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Media Manipulation and Political Pundits

Have a look at the 2 pieces below. The first is a precis from the Daily Alert, 10 Feb, and the second is the full article from which the precis was created (using the word “created” with all due consideration). Read them both carefully. The full article (numero duo) is worth studying since it is an archetype of all similar material emanating from this segmeent of the leftwing-progressive template and manifests much that is wrong with this perspective.

My comments follow at the end.

The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Is Dead

Thomas L. Friedman

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead. It’s over, folks, so please stop sending the New York Times Op-Ed page editor your proposals for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas devoted all its resources to digging tunnels to attack Israelis from Gaza rather than turning Gaza into Singapore, making a laughingstock of Israeli peace advocates. And Hamas launched a rocket close enough to Tel Aviv’s airport that the U.S. banned all American flights for a day, signaling to every Israeli, dove or hawk, what could happen if they ceded the West Bank.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only ef fective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions, not UN resolutions. (New York Times) from the Daily Alert, 10 Feb 2016


The Many Mideast Solutions

Thomas L. Friedman: FEB 10, 2016 Op-ED

In December at the Brookings Saban Forum on the Middle East, Atlantic magazine reporter Jeff Goldberg asked the rightwing former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman this provocative question: “Things are shifting radically not only in non-Jewish America but in Jewish America as it concerns Israel and its reputation. My question is: (A) Do you care? (B) What are you going to do about it? And (C) how important is it to you?”

“To speak frankly, I don’t care,” Lieberman responded, adding that Israel lived in a dangerous neighborhood. Give Lieberman credit for honesty: I don’t really care what American Jews or nonJews think about Israel.

 That conversation came back to me as I listened to the Democratic and Republican debates when they briefly veered into foreign policy, with candidates spouting the usual platitudes about standing with our Israeli and Sunni Arab allies. Here’s a news flash: You can retire those platitudes.

Whoever becomes the next president will have to deal with a totally different Middle East. It will be a Middle East shaped by struggle over a one state solution, a no state solution, a non state solution and a rogue state solution.

That is, a one state solution in Israel, a no state solution in Syria, Yemen and Libya, a non state solution offered by the Islamic caliphate and a rogue state solution offered by Iran.

Start with Israel. The peace process is dead. It’s over, folks, so please stop sending the New York Times OpEd page editor your proposals for a twostate solution between Israelis and Palestinians. The next U.S. president will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live.

How did we get there? So many people stuck knives into the peace process it’s hard to know who delivered the mortal blow. Was it the fanatical Jewish settlers determined to keep expanding their footprint in the West Bank and able to sabotage any Israeli politician or  army officer who opposed them? Was it rightwing Jewish billionaires, like Sheldon Adelson, who used their influence to blunt any U.S. congressional criticism of Bibi  Netanyahu?

Or was it Netanyahu, whose lust to hold onto his seat of power is only surpassed by his lack of imagination to find a secure way to separate from the Palestinians? Bibi won: He’s now a historic figure — the founding father of the onestate solution.

And Hamas is the mother. Hamas devoted all its resources to digging tunnels to attack Israelis from Gaza rather than turning Gaza into Singapore, making a laughingstock of Israeli peace advocates. And Hamas launched a rocket close enough to Tel Aviv’s airport that the U.S. banned all American flights for a day, signaling to every Israeli, dove or hawk, what could happen if they ceded the West Bank.

But Hamas was not alone. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only effective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions, not U.N. resolutions.

They all killed the two state solution. Let the onestate era begin. It will involve a steady lowgrade civil war between Palestinians and Israelis and a growing Israeli isolation in Europe and on college campuses that the next U.S. president will have to navigate.

Meanwhile, a no state Syria — a Syria that Bashar alAssad and his Russian and Iranian backers only partly control — will be a chest wound bleeding refugees into Europe. I am certain that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is deliberately bombing antiregime Syrians to drive them into Europe in hopes of creating a rift in the European Union, strain its resources and make it a weaker rival to Russia and a weaker ally for America.

And the non state Sunni caliphate (ISIS) and rogue state Shiite Iran will feed off each other. I love it when both Democratic and Republican candidates say, “When I am president, I’ll get Sunni Arabs to take the lead  in fighting ISIS.” Gosh, I bet Obama never thought of that!

The Sunni Arabs are never going to destroy a non state ISIS as long as Iran behaves like a Shiite rogue state, not a normal one. It’s true, Iran is a great civilization. It could dominate the region with the dynamism of its business class, universities, science and arts. But Iran’s ayatollahs don’t trust their soft power. They prefer instead to go rogue, to look for dignity in all the wrong places — by using Shiite proxies to dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut,  Damascus, Sana and Baghdad.

So my advice to all the candidates is: Keep talking about the fantasy Middle East. I can always use a good bedtime story to fall asleep. But get ready for the real thing. This is not your grandfather’s Israel anymore, it’s not your oil company’s Saudi Arabia anymore, it’s not your NATO’s Turkey anymore, it’s not your cabdriver’s Iran anymore and it’s not your radical chic college professor’s Palestine anymore.

It’s a wholly different beast now, slouching toward Bethlehem.


The Daily Alert is a daily selection of material appearing in both the popular media and some specialist publications pertaining to Israel. It is pro-Israel and certainly right of centre and so the material selected will represent that bias.

I have no problem with that; its perspective is obvious and there are plenty of other sites with different ideological leanings. But I don’t like blatant manipulation of material for propaganda purposes. That is what we accuse the MSM of (and they are certainly guilty) but that does not mean pro-Israel sites are free to indulge in such dubious practices – at least not without raising suspicions about all their material and distaste regarding their methods.

The Daily Alert precis is designed to suggest the Friedman, a longtime staunch opponent of anything vaguely smacking of Likud or conservative (read “rightwing” in pejorative scare quotes) opinion when it comes to Israel, has suddenly changed his tune in the face of overwhelming evidence. Oh please!

People like Friedman would have to be dropped, repeatedly, headfirst down a mine shaft to change course on such fundamental ideological lines. And for the precis to deliberately omit any reference whatsoever to Friedman’ negative views on Israel and Netanyahu in particular, is rank journalistic dishonesty.

If they have done it in this instance it is a safe bet it’s a regular practice. I don’t like it and readers should take care to subject anything (especially from the Daily Alert) which conveniently mirrors their ideological leanings to special scrutiny and analysis. It pays to go to the original if you don’t simply want to be another “useful idiot”.

But what about Friedman’s views? His confident tone and assertions need equaly critical analysis: So here are some questions:

  1.    How come in the Middle East do events always seem to bear out the most extreme predictions and misgivings of the right? Does this not give the Friedmans of this world a moments pause for thought? It certainly does for me, and I’m not talking about the vulgar and primitive racial slurs which litter conservative sites. For me it’s a cause for regret that the Caroline Glicks seem to have a much better grasp of reality than the Benjy Pogrunds, But that is what most Israelis have concluded and it is time to stop the gnashing of teeth to face the facts.

Of course, it will be suggested that it is because of Israeli behaviour that Gaza is Hamas, that Abbas supports terror and ultimate destruction of Israel, that Iran is a rogue state  and the rest of the MENA region is in convulsive conflagration. This is, of course, absolute rubbish for which there is not the slightest evidence.

2.    Friedman claims that that Netanyahu (and by extension, Israel) is the father of the one-state solution because of his determination to occupy the West Bank driven, no doubt, by invariably “fanatical” settlers, rightwing billionaires and a “lust for power”.. This is glib claptrap.

It ignores the offers made by Israel that have been uniformly rejected by the Palestinians. It ignores the extreme and systematic Fatah-sponsored incitement which poisons any progress towards a two-state resolution and justifies (and encourages) terrorism. It ignores the international diplomatic and propaganda initiatives designed to destroy Israel by indirect means. It ignores the rewriting of history to obliterate all connections between Jews and the Middle East. It ignores the systematic discourse depicting Israel as a colonial/crusader power with no legitimate rights in the Middle East.

That such reductive and dishonest nonsense gets published in the New York Times is a symbol of the sad decline of journalist quality in that paper.

3.    It is also worth asking why the irrational hatred of Netanyahu. Is Bibi the first politician with a lust for power? What diabolical attributes does he manifest that differ from any other clever and calculating politician? Is Netanyahu the first to exploit ethnic fears and hostility for his own ends? Its outrageous rubbish of course which passes for insight in Friedman’s circles.

The reality is that Netanyahu is most trusted within Israel’s abrasive and threatened democracy to ensure the safety of the state. Until circumstances change sufficiently to allow for a more creative and flexible vision, Bibi’s brand of hard-arsed politics will prevail.

And let it be said that despite all Israel’s manifold shortcomings, it does seek ways (under Netanyahu’s leadership) to incorporate Arabs more effectively into the fabric of Israeli society. This is a very complex and difficult task, as anyone with a modicum of experience knows. And it is unique within the MENA environment.

What bubble does Friedman live in which prevents him recognising these realities? Or is just too easy and comfortable to keep spouting such moralistic platitudes?

Mike Berger










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