Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in
Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy
Act of 1995... to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States
Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.... None of the funds authorized to be
appropriated by this Act may be available for the publication of any official
government document which lists countries and their capital cities unless the
publication identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
– Section. 212 of the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2002
and 2003,” relating to “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel,” sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware),
cosponsor of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.
Whereas in 1990, the US Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly
declared that Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, “must remain an undivided
city”... therefore, be it – Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives
concurring) That the Congress... strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an
undivided city in which the religious rights of every ethnic and religious group
are protected as they have been by Israel during the past twenty-five years; and
calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to issue an unequivocal
statement in support of these principles.
– Resolution S.CON.RES.113
(June 18, 1992) co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph R Biden Jr. (D-Delaware)
excerpts in mind – their relevance will soon become evident. The cry of the ‘robbed cossack’?
It is, of course, possible to conceive of more
deplorable examples of shoddy and shallow journalism than Tom Friedman’s
mendacious and misleading rant, titled, “Why not in Vegas?” against Mitt
Romney’s visit to Jerusalem this week. However, I must confess, none springs
readily to mind.
Friedman launches into his derogatory diatribe by
accusing Romney of (gasp) fund-raising. Of course, coming from an Obamaphile,
that is rich.
After all, while there may be many reasons for Obama’s
victory over Sen. John McCain in 2008, clearly far from the least significant
among them was Obama’s massive funding advantage, outdoing his rival by a ratio
of over 3:1 – and half-a-billion dollars – after opting out of the public
funding option, despite a pledge not to.
So now Friedman is griping at
Romney’s efforts to somewhat level the financial playing field. Imagine the
impudence of the GOP upstart! How dare he? Would “hypocritical” be an
appropriate epithet here? People in glass houses
Friedman seems to be particularly upset by the support of
Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson for Romney.
He attempts to wax
sarcastic: “Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how
to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro- Bibi Netanyahu,
American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn’t they just do the
whole thing in Las Vegas? “I mean, it was all about how big a jackpot of
donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return.
would have been so much more appropriate than Jerusalem.
“They could have
constructed a plastic Wailing Wall and saved so much on gas.”
aside the tone of misplaced contempt for a moment, one might get the impression
that Obama lacks support from like-minded plutocrats such as the shadowy George
Soros, who has donated heavily to Obama-philic causes.
So why the
disdain? Or is it just that Friedman feels that political opponents have no
right to their positions and, hence, all attempts to enlist resources to promote
them are to be belittled and besmirched.
Obama has engaged in intensive
efforts to raise funds abroad. According to one source, “Obama has out-raised
[Romney] almost 3:1 from ‘off-shore donors.’” The Wall Street Journal reported
that an “invitation for an August fund-raiser asked guests to join “Americans
Abroad for Obama and special guest George Clooney for a reception in Geneva,”
with dinner costing $20,000 a head, or $30,000 a couple.
Reporter also mentions the Clooney event, and gives details of Obama’s
fund-raising efforts in... China.
These are headed by Robert Roche, an
entrepreneur who was appointed in 2010 by Obama as a member of the Advisory
Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and today is co-founder and chairman
of a Shanghai-based marketing corporation called “Acorn [I kid you not]
So perhaps a plastic replica of the Great Wall of China
in Hollywood would suffice? Doubletalk, double standards
Friedman seems to have
taken particular umbrage at Romney’s statement designating “Jerusalem [as] the
capital of Israel.” He jeered that “it was all about money – how much Romney
would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to
Really, Tom? Take a look at the introductory excerpts above,
espoused by the president and vice president – not only designating Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel but averring that it should remain undivided.
these statements – at least as, if not more, explicit and far-reaching than
Romney’s – merely disingenuous pandering to the “Israeli Right”? Were they no
more than manipulative trickery to gain the support of Jewish voters? It would
certainly seem so – given the fact that today the White House not only refuses
to name the capital of Israel but seems unable to acknowledge that it has a
capital at all.
Indeed, in light of these unequivocal declarations as to
the indivisible unity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, would Friedman
suggest that the Obama-Biden duo were “abasing themselves by saying whatever the
Israeli Right wanted to hear” when they made them? Or were they “abasing
themselves by saying whatever the Israeli Left (and the Palestinians) wanted to
hear” when they went back on them?\ Shades of Walt and Mearsheimer
continues his Stephen Walt- John Mearsheimer-compliant Judeophobic bluster that
he began when he alleged that the standing ovations Netanyahu received during
his 2011 address to the US Congress were “bought and paid for by the Israel
In his new article, he writes: “The main Israel lobby, AIPAC, has
made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are ‘pro’ and which are
‘anti-Israel’ and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not – and
you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around
Israel coming from America anymore.”
So there you have it. According to
Friedman, the Jews control US foreign policy and America is no more than a
banana republic, where elected representatives are willing to sell their
nation’s – and hence their constituents’ – interests to the highest bidder and
can be bought by conniving Judeo-plutocrats – with hooked noses? What more could
subscribers to the Walt-Mearsheimer doctrine ask for? But perhaps – just perhaps
– Friedman, in his (il)liberal arrogance, is missing a point that Romney
Perhaps the members of Congress, as the
elected representatives of the American people, have a better feel for the
instincts of their electorate, instincts that are reflected in the sentiments
Romney conveyed in his Jerusalem address: “Our two nations are separated by more
than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the
ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. We’re part of
the great fellowship of democracies.
“We speak the same language of
freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace. We serve
the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of
Yes, it may be pre-election rhetoric, but it does seem to
express a fundamental spirit of kindred ideals that have underpinned the
relationship between the two countries – and explains its durability and warmth
far better than Friedman’s alleged Shylock-syndome.Whining about wedges
Friedman whines: “In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make
Israel a wedge issue.”
Actually it was quite the opposite.
all, it was none other than Barack Obama who explicitly adopted “wedgeinserting”
as a policy. In July 2009, while hosting a group of American Jewish leaders at
the White House, he informed them that he sought to put “daylight” between
America and Israel.
In fact he underscored that this was a measure to
contrast his approach with that of his Republican predecessor, remarking that
“For eight years [during the George W. Bush administration], there was no light
between the United States and Israel.”
Clearly, the idea of placing a
wedge between the US and Israel was a deliberate choice of the current
Democratic administration. And it is not entirely implausible to surmise that –
judging from the tenor of some of his previous articles – Friedman had a role to
play in the conception of the “wedge/daylight policy.”
create the problem, he now bemoans the consequences.Political amnesia?
Friedman complains that since “the GOP decided to ‘out-pro-Israel’ the Democrats
by being even more unquestioning of Israel... this has pulled the Democratic
Party to the right on the Middle East and has basically forced the Obama team to
shut down the peace process and drop any demands that Israel freeze
What a short memory you have, Tom! Have you forgotten that
it was the Obama administration which, for the first time ever, made the
settlement freeze an issue in the “peace process,” which previously had been
conducted without any such demand of the Palestinians.
In fact, the
“right-wing” Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader, who – against his own
domestic political base – agreed (unwisely) to such a freeze, which, however,
elicited no response from the Palestinians – other than a demand that it be
So if there is a culprit to be identified for “shutting down
the peace process,” perhaps it should be the Obama administration for creating
greater Palestinian intransigence.‘You didn’t get there on your own’
Friedman’s bile and bias are evident in his attempt to belittle Israel’s
technological achievements and entrepreneurial culture; and his chiding Romney
for comparing it favorably with the Palestinian culture. Although he does
acknowledge that “Israel today is an amazing beehive of innovation [and]
something Jews should be proud of,” he attributes this – in the best “you didn’t
get there on your own” tradition – in large measure to “an influx of Russian
brainpower [and] massive US aid.”
But the Palestinians have received
massive international aid for over two decades and have not been able to achieve
anything approaching economic stability. So maybe it is a cultural thing, which
by the way is why there was such an influx of Russian brain power.
cultures – as in Israel – embrace their refugees, integrate them into their
society and turn them into valuable contributing citizens; others – as in the
Arab world – refuse to integrate them, preserve their suffering and exploit them
deliberately as political pawns.
Maybe this, more than anything else,
encapsulates the essence of the conflict.
Until Friedman realizes this,
he will not be able to make any useful contribution to the discussion, beyond
the fatuous, feckless and fraudulent offerings he has provided up to now.