Thursday August 21, 2014
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21.08.2014
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Dror Eydar

Democracy, Friedman-style

What remains for Thomas Friedman now that his idols have failed him? The same thing other Jews have done throughout history -- beat on their people's battered chest. Eureka, Friedman declared, I have found the most amazing analogy: Sheldon Adelson and the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have something in common: "They are both trying to destroy Israel. Adelson is doing it by loving Israel to death and Khamenei by hating Israel to death." Lovely, isn't it? Courtesy of the newspaper that caters to people who have long ago stopped thinking of themselves as thinking people.

Friedman does not believe that Iran's leader has "no desire to use a nuclear bomb." How does he know that? It is worth the risk? Let's assume for a moment that he does use a nuclear bomb -- what will you say then? That you were wrong? It is people like you that in the 1930s had lulled the West regarding Hitler's explicit intentions, which were similar to Khamenei's explicit statements now.

It was not long ago, Mr. Friedman, that you stood in Cairo's Tahrir Square and confidently wrote, "Indeed, what makes the uprising here so impressive … is precisely the fact that it is not owned by, and was not inspired by, the Muslim Brotherhood." Well, you're wrong about that (as you were about other things), so what do you know that we don't?

Friedman throws around controversial numbers about the Palestinian population, and no -- we did not deprive them of their independence. They had their chance in 1920, in 1936, in 1947 and in 1949, up until 1967, in 1994 and in 1999, in 2005 and in 2008, during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's second term and even now. We have afforded your darling Palestinians ample chance to agree to end the conflict, put an end to their demands and build their lives, to no avail. As long as Jews like you play devil's advocate to those who hate us, there is no chance that anyone among the Arabs would agree to acknowledge the Jews' right to any part of the historic land of Israel.

As of now, we do not rule the Palestinians. They have their own parliament, two governments (in Ramallah and in Gaza Strip), and, with the help of Allah, a third will be established in Jordan in the coming years (if we stop protecting King Abdullah). They have huge budgets (the majority of which finds its way to private individuals) and an education system (that does not recognize Israel as a legitimate entity). They have a foreign ministry and pursue public diplomacy efforts; they have an automatic majority in the U.N. and enjoy clear sympathy from the Obama administration. And here is the real surprise Mr. Friedman: They are not really interested in a little state to "live in peace alongside Israel." That option has been available to them for the past 100 years.

Look at their adamant refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. We have been talking about "two states for two people," so what is the problem? That illustrates the depth of the conflict, which people like you refuse to accept. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state means that someone in the Arab world acknowledges our right -- a right, not just mere recognition -- as Jews, to some part of what the Arab mindset perceives as "an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day." It is only this type of recognition that could stop any future Arab demand after a peace deal is signed, demands regarding Israel's Jewish character as a "racist country" that does not recognize the national rights of the Arab minority living within it (in this argument, as in other noted junctures in history, your paper probably will not side with the Jews). The Palestinians will not pursue an end to the conflict, because every generation has its own Thomas Friedmans, who specializes in blaming the Jews.

According to Friedman, the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria is "the most active colonial power on the planet today"(!). What do you say to that, Jews? We are the most prominent colonialists on Planet Earth. But wait, doesn't colonialism entail going somewhere you do not belong, or does it also include returning to one's homeland? Your homeland as well, Friedman.

Not afraid of boycotts

Every failed leftist argument includes intimidation: a boycott of Israel, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and even a few Jewish students who subscribe to such boycotts, by some sort of example. But we are not afraid of boycotts. We have learned how to deal with them quite well. You know how Jews are -- we have learned a thing or two throughout history.

"Iran could not be happier. The more Israel sinks into the West Bank, the more it is delegitimized and isolated, the more the world focuses on Israel's colonialism rather than Iran's nuclear enrichment," you write. If that is true, why is the entire world struggling to resolve the Iranian issue? Why is the American administration making such an effort with Iran? As for the "isolation" -- have you seen the list of world leaders who have recently visited Israel? Commercial and industrial collaborations are booming. The only isolation Israel suffers from is promoted by people who share your radical views. I do not expect to see protests rallies in Israel demanding the return of Thomas Friedman to our bosom. We will do just fine without you.

And here is a surprise: Sheldon Adelson does not accept the idea that Judea and Samaria are the "West Bank" or "occupied territories." He is fighting the good fight against the delegitimization campaign waged against Israel by the Palestinians and their cronies worldwide, and he believes that the concept of "land for peace" is foolish. Friedman, the oracle, has therefore dubbed him a "crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist." It may surprise you Mr. Friedman, but the majority of the Israeli public believes the same thing, as reality has demonstrated. To put it differently, if you were to make aliyah to Israel (I hope for you), where would you place yourself on the political spectrum? Far, far to the left, between Gideon Levy, Akiva Eldar and Amira Hass. In that little corner you would be treated by the world media like royalty, but your people would bestow on you nothing but forgiving smiles, the kind reserved for the leftist nuisance du jour. "Radical"? Don't make us laugh.

The truth is that the "occupied territories" are, at worst, disputed ones. For us, this is the cradle of the Jewish homeland, Friedman, your homeland (which is not the U.S., not matter how hard you try to deny your heritage).

Yes, help the Jews

You argue that Adelson is using his fortune to influence American politics in favor of Israel and the Jewish people. A harsh accusation indeed. I know several Jews who have used their fortunes, their status and even their columns to clobber the Jews, to aid the delegitimization campaign against them and to hinder the return to Zion.

In the eighth century B.C.E, the Prophet Isaiah said, "I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night" (Isaiah 62:6). Each person has their own place in history: Some stand guard over Jerusalem, while others try to raze its walls. Which would you prefer history judge you for?

Friedman states (and we have heard similar things in Hebrew) that "Adelson personifies everything that is poisoning our democracy and Israel's today -- swaggering oligarchs, using huge sums of money to try to bend each system to their will," So that is what you, a good democrat, were angling for -- to bar freedom of expressions for those who do not share your views?

If we compare the amounts of money poured into American politics by the Left and Right throughout the past century, the balance will clearly, and infuriatingly so, be tipped in favor of the Left. All one has to do is look at the Ford Foundation and its offshoots, at George Soros, etc. Speaking of "poisoning democracy" -- we in Israel are accustomed to such allegations. They are usually leveled at us by fundamentalist liberals, who have gotten used to hearing nothing but their own voices in the media, academic and intellectual discourses. These are people who have, for years, relished in silencing the majority view in the Israeli public that is, alas, "right-wing, pro-Israel extremist." You see Friedman, until "Israel Hayom" came along, the Israeli majority had no stage to call its own. We were made to beg like paupers before the other newspapers for some decency and fairness -- a little bit funny.

Voltaire is attributed with the saying, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." People like you, Mr. Friedman, will defend to the death our right -- to think like you.

Language regime

Friedman educates us that is it "appropriate" for knowledgeable American leaders to refer to the "West Bank" or the "occupied territories" and not, heaven forbid, "Judea and Samaria," or at the very least the "disputed territories." This is what he has chosen to crucify Adelson for, since he prefers to refer to our ancestral land by its real name, instead of capitulating to the language regime imposed by the Left for the past few decades. The savvy Friedman adds that "occupied territories" is the "true name" of the area. I would choose another name for Friedman.

Beyond the criticism of Friedman's dime-a-dozen liberalism, the argument that can be laboriously forced out of his childish text should be addressed: Iran has an interest in seeing Israel remain in Judea and Samaria. What do you think? I remember a Persian leader named Cyrus the Great, who urged the Jewish people to return to their homeland and rebuild it. History has its own ironic ways of teaching us a lesson in humility. Sometimes, in the great historic process of the return to Zion, even a fallen angel has no choice but to say amen.

The Adelson family owns the company that is the primary shareholder in Israel Hayom.

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