Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sam Meets Hollywood! Hollywood Meets Sam! Angry White Men. Hopefulness - Is It Catching? America's Amb To Israel.

I call this a sharp contrast between beautiful Hanukkah joy and radical Islamic sadness.

Help Millennial's. Bless their souls.  ://www.youtube.com/watch?

University offers class on 'The Problem of Whiteness' - The CollegeFix...

Could not figure out how to enlarge the article on our cousin, the new Israeli Amb./Consul Gen. to Los Angeles.  For those who are interested maybe you can read it with the help of  a magnifying glass.

Sam has the kind of personality that will go well in the glitz of Hollywood.  He also has a great sense of humor and knows he cannot drink his own bathwater. (See 1 below.)
Bill Clinton just discovered there are too many angry white men and this is why Hillary lost. I remember when white male entertainers put black polish on their faces and performed minstrel acts and everyone laughed. Seems we have come a long way but not according to "Ole" Bill. Meanwhile, Michelle has lost all hope. I hope she finds it on those beautiful white Hawaiian beaches.
I want to wish everyone the Happiest of Hanukkah's, The Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest and Healthiest of New Years.

For those who remain depressed, and will be more so after January 20, I hope Trump proves you wrong and, should he, I hope you will admit you overreacted.  If Trump fails think about the fact that you can gloat the rest of your happy and hopeless lives.

I too have been unhappy for 8 years but now am hopeful.  Maybe hopefulness is catching and Michelle will become afflicted . (See 2 below.)
This was sent to me by a friend and fellow memo reader and is an editorial by Daniel Pipes much along the lines of my own thinking. (See 3 below.)

So are these two articles about Trump's selection of America's new Amb. to Israel.  But then why would I expect otherwise considering one is from The New York Times. (See 3a and 3b below)


Against Hope


For those that really do have an interest in the realities of the Israel/Palestinian matter, the below article as forwarded to be by Steve Marx, prefaced by his comments, is a most important read.

Start of Steve Marx comments: "The selection of David Friedman as Trump’s ambassador to Israel points to major changes in US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.  Friedman is said to be “to the right of Netanyahu,” or at least Netanyahu’s publicly-stated positions.

It is surely no coincidence that Daniel Pipes chose this moment to publish this very important essay.  What he recommends is going to be a hard pill to swallow—hard for all parties (right, left, wherever) who have become accustomed to negotiations as the path toward peace.

Pipes goes back to first principles and fundamental truths to suggest that the way out of the “peace process” quagmire is for negotiations to be delayed until the Palestinians consider themselves defeated.  You see the words victory and defeat in the title below, but Pipes’ strategy is not war.

The Way to Peace: Israeli Victory, Palestinian Defeat

Daniel Pipes

Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy sadly fits the classic description of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The identical assumptions – land-for-peace and the two-state solution, with the burden primarily on Israel – stay permanently in place, no matter how often they fail. Decades of what insiders call "peace processing" has left matters worse than when they started, yet the great powers persist, sending diplomat after diplomat to Jerusalem and Ramallah, ever hoping that the next round of negotiations will lead to the elusive breakthrough.

The time is ripe for a new approach, a basic re-thinking of the problem. It draws on Israel's successful strategy as carried out through its first 45 years. The failure of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy since 1993 suggests this alternative approach – with a stress on Israeli toughness in pursuit of victory. This would, paradoxically perhaps, be of benefit to Palestinians and bolster American support.

I. The Near Impossibility of Compromise


Since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Palestinians and Israelis have pursued static and opposite goals.

In the years before the establishment of the new state, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, articulated a policy of rejectionism, or eliminating every vestige of Jewish presence in what is now the territory of Israel.[1]It remains in place. Maps in Arabic which show a "Palestine" replacing Israel symbolize this continued aspiration. Rejectionism runs so deep that it drives not just Palestinian politics but much of Palestinian life. With consistency, energy, and perseverance, Palestinians have pursued rejectionism via three main approaches: demoralizing Zionists through political violence, damaging Israel's economy through trade boycotts, and weakening Israel's legitimacy by winning foreign support. Differences between Palestinian factions tend to be tactical: Talk to the Israelis to win concessions from them or not? Mahmoud Abbas represents the former outlook and Khaled Mashal the latter.

On the Israeli side, nearly everyone agrees on the need to win acceptance by Palestinians (and other Arabs and Muslims); differences are again tactical. David Ben-Gurion articulated one approach, that of showing Palestinians what they can gain from Zionism. Vladimir Jabotinsky developed the opposite vision, arguing that Zionists have no choice but to break the Palestinians' intractable will. Their rival approaches remain the touchstones of Israel's foreign-policy debate, with Isaac Herzog heir to Ben-Gurion and Binyamin Netanyahu to Jabotinsky.

These two pursuits – rejectionism and acceptance – have remained basically unchanged for a century; today's Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Labor, and Likud are lineal descendants of Husseini, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky. Varying ideologies, objectives, tactics, strategies, and actors mean that details have varied, even as the fundamentals remained remarkably in place. Wars and treaties came and went, leading to only minor shifts. The many rounds of fighting had surprisingly little impact on ultimate goals, while formal agreements (such as the Oslo Accords of 1993) only increase hostility to Israel's existence and so were counterproductive.

Palestinian rejection or acceptance of Israel is binary: yes or no, without in-betweens. This renders compromise nearly impossible because resolution requires one side fully to abandon its goal. Either Palestinians give up their century-long rejection of the Jewish state or Zionists give up their 150-year quest for a sovereign homeland. Anything other than these two outcomes is an unstable settlement that merely serves as the premise for a future round of conflict.

The "Peace Process" That Failed


Deterrence, that is, convincing Palestinians and the Arab states to accept Israel's existence by threatening painful retaliation, underlay Israel's formidable record of strategic vision and tactical brilliance in the period 1948 to 1993. Over this time, deterrence worked to the extent that Israel's Arab state enemies saw the country very differently by the end of that period; in 1948, invading Arab armies expected to throttle the Jewish state at birth, but by 1993, Arafat felt compelled to sign an agreement with Israel's prime minister.

That said, deterrence did not finish the job; as Israelis built a modern, democratic, affluent, and powerful country, the fact that Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and (increasingly) the left still rejected it became a source of mounting frustration. Israel's impatient, on-the-go populace grew weary with the unattractive qualities of deterrence, which by nature is passive, indirect, harsh, slow, boring, humiliating, reactive, and costly. It is also internationally unpopular.

That impatience led to the diplomatic process that culminated with the handshake confirming the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn in September 1993. For a brief period, "The Handshake" (as it was then capitalized) between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin served as the symbol of successful mediation that gave each side what it most wanted: dignity and autonomy for Palestinians, recognition and security for Israelis. Among many accolades, Arafat, Rabin, and Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The accords, however, quickly disappointed both sides. Indeed, while Israelis and Palestinians agree on little else, they concur with near-unanimity on Oslo having been a disaster.

When Palestinians still lived under direct Israeli control before Oslo, acceptance of Israel had increased over time even as political violence diminished. Residents of the West Bank and Gaza could travel locally without checkpoints and access work sites within Israel. They benefited from the rule of law and an economy that more than quadrupled without depending on foreign aid. Functioning schools and hospitals emerged, as did several universities.

Yasir Arafat promised to turn Gaza into "the Singapore of the Middle East," but his despotism and aggression against Israel instead turned his fiefdom into a nightmare, resembling Congo more than Singapore. Unwilling to give up on the permanent revolution and to become the ordinary leader of an obscure state, he exploited the Oslo Accords to inflict economic dependence, tyranny, failed institutions, corruption, Islamism, and a death cult on Palestinians.

For Israelis, Oslo led not to the hoped-for end of conflict but inflamed Palestinian ambitions to eliminate the Jewish state. As Palestinian rage spiraled upward, more Israelis were murdered in the five years post-Oslo than in the fifteen years preceding it. Rabble-rousing speech and violent actions soared - and continue unabated 23 years later. Moreover, Palestinian delegitimization efforts cost Israel internationally as the left turned against it, spawning such anti-Zionist novelties as the UN World Conference against Racism in Durban and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement.

From Israel's perspective, seven years of Oslo appeasement, 1993-2000, undid 45 years of successful deterrence; then, six years of unilateral withdrawals, 2000-06, further buried deterrence. The decade since 2006 has witnessed no major changes.

The Oslo exercise showed the futility of Israeli concessions to Palestinians when the latter fail to live up to their obligations. By signaling Israeli weakness, Oslo made a bad situation worse. What is conventionally called the "peace process" would more accurately be dubbed the "war process."

The False Hope of Finessing Victory


Why did things go so wrong in what seemed so promising an agreement?

Moral responsibility for the collapse of Oslo lies solely with Yasir Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the rest of the Palestinian Authority leadership. They pretended to abandon rejectionism and accept Israel's existence but, in fact, sought Israel's elimination in new, more sophisticated ways, replacing force with delegitimization.

This said, the Israelis made a profound mistake, having entered the Oslo process with a false premise. Yitzhak Rabin often summed up this error in the phrase "You don't make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies."[2]In other words, he expected war to be concluded through goodwill, conciliation, mediation, flexibility, restraint, generosity, and compromise, topped off with signatures on official documents. In this spirit, his government and all its successors agreed to a wide array of concessions, even to the point of permitting aPalestinian militia, always hoping the Palestinians would reciprocate by accepting the Jewish state.

They never did. To the contrary, Israeli compromises aggravated Palestinian hostility. Each gesture further radicalized, exhilarated, and mobilized the Palestinian body politic. Israeli efforts to "make peace" were received as signs of demoralization and weakness. "Painful concessions" reduced the Palestinian awe of Israel, m­­ade the Jewish state appear vulnerable, and inspired irredentist dreams of annihilation.

In retrospect, this does not surprise. Contrary to Rabin's slogan, one does not "make [peace] with very unsavory enemies" but rather with former very unsavory enemies. That is, enemies that have been defeated.

This brings us to the key concept of my approach, which is victory, or imposing one's will on the enemy, compelling him through loss to give up his war ambitions. Wars end, the historical record shows, not through goodwill but through defeat. He who does not win loses. Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair, when that side has abandoned its war aims and accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight. Conversely, so long as both combatants still hope to achieve their war objectives, fighting either goes on or it potentially will resume.

Thinkers and warriors through the ages concur on the importance of victory as the correct goal of warfare. For example, Aristotle wrote that "victory is the end of generalship" and Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that "In war, there is no substitute for victory." Technological advancement has not altered this enduring human truth.

Twentieth-century conflicts that ended decisively include World War II, China-India, Algeria-France, North Vietnam-United States, Great Britain-Argentina, Afghanistan-U.S.S.R., and the Cold War. Defeat can result either from a military thrashing or from an accretion of economic and political pressures; it does not require total military loss or economic destruction, much less the annihilation of a population. For example, the only defeat in U.S. history, in South Vietnam in 1975, occurred not because of economic collapse or running out of ammunition or battlefield failure (the American side was winning the ground war) but because Americans lost the will to soldier on.

Indeed, 1945 marks a dividing line. Before then, overwhelming military superiority crushed the enemy's will to fight; since then, grand battlefield successes have rarely occurred. Battlefield superiority no longer translates as it once did into breaking the enemy's resolve to fight. In Clausewitz' terms, morale and will are now the center of gravity, not tanks and ships. Although the French outmanned and out-gunned their foes in Algeria, as did the Americans in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan, all these powers lost their wars. Conversely, battlefield losses suffered by the Arab states in 1948-82, by North Korea in 1950-53, and by Iraq in 1991 and 2003 did not translate into surrender and defeat.

When a losing side preserves its war goals, the resumption of warfare remains possible, and even likely. Germans retained their goal of ruling Europe after their defeat in World War I and looked to Hitler for another try, prompting the Allies to aim for total victory to ensure against the Germans trying a third time. The Korean War ended in 1953, but North and South have both held on to their war goals, meaning that the conflict might resume at any time, as could wars between India and Pakistan. The Arabs lost each round of warfare with Israel (1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982) but long saw their defeats as merely transient and spoiled for another try.

II. The Hard Work of Winning


How might Israel induce the Palestinians to drop rejectionism?

For starters, a colorful array of (mutually exclusive) plans to end the conflict favorably to Israel have appeared through the decades.[3] Going from softest to toughest, these include:

Trouble is, none of these plans addresses the need to break the Palestinian will to fight. They all manage the conflict without resolving it. They all seek to finesse victory with a gimmick. Just as the Oslo negotiations failed, so too will every other scheme that sidesteps the hard work of winning.

This historical pattern implies that Israel has just one option to win Palestinian acceptance: a return to its old policy of deterrence, punishing Palestinians when they aggress. Deterrence amounts to more than tough tactics, which every Israeli government pursues; it requires systemic policies that encourage Palestinians to accept Israel and discourage rejectionism. It requires a long-term strategy that promotes a change of heart.

Inducing a change of heart is not a pretty or pleasant process but is based on a policy of commensurate and graduated response. If Palestinians transgress moderately, they should pay moderately; and so on. Responses depend on specific circumstances, so the following are but general suggestions as examples for Washington to propose, going from mildest to most severe:

When Palestinian "martyrs" cause material damage, pay for repairs out of the roughly $300 million in tax obligations the government of Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) each year. Respond to activities designed to isolate and weaken Israel internationally by limiting access to the West Bank. When a Palestinian attacker is killed, bury the body quietly and anonymously in a potter's field. When the PA leadership incites to violence, prevent officials from returning to the PA from abroad. Respond to the murder of Israelis by expanding Jewish towns on the West Bank. When official PA guns are turned against Israelis, seize these and prohibit new ones, and if this happens repeatedly, dismantle the PA's security infrastructure. Should violence continue, reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies. In the case of gunfire, mortar shelling, and rockets, occupy and control the areas from which these originate.

Of course, these steps run exactly counter to the consensus view in Israel today, which seeks above all to keep Palestinians quiescent. But this myopic viewpoint formed under unremitting pressure from the outside world, and the U.S. government especially, to accommodate the PA. The removal of such pressure will undoubtedly encourage Israelis to adopt the more assertive tactics outlined here.

True peacemaking means finding ways to coerce Palestinians to undergo a change of heart, giving up rejectionism, accepting Jews, Zionism, and Israel. When enough Palestinians abandon the dream of eliminating Israel, they will make concessions needed to end the conflict. To end the conflict, Israel must convince 50 percent and more of the Palestinians that they have lost.

The goal here is not Palestinian love of Zion, but closing down the apparatus of war: shuttering suicide factories, removing the demonization of Jews and Israel, recognizing Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and "normalizing" relations with Israelis. Palestinian acceptance of Israel will be achieved when, over a protracted period and with complete consistency, the violence ends, replaced by sharply worded démarches and letters to the editor. Symbolically, the conflict will be over when Jews living in Hebron (in the West Bank) have no more need for security than Palestinians living in Nazareth (in Israel).

To those who hold Palestinians too fanatical to be defeated, I reply: if Germans and Japanese, no less fanatical and far more powerful, could be defeated in World War II and then turned into normal citizens, why not the Palestinians now? Moreover, Muslims have repeatedly given in to infidels through history when faced with a determined superior force, from Spain to the Balkans to Lebanon.

Israel enjoys two pieces of good fortune. First, its effort does not begin at null; polls and other indicators suggest that 20 percent of Palestinians and other Arabs consistently accept the Jewish state. Second, it need deter only the Palestinians, a very weak actor, and not the whole Arab or Muslim population. However feeble in objective terms (economics, military power), Palestinians spearhead the war against Israel; so, when they abandon rejectionism, others (like Moroccans, Iranians, Malaysians, et al.) take their cues from Palestinians and, over time, will likely follow their lead.

Palestinians Benefit from Their Defeat


However much Israelis gain from ending their residual Palestinian problem, they live in a successful modern country that has absorbed the violence and delegitimization imposed on them.[4] Surveys, for example, show Israelis to be among the happiest people anywhere, and the country's burgeoning birth rate confirms these impressions.

In contrast, Palestinians are mired in misery and constitute the most radicalized population in the world. Opinion surveys consistently show them choosing nihilism. Which other parents celebrate their children becoming suicide bombers? Which other people gives higher priority to harming its neighbor than improving its own lot? Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both run authoritarian regimes that repress their subjects and pursue destructive goals. The economy in the West Bank and Gaza depends, more than anywhere else, on free money from abroad, creating both dependence and resentment. Palestinian mores are backward and becoming more medieval all the time. A skilled and ambitious people is locked into political repression, failed institutions, and a culture celebrating delusion, extremism, and self-destruction.

An Israel victory liberates Palestinians. Defeat compels them to come to terms with their irredentist fantasies and the empty rhetoric of revolution. Defeat also frees them to improve their own lives. Unleashed from a genocidal obsession against Israel, Palestinians can become a normal people and develop its polity, economy, society, and culture. Negotiations could finally begin in earnest. In all, given their far lower starting point, Palestinians would, ironically, gain even more from their defeat than the Israelis from their victory.

That said, this change won't be easy or quick: Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error. But there is no shortcut.

The Need for American Support


Palestinians deploy a unique global support team consisting of the United Nations and vast numbers of journalists, activists, educators, artists, Islamists, and leftists. No obscure African liberation front they, but the world's favored revolutionary cause. This makes Israel's task long, difficult, and dependent on stalwart allies, foremost the U.S. government.

For Washington to be helpful means not dragging the parties back again to more negotiations but robustly supporting Israel's path to victory. That translates into not just backing episodic Israeli shows of force but a sustained and systematic international effort of working with Israel, select Arab states, and others to convince the Palestinians of the futility of their rejectionism: Israel is there, it's permanent, and it enjoys wide backing.

That means supporting Israel taking the tough steps outlined above, from burying murderers' bodies anonymously to shuttering the Palestinian Authority. It means diplomatic support for Israel, such as undoing the "Palestine refugee" farce and rejecting the claim of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. It also entails ending benefits to the Palestinians unless they work toward the full and permanent acceptance of Israel: no diplomacy, no recognition as a state, no financial aid, and certainly no weapons, much less militia training.

Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy is premature until Palestinians accept the Jewish state. The central issues of the Oslo Accords (borders, water, armaments, sanctities, Jewish communities in the West Bank, "Palestine refugees") cannot be usefully discussed so long as one party still rejects the other. But negotiations can re-open and take up anew the Oslo issues upon the joyful moment that Palestinians accept the Jewish state. That prospect, however, lies in the distant future. For now, Israel needs to win.

[1] I analyzed this topic for Commentary in December 1997 at "On Arab Rejectionism."
[2] Which, curiously, paraphrased the statement of a PLO leader, Said Hammami, of 15 years earlier.
[3] I reviewed these proposals in detail for Commentary in February 2003 at "Does Israel Need a Plan?"
[4] Injuries and deaths from traffic accidents in Israel in the period 2000-05, for example, came to 30,000 while terrorism-related injuries amounted to 2,000.


Why Diplomats Are Agog at Trump’s Ambassador to Israel

The foreign service resents any outsiders who leapfrog to the top—no matter their skills and qualifications.

By Vivian Bercovici

President-elect Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, the attorney David Friedman, has been received in some quarters with contempt and disbelief. Mr. Friedman’s presumed failings are said to be many. As a lawyer, he has no diplomatic or foreign policy experience. He is a right-wing “extremist,” supposedly because he supports expanding settlements and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At its core, criticism of Mr. Friedman reflects the erroneous notion that only professionally trained diplomats can do the job. That is simply false. Modern diplomacy—which I experienced as Canada’s ambassador to Israel—is an anachronistic system of entitlement and privilege aligned with the aristocratic sensibilities of the late 19th century. The “foreign service” model that prevails today was the institutional response to a surfeit of well-bred, indolent men needing something to do. So they were sent abroad to underwrite fancy parties and salons, in the name of the King, Queen or Republic.

Two world wars made a hash of the old order, but Western diplomats have held fast to their entitlements. They indulge a posh lifestyle that mostly disappeared from the private sector as governance standards were enhanced. It is difficult to explain layers of servants and personal drivers to shareholders, never mind taxpayers.
Diplomats used to be important emissaries for their governments. Today that role is greatly diminished. Communication is instant and world leaders are overexposed, like rock stars on MTV. Forty years ago presidents and prime ministers might have attended one international meeting each year; today they are on a summit treadmill. They phone one another and cultivate personal relationships. Diplomats are often sidelined and left to churn out reports that circulate in a bureaucratic vortex.

Diplomacy still turns on the exercise of geopolitical power, as it always has, and on trade, which has changed completely in 50 years. Yet tradition-bound foreign services disdain the sullied world of commerce. In their world view, they—and they alone—are destined to solve the great issues of our time. As a result, there is a notable deficit of business acumen, one of the key elements of modern diplomacy, in many foreign services. Private-sector talent and experience are desperately needed but maligned when recruited.

I know neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Friedman other than through the media. But I do know that Mr. Friedman has been selected to represent America’s democratically elected president. He will serve at the pleasure of Mr. Trump and represent the president’s policies. Mr. Friedman is not anointed to go rogue and indulge in personal fantasies.

When I was appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Israel in 2014 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I was attacked by the press much as Mr. Friedman is today. The star political anchor of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation slammed my appointment.

Why? Because I am Jewish and was therefore supposedly biased toward Israel. This was seen as vitiating any competence or skill I might have brought to the job. As a private-sector lawyer with an extensive business background, I was declared—often by cranky retired diplomats purporting to represent the views of their former colleagues—to have no relevant experience. But this simply made plain their ignorance of what goes on in professions in the real world.

Today, Messrs. Trump and Friedman are excoriated for expressing serious intent to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some argue this would ignite Muslim fury and global mayhem. But it raises the question: How, exactly, does locating the embassy in West Jerusalem—which is not disputed territory—in any way predetermine the outcome of any negotiations regarding East Jerusalem? It doesn’t. This is a fallacy propagated by rejectionists of Israel and accepted unquestioningly by the international diplomatic community.
The effect of political appointments to diplomatic posts is critical. It signals to foreign governments (as well as domestic interests) that the relationship is a priority for the elected leader. It also allows the officeholder to select an envoy that he or she deeply trusts.

Professional diplomats resent the affront that such appointments represent. They reject “outsiders” for leapfrogging the system, for their access to the top, for their perceived impunity, for their utter unsuitability to the exalted foreign service. Mr. Friedman may be many things. But the notion that only those who have passed the foreign-service examination are worthy of an ambassadorship is laughable.

Mr. Trump was elected by the American people on a platform of change. Those who bring change, by nature, shock the system. The world of diplomacy—in the Middle East and elsewhere—could use more of them. Which is to say, it could use more David Friedmans.

Ms. Bercovici, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel (2014-16), lives in Tel Aviv.


New York Times in Full-Fledged Frothing Freakout Frenzy Over Friedman Pick

By Ira Stoll

How freaked out is the New York Times over Donald Trump’s decision to nominate David Friedman as the American ambassador to Israel?

Extremely, to judge by the newspaper’s completely over-the-top coverage of the nomination.

The Times first covered the news of the nomination with a hostile article in Friday’s paper that the Algemeiner responded to that day.

Then the New York Times did something it reserves for the rarest of situations. It ran the same news again, this time on page one. Saturday’s paper piled on with a front page story headlined: “David Friedman, Choice for Envoy To Israel, Is Hostile to Two State Efforts.” That article was the product of a team of no less than eight — eight! — Times personnel, working from four different cities: “Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Russ Buettner and Maggie Haberman from New York, Sewell Chan from London, and Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem. Jack Begg and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.”

And as if that weren’t enough, the paper piled on with a lead editorial in Saturday’s paper — “A Dangerous Choice for Ambassador to Israel” — and an op-ed article by Daniel C. Kurtzer, “Donald Trump’s Israel Ambassador Pick Is Hazardous to Peace.” The paper also ran an interactive online feature with highlights of Friedman’s past writing. (As is so often the case, the Times timed its worst anti-Jewish coverage for the Sabbath or Jewish holidays, making it harder for observant Jews to respond.)
There have been Supreme Court nominations — well, certainly cabinet secretary posts — that have attracted less extensive scrutiny from the New York Times than this mere ambassadorship to Israel.

So what is to account for all the Times frothing over Friedman?

The Times editorial complains that Friedman “has no diplomatic experience.” But President Obama has packed American embassies with campaign fundraisers, donors and political allies who have no diplomatic experience. A television soap opera producer was named by Obama as the American ambassador to Hungary. Caroline Kennedy was named by Obama to be ambassador to Japan. Other news organizations did report on this topic during the Obama years. “When Big Money Leads To Diplomatic Posts” was the headline of a National Public Radio piece. “US diplomats cry foul as Obama donors take over top embassy jobs,” was the headline of a Guardian article reporting that Obama had named a campaign fundraiser as ambassador to Great Britain. “Obama hands out plum ambassador posts to big campaign donors” was the headline of anarticle in The Hill.

If you can’t quite remember the New York Times editorials denouncing those dozens of ambassadorial nominations by President Obama, that’s because there were no such editorials, at least none that I could find in scouring the archives. It’s only in Israel — not Japan, Hungary or Great Britain — that the Times insists on previous diplomatic experience as a requirement for national service. Only Israel, and only the Trump administration. It’s almost enough to make one suspect that the newspaper’s objection to Friedman isn’t about his lack of prior diplomatic experience at all, but about something else.

Perhaps the newspaper is upset about Friedman’s supposed suggestion that Israel’s critics aren’t actually Jewish. Yet the newspaper has yet to produce a transcript or a tape of Friedman making that claim. At the Washington Free Beacon, Noah Pollak aptly called the Times news article “a caricature of political frustration and resentment masquerading as news.” On Twitter, the author of the day-one Times story, Matthew Rosenberg, eventually dialed back his claim, writing, “alright, to clarify: earlier tweet should have said that Friedman has said SOME Jews who support 2-state solution are not Jewish.”

Another person who grasps what the Times is up to is Elliott Abrams, a foreign policy hand with extensive experience at the National Security Council and the State Department. Abrams writes on his blog at the Council on Foreign Relations that the Times “poison-pen” editorial writers “would prefer a fellow at a white-shoe Wall Street firm whose father or grandfather had been a diplomat, who belonged to the right clubs.” Precisely.

The Times, even with eight reporters devoted to the task, still can’t manage to grasp basic facts about Judaism. It writes of Friedman, “He and his wife are renowned for gathering people for dinners in their sukkah, a hut observant Jews build on their balconies during a fall harvest festival.” Yet a sukkah needn’t be on a balcony; it can be on a patio, or a backyard, or a rooftop, or a deck. The Times definition is inaccurate.
The second-day Times news article includes this passage:
Mr. Netanyahu did not respond to Mr. Friedman’s selection, nor did Israel’s Foreign Ministry. 
But the deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, who hails from the right flank of Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party, rushed to praise it, saying, “His positions reflect the desire to strengthen the standing of Israel’s capital Jerusalem at this time and to underscore that the settlements have never been the true problem in the area.”
It’s not accurate that Israel’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to Friedman’s section. Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, tweeted, “I can assure Americans that any Ambassador you designate will be most welcome in Israel. Amb-des Friedman is no exception.” Dayan als ocongratulated Friedman, saying, “I am sure he will be an exceptional envoy of his country to mine.”

The Times is in a panic over Friedman’s views of the Middle East. But for all the paper’s fuss, ambassadors rarely if ever make policy. Friedman isn’t being chosen for the job of secretary of state or national security adviser —  or even special Middle East coordinator. His job as ambassador would be to represent and counsel the president and the secretary of state, not to set the policy.

Yet the Times doesn’t seem willing to provide its readers with grounded, realistic perspective on this. It prefers, instead, to fuel the anti-Trump panic prevalent among its urban, liberal readers. That’s not independent journalism. It’s just a left-wing echo chamber.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

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