President Barack Obama will be visiting Israel as a tourist with nothing much to do in the way of diplomacy, according to Thomas Friedman, The New York Times resident know-it-all on Israel.
Friedman has been trying to run Israel for years until he gave up last year when he belatedly realized, for the wrong reasons, that the “peace process” has become a dead issue.
In his op-ed article Wednesday, he stated, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats. Like any hobby — building model airplanes or knitting sweaters — some days you work on it, some days you don’t.
“Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.”
He cited three reasons: The reduced dependency of the United States on Arab oil, which means there is no fear of an Arab oil embargo over the issue of Palestine; the overshadowing regional problems, such as the instability in Egypt and Syria; and what he says are the two major obstacles to peace with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Jewish settlers.
Friedman has always hated settlers, whom he once termed terrorists and Israel’s answer to Hizbullah.
He could have stopped there and be done with it and go back to telling Obama how to run the country, but Friedman never misses an opportunity to show he knows more about Israel than anyone else, especially those living in Israel.
He raised the favorite State Dept. and Peace Now illusion that if those awful settlers continue to live in Judea and Samaria, Israel will be ruling “2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community,”
That attitude reflects the simplicity of American foreign policy, which is that the rest of the world outside the United States is black and white and that there are always two and only two possibilities. One is to accept American thinking and the other is to beat the path to catastrophe.
The fact is that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and in Gaza before Hamas came along, have enjoyed a quasi-independent life for 46 years, without Israel “ruling” them and without a desire to become ruled by another Arab regime. They suffered malign neglect under the Jordanian occupation, and “occupation” is the only word to describe its usurping authority after the Arab world failed to annihilate Israel in 1948.
After the Six-Day War in 1967 war, the Arabs enjoyed an unprecedented period of growth and prosperity until Yasser Arafat, born in Egypt, came along. He built a terrorist infrastructure that not only killed and wounded thousands of Israelis but also blew up co-existence between Israel and Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
But Friedman, like the State Dept., sees the Middle East, and the world, through American glasses.
He asks Israel “as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?”
Of course, Israel does not have one and does not need one. It leaves that to the Arab world, whose long-term strategy of destroying Israel through diplomatic means, if not through war and terror, is fading into oblivion, somewhat like Thomas Friedman’s self-assumed mandate to rule Israel and the Middle East.
As for Obama’s visit, Friedman forgot to mention one small issue that will be discussed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but the Iranian nuclear threat apparently is not as dangerous as settlers.