If the UK press has a Thomas Friedman, it’s Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian. Freedland’s chief role has been to dissipate British readers’ rightful anger about the Israeli occupation, and the UK’s role in sanctioning it, and reinforce the sanctity of the state’s Jewishness.
He uses various techniques: he blows up out of all proportion the strength of the Israeli left; he plays up Israel’s democratic pretensions; he warns endlessly of the dangers of anti-Semitism, implicitly highlighting the need for Israel as a safe haven; and he tries to deflect critics’ attention from Israel by, for example, accusing them of a double standard over Darfur, Syria or any other conflict du jour.
Freedland always sounds terribly reasonable, even when he’s being misleading. He also invariably makes some good points along the way. His latest article is better than most. But old habits die hard. His assessment of the coming election is that it will be clarifying in the way it polarises the choices before the Israeli (read: Israeli Jewish) voters:
The right will be exposed, the moderate fig-leaves of the past stripped away. Meanwhile, the centre-left will include a greater number of robust liberals and genuine democrats, the ex-Likudniks of the now-defunct Kadima party having mostly departed. Instead of clustering around an artificial middle ground, Israeli politics will present a clear left-right choice.
So now Netanyahu-lite ex-TV star Yair Lapid, ex-Likudnik Tzipi Livni, and Shelley Yacimovich, the Labor leader who refuses to mention the P-word, are the components of a true left. Left, my foot!