Sunday, March 14, 2010

Over Doing the Criticism of Israel

I am so sick of the so-called media pundits criticizing Israel. In two separate interview programs - mainstream media figures really bashed Israel hard for its announcement during a visit by Vice President Biden about 1600 new settlements in East Jerusalem.

I agree that Israel should not have said anything about settlements while Vice President Joe Biden was there. Especially since that is the most contentious issue between Israel and the US right now. I have always felt that Israel should try and accommodate US government policies as much as possible no matter what my own personal preferences would be.

There is of course much debate among Orthodox Jews about what the right thing is for Israel to do on this issue ranging anywhere from ‘not one inch’ for any reason - all the way to giving the Palestinians everything they want right now.

My views are somewhere in between those extremes but I am not going to go into those details here. My point here is that there seems to be a vilification by the mainstream media that is based on an ignorant and/or biased view of what the situation is.

In one case an interviewer on ABC’s ‘This Week” asked a couple of guests whether Israel’s settlement policies endangered American lives. What an inflammatory question! You could almost hear the venom in his voice as he asked that question. As though he was trying to coax an answer in the affirmative! It was almost an ‘Aha!’ moment for him.

And then NBC's Meet the Press interviewed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman - a so-called expert on Israel and the Middle East. He wrote an opinion piece on the subject.

He has visited the region many times and studied it a lot. But his biases seem to have overtaken his perception of reality. He was livid about what Israel did. So much so that he felt the US response wasn’t strong enough. Here is what he said Biden should have done:

He should have snapped his notebook shut, gotten right back on Air Force Two, flown home and left the following scribbled note behind: “Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk. You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences?

This is what passes for wisdom on the part of the New York Times these days. Friedman might think it’s wisdom but it is thinly disguised anger at Israel because they don’t see things his way. It takes a certain amount of arrogance for newspaper columnist to think he knows better for Israel than the vast majority of its citizens and its leadership does. Instead of stepping back and analyzing what happened fairly - he pounces on Israel with righteous indignation - thus exacerbating things.

Wrong though they might have been -Israel does not deserve that kind of criticism. Especially if one looks at one very important factor that everyone seems to be ignoring. The portion of East Jerusalem where those settlements are to be built is Ramat Shlomo. Ramat Sholmo has in theory already been conceded to Israel by the Palestinians themselves during the Clinton-Barak peace accords. It was Yassir Arafat himself that approved it. He sabotaged those talks anyway but he is on record approving Israel's retention of sovereignty over Ramat Shlomo.

Friedman conveniently overlooks that detail. To him there is only one perspective: His! He actually believes that if Israel would just give in on the settlements everything else would fall into place and that peace will be at hand. How naïve!

Has he forgotten about the ulimtate impervious barrier to peace - the status of Jerusalem? Both sides have sworn that they must have sovereignty over East Jerusalem or there cannot be peace.

Has he forgotten about Hezbollah’s sworn duty to obliterate the Jewish State? A promise that was backed up by rocket attacks?

Has hew forgotten about Hamas and their sworn dedication to the destruction of the Jewish state? And their barrage of rocket attacks into civilian population centers?

Has he forgotten about the Muslim religious obligations to free Palestine from its Jewish infidel oppresors?

Has he forgotten the Islamist goal of a Pan Islamic world guided by Sharia law …and the events of 911 which illustrated the level of commitment to that goal?

Has he forgotten about the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the ransom demands to empty Israeli prisons of terrorist murderers in exchange for him?

Has he forgotten about Hamas’s patron and supplier of arms, Iran, whose leader has sworn to wipe Israel off the map? …a country that is developing nuclear weapons and a missile delivery system that can reach Israel?

Has he forgotten the fact that the minute peace becomes even the remotest possibility - Jihadists start an intifada and start blowing themselves up on buses in Jerusalem?

Does Mr. Freidman think all this will disappear if only Israel stops its settlements?

In my view ‘experts’ like Friedman who cite only those facts which support their agendas while ignoring facts that undermine it - gives cover to those who want to pull the rug out from under America’s greatest ally in the Middle East. Those people - some of whom sit in congress while others are respected media figures - would not shed any real tears if Israel were to be destroyed – except for some crocodile tears. Maybe. In my view they are either ignorant fools or closet anti-Semites.

It’s one thing to speculate about the wisdom of what Israel did last week. I personally think they made a mistake. But to blow it up so way out of proportion is foolhardy and wrong. One needs to see what happened in light of all the facts - and not only from one perspective. By overemphasizing the supposed damage done - pundits like Freidman exacerbate the situation.

That could make things a lot worse for the Jewish state.

Even though the Obama administration has said that support for Israel is unshakable it may nonetheless very well take full advantage of this criticism to pressure Israel even harder for - God knows what kind of concessions. The Tom Friedmans of the world will be right there cheering the administration on. What better cover can there be for a President than to have a Jewish middle East expert like Friedman on board with him?!

Just to be clear, I don’t think Israel should in any way defy its closest ally - which the US still is. By far. Even under Obama. You should not bite the hand that feeds you. But the one thing Israel does not need is encouragement of pressure against it from so called ‘experts’. Thomas Friedman claims that all he really wants is to help Israel achieve peace. Well if that’s really true - he would do well to just shut up!