32 thoughts on “Tom Friedman: Consultant to IDF General Staff – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. It’s not a bad thing for people to know exactly on what side of the fence a given journalist stands. For example, many of us read Gideon Levy’s articles in Ha’aretz, the news service that reported Friedman’s IDF connection. Levy certainly doesn’t mince words about where he stands. And now we know where Friedman stands, too.

  2. Friedman reported in the NYT that Ashkenazi removed 2/3 of the 41 checkpoints in the West Bank. I assume that went through the NYT fact checking department. I know that my regular Saturday gig in Nablus has been made easier to get to as the lines at Huwara checkpoint have been moving significantly faster as it seems the soldiers aren’t subjecting Palestinian’s to excessive scrutiny. Both Nablus and Ramallah are verily bustling – Nablus with Israeli Arabs shopping on Saturday and Ramallah with people from surrounding villages and towns who couldn’t easily travel there prior to the recent dismantling of the checkpoints.

    Helena did not in fact note an egregious error at all. She simply stated “…I think Pfeffer is quite incorrect to write that “most” IDF checkpoints have been removed from the occupied territories…” That seems a little unsubstantiated given the aforementioned assumption that Friedman’s assertion went through some fact checking process at the NYT whereas Helena is just working on a hunch.

    Anyhow, the knaffeh today in Nablus was delicious and I brought back some great tahini and halvah.

    1. I assume that went through the NYT fact checking department.

      You mean like all of Judith Miller’s reports on Iraq went through the NYT fact checking department?

    2. I brought back some great…halvah.

      If you brought it from Nablus, then you brought back halawa, not halvah.

    3. Ashkenazi removed 2/3 of the 41 checkpoints in the West Bank

      First, there are not 41 checkpoints in the West Bank. Human rights groups like Machsom Watch have counted over 500. I assume you mean MAJOR checkpoints that are manned by IDF personnel which is quite different than ALL checkpoints. Second, just because Friedman claims something is so doesn’t mean that I accept it.

      I assume that went through the NYT fact checking department.

      How do presume that the NYT fact checking dept. would be able to travel to the W. Bank and examine ea. of those 41 checkpoints to determine whether they are there or not?? Now, if you or Friedman would care to present evidence fr. Machsom Watch or a credible human rights group whose mission it is to know precisely these facts, then I’d consider it.

      Both Nablus and Ramallah are verily bustling

      Would you pls stop with the “economic miracle” crap. It’s so unconvincing. Improving the economic plight of the West Bank solves about 1 1/2% of the overall Israel-Arab conflict. Besides, this is a development that can be cancelled just as quickly as it was instituted. It is not permanent & therefore not trustworthy as an indicator of anything.

      Helena did not in fact note an egregious error at all.

      How many Quakers do you know? You apparently don’t know Helena. Quakers don’t get as carried away as Jews do. When she says “quite incorrect” that’s a polite Quaker way of saying “egregious error.” Why don’t you ask her yrself if you don’t believe me.

      Helena is just working on a hunch.

      The notion that Helena works on “hunches” is humorous. She is one of the most thorough Middle East journalists around & puts Tom Friedman to shame.

  3. In Friedman’s article on the subject he claims:

    The Israeli Army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, has backed that up by taking down roughly two-thirds of the 41 manned checkpoints Israel set up around the West Bank, many since 2000, to stifle Palestinian suicide bombers.

    Assuming he is referring to the removal of preeminent checkpoints across the West Bank, and discounting the many checkpoints to Israel but on Palestinian territory, the constant roving checkpoints, and the hundreds of other IDF imposed obstructions of movement throughout the West Bank; I suppose Friedman’s claim is loosely true, enough so for NYT fact checkers anyway, for what little that is worth when the facts consern Israel. On the other hand, Haaretz’s claim of “most IDF checkpoints were removed” is just outright absurd.

  4. What Shirin said. I wouldn’t place much faith in the NYT fact-checking department, if such a thing exists.

    As for the checkpoints, I’m waiting for the various human rights groups to report on what the current situation is. Anyway, the convenient thing for Israel with regard to their PR campaign is that whenever they lighten up their oppressive policies in some way, they can usually count on people in the US to overstate the significance. We already know that Israel is trying to establish a difference in the prosperity levels between the West Bank and Gaza, so lifting some checkpoints would further that end. It’s divide and conquer as usual.

    Apartheid South Africa tried to play the same sort of game, but people didn’t fall for it so easily.

  5. Fair enough Donald! I too will wait for the reports from the relevant human rights groups before rushing to judgement. I just wanted to note my observations from the ground regarding apparent greater Palestinian mobility. I also wanted to add that there’s enough to criticize Tom Friedman for without having to castigate him for his choice on who to marry! In all likelihood the home he lives in was purchased by his wife. That just weakens the thrust of this post and seems a little mean spirited.

    1. there’s enough to criticize Tom Friedman for without having to castigate him for his choice on who to marry! In all likelihood the home he lives in was purchased by his wife. That just weakens the thrust of this post and seems a little mean spirited.

      Pardon me. I’ve never heard you expend a single word to criticize Tom Friedman. I didn’t castigate him about who he chose to marry. I castigated him because his wealth has influenced his reporting and blinded him to facts and social realities that earlier in his career he would’ve been more sensitive to. Tom is clearly a member of the landed gentry and lives in the land of noblesse oblige. He wasn’t that way when he first started out. But he is now.

      As for “mean spirited,” you mean someone who floats through life on a cushion worth several billion dollars deserves the kid gloves treatment?

      1. I’m not a blogger or a journalist of any kind. Besides my statement about there being enough…. is in and of itself a criticism of Friedman. Your suggestion that marrying into wealth has ruined whatever journalistic chops Friedman had is really baseless. People lose the passion and inspiration all the time and for all sorts of reasons. Picking on his wife’s wealth seems rather facile.

  6. What did Tom Friedman say several years ago on Charlie Rose during Bush and Dick’s build-up to our attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq? He made some Dirty Harry-like comment directed at the Arab world generally, and Iraq in particular. Something to the effect of “so you put a gun to their heads and say, you listening now punks?!”. After all, in Friedman’s world all the A-rabs understand is force, if we drop a whole bunch of bombs on them (a lot of disconnected blood-spattered limbs is the general idea), bust down their doors, spew bullets into their streets, beat and rape their women and children (as we saw at Abu Ghraib and numerous other instances), maybe then they’ll shape up and ‘get it’. Maybe then the ingrates will wake up to that democratic smell of napalm in the morning.

    I have to say, the porn/used-car salesman ‘stache he’s had since God knows in a strange way complements his barbarism & bloodlust. He should grow it out a little more like John Bolton’s, though, for they’re truly the tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum of foreign policy “thought”.

    Sorry, I just can’t help excoriating Friedman. Something comes over me. 🙂

      1. Agree that Bolton is definitively worse, he is truly Dr. Strangelove. John Bolton is a deeply scary, crazed man; and his mustache is scarier than Friedman’s as well. (People are going to think I’m anti-mustache, but I’m really not. I love Mark Twain’s mustache, for instance. And Albert Einstein’s.)

        I just think Tom Friedman is geo-politically closer to John Bolton, if still some distance, than most people will grant. On a spectrum, he’s far closer to Bolton than he’d be to Naomi Klein, for instance.

  7. Last thing I read from Tom Friedman: like “Palestinians are the source of the problem”. Printed: NYT, 11/sep/2001, before sunrise. Why read more?

  8. I could be wrong, and this is irrelevant to the main topic, but the Bucksbaum fortune has been estimated to have gallen from $3 billion to less than $100 million–the share price of General Properties whatever was at $60 before the descent, hit 30 cents, and now hovers (I think) between 50 cents and a dollar. That’s approaching 99% loss, assuming that the fortune is largely based on the value of the stock, rather than on Friedman’s book sales.

    1. “Interesting?” Hardly. Just typical “hasbara” & the title of your blog even concedes as such. I find it interesting that because I mount legitimiate criticism of Friedman’s journalistic ethics that this means that I’m jealous of his success or wealth. I’m happy with my life & current economic status, thank you & don’t envy anyone, including Tom Friedman. But nice try at using a totally irrelevant smear to attempt to discredit my attack on Friedman.

      Speaking of “jealousy,” it wouldn’t be possible would it that you, whose blog is ranked 17 million by Alexa, might be exploiting the popularity of progressive bloggers who really have an audience to score a few cheap hasbara pts.?? Nah, I didn’t think so.

      1. nice try at using a totally irrelevant smear to attempt to discredit my attack on Friedman.

        That is SOP for JES everywhere he goes.

          1. He’s been a semi-regular at Helena’s for a couple of years. Over time his comments have become less and less substantive and more and more off topic, irrelevant and nasty-personal. We have Helena to thank for the fact that he finally started his own blog. He also shows up now and then at Philip Weiss’s to toss out a few personal smears at someone or other.

          2. Ah yes, now that you mention it I do recall seeing those initials in the comment threads of Helena’s blog. Should I be happy he’s not had me in his sights till now?

            I always tell people who chafe here in my comment threads or claim that I’m a bully & censor if I ask them to stop repeating the same pt 10 times in the same thread, that if they don’t like it they should start their own blog. No one’s ever taken me up on it. I guess Helena is more persuasive.

          3. Well, Helena’s “persuasion” in this case consisted of suspending his commenting privileges for two weeks, followed up by further suggestions once the suspension was up that he get his own blog. Even Helena has her limits it seems.

  9. Correction: GGP no longer fluctuates. The Yahoo stock chart shows at frozen from April at 1.06. A Mother Jones article at the same time estimates the fortune to be at $25 million. It’s been hard for me to believe that Friedman’s regular “days off” during recent months are related to this. No matter how much you have, or think you have, losing over 99% of it could not be good for the family atmosphere. Schadenfreude alert.

  10. Richard,
    You have a right to your opinion and to present it in the way that you do, but…

    I think that when you habitually attack a person rather than the content itself, you portray yourself as an attack dog rather than a policy critic.

    I personally read MANY people that I agree with partially, and acknowledge what I agree with and comment on what I disagree with.

    Wherever the majority of the content is snark, that is no longer possible, and we have “health-care town meetings”.

  11. Having read this thread over multiple sites, three questions to Friedman:
    Q1: Why cannot you specify which (and thus how many) roadblocks were removed, after talking to IDF/IOF? Who else knows?
    Q2: Why did you not share your impressions from these Arab states with us in your column?
    Q3: Why talk to Israel _military_, and not with say Israel ministry of foreign affairs? Now you were talking some Arab politics! to a foreign military!.

  12. Seen in a Forum (so we shouldn’t necessarily trust it!):

    When Tom Friedman visited Israel as a youngster in the 1960s, the kids would ask him, “When you taking up Aliyah?” When he returned to become ME correspondent for the NYT, as he relates in ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’, the kids only wanted his advice and assistance getting a Green Card and a job in the States.

    Does anyone have his book, is that really what he said back then?

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