How’s life on the planet of Israeli hasbara, Thomas Friedman?

on 112 Comments

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.

Friedman writes:

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.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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112 Responses

  1. David Samel
    March 29, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Excellent points, Alex. I would add that in my post of ten days ago, link to, I noted that Michael Oren and Ethan Bronner had casually contributed to the fiction that when Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah answered with rockets into Israel. Now Friedman says the same thing. It simply is not true, as Friedman should know. This is precisely how fiction gets cemented into fact. For all of its other inaccuracies, the narrative that Israeli withdrawal invites rather than curbs “Arab terrorist” attacks on Israeli civilians serves the purpose of justifying continued Israeli occupation and military control over Palestinians. It’s debatable whether Friedman said this on purpose, but the choice is between whether he’s guilty of lying or “merely” gross carelessness and ineptitude. He sure doesn’t make mistakes in the other direction.

    • sherbrsi
      March 29, 2010, 2:19 pm

      You just have to pick up any of Friedman’s work to realize that he really has such a myopic view of the conflict that I have doubts that even the NYT would even publish his work were it not a stringently Zionist outfit.

    • marc b.
      March 29, 2010, 2:38 pm

      It’s debatable whether Friedman said this on purpose, but the choice is between whether he’s guilty of lying or “merely” gross carelessness and ineptitude.

      You needn’t choose: He’s an incompetent and a liar. And the fact that this dipsomaniac has won multiple Pulitzers tells you everything you need to know about American journalism. The citation from his 2002 award for news commentary:

      Awarded to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times for his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.

      Who could write that with a straight face?

      • Donald
        March 29, 2010, 3:23 pm

        This is what I get for checking in here less often–everyone is making the points I would have made better than I would have made them, starting with Alex’s post and then various comments, including yours, David’s, sherbi’s and others.

        What is infuriating is that I have friends in real life who think Friedman is “pro-Palestinian”. Then you see letters to the NYT where the writer pays tribute to his insight and intelligence and you realize just how effectively the NYT can mislead its readers . If one never read any books or articles by dissident Israeli historians or Arabs or dissident Americans, you would probably think the way my friends do. Since most people don’t obsess over this subject, Friedman can be their main source of info.

      • Chu
        March 29, 2010, 5:44 pm

        Friedman tries so hard to act like one of us – just another guy you might crack open a beer with. I love to watch Charlie Rose for his lame questions that he poses toward Tom Friedman, whenever he gets the mic.
        It such a travesty to have such a sleepy talk show host, that allows a windbag like Friedman to say whatever he wishes totally unchecked. I give it my best to stay tuned in, but people like Rose are just as bad as Friedman – He’s a total enabler.

  2. Taxi
    March 29, 2010, 2:08 pm

    I abhor every single word this propagandist writes.


    Not for his support of the dubious zionist experiment in the holy lands – that’s his prerogative after all. But I abhor him as I do other Americans who always always always put Israeli interests before ours.

    • Chu
      March 29, 2010, 5:52 pm

      …but somewhere in little Tommy’s Minnesota childhood, he was told that he is very special boy from a very special tribe.
      Later in life he would take this to heart and devote his life work to Project Israel, since he really believes how special and unique he and his fellow tribesman are to each others survival.

  3. sherbrsi
    March 29, 2010, 2:14 pm

    There is no doubt that Friedman is the most obnoxious dispenser of Hasbara in the NYT. Unlike his collegues, he makes no pretense of objectivity nor any attempt at obfuscating the details of the conflict (note that Bronner frames the conflict in E. Jerusalem as one of opposing claims, while Friedman in blunt terms calls the subject of occupied E. Jerusalem territory as “disputed.”)

    But there is a key point he makes which shouldn’t be dismissed as readily as his other, glaring points of propaganda.

    …even without peace, Israel can enjoy a very peaceful existence and a rising standard of living.

    Friedman is making an explicit statement here, which the author should have highlighted. This is a common theme in Friedman’s writing: emphasize how miserable the lives of Israel’s enemies and the Arabs are, while praising Israel’s achievements and successes.

    As it pertains to the conflict, however, Friedman is right. Even without peace, Israel enjoys economic prosperity. Even while its major bankroller goes through economic deline, this state is relatively unaware to the global recession. And in face of such circumstances, what incentive does Israel have to go to the peace table? The Israelis are not living daily under brutal occupation, they are not herded like cattle through checkpoints or imprisoned in ghettos. On the contrary its slaughtering of Palestinians is met with further economic ties with the EU and diplomatic and international immunity from America. We have put Israel in such a position that even knowing that it does wrong, it has no compunction to contain its extremist elements. Giving Israel free reign has accorded it the unique position of waging a blatantly racist campaign of ethnic cleansing and land takeover on the Palestinians. Most unfortunate of all is that on the Israeli mind the adverse reaction to Gaza registers at most as a PR nightmare, not a burden on its moral conscience.

    • potsherd
      March 29, 2010, 5:18 pm

      This is very true. “Peace” will make no real difference to the lives of Israelis and they have no internal incentive to make the necessary concessions. For which reason there must be incentives applied to them from outside.

    • pabelmont
      March 30, 2010, 6:33 am

      Someone should write a catchy song, advertising jingle sort of thing, saying:

      Isn’t it wonderful? You can do whatever you want to do!
      ISRAEL, ISRAEL, never fear consequences
      ISRAEL, ISRAEL, for you there is no law
      IM-MUN-I-TYYYY !!


      People could sing it at demonstrations.

      • Mooser
        March 30, 2010, 1:59 pm

        Okay, okay, I resign my position as resident lyricist. There’s talent and to spare around here!
        Well, maybe we can make a deal; I’ll handle the show-tunes parody, and leave the pop tunes and poetry alone?

      • Citizen
        March 31, 2010, 7:40 am

        Israel, Israel
        Our bipolar child
        Spoiled wild
        “It’s my personal decision!
        I’l take drug cocktails if I wanna,
        Or NOT!
        Now, I need some more money,
        And if you love me, send it honey!”
        Israel, Israel,
        Always means well, can’t you see?
        Turns the place upside down,
        Takes a dozen cops to hold down–
        “Don’t tazer me!
        Just send gelt galore!
        I need more, more, more!”

  4. Colin Murray
    March 29, 2010, 2:32 pm

    … 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 …

    This is utter nonsense, if not a deliberate lie. Israel didn’t pull out from either Gaza or Lebanon as a gesture of peace.

    I’ll add to Alex’s excellent summary of Gaza by noting that Ariel Sharon pushed through the withdrawal of Jewish colonies from Gaza because it had become blindingly apparent that Israel would never be able to ethnically cleanse enough Palestinians to be able to reduce the number of Israeli soldiers needed to protect the colonies to a number substantially below the number of colonists themselves. It was a simple case of resource allocation. He decided that the money and manpower invested in Gaza would be better spent augmenting ethnic cleansing and colonization operations in the West Bank.

    Israel pulled out of Lebanon because Lebanese resistance fighters killed enough Israeli soldiers to convince the Israeli public that it wasn’t worth the 18 year occupation. The occupation was an attempt to set the stage for colonization and annexation of Lebanon up to the Litani River (and its precious water). Fighting with Hezbollah has continued because Israel continues to occupy a small portion of Lebanese land with valuable water, the Shabah Farms area, and has not returned all Lebanese PoWs.

    Returning property one has stolen is not a gesture of peace, especially when it is done under duress.

  5. potsherd
    March 29, 2010, 2:44 pm

    These people can’t even make up new lies. Borrring.

    • Taxi
      March 29, 2010, 3:03 pm


      Exactly my sentiment: tedious yesterday, tedious today, followed by yet more tedium tomorrow.


      • Pamela Olson
        March 29, 2010, 5:46 pm

        If you repeat a lie enough times… it’s still a lie.

  6. eGuard
    March 29, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Friedman: Israel’s erecting of a wall [...] (there have been no successful attacks since 2006). In 2006 no more than 54% of the wall’s length was finished, says “”>(B’Tselem, statistics). So shutting one window of a double would be enough? Some causality is missing or wrong.

    • Taxi
      March 29, 2010, 3:08 pm

      When talking about the ‘security usefulness’ of the monstrous wall, nobody ever tells us that the main reason the suicide bombings have stopped is because of change of policy from the Palestinian resistance itself. They decided to stop suicide missions for the time being. That Israel actually thinks it can stop suicide bombers by building a wall is laughable.

      Let’s just hope the 3rd intifada is more about civil disobedience than suicide bombings like the wave the accompanied and followed the 2nd intifada.

    • tree
      March 29, 2010, 8:33 pm

      So shutting one window of a double would be enough? Some causality is missing or wrong.

      I’ve posted this before, but since yu are new here, you might find it enlightening.

      One Thousand Two Hundred Seventy Six People per Week …. the number of Palestinian workers arrested per week for illegally entering Israel, past the Wall that supposedly keeps the suicide bombers out.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 30, 2010, 2:30 am

        Oh I’ve never seen actual estimates, that’s nice. Also, the wall is supposed to have magical properties, since it started being effective the moment the building started.

      • eGuard
        March 30, 2010, 1:28 pm

        Enlightening it is, tree. Actually, the point I tried to note is this: in 2006, about half the length of the wall was build. Then it doesn’t make sense to state, as Friedman does, “you see it worked”. The other half was still open.
        btw this does not contradict the link you provided.

    • Sumud
      March 30, 2010, 12:21 am

      He’s wrong on the basic facts anyway, the last suicide bombing was in 2008.

      link to

  7. Interested Bystander
    March 29, 2010, 3:14 pm

    I discovered this site recently and find it valuable. Thank you.

    A couple of observations. Your comments section seems very homogeneous, which can result in a loss of discipline and rigor. I don’t know why your comments appear to be so predominanty supportive–it’s certainly not due to lack of controversial topics.

    This post may be an example. There is a lot of ad hominem in it: “different planet,” “on the planet of reality”, “most brazen”, “Friedman repeats (hasbara talking points)”, “I wonder if Friedman has ever been to . . . .” The comments jump on the bandwagon: he’s either “lying” or “grossly careless,” “he’s an incompetent and a liar”, “propagandist”, “the most obnixious dispenser of hasbara”, “no pretense of objectivty”, “utter nonsense if not a deliberate lie”, “can’t even make up new lies.”

    This kind of piling on and group-think is not productive. The post and comments also read way more into the Friedman opinion piece than is there. He makes a simple observation that developments over the past two decades, including the fence and Israel’s economic success, have made finding a solution with the Palestinians less urgent, and the U.S.’s greater involvment in the area has made it more urgent for the U.S. That seems like a correct and interesting observation to me.

    The strength of this site is to shed light on the Palestinian experience. This cause is not furhered by needlessly setting up straw men and engaging in personal attacks.

    • Taxi
      March 30, 2010, 10:20 pm

      Welcome Interestedbystander.

      Not sure you’re using the phrase ‘group-think’ accurately here. Group-think is when you feel you have to agree with your peers despite yourself to avoid pressure/being ostracized thereby losing your individuality.

      All of us being human here, dealing with a very serious and emotive topic – well it’s just natural that occasionally ‘words will be exchanged’. This never bothers me personally, and I never feel it takes away from core of the main discussion.

      Verbal friction is all part and parcel of blogging.

      I can’t help but think it’s a little presumptuous of you to instruct/guide anyone here or elsewhere on how they should be ‘perceiving’ the content of Friedman’s article when many people here are well familiar with his thinking and allegiances going back to the eighties.

      In any case, welcome again and I look forward to your contributions.

    • Donald
      March 30, 2010, 10:44 pm

      Frankly, this sounds troll-like. You don’t bother to discuss the points Alex raises–you totally ignored them. Apparently they aren’t important to you, so they shouldn’t be important to anyone. What concerns you is the harsh language. Well, yes, if one doesn’t actually care whether or not Friedman is conveying an accurate picture of Israeli crimes I could certainly see why harsh language used against him would rise to the top of one’s priority list.

      What’s true in Friedman’s column is blatantly obvious–some in US government circles see a conflict of interest between US foreign policy goals and the Israeli right. People have said this for years–occasionally it spills out into the open, as is happening now. We don’t need Friedman’s column to tell us this. And his column contains some half-truths and distortions. You ignore this and focus on the language that offends you. So this is the first time you’ve ever seen strong opinions expressed on this subject?

      There is some group think at this blog–there is at most blogs I’ve visited. But Friedman-bashing is hardly limited to this blog. The media Thomas Frank ridicules Friedman in one of his books (“One Market Under God”), because Friedman was such an abject booster of the free market and globalization along those lines–he was praising the wisdom of financial markets for years and we all know just how wise those turned out to be. Matt Taibbi (sp?) did a famous takedown of his writing style. And as for middle east issues, he’s worshipped by certain members of the MSM (notably Charlie Rose, who seems to hang on his every word when he has him on) and widely despised by others for his warmongering. The media watchgroup FAIR has collected some of his more gruesome statements about war, which manage to be both offensively callous and childish at the same time. He said we went to Iraq just to break down doors and show those people we’re not wimps (paraphrasing, but that’s pretty close to what he said and I could find the youtube clip if I were interested enough). At one point he said he loved Rumsfeld because he’s so crazy. The “Friedman Unit” has passed into internet usage as a measurement of time (six months until Iraq turns around and the war is justified). And on the I/P conflict, writers sympathetic to the Palestinians have had some harsh things to say about Friedman.

      One reason Friedman is widely despised is because he is a pretty good illustration of everything that is wrong with the MSM and its pundits. You can’t go wrong telling powerful people what they want to hear and if you are wrong with the “right” people, your career won’t suffer–if anything, it might even be helped. (Judith Miller is the exception to the rule–Jeffrey Goldberg and Tom Friedman are more typical). Friedman is treated as some oracle of wisdom in the MSM (again, see Charlie Rose), yet most of what he writes on mideast issues is shallow, often inaccurate and callous.

      So yeah, people here are disgusted by him. You must not pay much attention to what people have said about Friedman on liberal and lefty blogs if this comes as a surprise.

      • Taxi
        March 30, 2010, 11:14 pm


        There is no group-think here that I’m aware of – people agree because they genuinely do, not because they want to become ‘popular’ at the expense of their ideology.

        Come on teenagers usually group-think – we’re adults here , well… adult-ish.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 11:26 pm

        Most political blogs end up being dominated by one particular POV, at least the ones I’ve seen. And then the people reinforce each other’s views. It doesn’t require any bad faith on the part of individuals–it’s a process of self-selection. Interested bystander is right about that part of it, but it’s an extremely common feature of any group that discusses politics or some political issue.

        I don’t think he’s right about Friedman or our reaction–sitting back and criticizing people for using harsh language is not a substantive way to defend Friedman. And we’ve already got a regular commenter here who specializes in non-substantive meta-posts about tone, so that niche is filled.

      • Cliff
        March 30, 2010, 11:31 pm

        Interested Bystander is like those Zionists who want ‘balance’ when an Arab is on TV talking about the side of the story we virtually never hear in the MSM.

        So big surprise, an anti-Zionist blog is anti-Zionist.

        If you check out the Zionist blogs, you’ll find similar conformity. And on ALL blogs, there can be back and forth, but I’d wager it’s mostly mudslinging.

        There are some very interesting debates on here between people who identify w/ Zionism.

        Dick Witty is not one of them. yonira isn’t either.

        WJ contributes that perspective here w/ respectfulness and people by and large reciprocate.

        If Interested Bystander put this blog in context w/ the rest of the I-P blogging community, then I’d listen. Until then, he’s just another ZioTroll.

        No one defends Tom Friedman unless they’re a Zio. The guy is a Zionist hack.

      • Cliff
        March 30, 2010, 11:35 pm

        Oh also, the kind of ‘criticism’ from Interested Bystander is typical. It’s superficial. It’s about ‘feelings’ rather than whether our criticisms are true or not. Because to actually deal w/ them sincerely would be to make a substantiated argument.

        So we identify a ‘style’ of Tom Friedman. We juxtapose this style against the factual record. At this point, we may diverge a bit and discuss the record. Then we return to Friedman and discuss why he’s kept to this style for so long as it runs contrary to the record and the kinds of reasonable moral conclusions one would derive.

        It’s kind of like Interested Bystander is telling to Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, that they are ‘big bad meanies’ for writing an institutional analysis of the mainstream media in Manufacturing Consent.

        And if Tom Friedman is a crook, he should be called a crook. Who cares if we call him a crook ALL the time? If the shoe fits.

      • Taxi
        March 30, 2010, 11:38 pm


        Finding commonalities is not the same as ‘group-think’.

        In a ‘group-think’ environment, you sacrifice your individuality in order to ‘fit into a group’.

        I don’t particularly find interestedbystander’s take on our ‘group interaction’ noteworthy or revealing. But I did check out your Friedman’s link – it was fun. Thanks for that.

      • Taxi
        March 31, 2010, 12:07 am

        Not completely convinced Interestedbystander is necessarily a troll – I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt here as I’ve only read one of his posts.

        Perhaps he’s one of these people who prefers a United Nations kinda debating environment: rigid, polite and to the point. My dad’s a bit like that.

        As far as Freidman’s concerned, well… nuff said.

      • Donald
        March 31, 2010, 10:52 am

        He might not be a troll, but acted like the classic “concern troll” in this one post.

        “rigid, polite and to the point. ”

        In this case, he was avoiding the points Alex and others made.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 11:15 pm

        One good effect of this post–it made me go back and look for other examples of Friedman-bashing online. We here are just fracking amateurs (at least in the humor department). Try googling “The moustache of understanding” to find some pros. Or google “suck on this” coupled with Friedman and/or Iraq and you’ll probably find his famous Charlie Rose interview on why we were right to go into Iraq. Or forget the serious stuff and just click on this link–


      • Interested Bystander
        March 31, 2010, 4:37 pm

        O.k. Thank you for the welcome.

        Taxi: My conception of group think is not about feeling you have to agree with the group despite yourself, I think it’s agreeing with the group without independent thought, because you feel part of the group.

        Donald: My observation was that Alex in his post failed to address Friedman’s point (due to the fence and economic success Israel feels less pressure to solve the Palestinian issue; due to greater involvement in the region the U.S. feels more pressure) I think that point is correct and uncontroversial, and I presume Alex does too because he does not take issue with it. Note, this is different than the uncontroversial point you took away, that some in Washington feel there is a conflict of interest between U.S. foreign policy goals and the Israeli right.

        The second observation I had was that the main criticisms Alex raises in his post i) that Friedman implies Palestinians solely caused the collapse of Oslo peace process, ii) that Israels unilaterally pulled out of Gaza to make peace, iii) that the wall is built innocently (on the pre-’67 borers?) are straw men because I don’t believe that Friedman believes these things. He’s not an idiot. Moreover, noone who pays any attention to even the MSM about events over there would have any illusions about this or be apt to misunderstand that such a meaning was implied.

        A lot of commenters here seems to take it on faith that Friedman is an apologist and propagandist for Israeli government positions (because they know Friedman). I’m no expert on Friedman. I find him sometimes pompous and rather self-important at times. I also find he often has interesting things to say. Take a look at the column he did recently about how Israel can’t have i) a Jewish state, ii) a democracy, and iii) possession of all of Palestine. In other words, if there is a desire to have all of Palestine (as there is among many) the choice is between an apartheid non-democratic state, and the one state state solution. That doesn’t sound like standard Israeli government propaganda to me.

      • sherbrsi
        March 31, 2010, 5:16 pm

        Take a look at the column he did recently about how Israel can’t have i) a Jewish state, ii) a democracy, and iii) possession of all of Palestine. In other words, if there is a desire to have all of Palestine (as there is among many) the choice is between an apartheid non-democratic state, and the one state state solution. That doesn’t sound like standard Israeli government propaganda to me.

        Interested Bystander,

        Friedman hardly broke any ground with that column. That assessment has been shared by anyone familiar with Israel’s expansionist policies. In fact Israel PMs have made the same judgment, with Olmert saying it in the most clearest terms (and he didn’t even shy away from using the apartheid word to describe the situation). You are very mistaken then for saying that the mentioned column is proof of Friedman’s divergence from Israeli government propaganda.

        Reading the rest of the post, I find your defense of Friedman is based on purely superficial grounds, and where you are to provide defense for the credibility of his writings, you quickly interject your personal judgment (and thus bias) into the assessment (e.g., “…the main criticisms Alex raises in his post…are straw men because I don’t believe that Friedman believes these things.”)

        You also never qualify your accusation of straw men, even though Alex’s post explicitly addresses the arguments made in Friedman’s articles, going through them in a point by point analysis (and which you yourself refer to). Either I am to understand that you don’t understand the terms of the straw man, or you are attempting to slander the work of someone you don’t agree with. Anyway you just aren’t convincing.

      • Taxi
        March 31, 2010, 6:04 pm


        “… agreeing with the group without independent thought, because you feel part of the group”.

        You are saying that there are no individual thinkers on this site because they share a common interest?

        Everyone here is apparently a parroting zombie practicing intellectual mob-rule?

        Well I can’t speak on behalf of others, but I can assure you that I personally don’t feel ‘part of a group’ when I visit this site. I come here because there’s no thought-police/censorship and I can express my ideas as an individual on a topic that I have lived with and meditated on for some 49 years. I come here also because there are some fantastic links and some darn good wit and wisdom to boot.

        I hope you will visit more often, and more importantly, participate without the fear of ‘losing your individuality’. Maybe one day you will re-name yourself ‘Interested Participant’ instead of the passive ‘Interested Bystander’.

        And as far as Freidman is concerned, the problem with him is that his analysis has been wrong on some many MAJOR EVENTS in our history that’s he’s lost credibility in the eyes of many. He’s become more of a mainstream media entertainer than a political analyst. After all, a journalist/analyst’s strength and durability depends on him/her getting it right more often than not.

    • Cliff
      March 30, 2010, 11:26 pm

      Interested Bystander, you’re making a superficial observation. Do you want to argue that Friedman’s observations are innocent and ‘simple’? Then do it.

  8. Donald
    March 29, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Along similar lines, here’s Bronner’s analysis of the rift between Israel and the US. Note the racist condescension and the way Bronner is happy to act as stenographer for both the US and Israeli governments. He treats the Israeli objections as though they were sincerely meant, for example. He says nothing about the role of Dayton in supporting the Fatah forces that triggered the Palestinian civil war in 2007. The article is informative, though, in telling us how little to expect from the Americans–if Bronner is right, they sound very much like they approve of Abbas and Fayyad because they work well with them. Nevermind what Palestinians might think. That’s why I have difficulty getting too thrilled over this current flap.

    Anyway, here’s the article

  9. Richard Witty
    March 29, 2010, 3:47 pm

    I had an entirely positive, envigorating, take on Friedman’s article.

    His description (not advocacy, you misrepresenter) of the attitude of the US as needing reconciliation, in contrast to the prevailing Israeli shift of not needing peace as much as it had previously, seems accurate to me.

    You name any observation that isn’t propaganda as “hasbara”. I find that to be a reactive and suppressive approach.

    Did you understand what he actually said?

    • Chaos4700
      March 29, 2010, 3:52 pm

      You would. You don’t give two shits how many Palestinians are turned into Israeli soap, figuratively speaking.

    • sherbrsi
      March 29, 2010, 3:56 pm

      I had an entirely positive, envigorating, take on Friedman’s article.

      It doesn’t take much to fool you then, does it?

    • Donald
      March 29, 2010, 4:00 pm

      You don’t seem to have read Alex’s post, because you’re not responding to his specific points, which deal with Friedman’s inaccurate and tendentious account of recent history. But that’s how you typically respond to details you don’t want to engage. Your approach is suppressive–you don’t like what Alex said, but rather than go through point by point and explain why he’s wrong, something you couldn’t do, you just make grand pronouncements without any factual content to back them up.

      “His description (not advocacy, you misrepresenter) of the attitude of the US as needing reconciliation, in contrast to the prevailing Israeli shift of not needing peace as much as it had previously, seems accurate to me.”

      Part of this I agree with–Israel does act as though it doesn’t need peace, and in fact they don’t, so long as the US backs them up. The US probably needs it more than they do. But you could have said this without slandering Alex.

      • Richard Witty
        March 29, 2010, 6:11 pm

        Thats a ridiculous knee-jerk response.

        Read Friedman’s points. They are insightful and useful to an activist. You can disagree if you have more and more relevant information, but to derive some condemnation from what irritates you, is ignorant literally.

        Alex never addressed the gist of Friedman’s argument.

        I didn’t detect the undercurrent of dismissal of Palestinian experience that Alex and you inferred. He’s actually looking at something important, and with good intent.

      • Cliff
        March 29, 2010, 6:22 pm

        We have read them. He is as racist and right-wing as you are.

      • Chaos4700
        March 29, 2010, 6:35 pm

        Noun, verb, ad hominem. Classic Witty.

      • Chaos4700
        March 29, 2010, 6:40 pm

        Witty, how come we never actually see you around on threads like this one?

      • Donald
        March 29, 2010, 9:25 pm

        I read Friedman’s column–as I already said, I agreed with one point, the one you pointed out, but I also noticed the dishonest revisions of history that Alex pointed out. Alex didn’t “infer” an undercurrent of dismissal–he wrote specifically about Friedman’s inaccurate recitation of recent history and you’ve said nothing to refute anything Alex said. Nothing at all.

        It is possible to agree with Friedman about the differences in how the Obama and Netanyahu governments see the situation, and still criticize Friedman for his own misstatements. Perhaps that is too subtle for you.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 7:38 am

        Thanks for confirming that Alex addressed irritating nuances of Friedman’s articles, but rejected commenting on the gist.

        I get that you think of yourselves as the “assumption police”, but the exageration to “racist” is just off the mark.

        Even his historical interpretations are plausible and NOT expansionistic in the slightest.

        Us vs them is only war. It is exactly what is rationally criticizable about modern Zionism and threads of modern Judaism.

        As Avraham Burg inquires this morning in Haaretz.

        Passover is our original Independence Day
        By Avraham Burg

        link to

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 8:00 am

        What Friedman does, quite consistently, is repeat many of the basic assumptions of Israeli propaganda as factual historical background. It does harm to the public discussion when so-called experts repeatedly tell lies. It is especially harmful when someone does this while being critical of some of Israel’s policies, because it lends an unjustified aura of plausibility to them. You object to Alex’s objections on this, because lies which diminish Israel’s responsibility for violence and terror are congenial to you. In fact, you still can’t bring yourself to talk about what is in Alex’s post. You’d rather we emphasize the obvious part of Friedman’s analysis, which is known to everyone–Netanyahu and the Israeli right are doing things that embarrass Obama because they see things differently. Duh.

        Friedman is a barometer for gauging a certain type of inside the Beltway mentality. He generally sympathizes with the so-called dilemmas of US foreign policymakers as they attempt to dictate to the world what is reasonable and what is not. As it happens, on this issue the Obama Administration is opposed to Netanyahu because Netanyahu is consumed with hubris (though maybe he has enough support in Congress to pull it off). Friedman’s concern for justice for Palestinians is distinctly secondary–what always matters to him is pushing the agenda of the American government and neoliberalism in general. There’s no dual loyalty with him . He’s sort of an embedded journalist–embedded in the mindset of people in the hawkish end of the Democratic Party.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 8:14 am

        To expand a bit, just because someone is critical of the Israeli far right and doesn’t toe the AIPAC line doesn’t mean the human rights of Palestinians are high on their priority list. There are people like Friedman who want what they’d call a “muscular” US foreign policy, one which involves a willingness to bomb recalcitrant foreigners and in the economic sphere a willingness to impose “austerity” measures on poor people and obviously, if one is rational, the actions of the Israeli expansionist right can cause problems for our own wars. That’s what chiefly bothers Friedman. He’s fine with Israeli violence against Palestinians so long as it works–he showed that in a column last year. He’s fine with violence in general so long as it works. It’s not that he wants death and destruction for its own sake–he just thinks he and people like him know how the world should be run and who should be running it and Netanyahu is making things more difficult for the US in the Arab world.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 30, 2010, 8:32 am

        Donald, I like your description of Friedman here.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 8:41 am

        Alex’s descriptions of “lies” weren’t to my understanding. They fit within the range of reasonable interpretation.

        I think your and Alex’s word-picking is out and out wierd, frankly, propagandistic, politically correct imposition, RATHER than inquiry and thought.

        He is asking different questions than you. I found the two quotes of his that Alex commented on to have really no relation to Alex’s comments about them.

        I would suggest that if you are interested in condemning the misrepresentation of interpretation as if fact, that you would similarly fight for truthtelling relative to prominent dissenters.

        The same danger of “slipping in” assumptions, occurs sickeningly frequently on the left, here for example.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 10:00 am




        Richard, you’re in your usual pattern of telling us that factual claims are “interpretation” which you don’t agree with. You don’t even list which factual claims or explain why they are a matter of interpretation because then you might have to argue on a low factual level, and you’re above that sort of thing. So it’s your usual style–Alex makes some very specific criticisms of Friedman and you object in very broad general terms, purely out of emotion. Your dismissal of his post, without engaging any of the details, is done in the name of fostering inquiry. This is a great illustration of your Orwellian logic and I’d thank you for it, except you must have done it hundreds of times by now and we all know how it works.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 10:19 am

        I wish that Alex had made specific criticisms of Friedman’s comments.

        Again, the two examples that Alex presented of Friedman’s comments, seem reasonable. A dissenting reader could just have easily stated them as confirming dissenting conclusions, as his accusation of racism.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 10:23 am

        Okay, Richard, now you’re just lying about a post we can all see. Do you want me to cut and paste Alex’s post for you? And you’re also just repeating your mantra “facts are interpretation”. If Alex is factually wrong, demonstrate it.

      • Mooser
        March 30, 2010, 2:05 pm

        “Thats a ridiculous knee-jerk response.”

        C’mon Richard, we gotta be mootual! Remember, amity, not emnity! Wouldn’t a more positive response be new-ageier, in a traditional way?

        Scratch a Zionist, and find a schmuck and a macher every time.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 2:23 pm

        Richard is all upset because Friedman’s lies were called out by Alex, who thoughtfully supplied details explaining what was so dishonest about Friedman’s formulation. Since Richard sees things the way Friedman does, he probably takes it all personally. He can’t respond on a factual level, obviously, so what’s left? More sermonizing, cloudy rhetoric followed by showers of idiocy and occasional outbursts of petulance. The same weather pattern we always see with him.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 2:48 pm

        Quite a lot of presumption there Donald.

        I’m contesting that Alex said anything at all, instead just taking potshots rather than discussing his points and informing, and in effect conducting a “thought-police” exercise.

        Assumption police. Clarity is important, but its also important to trace the differences in assumptions to conclusions or observations.

        In this case, Friedman’s observations were informative, while Kane’s “observations” were only dismissive.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 5:15 pm

        Richard, it’s really stupid to tell lies about a column which one can scroll up to read. I wonder what goes through your mind when you’re bullshitting like this. But anyway, since as a troll you refuse to say what it is that Alex said that was wrong, I am finally going to break down and paraphrase what Alex already said, because it’s clear you won’t go near anything that resembles a fact. Facts are your enemy and you run away from them.

        Friedman repeated the standard story about Israel “pulling out of Gaza” and “receiving rockets in reply”–Alex points out that Israel maintained tight control of the Gazan borders and has killed far more people, facts which are important to know, which change how one would interpret the recent history, and which Friedman leaves out. Friedman claims the Wall went around the West Bank–Alex points out it goes into the West Bank and effectively annexes territory for Israel. Again, this is important to know.

        Friedman is widely regarded as some sort of expert on the Middle East and when he repeats distortions and falsehoods it probably misleads some of his readers. Obviously this doesn’t matter to you. In fact, you probably approve of this sort of lying, but rather than defend the lies you just attack Alex in vague general dismissive terms, doing precisely what you accuse him of doing. You don’t want certain myths to be debunked, so you attack the debunker. And you pretend to be doing this in the name of furthering conversation. I have no idea who you think you are fooling. Probably it is for your own benefit.

      • Cliff
        March 30, 2010, 5:20 pm

        Witty, mutual understanding and clarity is important. Reread Donald’s post. LISTEN and not simply HEAR. READ and not simply SEE.

        In this case, Donald’s observations are informative, while your commentary is simply ‘No, u’ and full of assumption.

        Try to read more, and expose yourself to views uncommon.

        I would suggest that if you are interested in condemning the misrepresentation of interpretation as if fact, that you would similarly fight for truthtelling relative to prominent dissenters.

    • potsherd
      March 29, 2010, 5:19 pm

      So says the perfect inverse truth indicator.

    • Duscany
      March 30, 2010, 6:32 am

      Witty: “His description . . . of the attitude of the US as needing reconciliation, in contrast to the prevailing Israeli shift of not needing peace . . . ”

      The Israelis may not need peace in the mideast but we do. Deaths of US soldiers in Afghanistan for the first two months of this year are twice as high as as they were last year and injuries are triple. As General Petraeus said, the lack of peace in the middle east is killing our troops and spreading disdain for America. As for Iran, she’s not a threat to the United States and will be even less of one when we finally pull our troops out. If Israel didn’t want an arms race in the mideast she should have been the one to first introduce nuclear weapons there.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 7:40 am

        “The Israelis may not need peace in the mideast but we do.”

        That is EXACTLY what Friedman was saying. Perhaps you didn’t read his article.

      • Duscany
        March 30, 2010, 3:19 pm

        I noticed when I read it that he didn’t mention that American solders are being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq precisely because we invariably and unreservedly defend Israel no what what she does to whom.

        I personally find it embarrassing when Hillary tells AIPAC that our commitment to Israel is “rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.” It’s as if she is kowtowing to some oriental potentate., using the most craven terms imaginable. Why doesn’t she say something all Americans would agree with: “We will support you when you actions are moral and we won’t when they are not.”

    • Mooser
      March 30, 2010, 2:02 pm

      Ooh, I wonder what that’s like. It sounds simulating. I wonder if it’s invigorating.

    • LeaNder
      March 30, 2010, 3:49 pm

      Did we understand? Yes: “these sentiments are exploited by Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to generate anti-Americanism that complicates life for our soldiers in the region. ”

      Yes, Israel’s enemies are American enemies. Actually, that’s what we have been told for a decade now.

    • LeaNder
      March 30, 2010, 4:06 pm

      Did we understand? Yes: “these sentiments are exploited by Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to generate anti-Americanism that complicates life for our soldiers in the region. ”

      Yes, Iran has substituted Iraq now, just as the Taliban have substituted Al Qaeda. And all this is dangerous for the US only since Israel has a half-finished wall and is high-technically invulnerable.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    March 29, 2010, 4:04 pm

    RE: Perhaps the most brazen of Israeli hasbara points Friedman repeats is that Israel has erected “a wall around the West Bank.” – Alex Kane

    MUSICAL INTERLUDE (sponsored by Extra Strength Ziocaine™):

    …Those who build walls are pretending
    That forever they can defend them
    Those who dam streams can build fountains
    Those of us who just let them run free
    Can move mountains…

    Michael Franti & Spearhead : Time To Go Home (05:11) – link to

  11. Howard
    March 29, 2010, 4:20 pm

    Speaking of pundits spouting the Israeli Hasbara line, don’t overlook George Will’s comments yesterday on “This Week” which went unchallenged. Enough already about the only democracy in the Middle East, shared values, and reliable ally What I want to know is when did East Jerusalem become a “Jewish section of Jerusalem.” Am I missing something? Nothing at all about Israel’s occupation being illegal under international law. Any problem is all Obama’s fault.

    From the transcript:

    WILL: U.S.-Israeli relations are worse now than they have been in the 62 years that Israel has existed. It’s the only nation in the world with which we have worse relations. What nation is that? It’s the only democracy in the Middle East, the only salient of our values in that inhospitable region, the only reliable ally there. And we are treating it as a problem because the Jews in a Jewish section of Jerusalem have decided to builds 1,600 housing units.

    It is the law of the land, expressed in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, that Jerusalem shall be the united capital of the state of Israel, period.

    • Chaos4700
      March 29, 2010, 4:35 pm

      It’s the only nation in the world with which we have worse relations.

      What, does he mean besides Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, and Honduras? Or did I miss any? Oh, I guess most of Europe, shortly.

      • Taxi
        March 29, 2010, 4:41 pm


        Off topic here, but I’m remembering how mysteriously cool and succinct ‘Memory Alpha’ used to be.

      • Chaos4700
        March 29, 2010, 4:43 pm

        Yeah. That took a lot of effort on my part. :) It’s not my nominal writing style, as you may have noticed.

      • Taxi
        March 29, 2010, 4:51 pm

        Yeah the hardest form is the shortest one, hence poetry.

        I loved Memory Alpha’s style. My writing used to be a little over-wordy because of the complexities of the middle east situation. Memory Alpha helped teach me how to write politics with fewer words. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while: Thank you Memory Alpha.

      • Chaos4700
        March 29, 2010, 5:39 pm

        Heh. I’m flattered, although as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I adopted that writing style in an effort to push through comment moderation on Huff Po when it shifted tectonically to blocking most posts that were in any way subjectively opposed to the Israeli occupation.

        I figured, they might be able to rationalize censoring someone’s opinion, but censoring raw quotes and statistics wouldn’t be so easy.

      • Taxi
        March 29, 2010, 6:16 pm

        Yeah I figured that was your strategy as far the SSS moderators at huffington post are concerned.

        They muzzled my posts completely after Ariana Huffington visited Israel and blogged about her trip and I responded to her hasbara by saying that Dame Ariana is a brown-nozing Aipac freak pretending to be a liberal. I never bothered to go back to that intellectual desert after that.

        But kudos to you who kept coming back again and again to huff-aviv to give your two cents worth on behalf of Palestine. It amuses me much that you did that.

        I applaud all cyber-warriors fighting for good and humanitarian causes.

      • Chaos4700
        March 29, 2010, 6:32 pm

        Admittedly, I eventually gave up. It wasn’t worth getting shouted down by hypocrites, racists and liars like MagisterLudi, LonelyGod and StCuthbert, who all pretty much had the run of the comments section because everything they had to say was viciously anti-Arab. No small number of my comments were often directed at the moderators themselves, pointing out what percentage of approved blog comments were given over to those select few. Not that there aren’t still good articles to be found on HuffPost but they tend to be mixed in with the utter tripe put forth by people like Dershowitz. The comments section there has become absolutely worthless though, through and through.

      • Taxi
        March 29, 2010, 7:00 pm

        Yeah right, gotta be careful reading blog comments on the huff – the level of stupidity there is highly contagious.

        LonelyGod and his gangbanging zionists were all over the place pushing overt islamophobia and covert christophobia and the moderators were always always on their side by allowing the most insidious and racist of their comments to be published, yet forbidding to publish any post that even mildly disagreed with them – except for the occasional token anti-zionist response of course – just to give the impression of ‘open-mindedness’.

        I hate the thought-police as much as I hate chains on the ankles of slaves.

      • Sumud
        March 30, 2010, 12:42 am

        Chaos, are you aware of the blog LG and StC run? They’re in cahoots.

        link to

        Check out the “master list” of “hateful” user profiles and the “what you can do to help” section which is basically flag everything abusive and try to get as many users banned as possible.

        Chaos, I’m on their user list and I’ve been observing the blog quietly over the last few months. After a month of total silence in January after they were revealed as being responsible for the BofJ blog, they post less on HP now than they used to. Further, their blog, which they ostensibly began to fight against anti-semitism on HP, has had over the last few months a serious case of mission creep. Now they just complain about posts they don’t like and have dropped any pretense of fighting anti-semitism. Comments on their blog are almost zero.

        You really have to ask yourself why they’d run a blog like that if nobody reads it. I think it’s a pretty strong indication they’re on the defensive back foot. When they create an entirely blog which they focus on while simultaneously reducing their efforts at HP, I smell victory.

      • Mooser
        March 30, 2010, 2:18 pm

        “The comments section there has become absolutely worthless….”

        Gotta weigh in with Donald here. The comments at Mondoweiss are getting better and better, and going from strength to strength. The confluence of commenters both well-informed, with decent, humane principles, and commenters from the area under discussion, with current experience with the Israeli regime, and all of them erudite and concise, is really wonderful. I’ve never before seen hasbara demolished from so many different angles at the same time!
        And I have a feeling there is more on the way. There will be a synergistic (like that one, Witty?) effect. If synergistic is the word I want. Anyway, it sounds “envigorating.”

        And yet we have the same old ziocaine-addled hasbara trolls. That, of course, never changes.

      • Taxi
        March 30, 2010, 2:52 pm

        Good job posting the link, Sumud.

        I agree with you: they are nervous and rattled.

      • Richard Witty
        March 30, 2010, 3:02 pm

        “hasbara types” already defines you sadly.

        Discussion includes reason that comes from any source, and analyzed within reasonable context.

        Dismissal is what should be fought against.

        The discussion of the Kane comments on Friedman’s article is a very sad case in point.

        Friedman’s point was very close to Phil’s and many others’ here, that current Israeli public opinion and policy does not weigh Palestinian rights really fundamentally at all now, and that it is in the US interest that the Israel/Palestine conflict be reconciled or at least moderated, and to accomplish that recognition of Palestinian individual and national rights are necessary.

        If there is any summary that resembles the Walt/Mearsheimer, Phil Weiss thesis, that is it. (Or at least close, at least in that observation).

        Instead of applauding the recognition, Kane and company instead attacked secondary assumptions and exagerated the implied importance of them, misreading and misrepresenting Friedman’s observations.

        It is less than laudable, self-gratuitous actually, Mooser.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 30, 2010, 3:53 pm

        Argh, are you trying to scare me or something?
        Popularity intoxication at 10 o’clock, complacency trap at 10 o’clock, and group think alert at 2 o’clock, and I already become nervous if people agree with me. Oh well, as long as it feels good.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 30, 2010, 3:55 pm

        That was for mooser.

    • potsherd
      March 29, 2010, 5:22 pm

      It was once the “law of the land” here in the US of A that segregated school systems for blacks and whites were OK.

    • Chu
      March 29, 2010, 6:08 pm

      Don’t expect much from a man who dresses this way. More conventionalism from another light neo-con who has a taste for erudite vocabulary and philosophical banter. The only thing that Will is committed to is his appearance of intellectuallism.
      The best article I read from will was about beer and how it saved many in Europe from sickness.

  12. JBL
    March 29, 2010, 4:52 pm

    I’ve been re-reading (browsing) From Beirut to Jerusalem, Friedman’s book of 1989. Back then, it had a weird effect – he’d witnessed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Sabra and Shatila, and the first intifada, and it seemed to me he had built a water-tight case proving Israel was racist state that systematically denied the existence, not just the rights, of the population it had dispossessed. Then, when he got to “Now how I’d solve this mess” at the end, it was shock – basically “I’d tell the Palestinians, forget it. You are getting nothing more. This is ours. Shit happens. To avoid having to give back the stolen goods, we will grant you a castrated mini-state for the rest of eternity, and if you ever even dream of crossing us, you go back to square one.” I’m paraphrasing, but that was the spirit of it.

    It struck me that Friedman could not really see what he was so clever at describing. For example, he visits a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon where two PLO factions have battled for control and two women discover their house has been looted. Friedman describes how they tear at their clothes and wail in grief, protesting to the new guards, “for 10 years we worked, now everything is gone, you took it!” At which point Friedman is “on the verge of tears myself, before the other woman started to scream at the top of her lungs: ‘We are not Jews! We are not Jews! Why did you do this to us?’” Which Friedman, heart quickly turning to stone, takes as just one more reminder of “how visceral and tribal this conflict really is”.

    • Taxi
      March 29, 2010, 5:00 pm

      You’re right JBL.

      Freidman’s book starts off on steady ground but starts to wobble on the ‘analysis’ front soon as he gains your trust in the first act. Act 2 and 3 are full of hubris and denial-ism. Colorful crap.

      • Sumud
        March 30, 2010, 12:46 am

        My exact observation on watching Exodus a few months ago: start reasonably, establish trust, then lie.

      • James Bradley
        March 30, 2010, 1:03 am

        I still remember the first time I saw Exodus…

        I felt like I was watching “Birth of a Nation” all over again.

        link to

    • former coMMenter
      March 29, 2010, 9:56 pm

      That last line really sums it up. The woman’s sentiment is about the irony of security forces doing harm to the population instead of “the enemy,” but Friedman’s astute goy-dar rapidly detects her inner-Nazi, just waiting for this moment of anguish and personal catastrophe to come out. It’s tribal and visceral. Oh yeah. It’s not about land, human rights, or completely rational grievances.

      Yet he has the gift of gab. Anyone unprepared for him will find their inner-idiot nodding along with Friedman’s common sense analysis and friendly, “Here’s what we say” hucksterism. Guy’s a total fucking charlatan of course–I doubt he even understands Arabic well enough to understand what two hysterical women are screaming–but he’s just the right mix of simpleton and expert and it makes people think he “gets it.”

      • sherbrsi
        March 30, 2010, 2:27 am

        Guy’s a total fucking charlatan of course–I doubt he even understands Arabic well enough to understand what two hysterical women are screaming–but he’s just the right mix of simpleton and expert and it makes people think he “gets it.”

        So he is the Dr. Phil of journalism?

  13. jimby
    March 29, 2010, 5:44 pm

    One thing I found interesting is that his post lacked a means to post or read comments. Lately he has been deluged with negative comments. I guess the Times decided to cut it out.

  14. Brewer
    March 29, 2010, 6:08 pm

    I view this Friedman piece (and Witty’s comment) with some optimism actually. The rebuttals of these old and tired Hasbara talking points have pretty much entered mainstream consciousness so it is cheering to see a major propagandist having to re-visit them like a dog to vomit.
    The incredible shrinking map of Palestinian territory is everywhere in the mainstream, raising consciousness of the farcical nature of Oslo. Dov Weisglass’ “formaldehyde on the Peace process” mouthfart is well known as is Hamas’ rocket truce so the pullout from Gaza impresses only the willfully ignorant. Lebanon ’06 delivered the death blow to Israel’s “innocent victim” myth as regards that particular border. The fact that around 1200 Palestinians get arrested every week for crossing the Wall to work illegally in Israel should have put paid to the “suicide bomber prevention” myth but the Hamas moratorium on this activity needs more publicity. Here is a useful link:
    link to

    All in all, I think Friedman has misjudged his readership and damaged his credibility.

    • Taxi
      March 29, 2010, 6:21 pm


      I always thought you don’t need a single word to explain the I/P conflict. All you had to do was show people the ever changing map of the holy lands.

      • Brewer
        March 29, 2010, 6:54 pm

        Yes. I once watched a conservative, one-time top South African journo (the guy who broke the Barnard heart transplant story) lose his virginity in these matters when I presented him with a map of the settlements. Instant turnaround! He is now an active supporter of Palestinian causes.

        Nowadays I find the most difficult Hasbarachiks to deal with are the most ignorant – those who paint with the broadest brush. Ant Loewenstein recently posted a piece by Pro-settler group Women in Green, explaining the supposed Jewish right over the entire land of Palestine. One commenter simply posted something like “show me where any of this is a lie”.
        To do so would involve a thousand word history lesson referencing dozens of books and documents. I thought about it then faded. Ant eventually just deleted the post I think!

      • Taxi
        March 29, 2010, 7:03 pm

        Thanks for sharing the encouraging stories.

    • Donald
      March 29, 2010, 11:55 pm

      I doubt these things are well known at all. You have to make a distinction between people who come to websites that deal with the I/P conflict and the average NYT reader. I don’t think most of my real life acquaintances know any more about the topic than what they get in the NYT.

      • Brewer
        March 30, 2010, 4:56 am

        “people who come to websites that deal with the I/P conflict and the average NYT reader”
        You may well be right. My gut may indeed be influenced by the company I keep.

        eGuard’s posts above seem to show that the NYT isn’t content to open Friedman’s Israel posts up for comments. That seems to indicate that there are sufficient informed NYT readers as to have the editors concerned about informed comment. Uninformed comments are no bother and actually serve their favorite cause.

        I tend to cycle hope and despair regards Palestine and the effect it is having on Western Political ethics and morality. At the moment I’m optimistic.

      • Donald
        March 30, 2010, 6:21 am

        The average person probably doesn’t have much of a clue about what the I/P conflict is about. Many Americans probably couldn’t find Israel on a map, for that matter, or if they can it’s only because they’ve seen maps of the Mediterranean region in the backs of their Bibles. So I doubt they know much more about the conflict then they would pick up from the MSM. They certainly don’t know enough about the details to read a Tom Friedman column and be able to pick out the lies and omissions and half-truths.

        Now people motivated enough to comment on a Tom Friedman column are going to be a self-selected group, some of them motivated by disgust at the gibberish he spouts. There’s also a depressing number who are his fans–I know one and there have to be people out there buying his books and pushing them up on the bestseller charts. If you ever want to be depressed, think about that–it works for me.

      • eGuard
        March 30, 2010, 1:36 pm

        I think the results are mixed in disallwing comments in I-P/topics:
        non-I/P item “America’s Real Dream Team.”: no comments allowed.
        I/P item “Let’s Fight Over a Big Plan”: comments allowed.
        I could not see a clear pattern there.
        But it is worth reading the 162 comments on “Let’s Fight Over a Big Plan”. A number of wellwritten hasbarabashings there.

      • Mooser
        March 30, 2010, 2:39 pm

        Don’t forget something that “Citizen” stresses, usually in terms of our military, the serving soldiers. As he stresses, they are coming to an awareness of the problem, it effects them. For an awful lot of people the I-P issues are of no real moment, and they take their stances for the most trivial of reasons, usually as Israel-supporters. There’s very little reason why they should dig any deeper to make their decision on I-P than deciding between Jesse James and Sandra Bullock (Anybody who would inflict that kind of motorcycle on the public has gott to be both evil and stupid)
        But for the people who are effected by it , all the way from American soldiers, to Palestinian-Americans and everyone in between who has some connection financial, political, commercial, family, to the area and is interested, the picture is becoming much clearer, and the questions more out in the open. And of course, that isn’t good for Zionism.

        But I think it is just about unquestionable that the issues are out there, for the people they matter to, and are being seen in a new way.
        And I’m a real pessimist about it, but I think that has really changed in the last ten years, and more and more rapidly in the last three or so.

        And, as Brewer said, they are trying to bolster and re-visit things which Zionists could take for granted for too many years, and at this point it’ll blow up in their face.

      • eGuard
        March 30, 2010, 3:18 pm

        the serving soldiers (…) they are coming to an awareness of the problem you write. So not just Petraeus level. Any idea why now, after being seven years and longer in the ME? Openness though internet, Obama’s Cairo speech maybe?

      • Citizen
        March 31, 2010, 8:31 am

        Maybe by the fifth deployment to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, the surviving GIs
        not yet afflicted with war stress disorder, and their immediate families left alone here in the states (except for political rhetoric extolling their sacrifice
        for the greater good), have slowly connected some dots always left out of the MSM, meaning for most Americans, TVnews?

  15. southernobserver
    March 29, 2010, 10:15 pm

    This unpleasant article in the national review repeats all the same points. It is all the fault of the oppressed.

    link to

  16. Avi
    March 30, 2010, 12:05 am

    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.

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned.

    The wall snakes through many Palestinian towns and villages in the occupied west bank, dividing many, splitting some in half and preventing Palestinians from going about their day to day business. For example, Palestinian children have to find holes in the wall, or use ladders to climb over the wall, to get to their school on the other side of their own town. The same has happened with Palestinians who own businesses in areas that Israel decided to separate with the wall. Palestinian farmers have lost their lands, their only source of income because they are no longer able to plant them as they are behind the wall.

    As for the obvious lie that Friedman puts forth, the wall plays no role in security, and neither do the approximately 600 checkpoints for that matter.

    Thousands of Palestinians cross the wall on a daily basis, either using ladders and cutting the barbed wire next to it, or merely by punching a hole in the concrete wall by whatever means they can. So, if any Palestinian wanted to attack at the “heart of the Jewish state” – as Friedman and his ilk like to call it – he could very well have. But, Friedman knows, as do many of Israel’s leaders, that acknowledging the fact that the scarcity of attacks had EVERYTHING to do with the Palestinian non-violent struggle that has re-emerged again in recent years, then Israel would lose the battle of public opinion.

    As for the checkpoints I mentioned above, every Palestinian knows, every Israeli who cares to know, knows. Every international visitor who cares to find out knows, checkpoints do not an impervious barrier make.

    On a daily basis, just as with the wall, thousands of Palestinians manage to circumvent these checkpoints and make their way to their places of work, study or residence. A taxi driver could drop off 5 Palestinians a few hundred feet from a checkpoint, pass through the checkpoint and then wait for those 5 Palestinians on the other side of the checkpoint until they make their way over the hills and across the rough terrain.

    The bottom line is, Israel’s so-called “security measures” are nothing but a charade. The checkpoints, the wall, and even the numbered stickers travelers at Ben Gurion receive from airport security “screeners” are all intended for the purpose of breaking the Palestinains’ will and spirit, a psychological torture, if you will.

    The best Hebrew word for it is Tirtur, meaning run-around, hassle, make life miserable. That is why a Palestinian mother going through the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah has to wait hours until some 18 year old Israeli kid in uniform would let her through, when Palestinians going through another checkpoint, the Hizmeh checkpoint, further to the east, can pass through unhindered.

    Why? Because the Qalandiya checkpoint happens to be at the center of a traffic artery connecting Jerusalem to Ramallah, whereas the other would require Palestinians to travel farther east toward Jericho and back west again. If these daily nuisances were implemented by Israel out of security concerns, one would think, Israel would not have allowed such proverbial loop holes (no pun intended) to exist.

    Furthermore, one would think that if said loopholes have existed all these years, then Friedman’s argument regarding the prevention of attacks inside Israel would hold some water. That is to say that if any Palestinian wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Tel-Aviv, he could, even these days, despite the wall, despite the checkpoints and certainly despite the audaciously ridiculous Mario-Brothers video-game-type obstacles Israel keeps putting in the Palestinians’ way.

    Tirtur. Remember that word!

    • James Bradley
      March 30, 2010, 1:01 am

      That is to say that if any Palestinian wanted to carry out a suicide attack in Tel-Aviv, he could, even these days, despite the wall, despite the checkpoints and certainly despite the audaciously ridiculous Mario-Brothers video-game-type obstacles Israel keeps putting in the Palestinians’ way.

      Well said Avi.

      Mario-brothers video game type obstacles. love it.

  17. Tuyzentfloot
    March 30, 2010, 3:01 am

    Hm, apparently if I want to know about Friedman’s qualities I have to ask somebody who likes him.

    Friedman is a very effective writer, each story has a strong theme, and often there are concrete recommendations, which is a good habit.
    He’s also well connected. He writes about global politics, so he’s more accessible for foreigners .
    These are reasons why my newspaper carries his opeds. And he’s green, which also wins over many. And he’s a salesman. All this makes him a powerful channel for hasbara.

    But why is he called a liberal? Maybe he is in other matters, I mean I can guess he’s got liberal views on abortion, but
    from what I recall reading in the NYTimes he’s conservative at least concerning foreign policy matters.
    And when conservatives go green it’s because they don’t want to waste resources and they want to keep their house clean.

  18. The Hasbara Buster
    March 30, 2010, 11:01 am

    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)

    If you forgive yet another self-reference, I once did a post about a Palestinian who came all the way from Jenin to Rehovot, in the “heart of the Jewish state,” to attack a passerby with an axe in revenge for the death of a friend of his in Gaza. The checkpoints and the wall didn’t stop him.

    Now suppose that man had carried a bomb instead of an axe…

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