Tom Terrific, Fayyadist
This is another installment in the amazing adventures of Tom Terrific (aka Friedman) in Palestine, wherein our hero goes slumming through the West Bank seeking economic miracles to which he can attribute the magical touch of “Prime Minister” Salam Fayyad. Here’s one particular howler from today’s column:
…If the Palestinians can build a real economy, a professional security force and an effective, transparent government bureaucracy it will eventually become impossible for Israel to deny the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
Can anyone tell me why in God’s name Israel will find it impossible to deny the Palestinians a state merely because they have built a working economy and political apparatus?
I also find it humorous when Tom describes Fayyad as if he’s a Chicago ward-heeler:
The economist-turned-politician seems more comfortable mixing with his constituents in the West Bank…
Constituents? Forgive me, but in my high school civics course I was taught you had to be elected to have “constituents.” Am I missing something here or is Tom perhaps missing something? What was Fayyad ever elected to?
I swear, Tom’s tooting of Fayyad’s horn makes me swear the former’s palm is getting greased by someone. You couldn’t pay a PR flack enough to produce such unrelenting upbeat propaganda. And he hasn’t just done this once, he does it several times a year. In truth, I half-wonder whether the PA is paying Tom a consulting fee of some sort.
Here’s some more Tom delusion. He claims conditions in the West Bank are so excellent that “even some Gazans are moving there.” Excuse me Tom, do you realize there’s a siege underway on Gaza and that no one gets in or out without Israeli approval, which is practically non-existent? So the only people “moving” from Gaza to the West Bank are those Israel has permitted to do so.
Tom has a truly ambitious agenda for Pres. Obama’s July 6th meeting with Bibi:
The most important thing President Obama can do when he meets Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, on July 6 is to nudge him to begin gradually ceding control of major West Bank Palestinian cities to the Palestinian Authority…
Ever the gradualist even in the face of mounting disaster, Tom goes for the lowest common denominator. I can think of many important things Obama should ‘nudge’ Bibi to do: end the siege, end the Occupation, enter final status talks. But switching from Israeli to Palestinian uniforms in a few West Bank cities is not one of them.
And all of you out there who like to “dump on” Fayyad and call him “inauthentic,” Shame on You says Tom:
I am struck, though, at how much Fayyadism makes some Arabs…uncomfortable. For those Arabs who have fallen in love with the idea of Palestinians as permanent victims, forever engaged in a heroic “armed struggle” to recover Palestine and Arab dignity, Fayyad’s methodical state-building is inauthentic. Some Arabs — shamefully — dump on it…
Imagine that, Arabs actually think a guy who came to power through an aborted armed coup and was never elected by anyone to anything is inauthentic! What will they think of next?
I swear Tom and Bibi are in cahoots on this. The only thing Bibi is willing to concede to Palestinians is that Israel can nibble around the edges of Occupation and improve the Palestinians economy. So what tune does Tom sing? It’s the economy stupid. No, in this case it’s not the economy. It’s political power and control of land and resources. You can’t build a state or an economy without having absolute control over such things. And all Tom is doing is dealing in half measures. Oh Tom, poor Tom. You’re too little, too late.
20 thoughts on “Tom Terrific, Fayyadist – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I like Fayyad’s approach, and that Friedman appreciates it is wonderful.
Why wouldn’t you encourage that?
I like the fight against corruption of one form, but not the political corruption and betrayal of democracy that is also part of Fayyadism and its Western supporters. You never talk about this–it’s as if the successful US attempt at dividing the Palestinian government and nullifying the Palestinian elections never took place. It shows bad faith.
I don’t like Netanyahu’s government, but nobody in the West thinks the US should be illegally tampering with the Israeli political system or sponsoring a military coup against them or more realistically, bribing people to do what we want.
Lord, Witty, you’re back? And as obtuse as ever I see.
Friedman doesn’t need anything so crude as a payoff slipped into his hand–he gets Pulitzers and a NYT column and endless fawning adoration from the likes of Charlie Rose for being the person he is. If he were consistently honest he wouldn’t have gotten where he is today.
Friedman’s personal failings aside (though analyzing the sort of person who gets to be a Serious Commentator is important) this is part of the plan to split the WB from Gaza. It’s never really stopped, even after the flotilla forced people to recognize that the blockade has been brutal.
And from what others have said (I don’t know myself), Ramallah is itself a relatively prosperous island within the WB itself–it’s not all peaches and cream there.
It’s all part of the promotion of “our” “good” Palestinians. While many Palestinians in the PA government truly feel that they are building a nation, others do not labor under the same illusion that efforts supported by the American Task force on Palestine, General Dayton, and other “acceptable” Palestinian leaders have led to much of anything other than continued encroachment by Israel.
The independent-minded Palestine Strategy Study Group writes: “The appropriate discourse uses the language, not of peacemaking or statebuilding, but of national self-determination, of liberation, of emancipation from occupation, of individual and collective rights, of international law. This must be the primary discourse. Only when the priorities defined within the primary Palestinian discourse of emancipation are recognised can the hitherto rightly subordinated discourses of peacemaking and statebuilding move properly into the foreground. […] A reconstitution of the PA could take a number of forms, from a mild reorientation to a more radical reconfiguration, or even abolition.”
As for Friedman’s claims that Fayyad (or any PA functionary) feels “comfortable mixing with his constituents in the West Bank,” I was told by a number of people in the West Bank on a visit last year that the closest most Palestinians get to PA functionaries is the heavily guarded convoys they ride in. Many Palestinians regard them as collaborators.
Thinking of Friedman, I am reminded of this epigram by G.K. Chesterton:
You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God! The British journalist
But then, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there isn’t any reason to
Here is the latest on conditions in the West Bank that are a direct result of demolitions and Israeli-made homelessness:
Israel is provoking a human tragedy around it, while Israeli citizens enjoy a high standard of living, full rights and expansion at the expense of Palestians.
The apathy of the majority of Israelis surrounded by all this suffering is outrageous!
Tom Friedman believes he is working for peace in the Middle East. So does Richard Silverstein.
Friedman has learned how to scrunch up his face to look thoughtful I guess it’s a skill. I don’t think Silverstein can do it nearly as well. Or at all.
Fayyad is an oddball among the Arabs. I don’t see how his projects can live on after him.
And Ricky has absolutely nothing worthwhile to say.
what are you looking for? write it down and send it to tom. he will read it and reply.
Well-said! I would really like to hear Tom’s response to these criticisms.
I’ve written to Friedman before. He doesn’t respond to his critics unless they’re people he needs to coddle or mollify.
Friedman is the worst excuse for a journalist I have ever seen. He’s clueless, insensitive and a shameless panderer. His utopian vision of the West Bank is a lie; he is a colonialist in collaboration with the PA and the Israelis to paint a rosy picture of the ongoing misery and corruption in the West Bank, and to split Palestine into the “good” Palestinians (WB) and the “bad” Palestinians (Gaza). He is an insult to his profession. And he can’t write a coherent column, either.
I am grateful to Richard for his long having recognized and articulated what Pursed-Lip Tom Twit truly is, a pompous and highly self-important con who no doubt deeply believes the rightness of the incredible acclaim his nonsense has received even unto Pulitzer Prizes – plural, please note. His pronouncements and voice-of-god solutions for the Middle East are almost invariably wrong. Long have I felt that this malevolent fool is in reality another of the New York Times’ neocons, far more thoroughly disguised and more stealthy than their Judith Miller, say, bright enough to be more subtle and less nauseating than a William Kristol, but whose camouflage thus renders him more toxic. Well I remember his stumping for our criminal war against Iraq (shades of that Vietnam maxim about destroying a place in order to save it), then in typical T. Friedman oracularity more or less eschewing it all because his suggestions for solving the problem of benighted Iraq were ignored. Until the blather of such as he – and he, alas, is many – is fully ignored regarding the Fayyads as opposed to those the people honestly elected into office – Hamas, for instance – we’ll continue to assist Israel in its deepening status as a pariah nation.
“…If the Palestinians can build a real economy, a professional security force and an effective, transparent government bureaucracy it will eventually become impossible for Israel to deny the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.”
What a disingenuous windbag! He conveniently forgets that Israel has complete control over Palestinian development of anything. He forgets that Israel has deliberately prevented the Palestinians from building a real economy. He forgets that every time the Palestinians have managed to build any kind of civil bureaucracy, or civil infrastructure Israel has manufactured a pretext to destroy it piece by piece. He forgets how Israel systematically destroyed the security apparatus that Israel insisted Palestinians put in place. Oh – and let us not forget how Israel reacted to the Palestinians’ last efforts at democracy.
Tom Friedman is nothing but a very unfunny joke. The shocking thing is that so many otherwise intelligent people take him seriously.
Part of the problem is that there are so few writers in the news media who will write honestly and intelligently about Palestine or are prevented from doing so by their editors. This definitely includes those in the NY Times. Isabel Kerschner and Ethan Bronner are a joke.
Kershner doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Bronner. I notice Dina Kraft is now writing for them as well. So far, she seems decent. But time will tell after she files more stories.
I’m wondering how Nicholas Kristof’s piece on Gaza managed to get published. I was astonished. The only thing I found wrong about it, other than that it was a long time coming, was that he avoids the issue of accountability and pulls back from a good opportunity to make a statement critical of US policy. Perhaps he’s afraid he’ll be accused of giving material support to Hamas.
Tom Friedman is by far the most despicable of them all. And he is beyond annoying.
I just remembered something, in fact. A few years ago when I was in the first days of recovery from surgery and in a pain-med-induced sleep, I dreamed I came upon a crowd of people who were gathered around listening in rapt attention to some guy who was blathering on and on in the stupidest way about the Middle East. I couldn’t take it, so I started shouting out fact-based rebuttals to everything he said, and one by one the crowd turned away from him and started listening to me. When I began to come out of my drug-induced stupor the guy started to sound really familiar, and when I opened my eyes, it was Tom Friedman on the Oprah show.