Thomas Friedman is one of the most influential critics of Israeli policy. So in an effort to learn from his success I studied his technique and came up with some striking results. So read on – you too can be a pundit! I know, I’m a giver.
1. Be dramatic. Whatever issue you are discussing, it is vital that it go your way. Or Else. If you are not in the mood to be dramatic, fear-monger. Thus we have Friedman expounding on the absolutely critical nature of the impending elections.
2. Strict adherence to truth is optional. Take this gem from Friedman, for example: “[The Jewish Home Party] is dominated by West Bank settlers and scary religious-nationalist zealots like Naftali Bennett…if they run the next government and effectively annex the West Bank…” Now, I am going to assume that Friedman is not ignorant of his subject and knows that Bennett is 1) not a West Bank settler but lives in tony Raanana, 2) it is certainly questionable if Bennett is scary or a religious national zealot (which part of Bennett is scary, the religious part or the nationalist part?), and 3) that Bennett has no intention of annexing the West Bank, certainly not in its entirety. So if Friedman is not ignorant, he must be willfully deceptive. See? We can mix and match elements 1 and 2!
3. Show how important you are. Friedman has the humility to seek counsel when deciding the appropriate future for the Middle East, and he goes to a top-drawer member of Israel’s military intelligence community. “You see?” Friedman is telling us. “I have access to the most important of Israelis. This makes me important too. So listen up!” And what wisdom does this military strategist impart to Friedman, which he lovingly hands down to us? That we must follow in Ben-Gurion’s footsteps no less. That is, Israel must be Jewish, democratic, secure, and moral.
That’s it? Any Israeli can tell you that. I don’t know if Friedman is trying to snow his readers or if he doesn’t realize that he was snowed himself. But it sure does make him look important!
4. Analyze your assertions and build on them. This is perhaps the cleverest technique of punditry, and if you can pull this off you truly are a master pundit.
Let us observe. After Freidman tells us that Bennett is a West Bank settler and religious Zionist zealot, he dilates on these “facts” by sagely predicting Israel’s universal alienation should Bennett get elected. (Note the combo of elements 1 and 4.) So now people can shake their heads in fear and distress at Bennett’s popularity because it will bring about Israel’s isolation. And the evidence for the dire forecast? The counter-fact Freidman offers us about Bennett’s background! But now everyone knows that Bennett is a right-wing wack job.
Truthiness in all its eloquence!