I openly admit that I dislike Thomas Friedman. In America, since the spectrum is so skewed, he is considered center or left of center but to anyone who studies Political Science they know he is rather right wing. His book “From Beirut to Jerusalem” is always considered a hit among American Jews who study the Middle East. It is easily written, offers little real information, and starts with the idea that Zionism is right and just. Thomas Friedman has used this background since the 80s to continue talking about the Middle East as if he has an idea of what is going on there. There have been other posts on this website proving just the opposite so I will offer my two cents on his newest contribution to the debate.
Friedman’s newest article is entitled “What to do with Lemons.” Before he gets into his minimal advice for the current debacle they are in he gives the usual line of why we are where we are. He says a reason for the current problem is “a Palestinian government that was too divided to make any big decisions and an elusive right-wing Israeli government that was strong enough to make big decisions but had no will to do so.” Did Friedman ignore the Palestine Papers? They gave everything away to get a state with Livni who is considered in Israel as a moderate. What Palestinian government is too divided? Fatah has a monopoly over the peace process with minimal popular support. He further goes on to say regarding the Palestinian UN vote in September “The U.S. has no desire to support such a one-sided resolution, which would alienate Israel and American Jews. But it also has no desire to veto such a resolution, which would only complicate America’s standing in the Arab-Muslim world.” How is going by the international consensus on how to settle the conflict one sided? Every year the UN votes on this issue and what the Palestinians are doing is verbatim what the UN General Assembly votes on every year, receiving only 3 countries against, the US, Israel, and a Pacific Island country. This is how skewed Thomas Friedman and the US is about the Palestine issue, they think 160+ countries vs 1 is one sided in favor of the Palestinians. He says the US does not want to veto it as in to not alienate the Arab-Muslim world. Is this a joke, the US vetoes any criticism of Israel at almost every possible turn, why would this one suddenly be the difference maker? So to Friedman it seems more important to appease an international law breaking state, Israel (5.9 million Jews), and its American Jewish voting community (who votes Democratic 3-1, 6.3 million Jews) than go by the international consensus.
So what is Thomas Friedman’s great new plan now? Go back to the UN Resolution 181 regarding partition of Palestine into two states. he says
“It could be a simple new U.N. resolution: “This body reaffirms that the area of historic Palestine should be divided into two homes for two peoples — a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state. The dividing line should be based on the 1967 borders — with mutually agreed border adjustments and security arrangements for both sides. This body recognizes the Palestinian state as a member of the General Assembly and urges both sides to enter into negotiations to resolve all the other outstanding issues.” Very simple. “
Simple indeed Mr. Friedman, if you have ever read UN Resolution 181 from 1947 and knew what it was about. Resolution 181 gave the Zionist movement 55% of the land of Palestine (with over 70% of the arable land), although they made up 32% of the population (mostly arriving between 1932-1937) and owned under 7% of the land. Jerusalem and Bethlehem were to be international zones compromising 2% and the 43% was to go to the indigenous Palestinian population. The new Jewish state was to have around 550,000 Jews and an almost equal number of Palestinians with Bedouin were included. This is why the Zionist movement wrote up ethnic cleansing plans and carried them out. The majority of land with internationally legitimacy was not enough, they needed to secure a Jewish majority of the new state. By the end of the war the now Israel enjoyed 78% of the land with no question or criticism while Jordan and Egypt took the West Bank and Gaza respectively. So when Friedman talks about 1967 borders he seems to have never read UN resolution 181 as the borders they envisioned were very different, although still unjust. UN resolution 181 was made before the Palestinian Refugee issue, so this falls under one of those “outstanding” issues Friedman mentions which will be resolved by negotiations, yeah good idea.
This whole talk is very amusing when talking about “mutually agreed adjustments” in regards to land. This has been talked about by me before about how this works but I wish to add another piece. Israel and its supporters selectively cite UN Resolution 242 as the basis for this. If you watch part 10 and 11 of this youtube video the issue is more than discussed. To sum up the issue of mutual land swaps was meant to be between Jordan and Israel since they had some minor confusing borders and there may be a desire to straighten them. The preamble is more than discussed in this video too as reaffirming the law that no land can be acquired by war, period. So Thomas Friedman’s plan other than being the wrong UN resolution ignores all the words within the document that are important.
What Thomas Friedman actually means to say is UN Resolution 242 or at minimum the Rhodes Armistice agreements which are the territorial lines we are discussing when we talking about 1967 borders. It is curious how he decides to talk about UN Resolution 181 when talking about this issue, it is as if he never read it, because obviously he didn’t. I swear Mr. Friedman, reading what you are citing is not only beneficial but will make your editorial actually make a little sense.
Photo from nytimes.com