Opinion | Can This Man Oust Netanyahu? – By Bari Weiss – The New York Times

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“. . . .  Mr. Lapid is aware of this. “Security will be the first demand every Israeli in his right mind will talk to you about,” he told me.

“There several issues in which the majority of Israelis — 70 to 80 percent — think approximately the same,” he said. “We are all students of the disengagement of 2005, in which Israel did what the world asked us to do. We left Gaza. We dismantled the settlements. And I supported it at the time. But you know what? It was a mistake, doing it unilaterally. The only thing that happened is that less than a year later they voted Hamas into power. We left them with 3,000 greenhouses for them to build an economy and instead they built training camps” for jihadis.

So where does that leave the West Bank? Can the occupation go on indefinitely?

He paused. “It’s a very American question.” Because Americans think “everything is fixable.”

“Really, really wanting something or desiring something strongly is just not enough,” he said. “I’m not willing to see one Jew die because someone took an unnecessary risk in the name of values I really cherish. Like peace, like humanity, like people’s need for self-recognition.” “

via Opinion | Can This Man Oust Netanyahu? – The New York Times

Opinion | Ilhan Omar- Aipac and Me – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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by Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

March 6, 2011248 c
Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, on Capitol Hill in January.
Credit
Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“I’ve been watching with more than a little interest the controversial statements about Israel and the Israel lobby by Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democratic congresswoman from the Fifth District of Minnesota, because it turns out that we have a lot in common — up to a point.

The first thing we have in common is that I was raised in the Fifth District of Minnesota, specifically the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. I lived there until I was 20. It was a freaky place — a crazy mix of Minnesota Jews (we called ourselves “the Frozen Chosen’’) and Scandinavians that produced a uniquely tolerant civic culture and an interesting group of neighbors: Al Franken, the Coen brothers, Peggy Orenstein, Norm Ornstein, Michael Sandel, Sharon Isbin, Marc Trestman and lots of others you can find on the St. Louis Park Wikipedia page. Our little town was immortalized in the Coen brothers’ 2009 movie “A Serious Man.’’

I still feel very close to the community there and go home often. St. Louis Park welcomed Jews who wanted to get out of the inner city of Minneapolis back in the 1950s — when other suburbs still had restrictions on selling homes to “Hebrews.’’ So I was proud to see St. Louis Park also welcome Muslim Somali refugees like Omar a half-century later, and then elect her to Congress.

The other thing that Omar and I have in common, as others have noted, is that we both don’t like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) — the organization at the center of the Israel lobby — and have spoken in very blunt language about its strong-arm political tactics.”

via Opinion | Ilhan Omar, Aipac and Me – The New York Times

Opinion | The Safe Zone Northern Syria Needs – By Shervan Derwish – The New York Times

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By Shervan Derwish
Mr. Derwish is a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council.

Jan. 23, 2019


A soccer match in Manbij, Syria, which was freed from Islamic State control by Kurdish fighters in 2016.CreditCreditEPA, via Shutterstock
MANBIJ, Syria — Whether the United States and the international coalition against the Islamic State will protect Manbij and areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria from an unknown future is a significant test of their credibility.

I am writing from Manbij, a city of 700,000 people in northern Syria governed by a civilian administration made up of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Circassians. Thanks to the Kurdish fighters who liberated Manbij in 2016, we have been able to enjoy freedoms unimaginable under either the Islamic State or the Syrian government.

In Manbij, where women were once bought and sold as slaves by the Islamic State terrorists, now they run economic cooperatives, serve in the Manbij Military Council and have equal representation in elected councils.

For the first time in Syrian history, we have held free local elections. We have reopened or built several hospitals and 350 schools attended by 120,000 students. We have given 2,000 licenses to factories and flour mills. The physical reconstruction of our city has been slow but steady. Most important, people are living without fear.

via Opinion | The Safe Zone Northern Syria Needs – The New York Times

Opinion | More Schools and Fewer Tanks for the Mideast – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 22, 2019,  180 c


Tunisians last week celebrated the anniversary of their 2011 revolution.

Credit
Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“President Trump’s sudden announcement that he’s pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and shrinking their number in Afghanistan has prompted a new debate about American ground forces in the Middle East and whether keeping them there is vital or not. I’m asking myself the same question. To answer that question, though, I need to start with another question:

Why is it that the one Arab Spring country that managed to make a relatively peaceful transition from dictatorship to a constitutional democracy — with full empowerment for its women — is the country we’ve had the least to do with and where we’ve never sent soldiers to fight and die? It’s called Tunisia.

Yes, Tunisia, the only Middle East country to achieve the ends that we so badly desired for Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, did so after having hosted more U.S. Peace Corps workers over the last 50 years than U.S. military advisers and after having received only about $1 billion in U.S. aid (and three loan guarantees) since its 2010-11 democracy revolution.

By comparison, the U.S. is now spending about $45 billion a year in Afghanistan — after 17 years of trying to transform it into a pluralistic democracy. That is an insane contrast. Especially when you consider that Tunisia’s self-propelled democracy is such an important model for the region, but an increasingly frail one.”

via Opinion | More Schools and Fewer Tanks for the Mideast – The New York Times

Opinion | Trump’s Black Friday Sale: Oil- Guns and Morals – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

Nov. 20, 2018,   666
President Trump speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
Credit
Tom Brenner for The New York Times

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President Trump speaking to reporters on Tuesday.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
“I really wrestle with this question: What is the worst thing about President Trump’s approach to foreign policy? Is it that he is utterly amoral or that he is such a chump? Because the combination is terrible — a president who is an amoral chump is the worst thing of all. He sells out American values — awful enough — but then gets nothing of value in return.

Trump presents himself as a tough, savvy deal maker, and then he lets all these leaders play him for a sucker. The word is out on the street: “Hey, guys, get in line! Trump is giving away free stuff! Just tell him you’re fighting Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood or that you’re a friend of Sheldon Adelson’s, and you get free stuff!”

Last May, Hanukkah came early for Israel when Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a dream of every Israeli prime minister — for free! Trump could have gone to Bibi Netanyahu and said: “Bibi, here is the deal. I am going to make your dream come true and move the embassy. But in return you’re going to freeze all Israeli settlements in the heart of the West Bank.” Then Trump could have told the Palestinians: “You’re not going to like this. I’m moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. But I am getting you something no American president ever got you — a freeze on Israeli settlements beyond the settlement blocks.”

Instead, Trump gave the embassy move away for free. Well, I shouldn’t say that. He got millions of dollars in donations for the G.O.P. from right-wing Jewish megadonor Sheldon Adelson — who lobbied for the move — and warm applause from evangelicals. So Trump got something, but America got nothing.

via Opinion | Trump’s Black Friday Sale: Oil, Guns and Morals – The New York Times

Opinion | Step Away From the Orb – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

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WASHINGTON — I was having dinner here once with a Saudi muck-a-muck. Midway through the interview, he passed an oblong velvet box across the table. Inside I found an expensive piece of jewelry.

I began laughing and explained that I was a reporter and could not take such baubles. The Saudi said he understood.

About 10 minutes later, I felt a knocking against my knee under the table. It was the oblong box, offered more covertly.

The Saudis are experts on emoluments. If you don’t take their favors one way, they find another way to try to co-opt you.

via Opinion | Step Away From the Orb – The New York Times

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression – The Washington Post

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By Jamal Khashoggi
October 17 at 7:52 PM
A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

via Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression – The Washington Post

Opinion | America’s Dilemma: Censuring M.B.S. and Not Halting Saudi Reforms – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

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“I have three thoughts on the Jamal Khashoggi saga.

First, I can’t shake the image of this big teddy bear of a man, who only wanted to see his government reform in a more inclusive, transparent way, being killed in some dark corner of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by a 15-man Saudi hit team reportedly armed with a bone saw. The depravity and cowardice of that is just disgusting.

Second, I do not believe for a second that it was a rogue operation and that Saudi Arabia’s effective ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is very hands-on, had no prior knowledge, if not more. And therefore, not as a journalist but as an American citizen, I am sickened to watch my own president and his secretary of state partnering with Saudi officials to concoct a cover story. The long-term ramifications of that for every journalist — or political critic in exile anywhere — are chilling. By the way, I don’t think they will get away with it.

This leads to my third point: How should America think about balancing our values and our interests going forward? The best way to answer that, for me, is to go back to the basics. I always knew that M.B.S.’s reform agenda was a long shot to succeed, but I was rooting for its success — while urging the Trump administration to draw redlines around his dark side — for a very specific reason. It had nothing to do with M.B.S. personally. Personally, I don’t care if Saudi Arabia is ruled by M.B.S., S.O.S. or K.F.C.

It had to do with how I defined our most important national interest in Saudi Arabia since 9/11. And it is not oil, it’s not arms sales, it’s not standing up to Iran. It’s Islamic religious reform, which can come only from Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.”

David Lindsay:  Thomas Friedman, thank you for this excellent sorting of the conflicts. The most popular comments tear you apart for apparently being too pro Mohammed bin Salman in years past, and I have no idea if they are right. I do note that they are attacking what you have not written about here, instead of addressing what you have written about.  I  try to read all your columns, and I do not remember thinking you were a Pollyanna about Mohammed Bin Salman, but a cheerleader for reform. Of that sin, I stand as guilty as you. Should we have invaded Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq? That should be an intesting topic, should you choose to analyze it for us. Or, are we competent to invade anywhere intelligently, after WW II? Sun Tsu wrote thousand of years ago, that invasion should be the absolute, last resort, after trying everything else, and is proof of failure of military intelligence and  espionage.

 

via Opinion | America’s Dilemma: Censuring M.B.S. and Not Halting Saudi Reforms – The New York Times

 

Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

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. .. . An agreement by the Palestinians and America’s Arab allies on their minimum foundations for negotiations, adds Ross, gives Palestinians cover to come back to the table and puts pressure on the Trump team to deliver a credible plan or be exposed as not being serious. And “it gives Israel a partner and some fateful choices to make.”

Say what you will about Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter 40 years ago, but they came to a point at Camp David where there were only hard choices — and they made them, and they made the right ones.

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President Jimmy Carter hosted the Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat, left, and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, right, at the White House in September 1978.CreditAssociated Press
We’re again at a fateful moment. For the Palestinians, it’s choose nihilism or pacifism. For Israel, it’s choose separation from the Palestinians or get bi-nationalism or apartheid. For Jared and Donald, it’s either be serious — and be ready to take a tough stance with all parties, including Israel — or stay home.

Making progress toward peace requires telling everyone the truth, twisting everyone’s arms and not letting any party drive drunk. Not ready for that? Then stick to building condos and golf courses.

via Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – The New York Times

The Failure of Egypt’s Revolution – Book Review By Steve Negus – NYT

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By Steve Negus
Aug. 7, 2018

INTO THE HANDS OF THE SOLDIERS
Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East
By David D. Kirkpatrick
370 pp. Viking. $28.

People versus power: This is how most of us remember Egypt’s 2011-13 upheavals. Crowds fight the police under clouds of tear gas on a Nile bridge, bringing down the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Later, they rise to challenge his replacement, the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi, but are ultimately betrayed and crushed by a revived military regime. Such dramatic street clashes feature heavily in works like the documentary “The Square,” telling a story in which the protagonist is the Egyptian street — or more specifically, the left-leaning activist networks with the most talent in organizing demonstrations. Their courage may have failed to create a democracy, the story goes, but it was only because the forces of reaction were too cunning and too ruthless.

David D. Kirkpatrick’s engrossing account of his time as the New York Times Cairo bureau chief covering the Egyptian revolution, “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” is a less uplifting but more instructive tale. He brings two new contributions to his retelling. One is The Times’s extraordinary access to decision makers. Kirkpatrick gives an unmatched blow-by-blow of the Obama administration’s Egypt diplomacy, with the Americans’ mixed signals undercutting its impact. Of greater general interest in understanding the final outcome are Kirkpatrick’s extensive interviews with Egyptian officials and with Morsi’s aides. Kirkpatrick’s other key contribution is his willingness to plunge into the messy, sprawling street violence, and show how each side could perceive itself a victim and step up its own provocative tactics in response.

via The Failure of Egypt’s Revolution – The New York Times