28 thoughts on “Tom Friedman Heart Fatah – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Delphic Tom, indeed. His pomposity knoweth no bounds, and, as you rightly observed, Richard, the only real positive for Friedman I can see for the world at large is that he has become quite irrelevant, drowned in the deeps of his own significance. Amazing how many people, the NY Times perhaps deliberately so, he has conned with his innumerable reductio ad absurda pronounced from on high. Not for him the quite honest Hamas win in that 2006 democratic election – see 1953 and our position and moves following that election in Iran when we somehow couldn’t accept the results, just as we and Mr. Friedman and the Israelis couldn’t in 2006. Deja vu, Mr. Friedman, and all that there stuff.

  2. The Friedman formula is roughly the following–

    1. When writing about the failings of Arab societies, pull no punches and ignore or dismiss any role that Western powers might have played in their plight. If the Arabs try to blame the West, treat it as an excuse and nothing more.

    2. When writing about US or Israeli failures, always balance any criticism with criticism of the Arabs. Also, treat the Western atrocities as PR problems, not moral problems and as aberations, not as events which show something deeply wrong with Western society.

    3. Defend terrorism when inflicted by Israel, but of course don’t call it that. Condemn it when practiced by Arabs.

    People say Friedman was better in the 80’s when he wrote “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, but I think the differences between the 80’s Friedman and the current one are not that great. You can see the same condescension in the early Friedman–it just wasn’t as blatant all the time. And winning a Pulitzer clearly doesn’t mean that much–Friedman always phoned it in on global economic policies, his other supposed area of expertise. His first globalization book was a hymn to the wisdom and beneficence of the financial markets and CEO’s.

  3. Friedman used to be anti Israel, but when he realized Arafat was a rejectionist, he changed his tune. After Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer, Friedman realized Abbas is as much a rejectionist as Arafat.
    At this Palestinian convention, there glorifying terrorists against Israel, saying Israel killed Arafat. Even Richard should be shocked at this. I know he’ll never criticize Palestinian incitement.

  4. Tom Friedman has long since ceased being relevant in any meaningful way to the debate about the Israeli-Arab conflict.

    This implies that Tom Friedman was ever actually relevant.

      1. In the spirit of the suq I will grant you that he was less irrelevant in the early years, and certainly less “so incredibly sophomorically self-important and empty-headed that you wanted to punch him every time he opened his stupid mouth”, but really he was never as great as people thought he was.

        A few years ago – long after he ceased to be “less irrelevant” I had one of my very rare days of being sick at home. I was in front of the TV with an American channel on, drifting in and out of a serious-pain-killer-induced sleep. I dreamed that I was in some sort of an institutional building, and came across a crowd who was listening to some man carry out in the most outrageously ignorant way about the Middle East, so I joined the crowd and began to challenge him on every point. After a while I began to wake up, and slowly realized that on the TV was none other that Tom Friedman blathering on about the Middle East. I had been debating Tom Friedman in my sleep.

  5. And, still his points have merit.

    The fact of improved formulation, administration, and prosecution of law is a big deal.

    It does enable external investment that is not charity, to the West Bank.

    It does create a path for normalization with Israel and Israelis.

    Whether economic development, and legal development is the sole determinant of Palestinian progress, it IS a critical one.

    Like Israel’s needed cessation of settlement expansion is a tipping issue for describing Israel’s intent, what Fayyad represents is a tipping issue for describing Palestine’s intent.

    The solely political approach is thin. It ignores as much as it satisfies, more.

    It does question the relevance and potential of BDS, which I regard as an immoral (though rarely necessary) approach.

    If the goals of definable and consented borders are achieved through the Fayyad approach (which have NOT been with the 40 years of political resistance approach), will you acknowledge your error?

    1. That’s mostly fine, Richard, if Friedman had included Israel’s responsibility for Palestinian suffering, but he didn’t.

      And as for BDS, I would never favor any policy which would inflict even half as much suffering on the Israelis as the checkpoints and the blockades have inflicted on Palestinians. But then I’m also opposed to the checkpoints and the blockade on Gaza.

  6. And now let us hope that F. actually reads such critical comments. But I fear he does not – enclosed as he probably is within the “cordon insanitaire” of his self-regard.

  7. Just to clarify Richard, Salam Fayyad is not a member of Fatah but of the Third Way party which won about 2 per cent of the vote in the last elections. Having him as PM is roughly equivalent to installing Ralph Nader as President of the US following the 2000 elections. His government has never had the confidence of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

    1. Correction noted. And yr analogy to Nader is apt as well. So now Fatah has a rump government managed by a rump prime minister who represents 2% of the Palestinian population. Fayyad may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but how can he actually run a government??

  8. I hold Tom Friedman in even lower regard than I do David Brooks, and that’s saying a lot (at least Brooks has a little color in his loopy tin-pot sociologisms). Friedman never says anything substantive or anything which indicates a concrete, complex bearing on reality, and I doubt that he’s even capable of critical thought. In column after poorly-written column, he makes the same tired old arguments for American corporate-military dominance, for plutocracy, for hyper-predatory unregulated global capitalism.

    He clearly holds average working Americans in abject contempt as well as America’s New Deal history of industrialism, manufacturing and a strong, well-paid middle class, he deeply resents social democratic Europe as well as European culture (this is something under the surface but shared by both American neo-liberals and neo-cons), and lazily pisses on Arabs and Muslims whatever chance he gets in his never-ending apologia for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and American military aggression. To any serious thinker or intellectual, he’s a (bad) joke.

    What’s far more disturbing than a mediocrity like Friedman in himself, though, is the golden stature he holds among the mainstream-establishment “intellectual” class in this country. I see it as a metaphor for how lost and intellectually-morally bankrupt we are as a society and culture that Friedman is considered a serious intellectual at all, even calling him that is really a debasement of the term.

  9. P.S.—If you want a bit of contrast to the moral-intellectual black hole that is Tom Friedman, a glimmer of intelligence and thoughtfulness amidst the sewage of establishment American commentary, look at Friedman’s colleague on the Times OP-ED, Paul Krugman.

    Krugman unfortunately shares a bit of Friedman’s corporate-globalist outlook, but he manages to nuance and temper this with real critical engagement with and understanding of political and economic issues, and an old-school FDR liberalism (Krugman merits the designation “liberal”, Friedman definitely does not though he is often referred to as such in the press).

    At least Krugman has enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge the problems created by “globalization” (and I think his position has evolved somewhat since the Clintonian ’90’s). Though I’m to the left of Krugman, I appreciate his commentary and intelligence and the contrast between the two further highlights what a dolt and dim-wit Friedman is.

    Alas, Krugman plays it safe and does not comment much on the Middle East or Israel/Palestine, focusing mostly on domestic issues, the economy.

  10. I would appreciate one less “insider” type critique of Friedman– one that I could effectively share with a well-intentioned family member– one who had been infatuated by Friedman, but who is beginning to have
    doubts about his perspective and positions. Thanks in advance.

      1. I still find his reading to be interesting.

        People mean different things by globalization. I’m a rural sustainable economy advocate, in contrast to Friedman’s urban emphasis.

        I think it is important to identify and appreciate the features of a system, even one that one rejects, so as to be able to build a better mousetrap.

        Otherwise, one is only complaining. Important work to complain, but ultimately not enough to improve things.

          1. If you consider sustainability issues merely fatuous and self-important, then we live on different planets.

            The world does not revolve around Israel, Palestine, or politics even.

          2. Richard Witty, that does not even make sense. I thought ou at least had a better understanding of language than that. The words fatuous and self-important are adjectives for people or behaviour, not things.

            Tom Friedman is the very definition of fatuous, and self-important.

          3. “<iI thought you were talking about me.”

            If the shoe fits…isn’t that the expression? :o}

          4. You didn’t get the importance of understanding the system (and appreciating the features and relationships) that you are criticizing?

            How will your efforts result in improvement, if you don’t even understand what occurs?

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