Max Blankfeld

Thomas Friedman – try something new for a change

When it comes to the Middle East, Thomas Friedman’s articles have good stories, but unfortunately his conclusion has always been the same: Israel is not doing enough.

Look, for instance, at his last op-ed in the New York Times – “Israel Lives the Joseph Story.” The piece would make one think that the logical conclusion is for the Palestinian Authority to accept Netanyahu’s invitation to immediately engage in negotiations without pre-conditions. However, Friedman could not help but say that Israel’s leadership is not farsighted and as responsible as the “moderate” Palestinian Authority for not partnering towards the creation of a “modern, economically thriving, democratic, secular state” for the Palestinians. (I could have an entire piece just on the subject of “secular state”, but I’ll leave it for another time…)

Twice this past week Netanyahu made it clear that he accepts a two-state solution. The first time, he broke the Knesset rules by addressing Abbas in English: “Give peace a chance” and again asking for immediate negotiations without pre-conditions. The second time he publicly dismissed Danny Danon’s earlier statement against a two-state solution and furthermore, admonished him by saying that the government needs to operate as one unit.

Apparently, this is not enough for Thomas Friedman. I know that Netanyahu’s reaction to Dannon’s statement happened after this particular op-ed I mention was published, but still, how many times must the Israeli Prime Minister invite Abbas for direct negotiations and say that he accepts a two-state solution, before people like Thomas Friedman will stop putting the blame on Israel?

Since I want to believe that naïveté is not Thomas Friedman’s case, I will make a point for why he has this behavior of always concluding his op-eds on the subject of the Middle East with either blaming Israel or ascertaining some responsibility over Israel, as we saw in this latest case:

As he himself have stated in past articles, Mr. Friedman enjoys an open door with the dictators and kings in the Arab countries. As a journalist he wants to keep the door open, and in my view, the only way for him to do so, is to somehow always be critical of Israel. He fears that in the moment that he will be critical of the Arabs, and only of the Arabs, he may see some doors closing on him.

In addition to that, he may have also convinced himself (or his Arab friends convinced him) that by putting pressure in Israel he may be helping towards bringing Israelis and Palestinians closer. I would strongly suggest that he is doing exactly the opposite: by calling the Palestinian Authority “moderates” and by equating the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, Mr. Friedman is making the likes of Abbas and Erakat stand firm in their positions, i.e., not negotiate without pre-conditions, and therefore, instead, he is contributing to augmenting the distance between the parties.

Mr. Friedman, when Abbas makes pre-conditions, challenge him to go for negotiations without pre-conditions. When, among other statements of the like, Abbas praises Sheikh Ahmed Yassin or the Nazi collaborator Hajj Amin Al-Husseini as heroes, please don’t call Abbas a moderate.

In conclusion, Mr. Friedman, how about trying something different for a change?

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About the Author
Max Blankfeld is a Houston based entrepreneur and pro-Israel activist; Born in Germany, he moved at the age of 2 to Brazil, where destiny took his parents who were Holocaust survivors; From 1970 to 1976 he studied at the Technion and Tel Aviv University, and was a stringer for Brazilian newspapers; Upon his return to Brazil he was the local correspondent for Yedioth Aharonot for two years; He serves on the Boards of Honest Reporting, FIDF and the Jewish Studies Program at Rice University. Follow me on twitter @mblankfeld .