The question is this: Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro-Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn't they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas? I mean, it was all about money anyway — how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear and how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return.
I'm sorry, since when is Sheldon Adelson a kingmaker in the GOP? He was a big supporter of Newt and Newt still lost. Sure Sheldon Adelson has a lot of money but he has already given Romney the Romney SuperPAC $10 million even before the Israel trip. Adelson would probably give the same amount to just about any GOP candidate who is more pro-Israel than Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan given Obama's obvious animosity to the State of Israel.
In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue. In order to garner more Jewish (and evangelical) votes and money, the G.O.P. decided to "out-pro-Israel" the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel. This arms race has pulled the Democratic Party to the right on the Middle East and has basically forced the Obama team to shut down the peace process and drop any demands that Israel freeze settlements. This, in turn, has created a culture in Washington where State Department officials, not to mention politicians, are reluctant to even state publicly what is U.S. policy — that settlements are "an obstacle to peace" — for fear of being denounced as anti-Israel.
Settlements are an "obstacle" to piece? Didn't Israel essentially already offer to dismantle almost all the settlements when they offered to give back 93% of the West Bank on two separate occasions since 2000? Can any objective observer say that 93% in a negotiation over disputed territory is too little? It seems that the Palestinians are the obstacle, not the Israelis.
While Romney had time for a $50,000-a-plate breakfast with American Jewish donors in Jerusalem, with Adelson at his elbow, he did not have two hours to go to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, to meet with its president, Mahmoud Abbas, or to share publicly any ideas on how he would advance the peace process.
Oh those damn deep pocketed elders of Zion. It's all their fault. Also, it's funny that Friedman doesn't mention two very important points. First, Romney met with the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who is fighting the heavy corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Friedman trying to imply that Romney ignored the Palestinians completely is just false. Second, if Romney is wrong for not going to Ramallah isn't Obama also wrong for not going to Israel, despite being in the area on multiple occasions during his presidency? Why doesn't Friedman mention that?
He did have time, though, to point out to his Jewish hosts that Israelis are clearly more culturally entrepreneurial than Palestinians. Israel today is an amazing beehive of innovation — thanks, in part, to an influx of Russian brainpower, massive U.S. aid and smart policies. It's something Jews should be proud of. But had Romney gone to Ramallah he would have seen a Palestinian beehive of entrepreneurship, too, albeit small, but not bad for a people living under occupation. Palestinian business talent also built the Persian Gulf states. In short, Romney didn't know what he was talking about.
Palestinian talent built the Persian gulf states? The Gulf states would be nowhere without oil and who discovered the oil? The US and UK did. In Saudi Arabia, oil was discovered by a joint venture (later to become Saudi Aramco) between Standard Oil of California and Texaco. In Kuwait, BP and Gulf Oil were behind the country's riches. Oil in the UAE was discovered by the Iraq Petroleum Company which was a consortium of various American, British and French companies. In Qatar, it was BP. Essentially without the accident of geography and the help of the west, the Persian Gulf states would still be dirt (or sand) poor. You can see that from the GDP per capita levels of the not-so-resource rich states in the area. According to the latest data from the IMF, Israel has a GDP per Capita of $30,975, the neighbor with the closest level of GDP per capita is Lebanon with $15,523, which benefits from large and relatively wealthy christian minority. Egypt has a GDP per capita of $6,540, Jordan's is at $5,900 and Syria's pre-civil war tally is at $5,041. Turkey, which is a member of NATO, only has a GDP per capita of $14,517.
It seems Romney knows much more of what he is talking about than Friedman.
On peace, the Palestinians' diplomacy has been a fractured mess, and I still don't know if they can be a partner for a secure two-state deal with even the most liberal Israeli government. But I do know this: It is in Israel's overwhelming interest to test, test and have the U.S. keep testing creative ideas for a two-state solution. That is what a real U.S. friend would promise to do.
Wait, if the Palestinians are a mess and possibly not even a partner for peace why should Israel keep trying? Especially after offering almost 100% of what the Palestinians wanted? Should they start offering 110%?
And here is what I also know: The three U.S. statesmen who have done the most to make Israel more secure and accepted in the region all told blunt truths to every Israeli or Arab leader: Jimmy Carter, who helped forge a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt; Henry Kissinger, who built the post-1973 war disengagement agreements with Syria, Israel and Egypt; and James Baker, who engineered the Madrid peace conference.
It's interesting that he picks two known anti-semites (Carter and Baker) to laud and adds Kissinger in there for balance I guess. Carter has a long history of hostility to the Jewish State, including a book in which he blames the Israelis were everything. And his achievement of peace with Egypt may now be coming undone as the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over that country. And Jim "F*ck the Jews" Baker? And what did the Madrid Conference achieve other than giving land to terrorists who then used it as a staging ground to murder Jews? Was that a good thing in Friedman's opinion?
Seriously, I feel like the old Tom Friedman has been brainwashed and is now just radicalized self-hating Jew.