Media Analysis

Israeli envoy calls Tom Friedman and Dennis Ross spokesmen for Israel (who’ve now been replaced by an algorithm)

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We always said that Tom Friedman (the New York Times columnist) and Dennis Ross (the former White House Middle East negotiator) were propagandists for Israel, well a longtime former Israeli ambassador has confirmed the roles.

Ido Aharoni, former consul general in New York, gave a webinar to the Streicker Center of Temple Emanu-El in New York today about threats to Israel and how they are changing. The elites aren’t working for us in the same way, he said, since the smartphone came along.

In the old days, reality was mediated to us through the eys of a handful of people, the political leaders, the commentators, the pundits, the influencers, the VIPs of the old world. For example, Israel was pre 2007, the introduction of the first iphone– smartphone, Israel was mediated or communicated to the world through the eyes of people like Tom Friedman and Dennis Ross and of course the political leadership. And they were great people, they’re all still very active. It’s just that our voices– their voice is not being heard as before for a very simple reason, we are now able to design our own informational feed using a very sophisticated and precise algorithm. It allows the leadership to actually address the people directly by bypassing the elite, those people that communicated reality to the masses before.

It’s happening in the United States, obviously you see how President Trump is using his twitter account, but it’s also happening in Israel, it’s happening almost in every western country. It’s a disruption to the classic model of representative democracy.

Ross has long had this reputation of an Israel lobbyist inside the executive branch. In 2005 his colleague Aaron David Miller said that the U.S. negotiating team at Camp David functioned as “Israel’s lawyer.” In 2016, Ross embraced the role in what he thought were private comments to the Central Synagogue in NY: American Jews need to be advocates for Israel.

There are some in the Jewish community who basically want to look at the Palestinians and think that the Palestinians really are the ones who have been forthcoming, it’s only Israel that’s holding back. It’s not true. … And so when we raise questions about what Israel needs to do it shouldn’t be seen as if somehow we’re advocates for the Palestinians. Plenty of others are advocates for the Palestinians. We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel.

Tom Friedman also appeared to embrace the Israel advocacy role in an appearance at the 92d Street Y last year. When asked if he has Jewish “fatigue” over Israel’s problems, Friedman assured the audience, “Israel had me at Hello… Don’t worry… In times of crisis, I know where I will be. When the Jewish state is under threat.”

I was in Beijing… I was driving to the airport. Just as I was coming in an El Al plane landed… And I just thought, what an amazing time to be alive as a Jew in this era of the Jewish state when an El Al plane flies from Tel Aviv to Beijing. And I still get a buzz out of that. OK? And I know about that fatigue. I feel it some time myself. But I never feel it when I’m in Israel.

What does worry me most is– I met Abe Foxman in Herzl [Zionist Jewish] camp in Webster, Wisconsin, in 1962. We reenacted the Dreyfus trial every summer. Twice I was the French officer who got to rip his epaulets off and break his sword, OK?

Israel had me at hello. Whatever you think folks– don’t worry. In times of crisis, I know where I will be. When the Jewish state is under threat–

But I worry about– I’m 66, I’ve been the foreign affairs columnist [at the New York Times] for 21 years– what about the next generation? Will the next foreign affairs columnist– we got David Brooks, we got Bret Stephens, we’re all sort of the same generation, one that socialized in a different era– Will they [the next foreign affairs columnist] get that buzz when they see an El Al plane landing in Beijing? That’s what worries me.

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Ah, the perpetual handwringing wrt ‘Israel first, Israel always’. I am constantly floored @ how successful it has been in the past. Hopefully this is changing, but with Trump/Kushner it will not. Biden has got to forget about his great friendship with Netanyahu and Israel and put human rights for… Read more »