“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” New York Times columnists Tom Friedman wrote in his latest column published on Thursday.
“Right now [U.S. President Barack} Obama and [Secretary of State John] Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa.”
Friedman, who spent many years corresponding from the Middle East and is an astute observer of events in the region, describes Obama and Kerry as men who “admire and want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel.”
“I have never met two U.S. leaders more committed to Israel as a Jewish democracy,” he wrote. But the two architects of U.S. policy toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict have been excoriated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
Netanyahu described Kerry’s policy speech on Wednesday, in which he presented six principles to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a "great disappointment" and "biased" against Israel.
Friedman struck back at Netanyahu in his column, describing the Prime Minister as “a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it.”
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Netanyahu, Friedman continues, is “unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.
The columnist also takes aim at President-elect Donald Trump, who he says is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists. The example he gives is David Friedman, Trumps nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, who “has compared Jews who favor a two-state solution to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve never heard such a vile slur from one Jew to another.”
Such manipulation, Friedman avers, will not only ensure that Israel “never leaves the West Bank and that it implants Jewish settlers everywhere there.” It will also serve the purposes of Iran and ISIS, who want nothing more than a state of permanent conflict in the Middle East. “A West Bank on fire would become a recruitment tool for ISIS and Iran,” he writes.
“One day Trump will wake up and discover that he was manipulated into becoming the co-father, with Netanyahu, of an Israel that is either no longer Jewish or no longer democratic. He will discover that he was Bibi’s chump.”
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