Tom Friedman has written 3 good books on the MidEast and has a command of whats happening in socio-economic trends throughout the Worldas evidenced in his 2 books the World is Flat and Hot, Crowded and Flat. So his commentary on the Gaza incursion is required reading. Unfortunately it must be takien against a backdrop of a powerful Israeli PR campaign that even Jon Stewart of the Daily Show found totally imbalanced (see the January 5th, 2009 show here)as well as a Jewish political population that is hugely divided on what, if anything at all, should be given to the Palestinians in making 2-State peace.
The War-influenced Israeli PR campaign has demonized the Gaza Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular. In effect the Israeli PR says this: “They are all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers by voting for and supporting Hamas. And Hamas are unrepentant suicide bombers and rocket launchers for the Iranians. Hamas have not changed their stand on the elimination of Israel as they are in lock step with their benefactors, Iran.” This appraisal does not allow for the range of remarks being made by various Hamas officials from 2006 on.
True these statements have a lot of elbow room – but so does the Israel position espoused by Tom Fiedman. This position seems to be a variation on the liberal Haaretz newspaper view – “By contrast, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has recognized Israel — and vice versa. If you believe, as I do, that the only stable solution is a two-state one, with the Palestinians getting all of the West Bank, Gaza and Arab sectors of East Jerusalem, then you have to hope for the weakening of Hamas.” The problem is that the swing vote in Israel, their “Christian Fundamentalists”, are dead set against this. And the rise of Jewish Settlements to over 250,000 throughout the West Bank and no right of Palestinian return are simply unacceptable in the Israel of today. And any Isaeli leader who would contemplate this face the Itzhak Rabin outcome. In short if the Israelis had curbed expansion of the Westbank settlements in the past 2 years even, then Tom’s points would really have bite – but they simply have not. And with Bush Administration Kneejerk support guaranteed for almost whatever Israel chooses to do as in the past 2 weeks, Tom appears to be engaing in Wishful Thinking despite the seriousness of the quandry.