Home National Politics Tom Friedman: Thanks to the Right Wingnuts, “I’ve never been more worried...

Tom Friedman: Thanks to the Right Wingnuts, “I’ve never been more worried about Israel’s future.”


Check out this must-read analysis by Tom Friedman of how the right wings (including religious fundamentalists) are seriously endangering Israel’s security, leaving it “Adrift at Sea Alone.” The forces at work destroying Israel? Per Friedman’s brilliant article:

1. “Israel’s [right-wing] prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu…failing to put forth a strategy to respond to [turmoil in the Middle East] in a way that protects Israel’s long-term interests.

2. [Right winger, with even more extreme right wingers in his coalition] Netanyahu’s strategy, which is:

Do nothing vis-à-vis the Palestinians or Turkey that will require him to go against his base, compromise his ideology or antagonize his key coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an extreme right-winger. Then, call on the U.S. to stop Iran’s nuclear program and help Israel out of every pickle, but make sure that President Obama can’t ask for anything in return – like halting Israeli settlements – by mobilizing Republicans in Congress to box in Obama and by encouraging Jewish leaders to suggest that Obama is hostile to Israel and is losing the Jewish vote. And meanwhile, get the Israel lobby to hammer anyone in the administration or Congress who says aloud that maybe Bibi has made some mistakes, not just Barack.


More on the “flip”

3. A “U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.”

Meanwhile, as one commenter to Friedman’s article astutely observes, “the real advocate for Israel’s security is Barack Obama who is bending over backward to forge a peace agreement that will end this struggle once and for all.” And what does Obama get for his efforts? Minimal support, a great deal of (almost all outrageously absurd and unfair) criticism from the likes of Eric Can’tor. Unfortunately, as another commenter points out Obama is being forced to “[bow] to the extreme right Republicans/Tea Party factions this year before seminal elections in 2012.” This is unfortunate in the extreme, both for U.S. and Israeli long-term interests.

The bottom line is this (and I speak as someone who has, for decades, strongly supported Israel as a secure, Jewish democracy, living at peace with its neighbors within defensible boundaries): Israel cannot survive in the Middle East if it doesn’t come to terms with its neighbors. Obviously, it takes two to tango, and the Arabs bear a large share of the “blame” in all this, but that’s really not relevant in the end, because again, Israel cannot survive in the Middle East if it doesn’t come to terms with its neighbors. The Arabs can and will survive, as there are a lot more of them covering a land area hundreds of times the size of tiny Israel. What about these facts don’t the right wingnuts and zealots understand? Everything, it would appear. (Note: apparently, they also don’t care that Israel can’t be both a Jewish state and a democracy for much longer, given demographic realities west of the Jordan River, unless it reaches a peace settlement which has two states as its basis)

So, given all this, why on earth do we listen to the right wingnuts or take them seriously in any way? Simple: because they’re loud, belligerent, organized, focused, and powerful. And that is an extremely dangerous situation, first and foremost for the future of the country they claim to care about — Israel. Ironic, tragic, pathetic, or what? You decide.

  • libra

    when I read that article earlier today. Friedman wrote this? Friedman? “The Unit” Friedman? Has the guy cleaned his contact lenses after all these years? Not that I’m griping — quite contrary — but it’s hard to tell whether my surprise tops the amusement or the other way ’round.

    A nice “companion article” to Friedman’s taking stripes off Netayahu’s hide is this one, also in today’s NYT:


    I wish that someone — anyone — would point out that excess religiosity in the public arena, combined with excess chauvinism, always moves the relevant country sharply to the right. Turkey and Israel aren’t the only ones. Iran and US are in the same boat.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Both Israel and some of the Islamic lands surrounding her show the horrors inherent in combining religion and secular government. Thomas Jefferson gave us a great gift in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. No wonder he wanted that on his tombstone.

  • Dan Sullivan

    The reasons for supporting Israel are myriad but for some mere superstition is enough. Americans blend and confuse the issues of state, nation, and religion in almost all matters. When this is done in the case of Israel a tepid blend of conflicting positions is created.

    Our frame of reference often ignores the reality on the ground in the Levant. Israel has no geographic strategic depth. It coincides almost identically with its tactical depth. That results in a brew of domestic and international politics that is alien to Americans.

    Non-Jewish American right-wingnut supporters of Israel couldn’t name the Knesset and would be perplexed to know that there are Arab members. Don’t even ask them what they think about the “Peace Now” movement. Too many base their support of Israel on an uninformed notion (owing to their own religious frame of reference) of the nation that they think is a state rather than the state itself. So their abject support of the current Prime Minister’s policies has little to do with supporting Israelis. They should be dismissed offhand.

    Israel is a modern state with contemporary issues. No amount of superstition will solve the challenge to her existence. Real, practical, and, unfortunately, pragmatic steps must be taken or we are going to find a fourth front opened in this idiotic military campaign begun under Bush.

    But this one will re-define our “grander” adventure in a way we have been trying to avoid for a decade and will completely polarize the Middle East: as a crusade. And as contrary to American interests as this is, it is precisely what the right-wingnuters want.

  • glennbear

    Before one can comment on American politicians and their relationships with the Orthodox in America one needs to be aware just how powerful they are as a result of the vast sums of money they control. One need only Google Bernie Madoff or Solomon Dwek to see why the GOP would cater to Orthodox interests in an attempt to tap into some of that money. As we well know they bow down to corporate America for the same reason. Right wingers in Israel just like their counterparts in the USA could accurately be categorized as Financinites as opposed to whatever religion they profess since they worship the almighty dollar above all other gods.

      Prior to coming to VA I lived in a city that was home to the largest Orthodox University in the USA and the Orthodox owned the city because of their voting power. The islamophobic faction of the GOP who foster fear of a Muslim takeover in America say not a word when Orthodox Jews take over a community since they vote as a block to favor GOP politicians who they see as friendly and make political contributions accordingly. I find it rather ironic that this diary is posted now when the RTD just had a large article about the Jewish community in the confederacy.There is a lone online journalist who routinely exposes the corruption and undue influence in the city of which I write:


    Cantor’s trips to Israel are less about trying to support the state of Israel then they are about supporting right wing financial interests.

  • glennbear

    For those who like to play “connect the dots” (I am one of those) there is a fascinating article in our NJ counterpart blog about Solomon Dwek and that GOP darling governor Chris Christie :


  • Jim B

    You certainly got that right. Cantor owes his position in congress to money. Tom the dancing crook Delay recognized Cantor’s ties to Jewish money and made him the repug whip. Thanks to that money we are stuck with him here in the 7th.  

  • See here. This guy really “gets it,” unlike 90%+ (99%?) of people who write/comment on the Arab-Israeli conflict.