A recent column, “Just Knock It off,” by Tom Friedman, writing in the NY Times. refers to Israel as a “spoiled child” for not acceding to Obama’s demands for a continuation of the freeze.

Israel, which has made all of the concessions to date, and not the PA, which not only has made none, but has been cut slack at every imaginable turn.

And as if this wasn’t bad enough, he had the gall to refer to some of the members of Israel’s Cabinet as “lunatics.”

I was planning to take Friedman on in some depth, but have found sufficient quality critique from others so that I’ve decided to begin by sharing:

Evelyn Gordon, writing in Commentary, says, “Extending the Settlement Freeze Would Undermine a Vital Security Interest.”

“Israel has a valid security-based claim to these areas, and a onetime, temporary building moratorium as a goodwill gesture to promote peace, like the one Israel instituted last November, doesn’t undermine it. But extending the freeze would, because that implies the moratorium isn’t a onetime goodwill gesture on Israel’s part, but – as most of the world indeed claims – a necessary condition for progress, since this land a priori belongs to the Palestinians, and Israel has no right to it.
“Israel can’t stop other countries from rejecting its claim to this land. But for Jerusalem to itself denigrate this claim by extending the freeze would undermine its negotiating position on a vital security issue: defensible borders. And that is something no country with any vestige of a survival instinct should agree to do.”


I will add here that while the security claims are certainly valid and significant, they should not obscure that we have rights to the land that extend beyond this.


Also in Commentary, Rick Richman writes:
“Thomas Friedman unloads on Israel, asserting that it is ‘behaving like a spoiled child’ because Netanyahu will not agree to a new settlement-construction moratorium without additional assurances:

“Just one time you would like Israel to say, ‘You know, Mr. President, we’re dubious that a continued settlement freeze will have an impact. But you think it will, so, let’s test it. This one’s for you.’

“I think he means that just two times he would like Israel to say it.

“Last year, Obama demanded a settlement freeze – after reneging on agreements about such a freeze that had governed the peace process for the prior six years and refusing to endorse the presidential letter given to Israel in exchange for the dismantlement of every settlement in Gaza. The proposed deal was a construction freeze in exchange for small steps toward normalization with Israel that the U.S. would obtain from Arab states. Obama failed to get anything from the Arab states, but Israel announced a 10-month moratorium anyway. It had no impact at all.

“Friedman writes that he has ‘no idea whether the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has the will and the guts to make peace with Israel’ but thinks Abbas should be tested with another moratorium. No idea?

“He knows that Abbas’s term of office expired nearly two years ago and that Abbas is ‘President Abbas’ only in the sense that George Mitchell is ‘Senator Mitchell.’ He knows Abbas declined an offer of a state on 100 percent of the West Bank (after land swaps) with a shared Jerusalem. He knows Abbas has stated he will ‘never’ recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor negotiate any land swap. He knows Abbas cannot make peace even with Hamas, which controls half the putative Palestinian state. He knows Abbas has repeatedly canceled elections and that the idea of the Palestinian Authority as a stable democratic entity is a joke. He knows Abbas has declared he will never waive the “right of return,” which makes a peace agreement impossible even if every other issue could be resolved. He knows Abbas has taken no steps to prepare his public for any of the compromises that would be necessary for a peace agreement. How many tests does Abbas have to fail before Thomas Friedman has an idea?


(Here I offer thanks to readers Bud and Phyl, who forwarded a post by a “Bookworm” blog, “Why Tom Friedman is an Idiot,” that referred to the two commentators above.)


This still leaves me with one other Friedman comment that I would like to address:

“At a time when the president has made it one of his top priorities to build a global coalition to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon, he took the very logical view that if he could advance the peace process in the Middle East it would give him much greater leverage to get the Europeans and U.N. behind tougher sanctions on Iran.”

Give me a break! Too many people have gone around the block with this argument, for which there is not a scintilla of evidence.

The president’s exceedingly foolish policy of attempting engagement with Iran caused the loss of a great deal of significant time. And, in point of fact, many of those nations that might have been in a “global coalition” grew weary of his approach, which smacked of appeasement.

Several times here I have reported on the fact that “moderate” Arab states that are fearful of Iran are angry at Obama for shifting the balance of power in Iran’s favor by refusing to wield the power necessary for deterrence. Saudi Arabia, which is terrified, is now beginning “dialogue” with Iran. And last week it was reported that Egypt, which equally fears and detests Iran, has resumed commercial traffic with this Shiite nation — traffic that had been halted since the 1970 Iranian revolution.

Syria is not in the “moderate” Arab camp, certainly, but must be mentioned here as well. That state is more solidly in Iran’s camp today because Assad took a look around him and decided he’d place his bet on Ahmadinejad and not Obama.

This is deeply, deeply unsettling. Because it sure looks as if the bad guys are winning, thanks to a weak US that has not provided much-desired leadership. Without question, this demonstrated weakness by the US has done irrevocable harm to Israeli security.

And none of this has anything remotely to do with whether we are on the verge of establishing a Palestinian state, or, even more ridiculously, whether we have frozen construction in Judea and Samaria.

If you want to know how much the Arab states care about “the Palestinians,” take a look at the miniscule amounts they donate to UNRWA, which is supported by American and EU funds in the main. And consider how unwilling they have been to offer full rights to Palestinian Arabs living within their borders.

Anyone who seriously believes that Arab leaders exceedingly eager to see a dangerous Iran contained would refrain from cooperating in restricting Iran’s ability to go nuclear because Abbas didn’t have his state is delusional.


So where are we now, with regard to the “progress” on establishing that Palestinian state?

The PA says it will renege on Oslo commitments if talks fail. The latest in a series of jokes, as the PLO never properly ratified those Accords in the first place back in 1993, and has consistently reneged on its stipulations, such as the requirement to halt all incitement. And — as I was discussing with Ted Belman of Israpundit today with regard to what he had written — the Accords called for a final resolution of issues by 1999, which leaves open the question of what their legality is now anyway. (Not that the world pays attention to legalities.)

Of course, this threat followed a warning by Israel that if the PA takes unilateral action, so will we. Who knows what comes next.


Israel has for some months now opened up the crossing into Gaza for not only humanitarian materials but commercial goods as well. The one thing Israel maintains control over is permission to bring building materials into Gaza — out of concern that such materials might fall into the hands of Hamas for use in constructing weapons or bunkers for storing those weapons. While much construction material has gone into Gaza, each building project is considered independently.

Now Israel’s Defense Ministry has vetoed an UNRWA building project because — are you ready? — UNRWA wanted to build a number of new schools in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in southern Gaza City on land that was donated by Hamas, and was next to a Hamas military installation.

Defense Ministry officials, explaining that they were shocked at what they discovered, asked UNRWA personnel if they were aware that a Hamas installation was near by. The answer was that, yes, they were aware of this, and, in fact, Hamas had donated the land.

It is hardly necessary to belabor the obvious here, in terms of what leverage Hamas would have over UNRWA in this situation and what direct influence on the school kids (something I’ve documented at length in the past).

UNRWA’s defense: Gee, many nations have contacts with Hamas.


Guess we should have seen this coming. Remember Lauren Booth? That’s Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, the purported journalist who went into Gaza and lamented about how they were starving there — and then was inadvertently photographed in a Gaza store with shelves generously stocked with food stuff.

Lauren has gone native: She’s converted to Islam after a spiritual experience at the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in Qom, Iran, where she felt “this shot of spiritual morphine.”

I saw a video this evening in which she declared her devotion to “Palestine,” and her determination to not permit people to accuse Islam of promoting violence because she knows first hand what a loving and peaceful religion it is. “Alahu Akbar,” she said.

She should only be Israel’s worst problem.