Saturday, September 5, 2009

How Thomas Friedman Gets Palestine Entirely Wrong

By Toufic Haddad

For years Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman has traipsed around the Middle East with a golf bag on his shoulder and a moustache full of witty catechisms about the region’s problems and their solutions. Two recent op-eds continue this trend, inspired by a recent trip to the West Bank that apparently impressed Friedman greatly.

“Green Shoots in Palestine” parts one and two, (attempt to) shed light on transformations in the West Bank that apparently buck the miserable trends that characterize Palestine and the Arab world at large - from poverty and underdevelopment, to illiteracy and authoritarianism.

Instead Friedman sees some “good cheer” coming from the West Bank - security, fiscal transparency, and solid economic growth - trends he encourages the U.S. to “nurture”, presumably to allow these “shoots” to mature and bear more fruit.

In order to expose Friedman’s arguments, it’s necessary to first provide an overview of them. Taken at face value, they may appear to some as perfectly sound. But, it is the context that Freidman fails to provide, which is so damaging and deceptive.

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