I like Tom Friedman. Despite his being Jewish, he is usually very evenhanded in his treatment of Middle East issues. However, I have a problem with his column in today’s NYT. He starts off by criticizing Turkish President Erdogan for anti-Semitism, which is a valid criticism. Erdogan probably is anti-Semitic, but he also probably has some reason to be concerned about Jewish animosity toward him. Friedman, jokes about the lack of a real Jewish threat to Turkey, “So few Jews, so many governments to topple.”
Then Friedman proceeds to cite statistics from Larry Diamond at Stanford about how democracy is failing all over the world. He says that Putin and Erdogan are the poster children for this trend, concluding, “Rule of law in Turkey is being seriously eroded.” I couldn’t find out anything about Larry Diamond’s personal background, but Larry Diamond is a typically Jewish name. The closest connection I could find was that Diamond lectured at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2013. So, it seems that despite Friedman’s claim that Jews have no interest in Turkish politics, a man who is probably a Jew is fiercely criticizing Erdogan. Of course many Gentiles are also fiercely criticizing Erdogan.
I wouldn’t worry so much about this if I didn’t think there were more to it. Friedman’s posturing that there’s nothing to worry about from us Jews -- we’re just sitting here in Jerusalem minding our own business – rings hollow. A French Jew, Bernard-Henri Levy, led the campaign to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, plunging Libya into chaos, which is terrible for everyone from the Libyans, to the Americans, to the Italians, but not for the Israelis, who rejoice when Muslims kill Muslims (or Christians). Jews win without fighting. But there is fighting going on, fomented by Jews in Israel, America, France, and probably other places.
Of course the argument is that the Muslims are to blame, and they are. But they have had a lot of help stoking the fires of their animosity, from the creation of Israel in the 1940s to the invasion of Iraq in the 2000s. Turkish-Israeli relations were not helped by Israel’s 2010 attack off the coast of Israel on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, part of the Gaza flotilla raid, in which the Israelis killed eight Turks and one American.