Thomas Friedman: Romney's Visit to Israel Was All for Adelson's Money

Stop making the Middle East conflict worse for your own political gain, urges NYT columnist of U.S. politicians, 'They can make enough trouble for themselves on their own.'

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Romney's "whole trip [to Israel] was about how to satisfy the political whims of right-wing, super pro-Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote Tuesday in a new op-ed.

"There are real lives at stake out there," he wrote, "If you're not going to do something constructive, stay away."

In his column published on Tuesday, "Why Not in Vegas?", Friedman writes that the Republican presidential candidate's whole trip to Israel was about money.

Friedman wrote: "Why didn’t they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas? I mean, it was all about money anyway — how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear and how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return."

The New York Times columnist asserted that the Republicans are doing more harm than good to Middle East peace by making Israel a wedge issue.

"In order to garner more Jewish (and evangelical) votes and money, the G.O.P. decided to 'out-pro-Israel' the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel," he wrote.

"This arms race 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 settlements. This, in turn, has created a culture in Washington where State Department officials, not to mention politicians, are reluctant to even state publicly what is U.S. policy — that settlements are 'an obstacle to peace' — for fear of being denounced as anti-Israel."

The increasing role of money in U.S. politics and the importance of single donors, writes Freidman, has created a situation in which there are almost no brakes nor red lights concerning Israel emerging from America anymore.

Freidman criticized Romney's decision not to visit Ramallah, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, share publicly any ideas on how he would advance the peace process, or witness "a Palestinian beehive of entrepreneurship, too, albeit small, but not bad for a people living under occupation."

"I still don’t know if they (the Palestinians) can be a partner for a secure two-state deal with even the most liberal Israeli government", writes Freidman, "But I do know this: It is in Israel’s overwhelming interest to test, test and have the U.S. keep testing creative ideas for a two-state solution. That is what a real U.S. friend would promise to do." The three U.S. statesmen who have done the most to make Israel more secure were those who told "blunt truths to every Israeli or Arab leader," writes Freidman, who goes on to list those statesmen as Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger and James Baker.

In his closing remarks, the columnist urges all U.S. politicians – Republicans and Democrats – to "stop feeding off this conflict for political gain They can make enough trouble for themselves on their own."

Mitt Romney speaking in Lansing, Mich., May 8, 2012Credit: AP

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