Adam's Reviews > From Beirut to Jerusalem

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman
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's review
Mar 24, 11

it was ok
bookshelves: current-events, history, israel, memoirs, politics, non-fiction, travel, war, lebanon
Recommended for: No one.
Read from March 12 to 20, 2011

Knowing nothing or Friedman I found it interesting that I was ridiculed for having this book in hand. I guess that's what you get for bringing 'Neo-Con Zionist' literature to an internship in Palestine! My only prior knowledge of the book was that it covered the recent history of the Middle East with a heavy emphasis on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. I thought I'd dive in for a bit of education. . .

During the first half of the book, Friedman's profession is made very clear, both through his writing, and his writing style. He talks at great lengths of himself as a journalist but also does a great job of reporting on the tumultuous period in Lebanese history. Knowing nothing of these conflicts, I appreciated his presentation of their development and, especially, America's involvement.

By the time Friedman, and the book, move on to Jerusalem, my interest slowly slipped away. Honestly, it was hard to go into the text objectively as those around me continued to tell me how horrible it was, despite never having read the book in full themselves. But, here's what I got out of it.

Unlike Beirut, Friedman presents little fact based history on the development of the Israeli State. Instead, he focuses on the ideological reasons that the country came about, and the implications that these reasons have for a visiting American Jew. An interesting perspective if you're curious as to how Friedman deals with his own religion, but not so much outside of that.

As the book dives deeper into the Palestinian and Israeli divide, Friedman isolates himself as a strong supporter of Israel. While, yes, he makes claims of wanting peace, and recognizing the difficulty of the process, the way in which he frames the situation is, well, antagonistic. I understand that the book was written at the height of the First Intifada, but, even so, continually referring to a people as a collective enemy is not only unscholarly but outright ignorant. Isn't creating 'us versus them' how wars start? Not how they end?

The dichotomy he creates, and adheres to, speaks worlds for his political views and unwillingness to accept the fact that there is a nation of people who have been routinely oppressed by the creation of the State of Israel. I cannot fathom how, or why, as a highly revered journalist, he can get away with the hypothetical speeches he has imagined Prime Ministers deliver at the end of the book. To be so brazen, so negative, so hateful.

I am amazed that he is still so highly regarded. Perhaps his writing since the publication of this book has been more objective. Or, perhaps, it hasn't, and that's exactly what America wants, or thinks it wants.

Ouch.

Now I know why I was mocked for reading it. I don't regret it, I just won't ever go back to it!
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