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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Friedman’

NYT Gets US Position on Israel Wrong, Reveals Additional Animus

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The New York Times recognized that its correspondent in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, had gone too far this time in blithely vilifying Jews who live and breathe beyond the so-called Green Line.

Rudoren ascribed a position to the United States government about Israeli policy which was flat out wrong. That was the only part of the otherwise slanted and deceptive article which merited a slap on the wrist.  Rudoren wrote that the position of the U.S. is that Israeli towns and cities beyond the Green Line are illegal, when in fact this government has taken no position on the legality of Israeli Jewish towns in that region.  The actual correction appears at the end of this article.

Before we get to the begrudging but still humiliating factual correction, take a stroll through the rest of her article.

In this article headlined, “Israeli Decree on West Bank Settlements Will Harm Peace Talks, Palestinians Say,” Rudoren not only originally falsely stated that the United States believes the “settlements” are illegal.  Her language throughout the piece makes clear her hostility to Jews daring to live beyond what the esteemed Israeli statesman Abba Eban had termed the “Auschwitz borders,” the lines drawn in 1949 at the end of the war against the newly-reborn Israel, when surrounding Arab states attacked it rather than permit a Jewish State in their midst.

For one thing, she described the early stage approval of subsidies to homeowners in various places including in “Jewish settlements in the West Bank territory that Israel seized in the 1967 war.”  You’d never know that in 1967 Israel (again) fought a defensive war and gained the land in a battle for its existence.  The verb Rudoren chose, “seized,” suggests an aggressive action by the belligerent in military hostilities.

Given that the New York Times is treated like Torah from Sinai by most American Jews, no wonder they and the organizations those Jews tend to support believe that Israel should give away that territory to people who never possessed it,  and never – until Israel legally acquired the land – expressed any interest in owning or governing it themselves.

And it was not until the sixth paragraph of a 10 paragraph story that Israel is even permitted a voice to counter what Rudoren already set up as a move by the Israeli government to expand “settlements” which upset the Arab Palestinians and may now torpedo the “fragile peace talks.”

In the sixth paragraph the reader – if he is still reading – learns that all that happened is the Israeli government has made a completely routine and preliminary decision to provide assistance to homeowners in authorized towns and villages for things like “education, housing, infrastructure projects, cultural programs and sports, along with better mortgage rates and loans for new homeowners.”  Isn’t that what governments are supposed to do?  Take care of their citizens?

Rudoren distances her readers from identifying with Israelis who might otherwise be considered normal homeowners. She points out that, “Among the newcomers to the list are three formerly illegal outposts — Bruchin, Rachelim and Sansana — that obtained government recognition last year.”  Rudoren chose not to more concisely and correctly refer to those three towns as “legal and legitimate villages.”

But before Israel was permitted to offer a different point of view, Rudoren first ran condemnations of the move by the infamous Hanan Ashrawi, whose latest evidence of Jew and Israel hatred was the promotion on the website of an NGO she founded which claimed that Jews drink Christian blood on Passover.

In the space of three sentences, Rudoren paints a clear picture with Ashrawi’s words.  Ashrawi describes Israel’s move as a “confidence-destruction measure,” “attempts to grab more Palestinian land,” “provide settlers with preferential treatment” and the announcement that “the decision would have ‘a destructive impact'” on the current Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks.

Of course, Mark Regev was given a cameo appearance in the sixth paragraph.  But not to worry, because in the concluding three paragraphs of the article there is plenty to ensure that the lasting impression is one of an intransigent Israeli government filled with “many right-wing settlement supporters” which “refused to formally freeze settlement construction” in order to induce the oh-so-compliant, peace-supporting Arab Palestinians to even sit at the table with the Israelis.

NY Times Editor Jill Abramson Sparks News Not Fit to Print

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Jill Abramson, appointed less than two years ago as the first woman executive editor of The New York Times as well being a Jew, apparently has become too uppity for others, no less than the Times’ managing editor Dean Baquet, who stormed out of a meeting with her earlier this month.

Abramson had summoned Baquet to her office to scold him for what she considering less than  exciting news coverage, according to the Washington-based Politico website.

Baquet not only burst out of the office in anger, he also did not show up for the daily 4 p.m. editor’s meeting.

Baquet later told Politico he felt “bad” out the temper tantrum, but the website added that Abramson “has become a source of widespread frustration and anxiety within the Times’ newsroom.” Some staffers called her stubborn and difficult to work with.

Baquet insisted after the altercation that he has a good relationship with Abramson, and the whole incident may simply be a tempest in the teapot that could be relegated to the gossip sheets.

Abramson’s presence at the newspaper has not made it any more Jewish and certainly not any more pro-Israel, if not more anti-Israel. Abramson once said that when she grew up in her Jewish home, the Times was the family’s’ “religion.” “If the Times said it, it was the absolute truth,” she said.

That was before the days of Thomas Friedman, and Judi Rudoren.

For the record, the Times covered Abramson’s wedding in its “Style” section in 1981, when she married a man with the very non-Jewish name of Henry Little Griggs III, who was an NBC producer at the time.

It is doubtful that the Times will print a blurb on the spat with Baquet, and on the surface it has little news  value.

However, the tension may represent something much deeper and beyond the realm of a personality clash at the Times.

Under Abramson, the newspaper has won four Pulitzer prizes in this month alone, but the bottom line – money – is not as green as it used to be.

Its  revenues sank in every quarter the past year, reflecting the dismal state of most newspapers in the day of Internet and Smartphones.

Analysts expect that its earnings for the first quarter of this year will be only 5 cents a share, slightly more than half of what it earned for the same period in 2012.

The April 14 World

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

The day before the Marathon Massacre, the New York Times had scored plaudits for running an op-ed by one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards complaining about his hard life in Guantanamo Bay.

On April 14th, the paper of broken record paid 150 bucks to an Al Qaeda member for the opportunity to complain about being force fed during his hunger strike. On April 15th the bombs went off.

The attacks of September 11 introduced a dividing line between awareness and disregard. There was the world of September 10 and the world of September 11. In one world the planes passing in the sky were a minor reminder of our technological prowess. In the other, we were at war.

There was no such clear dividing line when September 11 faded from memory and we returned to a September 10 world. Nor is there an exact date for when we will return to an April 14 world in which it is okay to pay a terrorist in exchange for his propaganda. But if the media has its way, that day can’t come soon enough.

A day after the bombings, the New York Times wrote that a decade without terror had come to an end. But the terror had never stopped or paused. The FBI and local law enforcement had gone on breaking up numerous terror plots to the skepticism and ridicule of the media which accused them of violating Muslim civil rights and manufacturing threats.

Some of those plots seemed laughable. A man setting up a car bomb near a Broadway theater where crowds waiting to see The Lion King musical, kids in tow, were lining up. A plot to detonate bombs in the Grand Central and the Times Square subway stations. Underwear bombers. Shoe bombers. It became fashionable to laugh at them. Silly crazies trying to kill people in ridiculous ways. Almost as silly as trying to hijack planes while armed only with box cutters and then ramming those planes into buildings.

Liberal urbanites stopped breathing sighs of relief every time a terror plot was broken up and turned on law enforcement. There were suspicions that these were just setups. Representatives of Muslim groups complained that law enforcement was taking confused kids and tricking them into terrorist plots that they never could have carried out on their own.

But there was only one way to find out.

Last year the Associated Press won a Pulitzer for its attack on the NYPD’s mosque surveillance program. But that was the April 14 mindset. Now after April 15, the police are once again heroes and any editorials from imprisoned terrorists complaining about the lack of new Harry Potter novels at Gitmo have temporarily been placed on hold. But the police know better than anyone that it will not take very long for them to go from the heroes to the villains. The period of consciousness after April 15 will be much shorter than after September 11.

The long spring in which Americans didn’t have to turn on the news and see bloody body parts everywhere was made possible by the dedicated work of the very people the media spent a decade undermining. The media was undermining them on April 14, but two days later it was acknowledging that the temporary peace brought about by the work of the very people they despised had made their temporary ignorance of terror possible.

We don’t know who perpetrated the Marathon Massacre, but many of the Muslim terrorist plots broken up by the authorities would have been as deadly. And there will be others like them in the future. The one thing we can be certain of is that terrorism as a tactic is here to stay.

While law enforcement pores over the wreckage, the media is examining the political fallout. It is waiting for the time when it will once again be safe to pay terrorists for their propaganda. If the bomber turns out to be anything other than a Muslim terrorist, then they can get into their limos and drive back to that Sunday, April 14, when it was safe to be pro-terrorist. If he turns out to be in any way associated with the right, then they can celebrate hitting propaganda pay dirt. But even if he’s only another Unabomber or even another Bill Ayers, the false spring of April 14 will still beckon.

Thomas Friedman Labels Obama’s Visit a ‘Tourist Trip’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

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.

Who Will Morsi Heed: Allah or Tom Friedman?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Sigh. Forgive me. I really don’t want to write this article but it is too good a case study of the contemporary Western foreign policy reporting, debate, and elite attitudes toward international affairs. And doing a better job is vital because this task involves the fate of millions of people; matters of war and peace; the most basic interests of the United States; and the decency of intellectual discourse.

I refer of course to Thomas L. Friedman’s latest effort, “The Belly Dancing Barometer,” (New York Times, February 19, 2013). Hey, tens of millions of lives are at stake so that’s worth a flippant title and a goofy concept, right?

Friedman writes:

Since the start of the 2011 revolution in Tahrir Square, every time the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood faced a choice of whether to behave in an inclusive way or grab more power, true to its Bolshevik tendencies it grabbed more power and sacrificed inclusion. [President] Morsi’s power grab will haunt him.

The Brotherhood needs to understand that its version of political Islam – which is resistant to women’s empowerment and religious and political pluralism – might be sustainable if you are Iran or Saudi Arabia, and you have huge reserves of oil and gas to buy off all the contradictions between your ideology and economic growth. But if you are Egypt, you need to be as open to the world and modernity as possible to unleash all of the potential for growth. So let me get this straight. Friedman is saying that you cannot trust the Brotherhood, it seeks total power and is antidemocratic. Hmm, What’s he been saying the last two years? He’s been an apologist for the Brotherhood, a cheerleader for the course taken by the “Arab Spring,” and has constantly insisted that the democratic revolution is going well.

Indeed, in January 2012, I wrote an analysis of Friedman’s coverage entitled, “Friedman Cheers as Egyptians are Enslaved.” Now that it’s too late he is supposedly outraged to see what’s going on there.

Now he concludes that the Egyptian regime is not democratic at all but then draws no conclusion about how U.S. policy should change to adjust for his discovery?  Does Friedman now favor, as he hints in the article, using real pressure on Egypt if the regime continues to be repressive at home? Will he criticize Obama for not doing so?

But if Morsi has “Bolshevik tendencies” might that not also lead to his doing something nasty to U.S. interests?

It’s like identifying a mass murderer and then saying, “Do you really think you can get away with this without a vast criminal organization behind you?” rather than yelling, “Help, police! There’s a mass murderer over there!”

And then on top of that he uses the “needs to understand” phrase so beloved of newspaper editorialists but totally absurd in dealing with dictators. Well, what if they don’t understand?  How about saying:

Herr Hitler needs to understand that he cannot conquer the whole world. Germany lacks the economic base to do so.

And do we now believe in economic determinism? Was the USSR sustainable? Can you imagine someone writing this in 1917 to the Bolsheviks?

Mr. Lenin needs to understand that the Soviet Union [yes, I know it wasn’t founded until several years later but I’m trying to make a point here] should abandon its Bolshevik tendencies because it will never work out.

Sure the Soviet Union failed but it took almost 75 years and there were tens of millions dead as a result.

And since when did a Middle Eastern radical dictatorship (even one that was elected) put economic pragmatism ahead of seeking its goals: the PLO or Palestinian Authority, Saddam Hussein? Gamal Abdel Nasser? I  don’t remember the Iranian government dropping the nuclear weapons program because of economic sanctions.

Arguably, one such leader did bow to economic necessity to moderate. His name was Anwar al-Sadat and now his regime–under Sadat’s successor, Mubarak–is the villain for America and the West.

Note that Friedman never says: President Obama needs to understand that he cannot trust this Muslim Brotherhood regime, should see it as a threat to U.S. interests, and must work to undermine it.

Moreover, is Friedman correct and Morsi wrong? Is the world really going to cut off the money to Egypt if it keeps getting more Islamist? Will the U.S. insist that the IMF stop aiding the Egyptian regime or even stop sending it free weapons?

Stay off the Slippery Slope

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We are often warned about the dangers of the “extreme right” in Israel — as Thomas Friedman called them, those who “actually want to annex the West Bank.” I presume that Friedman was referring to people like Naftali Bennett, who has made a proposal to annex Area C— the parts of Judea and Samaria where almost all the Jewish residents and few Arabs live.

Even Daniel Gordis, who — unlike Friedman — actually cares about Israel’s future, has suggested that Israeli voters should beware of, er, excessive Zionism, because it could lead to the isolation and ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. In a recent article, Gordis presents a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ scenario for the Israel of 2063. In the ‘bad’ one,

European hostility to Israel never subsided, and successive Israeli governments turned irritating both the EU and the US into a national sport. In response to repeated European and American demands that building projects cease, the government assured Israelis, “They’ll learn to live with it. We just have to show them we can’t be bullied.”

Germany changed the rules first. Lufthansa stopped flying to Israel, and a year later, Germany refused El Al landing rights. After subsequent dustups, Air France and France followed suit, as did British Airways and the UK. Soon, the only way to get to Europe was by sea. Israelis could still fly to Turkey, though.

Both Friedman and Gordis seem to be saying that Israel must not defy the Europeans and Obama Administration on the issue of Israel’s rights in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. By playing along — despite the fact that an excellent case can be made for the legality of Jewish settlement in these places — Israel can avoid potentially disastrous punishment.

There are two problems with this position, one philosophical and the other practical. The philosophical problem is that it represents an abdication of sovereignty, the sovereignty that Jews have been fighting and dying to preserve since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. It represents a return to the ghetto mentality by which Jewish survival was dependent on the good will of the local gentile prince. Once we agree to the principle, where does it stop?

The practical problem is that the immediate objective of the EU and the Obama administration is the reduction of Israel to the 1949 armistice lines (the so-called “pre-67 borders” which actually were never considered borders by anyone). It is not for nothing that Abba Eban referred to these boundaries as “Auschwitz borders,” because they would be a strategic disaster. Whether you take Naftali Bennett seriously or not, you should look at the illustrations in his proposal. Here’s one of them:


Both the US and the EU do not accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem — the US State Department continues to insist that until there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel’s capital is not Jerusalem (they won’t say what it is). Many European countries (and the EU’s Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton) are prepared to talk with with a Palestinian ‘government’ that includes Hamas. The EU’s oft-stated position is that any Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line are “illegal under international law.” How can Israel play along with a policy that calls for the expulsion of half a million Jews from their homes?

And this is only the immediate objective. What can we expect next, that the EU will require Israel to grant a ‘right of return’ to 4.5 million descendants of Arab refugees before it will welcome what’s left of Israel into the family of nations?

The EU’s positions can only be expected to harden in the future, as its Muslim population grows. Although it’s harder to predict the behavior of the US in the long run, there are worrisome indications today — like Obama’s floating of a possible nomination for the anti-Israel Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

The Schoolmarms Tell the Terrorists to Play Nice

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks….
You’re very well read
It’s well known
Yet something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
–Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”

The entertainment director on the ship of fools that constitutes so much mainstream analysis of the Middle East—I refer, of course, to Thomas Friedman—has produced a wonderful paragraph that beautifully characterizes the problem, exquisitely expressing a Western mentality that not only makes it impossible to understand the Middle East but even to set up the question in a way people that could help people even begin to confront the truth. So perhaps it is worth disassembling. Sound like fun? Let’s go!

The paragraph is from an article entitled, “Egypt – The next India or the next Pakistan?” And that’s the first problem. Analogies are no substitute to understanding the specific reality of a country and culture, its history and balance of forces that shape the local political culture. You don’t understand Egypt by comparing it to India or Pakistan—very different places indeed—but by examining Egypt itself.

Let me first quote the entire paragraph and then deal with it a bit at a time. Here’s the whole thing:

“Yes, democracy matters. But the ruling Muslim Brotherhood needs to understand that democracy is so much more than just winning an election. It is nurturing a culture of inclusion, and of peaceful dialogue, where respect for leaders is earned by surprising opponents with compromises rather than dictates….More than anything, Egypt now needs to develop that kind of culture of dialogue, of peaceful and respectful arguing — it was totally suppressed under Mubarak — rather than rock-throwing, boycotting, conspiracy-mongering and waiting for America to denounce one side or the other, which has characterized too much of the postrevolutionary political scene. Elections without that culture are like a computer without software. It just doesn’t work.”

I will now go a sentence at a time.

“Yes, democracy matters.” It is strangely ironic that suddenly democracy has become the main issue shaping the American debate over the Middle East. When President Jimmy Carter in 1978 called for democracy in the Shah’s Iran that call might have played some role in setting off a revolution that didn’t turn out too well. After a hiatus—due in part to that debacle—the democracy issue returned under President George W. Bush. The people who pushed that idea became known as “neoconservatives” and were absolutely loathed, even demonized, by liberals and the Left.

Now this idea that democracy would solve the region’s problems was indeed a bad one, having failed in Iran, been (perhaps unfairly) ridiculed in Iraq, and become a deadly joke in Afghanistan. Yet suddenly the Left adapted the conception of the man they most hated in the world! And nobody in the mainstream debate even remarked on that rather obvious point! Thus, we get the Obama policy based on a Bush idea. Except while Bush’s approach worked acceptably in Iraq because the extremists were defeated militarily, Obama’s approach helped put the radicals into power in Egypt and will soon do so in Syria.

One would think Friedman would continue by explaining that strategic interests are more important for U.S. policy than formal democracy. Nope. Instead, he assumes that democracy is or should be everyone’s goal:

“But the ruling Muslim Brotherhood needs to understand that democracy is so much more than just winning an election.”

Whenever an article or editorial contains the words “needs to understand” you know that’s trouble. For one thing this phrase often means that some Western pipsqueak whose most strenuous activity is hailing a taxi is lecturing men ready to commit mass murder and crush their opponents under a hobnailed boot. By the way, the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to heed the advice and will be no worse off for doing so.

Yet this also raises another intriguing issue: Why “must” they do so? Suppose staying in power, establishing a dictatorship, and chopping off various body parts of those who don’t live the way they decree is their goal? Suppose they already know that “democracy is so much more than just wining an election” but couldn’t care less? And what will the columnist, op-ed writer, or editorial scribe do to them if the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t heed his advice? Experience shows these people won’t even use mean words in response. What a joke.

Doesn’t Friedman know that Obama’s hero and guru, Turkish Prime Minister Mehdi Erdogan, has said that democracy is like a streetcar and you just have to decide where you want to get off? Hint: You get off as soon as possible after you’ve won the election.

“It [democracy] is nurturing a culture of inclusion, and of peaceful dialogue, where respect for leaders is earned by surprising opponents with compromises rather than dictates.”

At this point I must tell a story I once heard from a former member of a motorcycle gang, though I cannot attest to whether or not it actually happened. There was a really dangerous criminal motorcycle gang (it made Hell’s Angels look like Obama’s Ostriches) and the local police decided something must be done. They picked a young policeman to infiltrate the gang and dressed him accordingly.

The undercover cop met the gang and tried to join. Suspicious, they asked him a question: What is the meaning of these ribbons we wear? The symbolism involved various kinds of murder, rape, and various acts I won’t describe for a family audience but each one had a very specific significance. Unfortunately, the policeman hadn’t been briefed on this and after a long pause he answered, “I thought they were just decorations.” I won’t describe his fate.

That is sort of like Friedman and various others thinking they can teach revolutionaries willing to commit genocide how to play nice. They don’t understand the significance of what these radicals say and do. Indeed, they don’t understand that what they say–especially in Arabic–is significant at all.

These tough guys aren’t interested in inclusion, political dialogue, or “surprising” opponents by giving them presents under their tree. No. They are interested in seizing state power and exercising total power. They are ready to order others to martyrdom and in some cases to be martyrs themselves. They are ready to deliberately and coolly order what happened in that Connecticut elementary school many times over. The only limitation on that behavior is a consideration of whether or not it will help their cause.

They don’t care whether the New York Times or some other American newspaper they don’t read is going to scold them. In fact, if they do know what’s in this mass media they understand that no matter what they do they are more likely to have it explained away more than criticized.

Shouldn’t we recognize that reality rather than lecture them on playground comportment?

“More than anything, Egypt now needs to develop that kind of culture of dialogue, of peaceful and respectful arguing — it was totally suppressed under Mubarak — rather than rock-throwing, boycotting, conspiracy-mongering and waiting for America to denounce one side or the other, which has characterized too much of the post-revolutionary political scene.”

Why does Egypt “need” that? One might argue that it needs such a system to be most effective at being a truly democratic society whose supposed top priority at home is increasing living standards and abroad is living in peace with its neighbors. The full answer to that question lies beyond my space limits but briefly: that might not work in Egypt; the people who think it would work lose all of the elections; if you try to implement such a system you are far more likely to be overthrown or face chaos.

Suppose you have no way to solve your country’s social and economic problems. It then makes more sense to stir up passionate hatred of “the other”; distract attention from your own failings by blaming foreigners for the problems; and engage in aggression abroad so the masses can blow off steam and get some loot. Ironically, this is the kind of thing that Western radicals claim leaders of their own countries have done. It is amazing that they never seem to notice this is how Arab dictators have repeatedly felt a “need” to do in the past.

Also, whatever Mubarak’s shortcomings, there was a lot more dialogue and peaceful arguing under his reign then in any Islamist state or in Syria and Iraq under radical nationalist regimes. This line of argument that is all too familiar from the left in assuming that pro-American dictators are more brutally repressive than anti-American dictators. Usually, the truth is the opposite.

And then at the end, Friedman admits that the post-revolutionary political scene has not been so great. Should this have been a surprise or wasn’t it painfully obvious back in January 2011 what was going to happen? It was obvious to me and a few others but scarcely anyone in the mainstream media pointed out the consequences. And those who dared to be right are practically blacklisted from those places despite having been correct.

The main Western accomplishment of the last two years has been to move from step one to step two in the mainstream interpretation of what’s going on in the Middle East:

Step one: The Islamists will be moderated by gaining power through elections.

Step two: The Islamists should make themselves become moderate after gaining power through elections because they need to do so.

What is needed is an altogether different approach:

Extremist revolutionaries whose goal is to set up regimes that are supposedly implementing the will of Allah—a will no human can question or alter—and who loathe the West, despise Christians, and want to commit genocide on Jews are not going to be moderated. Nor are they going to follow Western instructions on how they should behave. Nor is democracy their ideal, since they don’t believe at all in governance on the basis of the majority unless the majority agrees with them.

These points are all rather obvious, aren’t they? Yet what we have seen for the last two years is not an attempt to understand these realities but rather a series of obfuscations and rationalizations designed to shore up a mythical world that is increasingly diverging from the situation on the ground.

Lewis Carroll wrote the following dialogue for “Alice in Wonderland”:

Alice: “Do you think I’ve gone round the bend?”
Charles: “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

The problem nowadays is that an insane interpretation of international affairs seems to be a quality defining who “the best people are.” A man has just been appointed secretary of state for exhibiting a particularly virulent case of this malady.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/the-schoolmarms-tell-the-terrorists-to-play-nice/2012/12/28/

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