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Tom Friedman begs Trump to ‘save the Jews’ from themselves

on 23 Comments

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.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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23 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth on February 21, 2017, 11:39 am

    LOL this is too funny. But I actually wonder if Friedman is trolling Trump – he knows Trump couldn’t care less about the Jews and just wants them all to emigrate to Israel (thus the ‘untraceable’ bomb threat epidemic). For example he says “Because Israel is getting closer every day to wiping out any possibility of a two-state solution” – the word ‘wiping’ is reminiscent of anti-Israel propaganda. It’s like a joke, almost taunting him to accelerate it. Why? Because I think maybe Friedman realizes that Israel is no longer the promised land and Bibi will lose the ‘right vs wrong’ fight.

    Anyway the solution is simply one-state with full and equal rights for all including robust freedom of speech and religion and press just like in the USA (and no other country in the entire world). Yes I know I’ve said that many times and repeating yourself is now a bannable offense – but I like to live on the edge. “The LORD will provide.”

  2. Maghlawatan on February 21, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Zionism is Jewish groupthink . It made sense to stay with the group. Until now
    “In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
    They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries.”

    • stanvanhoucke on February 22, 2017, 2:48 pm

      maghiawantan, it is even worse, I think, intellectuals want to be accepted as partners of the powers that be. it is ‘the treason of the clerks,’ as julien benda pointed out during the interbellum.

  3. Maghlawatan on February 21, 2017, 12:41 pm

     “During the war we were taught that Japan, the land of the Gods, was a righteous, divine country and that America was an evil, barbaric country. We didn’t actually believe this, but merely followed along, thinking that, since there was no such thing as a just war , such poisonous, simple minded rhetoric was a way to whip up a state of furious belligerence in the people. Again, we had doubts as to whether or not Japan would be capable of guiding the Greater Asia c0-prosperity sphere.. We did not think we would be defeated. It was not that we were so convinced of victory we never thought of defeat. It was simply unbearable to contemplate it, and because we could not imagine what our fate would be afterward we shielded our eyes from the possibility and went on believing in certain victory.
    People of the future will find it strange that during the war we so easily accepted an education smacking of distorted self esteem and hostility that advocated such preposterous ambitions, but for us the reasons seemed compelling”

    Diary of writer Yamada Futaro, October 1945, quoted in “So Lovely a country will never perish” p 152-153

  4. HarryLaw on February 21, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Because the Israelis claim sovereignty over the ‘whole’ of the Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, and lately the Golan Heights, but not the Gaza strip. What is to happen to the Palestinians between the Jordan river and the sea? Naftali Bennett thinks Area C which comprises 60% of the West Bank with few Palestinians in it can be annexed to Israel, and that the PA leadership can be persuaded or forced to ‘administer’ areas A and B without any sovereign rights, and presumably no voting rights in the Knesset. This is all so reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa and Bantustans. The Palestinians [somewhere down the line] will be presented with some constitutional monstrosity so that they can gain some autonomy and deemed by Israel/US the best that can be offered in the circumstances. No doubt some Palestinians could go along with such an arrangement [for a price]. Some observers [perhaps uncharitably] have claimed Abbas would settle for a s—house in the desert provided it had a Palestinian flag on it, Netanyahu would concede that much, but without the sovereignty. I am reminded of a similar situation in the constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland citizens and the rest of the UK. Between 1920 and almost to the present day, although on paper they were full British citizens, nobody resident in the province could join or vote for the major UK parties actually governing them i.e. Labour, Conservative or SDP, they could of course vote for various sectarian MP’s to represent them in Westminster but they numbered only 12 now 18 [usually 10 or 11 Unionist and 1 or 2 Nationalist]. The Major parties were reluctant to associate with either sectarian block and only did so when there was a hung parliament. As a consequence they had no effect on the overall governance of the state in effect their votes were meaningless. The Palestinians would do well to guard against any such gerrymandering the British ‘Mother’ of Parliaments engaged in.

  5. Maghlawatan on February 21, 2017, 1:21 pm

    Trump can’t do anything. The only way to solve the equation of Israel/Palestine so Zionism is coherent is genocide.

    • Mooser on February 22, 2017, 5:51 pm

      . “The only way to solve the equation of Israel/Palestine so Zionism is coherent is genocide.”

      Don’t be silly. A reduction of Zionist power, population and resources will go a long way towards equalizing the situation so progress towards justice can be made.

      • Maghlawatan on February 23, 2017, 12:06 am

        True, Mooser, but that would mean neutralising Zionism. Humility is not Zionist.

  6. John O on February 21, 2017, 1:21 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan Ofir, for reading Friedman’s latest brain-dump, so that I don’t have to (thereby using up one of my precious free monthly ration of NYT articles).

    “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.”

    The corrosion has been going on for fifty years (or seventy, if you count from the foundation of the state of Israel rather than the Six-Day War), and he’s only just noticed?

  7. Maghlawatan on February 21, 2017, 1:38 pm

    Any consideration of what a mess Zionism has created must take account of what immediately preceded the establishment of Israel. Zionism said that Jews could change their names and forget. They could not. Nobody could

    “A whole mechanism was set up to hunt Jews, he says. It operated under German supervision but all those on the ground were Poles: villagers who conducted “night watches,” local informers, policemen, firefighters and others. Together, Grabowski maintains, they created a dense web that made it almost impossible for those hiding to escape discovery.
    The Germans surrounded a nearby village and launched a hunt for Jews, as Zeminski puts it. They did it, he writes, to obtain prizes offered by the German occupiers: vodka, sugar, potatoes, oil – along with personal items taken from the victims.

    “Local inhabitants were actively involved in pulling out Jews from the bunkers in the ghetto,” Zeminski wrote in his diary, which Grabowski quotes in his book. “They pulled out the Jews from the houses; they caught them in the fields, in the meadows. The shots are still ringing, but our hyenas already set their sights on the Jewish riches. The [Jewish] bodies are still warm, but people already start to write letters, asking for Jewish houses, Jewish stores, workshops or parcels of land.” People, he noted. “volunteered for this hunt willingly, without any coercion.”

    Grabowski emphasizes that the actual number of Jews murdered by Poles is even higher than his estimate. “[My] count is very, very conservative,” he notes, “because I have not included here the human toll of the Polish ‘Blue’ police, who were a deadly force not only after the liquidation of the ghettos but during these so-called liquidation actions.” To support his argument, he recruits Emmanuel Ringelblum, the historian of the Warsaw Ghetto, who said that the “Blue” police alone were responsible for “hundreds of thousands of Jewish deaths.”-

  8. Maghlawatan on February 21, 2017, 3:43 pm

    Asking Trump to save Jews from themselves….how it would feel to people like Buber to see what transpired. It really does look like Hitler won.

  9. JLewisDickerson on February 21, 2017, 5:25 pm

    RE: The point of Friedman’s self-contradictory rendering of this “Jewish history” . . . , 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’.”

    MY QUESTION: So, is Friedman saying the Jews survived the Third Reich, but might not survive Likudnik Israel with its Revisionist Zionism?

    This brings to mind the old admonition: “Be careful what you wish for”.

    Personally, I say not to fear, for the genius billionaire Sheldon Adelson hath said the Bible doesn’t say Israel must be a democracy (nor does John Hagee)!

    ■ SEE: “Sheldon Adelson’s Dismissal of Israeli Democracy Draws Silence From Groups He Backs” | By Josh Nathan-Kazis | | November 12, 2014 LINK – – See more at:

    • JLewisDickerson on February 21, 2017, 5:45 pm

      “I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy,” Adelson said. “[God] didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?”
      SOURCE –

      • HarryLaw on February 21, 2017, 6:33 pm

        Since the Saudis and other GCC countries are second only to Israel as the US’s next best allies in the region, one does wonder at the importance of democracy in Israel. Saudi Arabia has no semblance of democracy or civil or human rights, nor does it intend having any in the foreseeable future, it also has a well paid lobby in Washington. Could the growing alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia, other GCC counties and the US portend a middle east not dissimilar from the G Bush and Condi Rice version outlined by Seymour Hersh in the ‘Redirection’

      • Keith on February 21, 2017, 6:36 pm

        JLEWISDICKERSON- “Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?”

        I think that much could be gained if we simply acknowledged the fact that Western democracy is largely a Western myth. You can never deal with the consequences of elite rule if you maintain the fiction that the people rule. They don’t. Much of the impetus to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians is the requirement to have a substantial Jewish majority to maintain the fiction of Israel as Jewish and democratic. And as for the global political economy, who seriously believes that the fat-cats and corporations aren’t calling the shots? Seriously. I say tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.

      • JLewisDickerson on February 22, 2017, 6:45 pm

        RE: “Western democracy is largely a Western myth” ~ Keith

        MY REPLY: Granted! ! !

  10. JLewisDickerson on February 21, 2017, 6:10 pm

    RE: “Tom Friedman begs Trump to ‘save the Jews’ from themselves”

    FRIEDMAN: There’s no point in worshipping a ‘false god’ (i.e., Donald Trump), and hoping for his divine intervention.
    If there is any hope at all, it is that BDS (not Trump) will “save the Jews” from themselves (especially from Mort Klein, Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, etc).

  11. Kay24 on February 21, 2017, 9:13 pm

    Too late Tom, they have morphed into modern day nazis. The US keeps aiding and abetting these crimes. Shame on us.

    “Israel engaged in extensive human rights violations in 2016, including detaining or continuing to imprison thousands of Palestinians without charges or trial, torturing many of those held in custody, promoting illegal settlements in the West Bank and severely hampering the movement of Palestinians, according to the Amnesty International Annual Report, published on Wednesday.
    The report found that among those tortured and detained under administrative orders were also children. Methods of torture included beatings, painful shackling and sleep deprivation. Among 110 Palestinians killed last year by Israeli forces, the report charged, some posed no threat to life and thus were shot unlawfully.
    read more:

  12. Atlantaiconoclast on February 21, 2017, 9:46 pm

    Can we dispense with the niceties and rationalizing and face facts? People like Friedman are Jewish supremacists. Maybe not without some sense of the injustice of it all, but fundamentally, they seek perceived Jewish interests above all else.

  13. Kay24 on February 21, 2017, 10:57 pm

    Then these stories go unnoticed.

    A crowdfunding campaign Muslims launched to pay for repairs to desecrated graves in a Jewish Cemetery just met its goal.

    After roughly 100 headstones were damaged earlier this week, Linda Sarsour — one of the organizers the Women’s March on Washington — launched a campaign with Tarek El-Massidi to raise $20,000 to cover repairs to the damages caused by the vandals. On Tuesday afternoon, the goal was exceeded.

  14. pabelmont on February 22, 2017, 7:16 am

    If American Jews (let’s say, young people and people who’ve fallen away from the Zionist hold of synagogues, AIPAC, other organizations, a few organization leaders) “fall away” from Israel or even start criticizing it, calling for decency — what then?

    First, The JewishPresidents, AIPAC, and the current heads of the various organizations will carry on as long as breath is left to them. They are convinced, cannot “fall away”. They’ll support Israel (any Israel, every Israel, this awful Israel) until their dying breath. They are incapable of any ethical or moral thought but one — that Israel is necessary to the salvation of The Jewish People ™. despite being so jolly comfortable in the USA that they wouldn’t move to Israel for any reason.

    Second, USA politics would continue to support Israel because it always has, because AIPAC will not go away, and because (as Chomsky always points out, and rightly IMO) there are many players in the American oligarchy, AIPAC (BIG-ZION) is only one of them, BIG-DEFENSE is another and a bigger) which support Israel,support imperialism and think that supporting Israel’s imperialism also supports our own (“there is no sunlight between the policies, goals, values of USA and Israel”). Even Trump and his white-supremacist cronies are on board this line.

    And, as to those American Jews visibly falling away, Israel — those ultimate toughies — will throw them overboard and continue on their own. Who needs those softies, the American Jews, anyhow? We can do it on our own, we can make any desert bloom, ANY desert, so there!!! (And what else could they do?)

    OF COURSE, if the world ganged up on Israel and hit her where it hurts — trade, especially the arms trade — in other words if the world put the “S” into BDS — it might be otherwise. Israel’s industrial leaders know which side of their bagel is smeared with bacon fat! (Sorry, goose grease, but the image of “bringing home the bacon” is too strong and “bringing home the goose”, well, feh.)

    And this last comment is true whether or not American Jews “fall away” from Israel. But such a falling away, if visible, might help the just-plain-folks in EU-land to get their ever-reluctant governments (so resistant to anti-Zionism) to get with the program.

    So, maybe Friedman has it exactly wrong. To save Israel it is necessary for American Jews to fall away, do it visibly, and get the Jews and others in EU-land to speak truth to power.

    And what else would work? And what could happen? ANYTHING. A full withdrawal from OPTs could happen (and from the Golan for that matter). Or a democratic one-state. anything.

    But it requires an “S” in BDS. And a lot of people-power.

  15. Maghlawatan on February 22, 2017, 9:31 am

    This moment is delicious. Israel sickened me the first time I went there in 2000. The injustice was so blatant. But it takes time for things to happen.

    Israel is a fascinating mixture of settler colonialism, groupthink and political naivete

    J. K. Galbraith: “The conventional wisdom”gives way not so much to new ideas as to “the massive onslaught of circumstances with which it cannot contend”.

    That’s groupthink. Israel has a bad dose of it

    Of course the Israeli version would be “that’s amoral”

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