The same old, same old Thomas Friedman


In his April 15, 2014 NY Times article "Not the Same Old, Same Old"

Thomas Friedman referred to an article in The Jerusalem Post. Unfortunately, as he quoted neither the date nor the title of the article, I can only assume he was referring to a Jerusalem Post report of April 10 titled "Ya''alon: Settler attacks on IDF acts of terror"
Although the headline boldly proclaimed that Ya''alon was referring to attacks by settlers, Friedman''s ingrained attitude to Israel caused him to read this headline as referring to Palestinian terrorists. I''m not kidding. This is what he wrote:
"At first, the article in The Jerusalem Post last week seemed like the same old, same old.."
and to emphasize his preconceived interpretation he added the words "those Palestinians will never quit"; words which are not to be found anywhere in the JPost article.
It took Friedman''s some time to realize in his words "Oh, wait a minute. Yaalon wasn’t talking about Palestinian terrorists"
Yes, very sadly, Israel is suffering from a spate of violent actions by groups of thugs among extremist settler youth in much the same way as groups of thuggish lawbreakers under religious or political banners exist in the USA and Europe. But there is no justification whatsoever for Friedman to suggest that the actions of these tiny but active groups represent the overall practice of religion in Israel as in his completely irrelevant and inaccurate statement
"Israel, from its side, has become a more religious society — on Friday nights in Jerusalem now you barely see a car moving on the streets in Jewish neighborhoods, which only used to be the case on Yom Kippur."
Friedman ignored completely the statement in the JPost article that settler leaders from the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria harshly condemned the violence, that the Samaria Regional Council head pledged to work to prevent such violence and that Israel’s top politicians and leaders on Wednesday continued to condemn the events in Yitzhar.
In his statement that even the more tame settlers are more dominant than ever in the Likud Party and in the Israeli army officer corps, Friedman attempts to link the thugs to the Likud party even though in the same JPost article, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon; widely regarded as far right, is quoted as saying he doesn’t know of a single MK who backs these actions.
When Friedman speaks of the same old, same old we are reminded that he regularly repeats his same old, same old errors of poor judgment of events. For example in a January 10, 2012 article in the Christian Science Monitor, staff writer Dan Murphy, who has reported extensively from the Middle East including the 2011 uprisings in Egypt and Libya, referred to a speech by Friedman at the American University in Cairo in which he said:
"The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a legitimate, authentic, progressive alternative. Only faced by the four-month old liberals, they had to win."
Murphy corrected Friedman, pointing out that Egyptian liberal parties have been around much longer than four months; some even longer than MB. The Wafd Party was founded in the early 20th century and the socialist Tagammu Party was formed in the 70s. He added that Friedman''s statement that Islamists would eventually be forced to adapt to modernity shows ignorance of the subject. He said it appears that Friedman doesn''t know that, on economics, the Muslim Brotherhood are basically free-market capitalists.
Moreover Murphy corrected Friedman''s misleading claim that in Indonesia, Islamist parties swept democratically-held elections in the 1990s. Islamist parties didn''t win in the 1990s, nor since.
In a June 15, 2012 article Murphy wrote that Friedman frequently gets strings of basic facts wrong and that people who closely follow the Middle East have taken to poking fun at him. In a March 1, 2012 NY  Times column Friedman wrote
"I’m convinced that listening to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech — not the words, but the man — were more than a few young Arabs who were saying to themselves: ''Hmmm, let’s see. He’s young. I’m young. He’s dark-skinned. I’m dark-skinned. His middle name is Hussein. My name is Hussein. His grandfather is a Muslim. My grandfather is a Muslim. He is president of the United States. And I’m an unemployed young Arab with no vote and no voice in my future."
Murphy who has expert knowledge of the Middle East describes Friedman''s statement as "breathtaking in the completeness with which it was made up entirely from thin air". He (Murphy) had spoken to hundreds of young Egyptians before, during and after the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Not one of them has ever uttered a statement even remotely like this. He added:
"The experience of almost everyone else with ties to Egypt is the same. That Mr. Friedman was a priori convinced of what was going on in the hearts and minds of millions of Egyptians was based on -- well, nothing but his own opinions -- speaks for itself".
When reading his frequent articles about Israel, it would obviously be advisable to take into account Friedman''s poor record of interpreting events.