Thomas Friedman lives on a different planet, that of Israeli hasbara.
In an Op-Ed piece today for the New York Times about Israeli-American relations and different perceptions on the “peace process,” Friedman repeats standard Israeli talking points. Let’s take a look.
The collapse of the Oslo peace process, combined with the unilateral Israeli pullouts from Lebanon and Gaza — which were followed not by peace but by rocket attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas on Israel — decimated Israel’s peace camp and the political parties aligned with it.
At the same time, Israel’s erecting of a wall around the West Bank to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel (there have been no successful attacks since 2006), along with the rise of the high-tech industry in Israel — which does a great deal of business digitally and over the Internet and is largely impervious to the day-to-day conflict — has meant that even without peace, Israel can enjoy a very peaceful existence and a rising standard of living.
If I didn’t know better, I would think that the Palestinians caused the collapse of the Oslo “peace process,” that Israel’s “unilateral pullouts” were really about making peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, that the wall is only innocently “around” the West Bank in order to protect from suicide bombing attacks, and that Israel is an amazing country to live in because of their “high-tech industry.”
On the planet of reality, we can see that Israel had no intention of making peace with the Palestinians during the “peace process,” as they accelerated the building of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank. We can see that Israel never “pulled out” of Gaza and instead redeployed around the periphery but remains the occupying power and imposes a crippling blockade. We can see that those nefarious rocket attacks have killed a much smaller number of Israelis compared to the high number of innocent Lebanese and Gazans killed by one of the most advanced armies in the world. During "Operation Cast Lead," the proportion of Palestinians killed to Israelis killed was a stunning 100:1, and the majority of Palestinians who died were innocent civilians.
Perhaps the most brazen of Israeli hasbara points Friedman repeats is that Israel has erected “a wall around the West Bank.” I wonder if Friedman has ever been to the areas that the separation barrier encompasses. In fact, he doesn’t even have to go there. Friedman should just look at the map that the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has published, which shows clearly that the wall doesn’t just go “around” the West Bank, but that it snakes into occupied Palestinian territory, effectively encompassing large illegal settlement blocs and annexing portions of the West Bank.