Thomas Friedman mourns demise of “Fayyadism”

Salam Fayyad shares a platform with Israeli war criminal Tzipi Livni at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

Andy Mettler

In his latest column for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman mourns the untimely demise of his neologism Fayyadism, an unfortunate consequence of Salam Fayyad’s resignation from his role as prime minister for the Palestinian Authority.

Friedman likes Fayyad because he apparently offered “noncorrupt, institution-focused leadership.” In fact, Friedman goes so far as to say:

Salam Fayyad was the “Arab Spring” before there was an Arab Spring.

Friedman knows what the Arab Spring© is all about, because a number of taxi drivers have told him. It is about “an Arab leader’s legitimacy” not being based on “slogans or resistance to Israel and the West or on personality cults or security services” — or, in the case of Fayyad, an electoral mandate.

Respect from Israel

Friedman’s potted history of Fayyad skips over the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections, when his Third Way party secured 2.41 percent of the vote. Nor does it dwell on exactly how Fayyad became prime minister.

Friedman cites International Monetary Fund data to praise Fayyad’s impact on economic growth — yet mentions in the same article that a withdrawal of foreign aid “tanked the Palestinian economy.” Indeed. the World Bank had noted in 2011 that “the impressive growth of the West Bank economy over the past two years” was “largely a result of donor-driven public spending,” a warning repeated in 2012.

So, here we had an unelected leader dependent on foreign subsidies, who oversaw the “rebuilding” of “security services” which the Israeli occupation forces “grew to respect.” 

But perhaps Friedman is not primarily upset about his neologism. A chat with Fayyad had become part of the itinerary for tours organized by pro-Israel outfits, the same kind of lobby groups now mourning his departure. Maybe what’s most depressing Friedman is best understood by recalling his observation two years ago: that right now, “Israel’s best defense is to strengthen Fayyadism.”




Thomas Friedman's ideas and "insights" are some of the most idiotic in American journalism. The funny thing is that some of them, like his "flat world" view, have been pilfered from other people less well-known. His view of "Arabs," "Muslims," and how they should get their act together (re: forget Israel, with its "dynamic" economy, and as it cleanses Palestine and uses the US to demolish neighboring countries) have long been known.

What amazes me is the limelight he has received in the past...mostly by his equals--one ignoramus leading the other. That's the level of intellectual debate in America today.


Thank you, Ben, for the blog. I have worked for a lot of years to, 1) Understand the Israeli/Palestinian history and politics from afar (Kansas); 2) Made a couple of trips to the Middle East including Egypt (2009's Gaza Freedom March), Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza (April, 2012); 3) And to bring the Jewish community here in Wichita to "the table" (or go to theirs) just for a discussion, non-violent (!) and have basically failed. There are all kinds of barriers that SEEM to be in the way like LOOKING AT WHAT IS OBVIOUSLY GOING ON (in my opinion) with the planned take-over of the West Bank and the not-so-slow starvation of the Gaza Strip (or the Gaza "sliver"). Even the most progressive reformed Rabbi in town, a good friend, cannot hear what I have to say as I am automatically categorized as a Palestinian sympathizer or called "anti-Semitic." I am part of a Palestinian Study Group here and having tried to "reach out" to the Jewish community and failed, (we do have a couple of Jews in the group but they are "dismissed" as not REALLY Jews but "traitors," I am realizing that perhaps our greatest real challenge is merely to continue our work, presenting films, esp. Palestinian but also those done by more progressive Jews, make sure all of our meetings and events are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (a special invite to the temples in town), and try to counter the OVERWHELMING "education" from the Jewish lobby, official and unofficial, in the media, from our government, and other sources that are intense and intimidating. Even a meeting directly to discuss the Palestinian/Israeli issues here in Wichita seems like a dead end.

Ben White

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Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. His articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian‘s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (2009, Pluto Press) and ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination & Democracy’ (2012, Pluto Press). Ben is a researcher/writer for the Journal of Palestine Studies.