A Jewish antisemite among us

” We constantly and very loudly apologize—-Instead of turning our backs onto the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault. —Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding, our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: Go to Hell?” [Zev Jabotinsky 1911]

When Zev Jabotinsky wisdom was expressed thus, he obviously did not know Thomas L. Friedman, but he clearly had individuals who subscribed to Friedman’s ill chosen thoughts in mind.

Those of us who knew Friedman when he first established himself with the New York Times during 1981, were not surprised upon the arrival of his Op-Ed  “The Israel We Knew Is Gone” on Nov. 4, 2022.  His initial overseas assignment, took him to London for a year and then onto Beirut where he spent the years from June 1979 to May 1981 as a foreign correspondent.

His significant book, “From Beirut to Jerusalem” appeared during 1989, and chronicled his days as a reporter in Beirut while the “Lebanese Civil War” was ongoing and in Jerusalem through the first Intifada. It was highly acclaimed despite notable errors or questionable selections.

We find in the body of Daniel Pipes review of the book; ” Friedman’s exceedingly narrow vision may reflect the fact that the Palestinians are more prominent in the daily news coming out of Israel; but a book needs to be more than a compilation of news dispatches. His implication that the communal contest is the real problem reveals a shallow understand of eight decades of Arab-Israeli strife.”

Professor Edward Alexander included Friedman in several of his worthy books. They are extremely helpful in understanding how he arrived at the obnoxious book in question.

In the 1993, “With Friend Like These, he includes Jerold S. Auerbach’s ‘Thomas Friedman’s Israel: The Myth of Unrequited Love.'” It begins in the era when the election of Menachem Begin punctured some favorite liberal notions about the Jewish state and Friedman’s book reiterates the familiar lament about the moral decline and fall of the Jewish state.

As Friedman tells it, his Jewish pride endured until September 1982, when it suddenly turned to shame. Sabra and Shatila, he writes, were “something of a personal crisis for me. Friedman’s adolescent infatuation with Israel was distinguished  by its brevity. By the time he graduated from Brandeis University in 1975, he had already identified himself with the Palestinian cause.

Previously in November 1974, literally on the eve of Arafat’s infamous declaration that “Zionism is racist” , delivered while brandishing a pistol on his hip, the Peace Group, co-steered by Friedman, published a statement, which supported “Palestinian self-determination”, the standard euphemism for a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel. Apparently his morality did not prevent him as an American citizen, and not an Israeli citizen, interfering  in the business of a foreign country.

Avital Leibovich , a Lt. Col [Res.], is the director of the American Jewish Committee’s [AJC] office in Jerusalem. Her “What Thomas Friedman Gets Wrong About Israel and Democracy was published by AJC / Global Voice on Nov. 22, 2022.

She described Friedman’s piece as a myopic end of days view. ” Not one word about a little country, located in a hostile neighborhood, which has endured many wars and military operations, resulting in the loss of of many, many civilians and soldiers.

Not a word about a thriving economy based on a rich start-up industry that offers global solutions. Not a word about successful and integrated Israeli minorities.” She also pointed to the significance of an omission of the democratic process which elected Israel’s new government, a parliamentary process quite different from the US.

Pointing to the previous 2 year period, Leibovich draws attention to an Arab faction, the Joint  List being the third largest party in the Knesset.  She correctly observed that Friedman’s doomsday predictions reflect his own political beliefs.

A shocking observation, “Only if the results of the election in the only democracy in the ME satisfied his political beliefs, would he support Israel——While it’s fair to criticize, ceasing to support Israel over its elections is in and of itself counter to democratic values.”

The Jewish Press posted Advocate Stephen Flatow’s, “Thomas Friedman: Equal-opportunity Israel-Basher” on Nov. 9, 2022. His summation speaks volumes. “Blaming the Israeli election for his hostility towards Israel is an easy out for Friedman. But it’s dishonest.”

In the conflict between Israel and the “Palestinians”, Friedman has it that Israel is fundamentally at fault. As a journalist, his mission is to put pressure on Israel until Israel satisfies Arab demands.

JNS/Israel Hayom: In “Gleefully abandoning Israel” by David M. Weinberg, he refers to Thomas Friedman as a pompous “save Israel from itself” columnist. This as a commencement to his review of “The Israel We Knew Is Gone.

The radicals that truly worry David Weinberg are those as Friedman, that seek to crash Israel’s diplomatic relations and Israel-Diaspora relations with false apocalyptic prognostications of Israel’s descent into barbarism.

Friedman’s statement that “Israel has entered a ‘dark tunnel’ from which there seems no return “would be characteristic of this.

Weinberg  is less concerned about the direction of the emerging new government than he is about the hysterical reactions from foreign [e.g.]and hard left observes.

He feels that possibly the best advice is to ignore self-declared prophets like Friedman. The Israel he fabricates is not the real, responsible and realistic Israel he knows.

For those of us who were resident in the US during the early stage of Friedman’s career, his present diatribe is no surprise. Friedman has been so wrong about so many issues for so many years and yet he has succeeded in earning many Pulitzers, astronomical speaking fees, and even apparently enjoyed Obama’s ear.

When he refers to the new Israeli government in the making as a “nightmare” coalition by describing as “a rowdy alliance of ultra-Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti-Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israel politics”, he feels no shame.

In fact, he has the audacity to say, “As that previously unthinkable reality takes hold, a fundamental question will roil synagogues in America and across the globe: “Do I support this Israel or not support it?” He continues by saying that the new government “will haunt pro-Israel students on college campuses.”

Jonathan S. Tobin, editor-in-chief of JNS provides a thoughtful summation. “Those who support the right of a Jewish state to exist should stop apologizing for it not conforming to some idealized liberal vision of Zionism, and understand that the people who voted for Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir are just as deserving of respect and representation as they are.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
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