Edna Yaghi’s Column
Thomas Friedman is not just a pro-Israeli writer. He is Zionist through and through. In his article, “It Only Gets Worse,” (New York Times) Friedman discusses what he considers to be the core of the present conflict in Palestine.
Though he does concede that the Israeli settlements are “foolish,” he advocates the halt of these settlements for “Israel’s sake.” It is not because these settlements are constructed on Palestinian land or because these settlers have no right to build on what is left of Palestine, but because it looks like an “act of colonial coercion that will meet the fate of all other colonial enterprises in history.”
But the core of the present Intifada, according to Friedman, is to be found not in the settlements, not in Israel’s excessive use of force, not in the F-16 fighter jets that bombed Palestinian civilian areas, not in the daily shelling of Palestinian homes, not in the remote control assassinations of Palestinian security forces, not in the killing of Palestinian children, not in the siege of Palestinian land and way of life, not in the devastation of the Palestinian economy, but in Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. According to Friedman, he is the Palestinian leader who “cannot say ‘yes’ and will not say ‘uncle.’
It is at this point in his writing that Friedman rambles off into incoherent discourse about how ungrateful Arafat was not to accept the peace proposals made under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. It is not that Arafat did not want to accept the “generous” proposals that would have given the Palestinians less than 22% of their own land; it was that he was not given a chance to. When Ariel Sharon paid a visit to the Muslim holy places at al Harem al Sharif, he had with him around a thousand Israeli soldiers. He knew exactly what he was doing and he meant his visit to provoke the Palestinians into rebelling against the intrusion. It is not that Arafat wanted all this to happen. The fact is, he could not stop it though he personally begged Sharon (a day or so earlier) not to make this offensive move, as both men knew full well the consequences.
Friedman states that Arafat launched this “idiotic uprising,” when in truth, Arafat staged nothing. Friedman calls him a “political coward and maneuverer, who apparently has not given up his long-term aim of eliminating Israel and who was afraid in the short run that if he took 99 percent, he would be killed for the 1 percent he left on the table.”(Note how Friedman jumps from 94-96 percent to 99 percent in a short space of a few paragraphs).
If Arafat were a true coward, he would have resigned a long time ago. If he were a coward, he would have made peace with the Israelis long ago no matter what kind of a sell out it was. If he were a coward, he would not be a sitting duck for trigger-happy Sharon who has killed several key men in Arafat’s service. And I am not out to praise Arafat at all, but I also am not out to distort the truth. I think the blame for the slaughter of Palestinians, and it is the Palestinians who are dying, should be placed where it belongs, on Sharon’s shoulders.
He has proven that he is as ruthless as ever and he has once again shown us that he does not mind killing as many Arabs as he sees fit. And while he continues his siege, his pillage, his plunder, his extermination of the native inhabitants of Palestine, he has somehow fooled mindless people like Friedman into believing that it is all the Palestinian’s fault and in particular, the fault of Arafat.
That the Palestinians are fighting for their freedom, for what is left of their own country, for the rights that all men are entitled to, is something that Friedman either ignores or is too asinine to realize. And it is not that an unarmed people are trying to destroy Israel, as Friedman suggests, they are merely trying to survive the inhuman war that Israel is waging against them. Is a child with a stone the equivalent to a helicopter gunboat? Is a lone suicide bomber equal to F-16 fighter jets? Are a people who are entirely cut off from one another and from the rest of the world a threat to anyone, much less the army state of Israel? Remember that what is happening right now is not a war between two equally armed nations, but a war by the Israeli war-state against the Palestinians who are under Israeli occupation.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry pays two American public relations firms to promote Israel to Americans. I wonder if Friedman is on their payroll? Furthermore, the second most powerful lobby in the United States is AIPAC, which is the American Israeli Political Action Committee. Perhaps Friedman works for them as well.
Friedman has concluded that the Mitchell Report would make a good bonfire, but a better suggestion would be to gather up all Friedman’s distortions of the truth and recycle them for tissue paper.
The abyss that Friedman speaks of getting out of was created by people like him who cover up the Israeli slaughter of the innocents. Just today, after Israel declared a ceasefire, Israeli forces attacked civilians at Rafah. Forty Palestinians were injured, and of these 40, 23 were children. Yes, it does only gets worse, thanks to the likes of people like Friedman.