Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tom Friedman's inspection tour in Jenin

Talk about embedded! Thomas Friedman makes an inspection tour with General Keith Dayton in Jenin. Everyone's all spiffed up and has memorized their assigned lines. The Palestinian Authority's security forces, TF says, did their jobs well during the IDF's invasion of Gaza. The proof, according to TF? None of the inevitable demonstrators shot at Israeli soldiers! Is this then to be the yardstick of future progress? It's really all about Israel then, huh Tom?

Then Friedman pronounces on what needs to be done - or, better, what "we" (USA!) need to do - which, in this case, is to help the Palestinian Authority (= Fatah) build its internal security force and its governing institutions. Not at all a bad idea (except that without bringing in Hamas, the progress will be limited at best).

But TF seems to forget that the PA was indeed trying to build its governing institutions under Yasser Arafat, only a few years ago, when Ariel Sharon decided that Arafat could not be a real "partner for peace," and therefore sent in the IDF to destroy the infrastructure of those emerging institutions, shell Arafat's compound, and keep him bottled up there for months, until he eventually died. (And many Palestinians remain convinced that he was somehow poisoned at Sharon's orders.) Admittedly, Arafat was not particularly transparent in how he controlled the PA, and his regime was awash in corruption, but my underlying point, seems to me, is still valid.

Once upon a time, Thomas Friedman was a serious journalist.

Op-Ed Columnist - Beyond the Banks -

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