By D. Bender
Noted New York Times columnist and author, Thomas Friedman, in an interview with Israel Army radio aired Tuesday, admitted that he has “…no idea whether Israel has a Palestinian partner for a secure peace.”
He added, however, that, despite the uncertainty, and, “given Israel’s predicament, it should be doing everything it can to test, test, test, and test again, whether it has such a Palestinian partner…”
Friedman did not mention any of Israel’s recent confidence-building gestures towards the Palestinians, including a nine-month settlement freeze, and a host of other civil and political offers to ease daily life and restart talks.
Nor did he mention ongoing Palestinian Authority (PA) – backed terrorism, and rejectionism of efforts to restart talks, vitriolic incitement in official Palestinian media against Israelis and Jews, and simply sidestepping direct negotiations in order to exploit the United Nations as a bludgeon against the Jewish state.
Friedman said that Israel’s control over 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank was an existential threat, and called Israel’s settlement enterprise into question.
“What is crazy to me, and is increasingly crazy to so many American friends of Israel, is why Israel would go out of its way to expand settlements into areas where it is not going to be part of a two-state solution – and making it impossible for Israel’s friends around the world to defend it – that’s flat out crazy,” Friedman contended.
Claiming that he has “great respect for Israel’s geo-strategic predicament. I have great respect for that,” Friedman said that, in the face of such a threat matrix, “Netanayhau’s response to that is, ‘therefore we should do nothing.'”
“My reaction to that is, ‘I understand why you feel paralyzed in the face of that, but doing nothing is not the right approach,” he said.
Friedman, whose regard for Israel often reflects that of the White House and State Department, said, “The Obama Administration and the Netanyahu Administration do not like each other, do not respect each other, and clearly have a dysfunctional marriage.
“And so much of it has to do with not telling the truth to each other, and Obama’s people are as guilty – and complain in private.” He continued, however, urging “if this is how you feel, say what you think. Why mumble, why curse Netanyahu in private?”
Friedman also pointed to combative statements by Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and other officials against Washington.
“To be insulting the secretary of state, or the president – my God, does Israel have three more United States’ out there that it can rely on? Are there three more United States’ out there ready to line up if this one goes away?” he queried.
“And, by the way, do you know what’s going on, on college campuses today, with the next generation of Americans and American Jews?” he asked rhetorically, alluding to burgeoning hostility towards Israel and pro-Israeli groups at dozens of institutions.
“They’re running away from this story. Are there more United States’ out there?” he asked in exasperation.
“By 2015, the United States will be the world’s biggest oil producer. So the Middle East for us, has gone from being a necessity to being a hobby.
“And one day, you’ll wake up 10 years from now, and you’ll discover that your prime minister cannot speak at the University of Wisconsin,” Friedman concluded.