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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 05, 2003

Why Hoagland is better than Friedman

There are many people who believe that Thomas Friedman is the premier foreign policy columnist in American newspapers. They're wrong. Friedman is intellectually lazy; too often he prefers to substitute a catchy phrase for serious analysis. Jim Hoagland, on the other hand, can write a serious (if imperfect) column and tell it like it is.
But a paradox develops: At this highest crest of acceptance of a two-state solution since 1947 -- when Israel adopted the original U.N. partition but Arabs did not -- Arab leaders are increasingly edging away from openly recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

That retreat is largely disguised and conducted in diplomatic code. It nonetheless feeds separate tides of anti-Israeli resentment and anti-Semitic hatred of Jews that are rising and fusing in Europe, potentially in the United States and elsewhere. Such behavior does not summon peace to the Middle East.

Arab leaders who met with Bush in Egypt on Tuesday did so on the condition that Israel was excluded. Earlier, Palestinian negotiators told journalists they had turned down a proposed joint communique with the Israelis because of proposed language that could be interpreted as endorsing Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

But such an endorsement is, in Sharon's view, essential. The Israeli prime minister had demanded that the Palestinians grant "a waiver of any right of return of Palestinian refugees to the state of Israel" to get talks started.
If Friedman had written those words, he likely would have excused the growing antisemitism as a reaction to "settlements."