By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Friedman to Israel: Take a deep breath and don’t do this

When Thomas Friedman of The New York Times writes about Israel and the broader Middle East, he generally comes up with something worth paying attention to. So I recommend this excellent piece in today’s edition headlined “Israel Is About to Make a Terrible Mistake” (free link). He manages to encapsulate the immensely complicated dilemma over how Israel should avenge Hamas’ terrorist attacks without causing so much chaos that the world will be dealing with it for many years to come. Here’s the heart of it:

I believe that if Israel rushes headlong into Gaza now to destroy Hamas — and does so without expressing a clear commitment to seek a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority and end Jewish settlements deep in the West Bank — it will be making a grave mistake that will be devastating for Israeli interests and American interests.

It’s not a matter of going soft on Hamas; rather, it’s a matter of what’s in Israel’s best interests. Friedman is convinced that the Netanyahu government is ignoring the advice that President Joe Biden gave them and is on the verge of making a historic, tragic blunder.

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  1. Paul Bass

    I agree that Friedman has had the most in-depth informed take on all this, given his long history covering the region. What has struck me is how American op-ed writers across all ideological positions, even those on the right who first couch their pieces as attacks on Hamas and unquestioned loyalty to Israel, conclude that Israel will only play into Hamas’s hands and endanger both itself and the world and cause untold suffering through a massive ground invasion (quagmire) and carpet bombing. I’m also struck how, given the dysfunction in the current Israeli government and the prominence of far-right officials (who openly praise Baruch Goldstein and Meir Kahane, Jewish versions of Hamas, as heroes/role models), a uniform chorus of American public opinion may have little to no impact on decisions. I hope I’m wrong!

  2. Richard Allen

    They have been on their own since 2005. So instead of spending their money on building hotels clean beaches making it a tourist spot like Doha, they spent it on throwing untreated sewage in the sea , building tunnels and buying rockets. Content of character applies equally to Muslims too.

  3. NahantJim Walsh

    I have been reading Friedman for more than 30 years. His book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” is an excellent account of the origins of the Intifada and his commentary since then is always well-informed.

    On Friday’s PBS Newshour, Leila Molana-Allen reported from Nur Shams Camp on the West Bank after an Israeli airstrike and ground assault. Video showed an unarmed 15 year old who ventured out after the raid onto a lighted street. He walked slowly, his hands visibly empty. He was shot dead by the IDF. His father came from their house to help his son. He too was shot. Fully lighted, Completely unarmed. Shot dead. Because they were Palestinians.

    It is no defense of the horrors of Hamas to call attention to an incident that reflects the power of the State of Israel over the occupied territories for many decades…and why resentment toward occupation is so fundamentally deep.


    You mean this Tom Friedman? What has changed?

    “What they [Islamic extremists] needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house—from Basra to Baghdad—and basically saying:

    Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?: You don’t think we care about our open society? You think this [terrorism] fantasy [you have]—we’re just gonna let it grow? Well, suck. on. this. That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We coulda hit Saudi Arabia….We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.”

    – Tom Friedman on Charlie Rose 5/29/2003

  5. Richard Allen

    Shot dead. Because they were Palestinians. No shot dead because they were morons.

    As I stated before if they spent their money on making gaza and the west bank a wonderful place to visit take a vacation and spend $$$$ there would be no problem.

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