4 thoughts on “Tom Friedman, Israel’s Dr. Pangloss – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Hi Richard,

    These are excellent points. There are at least two other major elements to add in response to to Friedman.

    1) In 2007 Naomi Klein responded to a somewhat similar argument made by Friedman (http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2007/06/laboratory-fortressed-world):

    “Put in Friedmanesque terms: Israel went from inventing the networking tools of the “flat world” to selling fences to an apartheid planet. Many of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel’s status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom—a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war. And the reason Israel is now enjoying supergrowth is that those companies are busily exporting that model to the world.”

    2) Also ironically, Friedman ridicules Iran for relying on the extraction of oil from the ground, but the Israeli economy is heavily dependent on the extraction of diamonds from the ground, generally in 3rd world countries, with individuals like Lev Leviev in the lead in this exploitative industry which accounts for “20% of the country’s industrial exports.” (http://in.reuters.com/article/asiaCompanyAndMarkets/idINL0313942920080103)

    Freidman says, “Iran’s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel’s economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel’s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs. So who will be here in 20 years? I’m with Buffett: I’ll bet on the people who bet on their people — not the people who bet on dead dinosaurs.”

    In addition to Naomi Klein, it seems like Lev Leviev, who controls around 1/3rd of the world’s diamond trade and exploits and impoverishes people in countries like Angola might also diagree with Freidman’s analysis.

  2. “Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.”

    It follows that Iran is indeed justified in developing a nuclear power capability, eh?

  3. From my perspective: Israel, in becoming a high tech winner, associated with a highly militarized state; simultaneously lost its decentralized, humanistic, idealistic,
    thrust–that captured the hearts and minds of progressive Jews and non-Jews the world over during the first half of
    the last century.

    I don’t think Tom Friedman has internalized that basic truth.

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