Tom Friedman wins the award for worst single paragraph written about the Gaza war by someone who ought to know better:
The fighting, death and destruction in Gaza is painful to watch. But it’s all too familiar. It’s the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East, which, if I were to give it a title, would be called: “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?”
This is utterly inane and shows Friedman at his most reductionist. He has this annoying habit of trying to reduce complicated issues into neat digestible concepts. What makes it especially annoying is that he does it in a smug self-satisfed way; as if to say: “Aren’t I clever?”
Here his tendency to reduce the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to three neat syllogisms founders. I was wondering when Friedman was going to get around to pontificating on Gaza. It only took him twelve days to figure out what he wanted to say as 600 Gazans died. And then when he spoke it was like a hot air balloon with all the helium drained out of it.
There is a strange bifurcation going on at the Times. The news reporting has generally been first-rate. And I say this as someone who’s been critical of Ethan Bronner’s reporting from his start a few months ago. But the editorial page has been AWOL: one editorial which pussy-footed around the issues and tried to be all things to all people. Two columns written by David Grossman and Benny Morris. The latter’s column was typically whiny and beside the point; and Grossman’s advocating a 48 hour truce was definitely not his best work. David Brooks and Bill Kristol both sprached about Gaza in their typically neocon fashion. No columns by anyone critical of the Gaza attack and most significantly nothing by an Arab, Muslim or Palestinian.
No liberal vision at all. It’s a glaring gap in the Times’ coverage. It seems to show an editorial board which is at sea and simply doesn’t know how to address this travesty. This is not the glorious (though many would disagree), comprehenvsive approach, so superior to that of the Washington Post, that I’ve come to expect of the Times on this subject.
I recall the Times’ coverage of the Lebanon War being much more sure-footed including editorials which analyzed the issues without fear or favor to the Israel lobby. I don’t know what’s happened in the interim.
NOTE: After writing this I just noticed that Nicholas Kristof has finally spoken about Gaza, including this incisive passage:
Barack Obama has said relatively little about Gaza. At first, given the provocations by Hamas, that was understandable. But as the ground invasion costs more lives, he needs to join European leaders in calling for a new cease-fire on all sides — and after he assumes the presidency, he must provide real leadership that the world craves.
Aaron David Miller…suggests…that presidents should offer Israel “love, but tough love.”
So, Mr. Obama, find your voice. Fall in tough love with Israel.
So we can at last say that one of the Times’ liberal columnists has said something decent and articulate on the subject. About time. What took them so long?