View from
The Right

Thomas Friedman Is at It Again

(IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in a handout photo released December 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces))

“What is certain, however, is that part two of this degradation will occur in the not too distant future, and part three some time after that, if this advice of this New York Times columnist is followed.”

Thomas Friedman, the columnist at The New York Times, is at it again, with more silly advice for Israel vis-à-vis Hamas in a column earlier this month. This time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) should make Hamas an offer they cannot refuse: not a pause, not a ceasefire, not even a truce. Rather, a total cessation of the Israeli defensive incursion, and total peace. Hamas remains in full power over Gaza. The Israelis remove their soldiers from that area and bombs Hamas no more. The only thing this terrorist organization has to do in return is to hand over not one or two, not even a dozen, but all of the hostages it now holds. Nor would Israel release even a single Palestinian prisoner they now hold. Instead of land for peace, it would be hostages for peace.

There is more than one can shake a stick at wrong with this proposal.

First of all, as Friedman himself concedes, “Yes, the morning after [this agreement when Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader] comes out [of his tunnel], many Gazans will carry him on their shoulders and sing his name for dealing such a heavy blow to the Jews.” It is difficult to overestimate the loss of morale this would create in Israel. Israel suffered a savage blow on October 7th, and the main perpetrator is dancing around in the streets with his adoring fans.

When would a repetition of the ferocious and brutal doings of that date, which shall forever be remembered in infamy, be repeated? In a month? Maybe in a year? This is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that part two of this degradation will occur in the not too distant future, and part three some time after that, if this advice of this New York Times columnist is followed. The IDF will be exposed as a paper tiger. Yes, bombs were dropped, and there is rubble. But a devastating blow has been leveled at Israel, and the perpetrators are still free to renew their bestial activities.

The only thing learned by Hamas from this deal would be: Be sure to take hostages in the next go round.

Second, let us apply this perhaps well-meaning advice not to September 11th as Friedman does but, instead, to the end of World War II. Should the Allied Forces have offered the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese a response of this sort? If so, there would have been no bombings and no surrender; the Nazis might well still be in charge of Germany in 2023. There would have been no Nuremberg Trials, no executions, and no justice.

Friedman is adamant that Hamas will accept this offer he has concocted. And, in this, we must concede: He may well be correct. He claims that Hamas will lose out in the public opinion sweepstakes if they refuse.

But members of Hamas, unlike the Israelis, do not give a fig for what the civilized world thinks of them. If they did, they would not have butchered innocent civilians, including women and children. The reason they will with 99% certainly accept this peace offer is that it will better enable them to pursue their goal of killing all the Jews and then occupying all the land “from the river to the sea.”

Our advice giver is concerned with what the future will bring for Israel if it has to administer Gaza after the war. All that can be said at this point is that this task will be infinitely easier with Hamas out of the picture rather than as an ongoing concern.

Friedman ends his screed with an attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for attempting to model the Supreme Court of Israel on that of the United States. In the United States, the Supreme Court is not self-perpetuating; it cannot, as in Israel, appoint its own successors. That is precisely the Israeli practice. This is even relevant, how, to the present imbroglio?.

Walter Block, an Austrian school economist and anarcho-libertarian philosopher, is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans and Senior Fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Alan G. Futerman, an economist, has published in journals such as International Journal of Finance & Economics, Review of Austrian Economics, and Journal of Financial Economic Policy, among others. His work has also been featured in publications such as the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Jerusalem Post. He co-authored The Classical Liberal Case for Israel and The Austro-Libertarian Point of View with Walter E. Block, as well as Commodities as an Asset Class with Ivo A. Sarjanovic. 

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