The New York Times performed a valuable service for its readers on Wednesday, March 13, exactly one week before President Obama is scheduled to arrive on his first-ever presidential visit to Palestine and Israel.
The Times contrasted the major media voice of the liberal Zionism of the American ruling classes, with that of the voice of a champion for the Palestinian people.
Which of these voices do your leaders, political, media, or religious. respond to? As President Obama prepares to fly to Tel Aviv, this would be a good time to visit, write or call those leaders and ask them.
The Times paired its resident liberal Zionist columnist, Thomas Friedman (Mr. Obama Goes to Israel), with Palestinian-American Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi (Is Any Hope Left""?), Obama's University of Chicago academic colleague and good friend.
In his column, Friedman reiterated liberal Zionism's formulaic belief that the Middle East must be made over entirely in an empirical US/Israel image.
Friedman wants Obama to say to Israel's leaders:
"After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western -- a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you."
Who defines "decent"? And who determines if Israel qualifies as "multireligious"? The answer is, Thomas Friedman, the media maven of US liberal Zionism. (Wikipedia: "maven comes from Hebrew, via Yiddish, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge.")
Khalidi has his own abundance of "accumulated knowledge," far more than enough to serve as a Palestinian maven for his old friend now in the White House. Khalidi is currently a professor of modern Arab studies at New York's Columbia University. His latest book is Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.
Khalidi begins his Times column with a question:
"What should Barack Obama ... do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
"First, he must abandon the stale conventional wisdom offered by the New York-Washington foreign-policy establishment, which clings to the crumbling remnants of a so-called peace process that, in the 34 years since the Camp David accords, has actually helped make peace less attainable than ever."
The President traveled to Israel as a candidate in 2008. The picture of Obama and President Mammoud Abbas (above) was taken on that trip,
It was Obama's second de rigueur trip to Israel, both taken for mandatory political purposes. His first presidential trip will set the tone for his entire second term foreign policy.
It is a far more serious journey this time because he is facing an international growing sense of outrage over Israel's occupation, and its refusal to change course.
Earlier reports from Israel indicated that the President would not travel to Ramallah. The White House press briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes (joined by US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro) announced that the President would travel to Ramallah Thursday morning.
"In Ramallah, he will have a bilateral meeting with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. And then the two leaders will have a press conference and then they'll have a working lunch together.
"Again, the United States has supported the significant institution-building that the Palestinian Authority has undertaken in the West Bank. It's a chance to discuss our continued support for the PA, as well as to discuss ways to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace going forward.
"Following the working lunch, the President will join Prime Minister Fayyad at the Al-Bireh Youth Center, also in Ramallah.