2 thoughts on “Tom Friedman to Israel and U.S.–Don’t Sink Hamas, Let It Sink or Swim On Its Own – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard,

    I disagree with your overall comments about Tom Friedman at the beginning of this article. I think more often than not he has something thoughtful to say ands worthwhile to read, including this current piece you are quoting.

    The difficult problem is that I wouldn’t trust much of what Hamas negotiators promised, if there ever are Hamas/Israel talks. How do you talk to people who aren’t even willing to concede the right of your nation to exist?

    Israel will never negotiate Israel’s right to exist, and if Hamas won’t concede that right, how can negotiations take place? Can Hamas discuss borders with an entity it considers illegal? Can Israel discuss permanent cessation of all suicide bombings with an entity that wants to terminate its existence?


  2. Dick: I freely concede there are those who find Friedman refreshing and interesting. My view of him is not the only legitimate one. But I’ve been reading him almost as long as he’s been at the Times. I started out reading him religiously & really enjoying his perspective (especially when he wrote more often about the I-P conflict). But after a time (after he became popular, won Pulitzers, etc.) his writing (at least to me) became self-indulgent and full of self-regard. I think jetsetting around the world with Secretaries of State like Jim Baker went to his head a bit. As a result, I rarely these days find much of his that stirs my imagination.

    I am glad though we agree that the piece I feature here is excellent.

    I think Friedman and Henry Siegman have it precisely right in terms of what Israel’s strategy should be in the event of Hamas-Israel negotiations. You don’t set ultimatums demanding that Hamas admit this or recognize that. You start from a position of common interest. For example, Hamas says it will agree to a long-term truce if Israel retreats to 1967 borders. Start there. I doubt that Israel would retreat to ’67 borders, but there may be ways to bring both sides to a common understanding & set of compromises as long as we don’t set up unilateral demands about what we expect of our negotiation partner even before negotiations begin.

    As Friedman says, I’d rather make a real & lasting peace with a Hamas that never fully concedes Israel’s right to exist; than make a supposed peace with Mahmoud Abbas & Fatah which can never be guaranteed or enforced because they are too weak, divided or corrupt to do so.

    You raise the pt. that Hamas cannot discuss borders w. an entity it considers illegal. But one must also view this fr. the other side. One of my recent posts quotes a Wolf Blitzer CNN interview with a top Hamas leader in which he flips your argument on its head: how can Hamas be expected to negotiate peace with an Israel which itself has not been willing to determine its own borders?

    I say get ea. side to agree to borders that are minimally acceptable to the other side & then worry about the idea of recognition.

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