Wednesday, April 18, 2012

18-Apr-12: Real rocks, real terror, real extremism, real deaths

We wrote about these rocks in February 2012
In "The Rocks in Tom Friedman's Head", a pungent media critique that appears on the Accuracy in Media website today, Michael Widlanski takes aim at one of Thomas L. Friedman's recent New York Times sermons directed at us Israelis.

Writing what he calls "A Middle East Twofer" (he explains the cleverness of the title in his op ed), Friedman describes the latest iteration of his moral vision for peace and brotherhood:
"I can certainly see the efficacy of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank — on one condition: They accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking. Just calling for “an end to occupation” won’t cut it... Palestinians need to accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95 percent of the West Bank... By Palestinians engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience in the West Bank with one hand and carrying a map of a reasonable two-state settlement in the other, they will be adopting the only strategy that will end the Israeli occupation: Making Israelis feel morally insecure but strategically secure." 
Widlansky's biographical footprints covers considerable territory: reporter, writer, correspondent and editor for The New York Times, the Cox Newspapers and the Jerusalem Post; and strategic advisor for Israel's Ministry of Public Security. Here's an extract:
"When Friedman rarely and gingerly alludes to Saudi faults or to Arab terrorists, he only does so by first equating them with Israelis, usually Israeli settlers, comparing “the Muslim Wahhabi extremists who are choking Saudi Arabia’s future and the Jewish Wahhabi settlers who are doing the same to Israel.” Comparing all “settlers”—mostly law-abiding people in the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—to Wahhabi fanatics or terrorists is a mockery of analysis. It is like calling rocks a path to peace or treating a mass murderer as a peacemaker. Such rhetoric by Friedman and his ilk blocks our ability to see the real role of real terror and real extremism in today’s Middle East."
Widlansky's essay is short and worth the minute or two it will take you to read it right through.

The alleged killers of Asher Palmer and his son Yonatan [see 25-Sep-11: "Only" rock throwers - but now a father and his infant son are dead] were in front of a military court again this morning. [We went there to give some badly-needed moral support to the Palmers. The process of getting into the courtroom was challenging and after an hour of standing around frustrated and hot, we left. When we hear how today's proceedings, now underway, went, we will report.] Even if you're not a New York Times reporter, sometimes you actually need to see and meet and speak with the family of the victims of Thomas Friedman's rocks.

And if that's too challenging (which for many people it legitimately is), then at least you need to get to a functional, pragmatic understanding of the role of rocks and what they can do to a person's head, life, children and future.

To be frank, we don't think the problem is the rocks in Journalist Friedman's head. Rather it's the rocks and boulders and cement blocks hurled at vehicles driven by Jews that cause otherwise intelligent and well-informed people like our friends and neighbors in North America, Australia, Europe and elsewhere to imagine they are seeing non-violence manifest.

Widlanski gets it right: those rocks and the rhetoric they engender block our ability to see the real role of real terror and real extremism in today’s Middle East. While getting this wrong may have some effect, perhaps minor, perhaps not, on the domestic readers of the New York Times, they are literally a matter of life and death for those of us living at close quarters with the rock-throwers and their apologists. For us, it's essential to understand the message of the rocks and draw life-affirming conclusions.

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