East, and Abbas has not forgotten the humiliating dissolution of his unity government and the ouster of Fatah from Gaza.

Yes, I know: Yasser Abed Rabbo, an advisor to Abbas, a few days ago told Friedman that "The Palestinian Authority has no intention of becoming Israel’s policeman in the West Bank and in Gaza for free" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/opinion/sunday/thomas-l-friedman-how-this-war-ends.html), and if Yasser Abed Rabbo told Friedman this, it must be true.

Sorry, Tom, it isn't.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/middleeast/civilian-or-not-new-fight-in-tallying-the-dead-from-the-gaza-conflict.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LedeSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

    Notice how the NYT conveniently left out the 15-19 year old age group as "likely to be militants".

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