Thomas Friedman: Where Are You?

Sep 08, 2007 Published under Global, Leadership, Middle East, OneVoice Movement

Tom Friedman has turned into a global icon by taking complex matters, synthesizing them, and explaining them in easily understood sound-bites that everyone can relate to.  He is excellent at creating clear contrasting images and analogies to our daily experience.  While in the process he often over-simplifies an issue and turns it into pop, this is sometimes precisely what society needs to absorb and popularize a vision or mission.  He also for the most part REALLY gets it.  And he tends to be way ahead of the pack in anticipating trends and understanding recent developments.


That is why it is regrettable that he has stopped talking about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

At a talk in Dalian, Tom Friedman reminded the audience of some of his insights: 

               * Steve Jobs dropped out of college, but not without first taking a calligraphy course that influenced his sense of style and contributed to his creation of APPLE; inference: Liberal Arts are an integral component of education; engineering and sciences are important; but creativity, curiosity and design are even more important to the process of innovation. 

               * CQ (Curiosity Quotient) and PQ (Passion Quotient) will beat IQ (Intelligence Quotient) anytime 

               * China is like a beautifully paved super-highway, orderly and efficient, but with a huge speedway bump ahead – called political transition; it could end up being a smooth ride, or the wheels could fall off; India is like a messy dirty and pot-hole ridden super-highway, but with a flat road ahead that looks almost like an oasis or a mirage; who will win? Only time will tell… 

               * Grandma Friedman says ‘don’t assume the 21st century will belong to a country that censors google’s flow of information.” 

I approached Tom after the talk and asked why he had been silent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for such a long time. 

“I don’t know what to say anymore,” he replied with stunning and depressing honesty. 

He, and many others, are starting to tune-out, as they are just turned-off by the lock that fundamentalism and violent extremism have placed on the region.  The whole world will soon tune out the entire Middle East, if the Middle East doesn’t get its act together. 

Israelis, Palestinians, Middle Easterners, and the Jewish and Muslim worlds should take seriously the fact that most people are just fed up with the Middle East, with Islamic Fundamentalism, and with the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


If the people on the ground don’t start taking action to take their lives back from the fringe of active and passionate militant absolutists that have hijacked the region, the world will just close its doors to them and will just contain and bypass them.

It is starting to happen.  People are just shutting-out the region, and I often hear people say “let them kill each other.” 


It is high time that THE PEOPLE STAND UP and inspire the world to get back behind them. 

Thomas Friedman, where are you? And will you come back to speak for the moderates that are fed up with violent extremism? 

Only if the moderates start showing they’ve got what it takes to do their part.

Then they will inspire Friedman and armies of others to rally behind them.

But the people on the ground have to lead. 


On October 18th the people of the region have a historic chance to stand up and speak up!

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  1. Elisheva said:

    Dear Dan:
    I have tried to reach you at your office. I will try again soon.
    One can’t help but notice that all of your material is connected with Ford Foundation subsidiaries. Why would that be?!
    Your employee, Sefi Kedmi, after refusing to address a single concrete point I raised, in an extended email correspondence, decided to get even.
    He complained to the internet provider that I had spammed and virused him, which, of course, threatened my internet service.
    This, of course, is not true. It is, however, a nasty political trick, one which is equal to censorship. But worse.
    So are you going to fire him for this immoral attack on my civil rights and civil liberties?
    I challenge you have a meeting with me and others who Sefi Kedmi has insulted and demeaned.
    How can you defend the comments you have, as though we Jews are at all to blame in Israel?
    How can you possibly trust the arabs who continue to openly state the intent to kill us all?
    All we want is to be left alone in peace on our postage stamped size land.
    And all we have needed is for the USA and US State Department to stop aiding the terrorists, as they now are.
    Email to me and set up an appointment. What you are doing is harmful and dangerous.
    In Faith, Elisheva

  2. Elisheva said:

    Hi Dan
    I just read this:
    Hamas has seized totlal control of the
    mosques, banning any Imam who does not follow the party line, and using the pulpit for their political and ideological propaganda
    Why are you surprised about this?
    And why would you think that Fatah is any better?
    Can’t you see this clearly?
    In Faith, Elisheva
    ps by the way, the conferences you attend are Ford Foundation programs. get it?

  3. Daniel Lubetzky said:

    Elisheva, thank you for your comments. Here are my replies:

    1) OneVoice team members are of the highest moral and ethical fiber; any complaint is thoroughly investigated; I will do the same here but frankly have to be somewhat skeptical that any team member would do any of this b/c of the ethic of our team and b/c I have never heard of anything of the sort; if indeed someone were to have done anything inappropriate, you can be assured that appropriate conmesurate steps will be taken;

    2) The Ford Foundation is one of the largest institutions in the world; overall, it has an impeccable track record and noble intentions; I am aware that they sponsored a conference in Durban that turned out to be a horrible disaster and anti-semitic lovefest; I was disappointed by this, but to assume this was a systematic or intentional plan of the Ford Foundation is wrong and unfair; the Ford Foundation sponsors thousands of efforts with good faith intentions and they monitor each of them carefully and do a lot of due dilligence to avoid mistakes; if there is one group that turns out sour and they dissociate themselves from it, you cannot blame the institution or assume there is a pattern of anti-semitism where there is not;

    3) Indeed, one of the most amazing icons of Jewish leadership, and one of the great role models to the world, Stuart Eizenstat, former US Deputy Secretary of Treasury and State, was appointed as one of the Ford Foundation’s advisors specifically to guide it in ensuring a fair and constructive role towards ending the conflict;

    4) Every officer I have ever come in contact with from the Ford Foundation is a straight-forward noble humanitarian with professionalism all around;

    5) when you write “How can you possibly trust the Arabs” you undermine yourself and your credibility; on one side you are concerned about others treating you well and not discriminating against you; but on the other side you generalize and discriminate against an ethnic group of 280 million people; do you really believe that every Arab or every Muslim “cannot be trusted”?! This is the most embarassing discrimination.

    6) The OneVoice Movement includes a Zionist-nationalist proud Israeli office, and a parallel patriotic nationalist Palestinian office; both are made up of proud mainstream nationalists who are fed up with violent extremists and intolerant bigots hijacking the lives of millions; both are determined to empower moderate voices and fight the militant absolutism and extremism that has for too long reigned unfettered; the only people that shoudl be threatened by that are the very bigots and the terrorists who wish to take us to the stone age.

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