Friedman's 'Mrs Israel, Mr Emirates affair' analogy sparks mockery

Thomas Friedman's 'Mrs Israel, Mr Emirates affair' analogy sparks mockery
2 min read
16 September, 2020
Thomas Friedman's latest take on Middle Eastern affairs has not gone down well.
The NYT op-ed was published on the day of the Abraham Accords' signing [Getty]
Thomas Friedman, a veteran columnist for The New York Times, has offered yet another questionable take on Middle Eastern affairs by comparing the UAE-Israel normalisation agreement to a soap opera, prompting a flood of criticism and mockery on social media.

Friedman, who writes weekly for the NYT, has in the past been satirised by Middle East watchers for his casual style of commentary and criticised for his stances certain on the region, including a fawning appraisal of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

His latest article, entitled 'The Love Triangle That Spawned Trump's MidEast Peace Deal', has also run into criticism, particularly for its characterisation of UAE-Israel relations.

"Having covered Arab-Israel diplomacy for more than 40 years, I have to say that the normalisation agreements signed Tuesday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Israel and Bahrain came about in a most unusual - but incredibly revealing - fashion," he wrote.

"I can best explain it with a soap opera analogy: It is as if Jared Kushner was a lawyer who set out to arrange a divorce between a couple, 'Mrs. Israel' and 'Mr. Palestine.' In the process, though, Mr. Kushner discovered that Mrs. Israel and Mr. Palestine were so incompatible that they couldn't even sit in a room together, let alone agree on his plan for separation.

But along the way, Mr. Kushner discovered something intriguing: Mrs. Israel was having an affair with Mr. Emirates, who was fleeing an abusive relationship with Ms. Iran."

Social media users responded with mockery, critcism and even weariness at Friedman's latest take.

"Thomas Friedman should be fined for writing stuff like this," wrote one Twitter user.

"Ahh, Thomas Friedman reducing one of the region most protracted conflicts to a marital anology. Plz kill me," wrote Doha-based academic Marc Owen Jones.

Others, meanwhile, took shot at Friedman's citing of Arab friends and associates in his articles to push his point.

Friedman's article was published on the day that Israel signed pacts with the UAE and Bahrain to normalise relations at a high-profile ceremony in the White House.

The normalisation moves have been roundly condemned by Palestinians from all factions, amid muted responses from several Arab states on the matter.

Friedman is a long-time commentator if Middle East affairs, best known for his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, but has stoked controversy in the Middle East for many of his views, including the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected