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Tom Friedman: Confused and Clearly Hostile to Israel

December 28, 2012 2:07 pm 15 comments

New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman.

In his December 26 New York Times editorial, Tom Friedman wrote in support of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel and the possibility that he will be chosen by President Barack Obama as Secretary of Defense. He stated: “So, yes, Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now. Obama will still make all the final calls, but let him do so after having heard all the alternatives.” By “mainstream,” Friedman apparently means overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Hagel’s position is, as Friedman states, “out of the mainstream” with respect to Israel.

Imagine what would happen across our government if President Obama put that course of action into effect.

Friedman is in effect saying to President Obama that he should choose, as an example, a Secretary of the Treasury who believes in cutting expenses in the budget with no increase in taxes for the wealthy, noting that as President he makes the policy and can overrule his appointees; choose a Secretary of the Interior who has the same philosophy as many Alaskans which is to open every square inch of Alaska for oil production. After all, as Friedman says, the President makes the final decision. In the Defense Department, put someone in charge who disagrees with the current stated policy of the President and the Congress toward Israel. We’ve heard the President say, “I’ve got Israel’s back.” Hagel couldn’t care less; he’d rather talk to Hamas. Hagel’s point of view, according to Aaron Miller in his 2008 book, “The Much Too Promised Land,” is clearly hostile to Israel. Miller wrote: “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee comes knocking with a pro-Israel letter, Hagel continued, and ‘then you’ll get eighty or ninety senators on it. I don’t think I’ve ever signed one of the letters’ – because, he added, they were ‘stupid.” Hagel also said, ‘The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,’ but ‘I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator.'” For the record, more Christians support Israel in the U.S. than do Jews, who are a much smaller part of the U.S. population.

In addition, in government, you generally rely on the people you select for high office to let them run their departments. You don’t micromanage them, and no top-notch appointee would allow micromanagement by the President.

People give Tom Friedman lots of space and respect when he writes on Israel, undoubtedly assuming that as a Jew, he must be a supporter of Israel. I do not believe that assumption to be correct, because I recall his Times column of April 3 in which he urged the Palestinians to engage in another intifada using rocks to attack Israeli Jews.

When I was in Israel in 1991, I was struck on the head during the then intifada and needed nine stitches to close the wound. I was lucky that the jagged stone struck my head and not my eyes. Otherwise, I might have been blinded.

Chuck Hagel is not an evil man. He simply does not support the position that Israel is our ally, and I believe he would prefer closer relationships with the Muslim states in the region by reducing the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which is what the Muslim, and certainly the Islamist, states desire. That is his right, but that philosophy should deny him the position of Secretary of Defense. Nor in my opinion does he believe that the Islamist Arab countries are hostile to the U.S. and Western civilization.

The leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, has called for the total destruction of Israel. The Hamas government is responsible for hurling 8,000 rockets into Israel since 2005. Human Rights Watch, normally critical of Israel, this week accused Hamas of war crimes against Israel, because their rockets deliberately targeted Israeli civilians. Does it make any sense for Friedman to suggest that Hagel’s attitude of seeking to engage Hamas “to see if it can be moved from its extremism” might be effective? There were people in the 1930s who suggested the same about Hitler and the Nazis. Hamas is now even stronger than before because its big brother and ally the Muslim Brotherhood governs Egypt and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, one of the Brotherhood’s leaders, has made clear his support of Hamas.

When will we learn that Islamist governments mean what they say when they threaten Israel with extermination and condemn the U.S., Europe and Israel and their Western culture and values?

I also view Tom Friedman’s supportive attitude to the so-called Arab Spring — which has produced Islamist governments toppling authoritarian Arab governments which were at least friendly to the U.S. — as dangerously wrong. Hitler came to power in Germany legally as have many of these Islamist governments. That doesn’t make them our friends nor should the President select a Secretary of Defense who, if confirmed, will be cheered by the enemies of the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world.

In his December 13 column, Tom Friedman made one of his worst statements, showing his strong bias against Israel: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile, but because they are confused.”

Friedman has not apologized for these outrageous remarks, stating only that he regretted the words and should have chosen other terms. I suggest that it is Tom Friedman who is confused. I don’t believe even if he did apologize that the apology means anything and, in most cases, such apologies are simply an effort to end the discussion.


  • Maybe I’m naive but there will always be the good ol’ uncle thomas friedmans of the world, unfortunately. His views are to be laughed at–if they can have their shameful idiot out front and center in the form of little annie coulter, why should we worry about friedman.

    Also, and again maybe I don’t know too much in this arena, but I can hardly believe that the president–who supposedly has knowledge of the goings on in the Middle East that we’re not privy to, would be content to play footsie with entities that endanger not only Israel and Jews but the U.S. and everyone else as well. It’s hardly in anyone’s interest at this point to not make Israel and its security a number one priority at this point.

  • Friedman and other New York Times’ journalists need kickback when they violate the Times’ ethical standards against Israel. While entitled to his opinion as an op ed writer, Friedman is still not allowed to lie or demonize or incite (by calling for violence against Israelis. He may also be breaking the law). News reporters are not allowed to lie, to give opinions nor engage in advocacy journalism. There are staff members of the Times’ who deal with these issues, but we need to contact them for them to act. They are an important address for those concerned about Israel. And we need to communicate with Friedman and other journalists on a regular basis. Not the easiest or most satisfying way to spend time, but critically important. The influence of the Times is huge.

  • Friedman is an educated fool or as Stalin would have said, ” a useful idiot.”
    It is time for American Jews to stand up once and for all and label these fools and idiots among us, those who cheerlead our potential executioners, what they are; Traitors. In times of war those who give aid and comfort to the enemy are just that.

  • But what Koch fails to state is that if Obama chooses Hagel what does that say about Obama? What then does Koch think about his choice of Obama over Romney ?

  • Tom Friedman is not only a good writer, he is pragmatist. Based on reality on the ground, the US needs to befriend the new governments in the Mid East, besides Isreal. It was easier to deal with dictators, but that has all changed, elected governments have sprung up. It will take time to get all in order in those countries. It is an important part of the world, besides oil. Israel by allowing the Palestinian to have a homeland will cut the animosity to a great extent. The problem is doing it, stop aggresive acts as building millions of homes on their land. They have been there since Biblical times too. Be fair. Stop treating them like the Europeans did to you for centuries. Trade could begin in 5 years with countries all around you. Tech savvy Israel would greatly benifit from all that. Most of all peace of mind.The hawks should look at the long term, please use your wisdom rather than your power.

    • There has never been a country called palestine….EVER.
      The land is rightfully belongs to the Jewish people. The two state solution will NEVER happen….NEVER. NO MATTER WHAT THE palestinians say, NO MATTER WHAT THE UNITED NATIONS (council of evil) says, NO MATTER WHAT ANY AMERICAN ADMINISTRATION SAYS….GOD has the final say. When God promised that Land to Israel and the Jewish people through Abraham Isaac and Jacob “that was it”. Take my advise, all you Jew haters out there, go bury your heads with your little pea size brain in the sand. That might wisen you up a bit….I hope…not!

  • Thank you, Mr. Koch!

  • Tom Friedman is the WALTER DURANTY of his generation of journalists and should be treated accordingly.

  • Mayor Koch always says it like it is. I totally agree with his assessment. The last time I criticized Tom Friedman’s views toward Israel, a relative with the very same last name put his name in a comment on my Facebook page. This comment will also appear on my Facebook page , and I hope that the same relative again puts his name next to it. My estranged older daughter is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin. Her views on Israel are quite the same as Friedman related. Having divulged that, I will open up to a statement much more derisive: It is Jews like Mr. Friedman and my older daughter that continue to shun Israel in their confusion about their own sentiments and reveal a hurtful image to the rest of the country that is helpful neither to Israel nor to the Jewish community. The latter comment should not be construed that either Friedman or my daughter are bad people: they are not. Notwithstanding, their verbiage and attitude muddy the already turbulent waters in this world where the adherents of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are in the hundreds of millions at the least.

  • Tom Friedman is and always has been confused,as his columns attest, especially about his own heritage and place in it. He strikes me as one of those Jews who is afraid to offend his enemy, who wants to be regarded as “one of the nice ones” by all. Except his own kind, that is. YHWH forbid he should sound biased!

    Ah, well…what’s new? Given what we’ve survived, he’s innocuous.

  • Tom Friedman, a life-long self-hating Jew, should be relegated to the dung pile of irrelevance where his acolytes can inhale the fragrance. He never misses an opportunity to denigrate, defame, debase or vilify Israel.

  • I’m reviewing Hagel’s “America Our Next Chapter, Tough Questions, Straight Answers Chuck Hagel, with Peter Kaminsky”, 2008.

    So far, I have not detected a vociferously stringent anti-Israel bias, but a pro-American, pro peace bias. It is disturbing that Hagel has refused to endorse the pro-Israel letters that he has had opportunities to sign. That is not absolute proof of anti-Israel bias, but more likely a reflection of his Nebraska background of independence as a Republican maverick Senator. But, there should be caution on Jewish support for him.

  • Tom Friedman is as much of an enemy to Israel (and Jews) as are Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc.

  • The best response to Tom Friedman and his diaribes is: complete silence. Don’t argue with this guy: his words already have confirmed he is anti-Israel and nothing you, I, or anyone else says is going to change his opinions. Besides, Friedman enjoys the attention. “Say anything, but make sure someone’s listening at all times!”

    O.K., Tom, we’re listening. We know: You’re Jeweesh, right? And we would have expected you t’ be PRO-Israel…but you’re not. Well, now that you have our attention, let’s drop you into the GARBAGE BUCKET and find someone with more common sense!!

    Say GOOM-bye to MY VOTE, Tommy-baby!!


    An American Jew-boy!!!

  • Ed, you just don’t get it, do you? You spent the whole 2012 election seasion pimping the delusion that Obama was a great friend of Israel. Now, you’re whining that Tom Friedman is wrong in supporting Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Do you have anything to say about the guy who floated the nomination in the first place: your beloved friend of Israel, Barak Obama? I’ve got some bad news for you, Ed. The Hagel nomination is Obama’s message to his Jewish supporters: “I DON’T NEED YOUR VOTES ANYMORE! I DON’T NEED YOUR CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS ANYMORE.” I’ve got some more bad news for you. You’re going to hear that message A LOT in the next four years. What are you going to do when Obama “engages” (and thereby LEGITIMIZES) Hamas? Act shocked, SHOCKED?? Whine some more? That’ll help.

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