In this respect, when Friedman says he is showing Israel “tough love,” what he is really saying is that pummelling Israel into submission is justifiable, a means towards an end, that end being the ushering in of Friedman’s designs of “utopia.” Indeed for Friedman, pushing Israel to the brink is a “necessary evil,” as, in his view, doing so represents the first step in ending all evil. The problem is that his vision is delusional. The “peace process” has been exhaustively implemented for over 20 years. And it failed miserably. You cannot blame the Friedmans of the world for trying; rather, they can, and should, be blamed for not accepting that their two-decades-long efforts have made the Middle East less hospitable for Israel. The reason being, their expectations are detached from reality—utopia is a lie.
Friedman and his ideological counterparts have also taken to demonizing Israel’s “extremist” settlers—those who explicitly reject the “Land for Peace” paradigm. Friedman’s hit-list also includes the democratically-elected Israeli MKs who recently proposed legislation to clamp down on the foreign-funding of non-representative, subversive NGOs, and to impose a measure of accountability—that exists in all other democracies—on Israel’s Supreme Court. Additionally, Friedman shows particular disdain for Israel’s growing religious and Russian populations. The reason for this is that none of these cohorts share Friedman’s worldview, nor his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—they revile it. And herein lies the greatest irony of all: Friedman attacks these people not out of concern for Israel’s democratic character, but rather to protect the centrality of an unpopular, increasingly narrow segment of the populace, whose opinions continue to have a disproportionate influence over Israeli policy—his Left. The truth is that popular representation in Israel—Freidman’s purported aim—would entail the marginalization of his views. Therefore, by demonizing those—which together comprise the majority—who reject his ideology, Friedman’s attacks can only be seen as an attempt to circumvent Israel’s democracy, and not the other way around.
Friedman’s criticism of leading Republican presidential candidates serves the same purpose. For example, the fact that Newt Gingrich recently called the Palestinians an “invented” people is in reality anathema to Friedman. We know this because in his recent article he did not even attempt to justify or explain Palestinian nationalism, but rather sidestepped the issue by engaging in a tirade about how Israel is a “colonialist” entity. What really irks Friedman about Gingrich’s comment is that the Republicans are deviating from the status quo by infusing a modicum of truth into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This threatens the perpetuation of Friedman’s precious, albeit faulty ideals, which, in turn, explains his contempt.
According to Friedman, “I’m certain there are many out there like me…who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today. My guess is we’re the minority.…” And this is the crucial point. Friedman is indeed in the minority—not because other “Jews are drifting away,” as he claims, but rather because they simply do not share his opinions. Contrary to Friedman, most Jews are not afraid of the direction Israel is taking—nor are most of Israelis for that matter—as they agree with Israel’s present course, veering away from the “two state” solution.
The professional peace-processors, Friedman included, have failed—a reality now accepted by the majority. Nevertheless, the measure of a man is not whether he is right or wrong, nor whether he succeeds or fails, but rather his ability to recognize his shortcomings and move on.
Thomas & Co., with all due respect, it is time to move on.
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