There are few journalists in America, or Israel, who can report on the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict without once acknowledging the heroic Palestinian
uprising. But you can count on Thomas Friedman (NYT, Dec 12, 2000) to take
a stab at it. He is the kind of 'journalist' who would rather talk about
Israel and Chad then address the ongoing conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians. Friedman is not a subtle man. He wants to convince you that
Israel is a democracy 'like America'. He would also like Bush to renew
the American carte blanche for Israel so that the Israeli occupation army
can continue their killing spree.
Well, the Apartheid regime in South Africa was also a multi-party democracy.
For whites. That is why Israel and Apartheid South Africa were such good
pals. If I were Israeli, I would not boast so audibly about the fact that
Israelis have continued to vote for governments willing to torment and
humiliate the Palestinians. When the subject of the repressing the Kurds
comes up, the vast majority Iraqis will always be able to point the finger
at their dictator, Saddam. I would also remind Friedman that Hitler came
to power on a majority vote count.
It should embarrass every Israelis and every American Jew that the only
majority Jewish country in the world has continually voted for governments
that would torment and dispossess the Palestinians. It should shame them
more that their partisans in the press contrived arguments, often laced
with overt bigotry, to 'explain' the repression that is the very fabric
of a thirty-three year military occupation.
As an American-Arab, I will remind every American journalist who is an
Israel Firster, including those on the Christian right, that the crimes
that were inflicted against the Palestinians will not escape the history
books. These crimes are an outrage against every decent American value.
And I pose to them this simple hypothetical question. If the much tormented
Gypsies of the world were to come up with their own version of Zionist
Ideology, which little country would we vacate to grant them a homeland
as "Gypsy as Israel is Jewish"? Tunisia? Malta? What would Jesus do?
I am not Palestinian, but I know their history, as does Friedman. He
is an ideological pamphleteer who has repeatedly used his pen to extend
Israel a license to kill, maim, humiliate and economically pulverize a
native people rising up for their freedom. You have to wonder which Aparthied
daily papers he would have chosen to work for had he been born in Johannesburg.
Sulzberger and Friedman are deluding themselves if they think they can
continue marketing the image of a 'glorious Israel besieged by savage natives'.
These zealous ideologues have had their day in the sun, for over fifty
years. Circling their wagons will bring no relief. For now, there are ample
and cheap tools to explore the mountains of tarnished journalism that constitute
the archives of The New York Times Publishing Company. At the dawn of the
information age, data mining the Archives at the Times is a task that has
the potential to cause volcanic eruptions. The historic record will certainly
shine a dim light on the American Media coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian
In Friedman's most recent journalistic debacles,'We the People' (NYT,
Dec 12, 2000). We have him lecturing Prime Minister Barak by reusing Nahum
Barnea's line "What are we, America?"
No, Friedman, Israel is not America. Israel is more like Aparthied South
Africa. The only thing that is remotely similar about America and Israel
is America's policy in the Middle East. Thanks to the Jewish lobby, that
policy has a transparent 'made in Israel' stamp on it. But aside from that,
there is nothing America can learn from Israel about democracy or due process
or the rule of law or civil rights or even a constitution.
Israel does not have a constitution and if it did, the first line would
read "We the People of Israel, having vanquished the Palestinians, acknowledge
the great services rendered by Sulzberger and his publishing company for
their unrelenting support against the restless natives who dared to revolt
against the iron fist military rule of the glorious IDF, whose press releases
are now enshrined in the archives of The New York Times. "
I would suggest that Friedman export a copy of our constitution to his
friends in Israel. Don't forget to include the amendments. They are of
vital importance. If he has enough room in the envelope, he would do well
to include a copy of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Back to Friedman's pathetic piece of journalism where he whines about
the "Bushies using every legal maneuver to prevent any recount." Friedman
should spend more time being concerned about the implication of an American
journalist supporting deadly repression by the army of a foreign country.
Yes, Friedman, Israel is a foreign country.
Let me also assure both Sulzberger and Friedman that the first line of
the U.S. constitution does not read 'We The New York Times'. Neither are
they are in a position to talk about numerical legitimacy. Take another
look at the recent Gallup poll where three out of four Americans don't
even believe 'national' newspapers can "get the facts straight". Is that
the same 'people' Friedman presumes to speak for?
Get a grip, Friedman. Get out of the city, get some oxygen and get some
sleep. When you wake up, America will be a livelier democracy basking in
the light of an information age that will view your suspect pen with disdain.