Do you like museums? Aggie’s a nut for them, if I may so divulge. When I’m in New York, I almost always save time for a trip to the Frick. Not only for the brilliance of its collection, but I like to support the fruits of raw capitalism.
[As Wikipedia notes: "Once known by his critics as “the most hated man in America," — Portfolio.com named Frick one of the "Worst American CEOs of All Time"— he has long been vilified by the public and historians for his ruthlessness and lack of morality in business." As opposed to Mark Zuckerberg, say?]
Anyhow, there’s a pretty cool online museum of discredited columnists spouting outdated ideas. It’s called the New York Times op ed page (though it costs you if you visit more than 20 time a month, I believe).
Here’s one of the exhibits: thomas absurdium friedmanus
Political power is always a double-edged sword. The more of it you amass, the more people expect you to use it to do big things, and, when you don’t, the more ineffectual you look. That’s the dilemma in which Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel finds himself. He avoided early elections by adding a new centrist coalition partner to his right-wing cabinet, giving him control of 96 of the 120 seats in Parliament. There are Arab dictators who didn’t have majorities that big after rigged elections. What is unclear is whether Bibi assembled these multitudes to be better able to do nothing or be better able to do something important to secure Israel’s future.
The stakes could not be higher — for him and Israel. Ami Ayalon, the former commander of Israel’s Navy and later its domestic intelligence service, put it to me this way: “I imagine a book called ‘Jewish Leaders in Recent History’ that one day Bibi’s grandson will be reading. What will it say? In one version, I imagine the section about the State of Israel will say that Herzl envisaged it, Ben-Gurion built it and Netanyahu secured it as a Jewish democracy.” But there is another version that could also be written, added Ayalon. “This version will describe Herzl and Ben-Gurion in the same way, but it will say of Netanyahu that he was the only Israeli leader who had the political power and he missed his moment in history” — and, thereby, created a situation in which Israel is not a Jewish democracy anymore. “Now is his moment to decide.”
Now, I don’t know this Ami Ayalon, but Danny Ayalon (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs) feels quite differently. (You can see him answering a question on “settlements” here.) Ami comes from the military and domestic intelligence, but that means nothing in political terms. Just as being Jewish means nothing in terms of Israeli politics, neither does being Israeli.
And if you aren’t suspicious about why Friedman’s citation of his remarks drop in and out of quotation marks, you should be. I don’t know what his beliefs are, but I sure know Friedman’s. And they are unpleasant in the extreme:
… Bibi — either through brilliant bluffing that he will bomb Iran or a sincere willingness to do so — has managed to make stopping Iran’s nuclear program a top U.S. and global priority.
As if stopping Iran’s nuclear program isn’t a US and global priority on its own? As if “Bibi” is a puppeteer, making global leaders dance to his tune? How is Friedman’s language different from Walt, Mearsheimer, Buchanan, and all the other stinking antisemites who see tentacles and webs and mysterious cabalistic forces?
But he’s just getting started:
So what to do? Here I think Ayalon has the best new idea: “constructive unilateralism.”
In an essay in this newspaper on April 24, Ayalon and two colleagues argued that Israel should first declare its willingness to return to negotiations anytime and that it has no claims of sovereignty on any West Bank lands east of its security barrier. It should then end all settlement construction east of that barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and establish an attractive housing and relocation plan to help the 100,000 Jewish settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized borders. The Israeli Army would remain in the West Bank until the conflict was resolved with a final-status agreement. And Israel would not physically force any citizens to leave until an agreement was reached, even though relocations could begin well before then. Such an initiative would radically change Israel’s image in the world, dramatically increase Palestinian incentives to negotiate and create a pathway for securing Israel as a Jewish democracy. And Bibi could initiate it tomorrow.
“Heroic peacemaking is over,” says Ayalon. It is time for “coordinated” and “constructive” unilateralism. The way is there. Does Bibi have the will?
So, this “constructive unilateralism” sounds like the pig “unilateral surrender” with lipstick smeared on. Israel is to take every step—backward, toward retrenchment and retreat—while nothing is required of the Arabs. Why, this is the Saudi plan, which Friedman also pimped, with a kippah on its head instead of a tablecloth. It is unilateral, all right, just as the relocation of Jews throughout history has been unilateral. With the exception of the founding of the state of Israel (and a period of American immigration history), such relocations have been expulsions, something Friedman & Co. evidently want to see happen again, in the Jewish state. Never mind the return of the Sinai, never mind the Jewish expulsions from Gaza (turning it into Lebanon-lite), the West Bank must be made judenrein, too.
The Arabs have been offered a peace along these lines before, and have rejected it. That, to me, is a lucky favor. Israel still has a chance to extend its sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria (my preference), or at least over the largest Jewish populations. That, too, would be “unilateral” and “constructive”, and with the benefit that Friedman’s ghettoization lacks: secure borders.
I told you he was a museum relic. As with the Killing Field museum I cited earlier, not all exhibits are pretty pictures.
PS: Friedman also lies when he makes reference to demographics. Israel would still be a majority Jewish democracy if it annexed Judea and Samaria today. And birthrates currently favor the Jews holding on to their majority for the foreseeable future.