In his recent weekly column in the New York Times, Tom Friedman seeks to present himself as a Messiah of sorts, suggesting to Trump that he may be some sort of Roman Pilate. He begs Trump to ‘save the Jews’. But save them from what? From themselves, it would seem. It’s as if he is talking to Trump, but it’s really more like he’s talking to himself, as a self-appointed savior of the Jewish State and the Jewish People :
“Can you appreciate the corrosive impact on Israel’s democracy of what it’s now doing in the West Bank? I ask because you may be the last man standing between Israel and a complete, self-inflicted disaster for the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”
You see, now Friedman is supposedly trying to save the ‘two-state solution’. But wasn’t it Friedman himself who wrote only a year ago, that
“the peace process is dead. It’s over, folks, so please stop sending the New York Times Op-Ed page editor your proposals for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. The next U.S. president will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea”?
In his ‘appeal’ to Trump, Friedman provides a story which applies terms he thinks Trump will “appreciate – golf”.
So he provides the story of how Obama was recently denied honorary membership by a mostly-Jewish golf club (Woodmont) due to anger of members over the recent UNSC Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements, where the US abstained.
Friedman bemoans that “it was appalling to think that Jews, who for so many years were themselves excluded from joining certain country clubs, would consider excluding our first black president”, but that “fortunately, in the end, the decent members of Woodmont prevailed”, as the club’s president, Barry Forman, invited the Obamas to join, declaring that “it is all the more important that Woodmont be a place where people of varying views and beliefs can enjoy fellowship.”
But why is Friedman telling this story? He explains to Trump, that it is “because Israel is getting closer every day to wiping out any possibility of a two-state solution”. But didn’t Friedman already say it was dead? Anyhow, Friedman now continues to elucidate what the real problem is in all this:
Quoting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, he warns that Israel will be “seen as an apartheid state!”. Pointing his finger at Trump as it were, he adds: “And that is why Jewish history has its eyes on you, Mr. Trump.”
Ah, Jewish history. It’s all about the Jews. “As long as the two-state solution was on the table, the debate among Jews on Israel was “right versus left” and “more security versus less security””, Friedman explains. “But if Netanyahu’s weak leadership and the overreach of the settlers in his party end up erasing the two-state solution, the debate within the Jewish community will move from “left versus right” to “right versus wrong.” Quoting Hebrew University philosopher Moshe Halbertal, Friedman warns that the debate “will not be about which are the best borders to defend the state of Israel”, “but whether the state is worth defending in moral terms.”
This “right versus wrong” pun is so amazing to Friedman himself, that he repeats it in the next paragraph, where he also bemoans the supposed absence of a “Palestinian partner for a secure peace”, summating that Israeli legalizing of land grab “is an act of moral turpitude that will make it even harder to ever find that Palestinian partner and will undermine the moral foundations of the state. This is about right versus wrong”, he emphasizes.
And such a moral abyss is unthinkable for Friedman. Not because of what it does to Palestinians – but because of what it will do to Jewish golfers: “And if that is where the debate goes, what happened at Woodmont golf club will happen everywhere”, he warns, and continues to depict the dire, indeed detrimental chain-reaction of this moral A-bomb:
“That debate will tear apart virtually every synagogue, Jewish organization and Jewish group on every campus in America, and around the world. Israel will divide world Jewry”.
That’s why Trump has to “save the Jews” – because they will simply argue themselves to death.
Friedman’s piece hardly contains talk about Palestinians, their only mention is in rejectionist context. Friedman might not think Trump would be interested in them. But Friedman also seems to think that Trump is not very interested in Jews as such. He ends his emotional plea with the sentence: “President Trump, you may not be interested in Jewish history, but Jewish history is now interested in you.”
Wow. Now Friedman is not only the spokesperson of the Jewish State and the Jewish People – now he’s also speaking on behalf of Jewish History. Friedman embodies it all in his greater “I”, as it were.
The point of Friedman’s self-contradictory rendering of this “Jewish history” (one moment the two-state solution is dead and should be forgotten, the next moment it should be resuscitated), appears to be that Jews should have something to talk about, even something to argue about, but that it should be kept at a “right-left” level, not a “right-wrong” level. If it reaches that level, God forbid, then Jews will be questioning their moral behavior and the morality of the Jewish State in absolute terms – and that will just ‘tear them apart’. That’s the existential danger they face, according to Friedman. According to Friedman, Jews have to be able to discuss back and forth. It would appear they even have to be able to say one thing, unequivocally so, and then backpedal and say another, just like Friedman does on the two-state solution. They must have that maneuvering room, otherwise it’s just impossible. It would simply mean the end – for Friedman.