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Thomas Friedman incorrectly credits Eric Burdon with joining cultural boycott of Israel while extolling Kerry’s folly

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Eric Burdon dancing with a fan onstage at the Zappa Shuni Amphitheater in Israel, August 1, 2013.  (Photo: Times of Israel)

On August 7 Tom Friedman wrote:

Let’s start with a small item in Britain’s Independent newspaper on July 24, which began: “He once sang, ‘You Gotta Get Outta This Place,’ but now Eric Burdon is not even turning up at all having deciding to withdraw from a planned concert in Israel. … The Animals frontman, whose hits include ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ and ‘San Franciscan Nights,’ had been due to perform alongside local Israeli bands in Binyamina. … However, in a statement, Mr. Burdon’s management, said: ‘We’ve been receiving mounting pressure, including numerous threatening e-mails, daily. …’” Burdon was just the latest of a rising number of artists and intellectuals who have started boycotting Israel over the occupation issue.

On August 1 Eric Burdon appeared at the Zappa Shuni Amphitheater as scheduled. Apparently, Friedman and The New York Times were not aware that the British rock legend had performed in Israel despite the statement of cancellation from his manager.  Neither Burdon nor his management team ever indicated that Burdon supported a boycott.  In addition the fact that any real threats were directed against Burdon is subject to question

The original version of the column mistakenly included the final line as part of the quote from The Independent.  In the afternoon, the NYTimes issued the following correction which was placed at the end of the article.

An earlier version of this column incorrectly attributed to the British newspaper The Independent a sentence about a singer, Eric Burdon. The sentence — “Burdon was just the latest of a rising number of artists and intellectuals who have started boycotting Israel over the occupation issue” — was by Mr. Friedman. (Mr. Burdon ultimately decided to perform, despite pressure not to.)

Shouldn’t the Times have directly stated that in addition to the misplaced quotation marks, Friedman erred in writing that Burdon supported the boycott instead of only placing the fact of the rocker’s appearance in Israel in parentheses?

The corrected paragraph was part of a column in which Friedman naively extols Secretary of State John Kerry for bringing Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table despite Friedman’s own evaluation that the chances of success are slim.

Yet Friedman in his uniquely bombastic style which equally combines the vacuous, illogical and counterfactual comes up with this justification for the talks and a reason why they may be successful:

I also like the fact that Kerry dared to fail. It is how you make history as a secretary of state. It can also be helpful to him going forward. Even a little success like this breeds more authority, and more authority can breed more success in other arenas.

 … But doing nothing also promised disaster — permanent Israeli control of the West Bank — and I think the center in both communities has come to see that.   I repeat: They did not come to the table by accident or just to please us. [Emphasis mine] But saying yes to each other will require a new kind of leadership from Abbas and Netanyahu. They will have to help each other face down their respective internal opponents rather than use each other as an excuse for not doing so. How and whether they do that is the drama that you’re about to see play out. Pull up a chair.

I do not see how Kerry can gain authority by initiating this fiasco.  And it will be a fiasco because, contrary to what Friedman claims, neither party wants to participate and are doing it to please the U.S. who is an indispensable economic and political supporter of both sides.

The opinion that “the center in both communities” will support the negotiation as a way of avoiding “the promised disaster – permanent Israeli control of the West Bank” is simply wrong.  The Palestinians know that any U.S. brokered agreement will deny them their basic right of self-determination and will simply be an imposition of the Israeli position during the failed Camp David talks.  Ironically, the Israeli center no longer (if they ever did) supports the proposals that Barak presented at Camp David nor do they believe that permanent Israeli control of the West Bank to be “a promised disaster.”   Many Israelis actually see permanent control of the West Bank as realization of the “promised land.”

Friedman’s op-ed shows that both he and Kerry could use a better system of being updated on what is presently happening in the region.  Reading the newspapers could be helpful in this endeavor.

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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10 Responses

  1. ckg
    August 8, 2013, 9:29 am

    The Killers have just cancelled their Tel Aviv gig but have not provided a reason. This is a big deal–most people under 30 know the music of The Killers but have probably never heard of Eric Burdon or Tom Jones.

  2. Cliff
    August 8, 2013, 11:17 am

    When the Burdon story broke out, every single Zionist keyboard tough guy began ranting and raving about the BDS movement.

    They – without evidence – slandered the BDS movement as being behind the email(s).

    In doing so, they cited another fallacious story about Paul McCartney. In the case of Paul M. it was one guy sending him ranting emails. One guy who is not representative of BDS in any way whatsoever.

    Yet, at the time the Zionist trolls spammed the interwebs with the usual histrionics.

    These ‘stories’ are part of the on-going rhetorical game played by Zionist Jews.

    Dishonesty is so pervasive in Zionism that every single micro-battle is seen as a point-scoring competition (megaphone, StandWithUs, the ADL, the Dersh, the AJC, etc. etc.).

    All a bunch of liars who thrive on the ignorance and apathy of the American general public (an abstraction).

    Burdon went on to say that the emails were NOT from any BDS representative and the whole thing was blown out of proportion (I believe, on the last part).

    Yet another instance of pro-Israel LIARS lying as usual.

  3. Kathleen
    August 8, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Geez Friedman wrong again. Such a surprise. At least this is not about another unnecessary and deadly war that he supported

  4. Donald
    August 8, 2013, 1:09 pm

    I stopped reading the column when I got to this–

    “If Abbas — who foolishly did not take advantage of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of a two-state deal in 2008 — did not take advantage of this renewed U.S. effort, it is not clear when the next bus would come again for him, if at all.”

    It’s a rule with the NYT–never ever write about the I/P conflict without alluding to some mythical claim that there would be peace and happiness if only some Palestinian leader had accepted a generous Israeli offer. Consciously or unconsciously I think this is meant to drive home the notion that if things go poorly in the current round of negotiations, it will of course be the fault of the Palestinians.

    And note the threat disguised as analysis–“it is not clear when the next bus would come again”. In other words, if these talks fail, the US will allow Israel to keep right on doing what it is already doing and Friedman will join in the chorus blaming the Palestinian leadership. Israel is under no real pressure at all, not from the US.

    • eljay
      August 8, 2013, 6:28 pm

      >> In other words, if these talks fail, the US will allow Israel to keep right on doing what it is already doing and Friedman will join in the chorus blaming the Palestinian leadership.

      And hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists will continue to thrill – and perhaps touch themselves – at the sight of politicians of all stripes, as well as sundry “Jewish State” supporters, fellating the supremacist “Jewish State” donkey rather than advocating for peace, justice, morality, equality and accountability.

  5. Citizen
    August 8, 2013, 1:51 pm

    About a year ago Friedman went on Al Jazeera TV in England and spoke clearly about the power of the Israel Lobby as a cash donation machine, and how Bush Sr was defeated in part due to his statement they he was only one lonely man against that power:

    He said Bush Sr’s loss made the GOP vow to always back Israel, and now the issue is a contest of one-upmanship between the donkeys and the elephants.

    He’s never said on camera here what he said over there.

  6. Citizen
    August 8, 2013, 3:59 pm

    The big picture:

    John Q Public’s ignorance about US “special relationship” with Israel, is but one area where our mass media is a stenographer for keeping Mr Public misinformed.

  7. just
    August 8, 2013, 4:15 pm

    Thomas Friedman is another joke, in a long line of dangerous jokers that are fascinated with the “sound” of their own voice– whether they spew lies or are just plain wrong.

  8. MHughes976
    August 8, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I’m in the minority round here that thinks that a 2ss may well emerge one day and last for a while, though I also think it is likely to be almost from the beginning an unstable and collapsing thing, leading either to a 1ss or to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
    I don’t think that the ‘Rejection of generous offer’ theme can be replayed with such assurance even this time. A dozen years ago the Palestinians and those who sympathise with them had almost no voice in the West. I don’t think that even the hardest-line Israeli apologist would deny that that voice has now come to exist and that some will hear it. The fact that some academics and journalists who are speaking the truth are Jewish has importance. I even think that Mondoweiss has changed the landscape to some degree that may not be dramatic but isn’t negligible.
    Clinton supported the ‘Rejection of generous offer’ story – partly (I can only think) because he couldn’t stand Arafat and partly because there was little possibility of saying anything else against the chorus that sang from the same hymn sheet then – and maybe for other reasons that were less creditable. For all his faults, Obama cannot be guaranteed to sing that song this time. Netanyahu wouldn’t have taken the risk of trying to topple him if he didn’t know that he couldn’t trust him.

    • Citizen
      August 9, 2013, 10:14 am

      @ MHughes976

      Putin, China, BDS, current state of Egypt, Syria, Arab Spring impact, Turkey–all form part of the current background for peace talks this time around. And Netanyahu also at this point can’t read the tea leaves as to who’s likely to replace Obama.
      Surely PA is very aware of all this too. The US pretty stands alone these days at the UN on anything Israel. Then there’s the UN’s recent slight BDS affirming action on the settlements. The US -Israel offer would have to be mighty generous (with US tax dollars baked into a busy bee Palestinian economy for years) to make the PA eat Netanyahu’s pitiful rump state model for the Palestinian people. I’m sure he’d much prefer the US attack Iran; I’d say the US Congress is doing all it can to force Iran’s hand via economic sanctions–the last bill passed goes to very heart of Iran’s ability to function economically–sort of what US did to Japan, cutting off its access to oil except in this case, we are cutting off Iran’s ability to bank and export its oil.

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