Thursday, June 09, 2005

What do I think of Thomas Friedman?

Introduction: This post is a reply to “Q8iBlogger”, who asked me this question while commenting on a previous post, and apologies if this post came hours late than promised.

1-Getting to know Friedman:
I came across the name “Thomas L. Friedman” back in 2000, when a programme on Al-Jazeera News Channel was reviewing a week in the International Press. I forgot what was Mr. Friedman’s article about, but I liked the way this journalist handled the Middle East issues.

Every now and then I red some of his articles, in 2002 he wrote his most famous articles (according to me), titled “An Intriguing Signal from the Saudi Crown Prince” [another link] on 17th February.

This article launched what was later called “The Arab Peace Initiative”, the Initiative that Prince Abdullah [Crown Prince] of Saudi Arabia came up with, it is simply “Calling Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 war borders, in return Arab Countries will make peace with Israel”.

2-Being obsessed with his work:
Since 2002 I became obsessed with reading his articles, following his interviews and reading his books, and I didn’t fully do it.

I bought his book “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization” (2000) in Arabic (yes in Arabic), and found it [as a book not as a translated version] so useful. Now I have two more books of his, his first one “From Beirut to Jerusalem” (1990), and his third book “Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World after September 11” (2002), plus his latest book that I got hold of recently “The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” (2005), and I’m half the way reading it.

I wasn’t satisfied with the Arabic version that I bought, so I got the English one.

You can find in this blog a record of his articles in NY Times since 20th March of this year, the first of which was titled ‘a Nobel for Sistani’.

3-Meeting Thomas Friedman:
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to encounter Mr. Friedman twice.
The first was in 2003, when he visited Iraq via Kuwait to cover Post-Saddam Iraq and to attend the “Ur Meeting”. I met him to say “Hello”, “Welcome to Kuwait”, “enjoy your stay” and to process some paper work for him, that’s it.

The second time happened in New York last year, when he had a seminar and briefed the audience about his upcoming book [at the time].

Once he finished, I headed for him with my copy of his first book, my digital camera and a pen. We had a very brief talk (regretfully, wasn’t longer), in which –of course– I reminded him of our first encounter, then got the book signed, an un-forgettable picture and his business card.

Now I’m answering the question!

4-What do I think of him?
Thomas Friedman has a good pen style. He goes from making complex and massive issues simple, to creating a deep thinking in un-thought-about situations and events. In addition, he can link simple stories, proverbs and a regular human being talk and behaviour, into a rich analysis.

Friedman is –compared to the American Journalists– a specialist in the Middle East, having his first correspondence experience in Lebanon & Israel (more than 20 years ago). This experience could be found in a rich summary and record within his first book.

In the States, when it comes to Israel & Palestine, he’s regarded as a “pigeon”, that softly-approaches the Middle East dilemma, and as a “Rightist-Leftist Hawk” while handling the 2003 War in Iraq (a.k.a. the War ON Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Occupation/Invasion of Iraq).

In the Middle East, scores of people, politicians and media/press personnel see him as a “Pro-Israel American Jewish Zionist”!!, but I –as a son of this region– do see him as a real honest journalist who understands this area of the globe, and presents it to the western and international community in a proper and transparent way.

He does acknowledge [precisely] the American mentality when he shows what’s happening here, and brings it in a way of simplicity and genuineness.

I don’t know if what was mentioned above gives a clear Idea of what do I think of him –I suppose it does–, Long story short: He’s a rare American window to our issues.

P.S.: Hopefully, –if by chance, accident or “Googlism”– Thomas Friedman will read this post, and will keep my Identity obscure as a blogger. And he will.


MASS said...

thanks for the post, i appreciate it
lucky that you met him

but what is exactly a rightist leftist hawk???

Rampurple said...

i adore the way friedman rights... i love how he simplifies things so that people with simple minds such as myself can understand what it is he is talking about