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August 26, 2015 11:02 am

Thomas Friedman’s Career Is Built on a Lie

avatar by Benyamin Korn

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Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times. Photo: WEF.

Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for the ‘New York Times.’Photo: WEF.

Israeli Army officials are reportedly furious that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has accused the IDF of massacring Arab civilians. But what else is new? After all, Friedman’s entire career has been built on lying about Israel — including rewriting his own biography in order to smear the Jewish State.

 In his August 12 column, Friedman wrote: “Israel plays, when it has to, by what I’ve called ‘Hama rules’ — war without mercy…it will not be deterred by the threat of civilian Arab casualties…”
The Times of Israel notes that, “While the term [‘Hama Rules’] itself comes from Friedman’s book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, in his new article he offered no history of the event or explanation for the comparison, apparently assuming the reader would understand the context.”
Friedman’s sense of self-importance is legendary; evidently he assumes that everyone has read and memorized his book. But for those who have not, the term “Hama Rules” was his little nickname for the policy of then-Syrian tyrant Hafez Assad, when he massacred tens of thousands of civilians in the Syrian city of Hama in 1982.
So Friedman sees no difference between Israeli and Syrian policy regarding civilian casualties.
Israel drops warning leaflets in neighborhoods it plans to strike; individually telephones residents of apartment buildings in the area; and cancels bombing raids if civilians are likely to be harmed. Meanwhile, Syria slaughters people anywhere, anytime, with whatever weapons it has handy. But it’s all the same to Thomas Friedman.
But such lies should not surprise anyone familiar with Friedman’s track record.
He was a junior reporter on the New York Times staff when he was sent to cover the Israel-Lebanon war in 1982. He was catapulted to fame by a series of articles blaming Israel for the Lebanese Christians’ killings of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, which he then parlayed into a best-selling book, the aforementioned From Beirut to Jerusalem.
The major theme of the book, and of the many interviews he gave about his time in Lebanon, was disillusionment. He set out, he claimed, as a passionate supporter of Israel (“insufferably so”). He believed “that all the right [was] on one side, and all the wrong on the other, that Israel always behaves in a way that’s morally upstanding…I had seen Israel as a sort of utopian society…” But these illusions were shattered: “In my experiences as a reporter…I went through a period of disillusionment during my experience of Lebanon and Sabra and Shatilla.”
According to Friedman, it was Israel’s immoral behavior in Lebanon in 1982 that transformed him from a supporter of the Jewish state to one of its most outspoken critics. He bravely discovered the truth about the Israelis, and that gave him the moral credentials to pass judgement on Israel from then on — which is exactly what he proceeded to do, first as the Times‘s bureau chief in Jerusalem from 1984-1988, and from then on as a Times op-ed columnist.
But that was a lie.
Friedman did not become a critic of Israel in 1982. He was strongly pro-Palestinian at least eight years earlier, as a leader of a Brandeis University student organization called the “Middle East Peace Group.” When the arch-terrorist Yassser Arafat, gun on his hip, spoke at the United Nations that fall, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin strongly protested and hundreds of thousands of outraged New Yorkers held a “Rally Against Terror.” Friedman and his Peace Group colleagues published an open letter in The Brandeis Justice (the student newspaper) on November 12, 1974, to denounce the rally and oppose Prime Minister Rabin’s stance.
Friedman and company declared that the anti-terror rally would “only reinforce Jewish anxiety and contribute to Israel’s further isolation.” They demanded that Prime Minister Rabin “negotiate with all factions of the Palestinians, including the PLO.” Keep in mind that this was at a time when the PLO was not even pretending to be moderate or willing to live in peace with Israel. Earlier that year, PLO terrorists had proudly slaughtered dozens of Israeli schoolchildren in the towns of Ma’alot and Kiryat Shemona.
When Friedman graduated from Brandeis, he left the Middle East Peace Group — but the Middle East Peace Group never left him. His news articles for the Times, and later his op-ed columns, consistently exhibited the same negative tilt against Israel.
Secretary of State James Baker, in his autobiography, described how he and Friedman were tennis partners, and Friedman would give him suggestions on how to pressure Israel. He credited Friedman for the notorious episode in which Baker publicly humiliated Israel by announcing the White House phone number and declaring that the Israelis should call when they get serious about peace. No wonder the editors of The New Republic, in 1992, characterized Friedman as “the New York Times‘s State Department spokesman” and as part of “the James Baker Ministry of Information.”
Ultimately, all of Friedman’s writings on Israel are anchored in the myth of the “Disillusioned American Jewish Journalist.” All of his credibility as a commentator on Israeli-Palestinian affairs rests on the image he concocted in Lebanon. Brian Williams recently lost his job as anchor of the NBC Nightly News because he falsified his war correspondent experiences. Thomas Friedman should be judged according to precisely the same criteria.

Mr. Korn, chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists, is former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the Miami Jewish Tribune.)

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  • HaroldT38

    If only the Israeli army would sue Friedman for libel in USA, it would not only expose the lies but put an end to them as well.

  • John Griffin

    I think the best rebuttal to Friedman is the one I read this morning – an interview with his Jerusalem grocer

    I’ve never read his articles, never needed to to know what liberal angst ridden left wing nonsense they would spout

  • LEONARD sherman

    As Jews in this anti Semitic world we live in we don’t need any more anti Semites. We already have enough because we have NY TIMES AND THOMAS FRIEDMAN. LHS.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Come on. Be fair.
    Ther New York Times pays Friedman’s salary.
    Is he not paid to be a puppet on a string?

  • Ilbert Phillips

    Mr. Friedman reports news as many liberals do. He uses “poetic facts.” The term developed by Shelby Steele, the brilliant black writer, states that liberals are not concerned with reality or the truth because they are convinced they are correct in their beliefs that they are not interested in reality. As a result they believe that it is proper to portray facts as they wish to promote their view of the world. The facts are “poetic facts.,” “facts” that promote a particularly belief, though they do not reflect reality. For example, Israel occupies the West Bank. Palestine was created by the League of Nations which states that all of Palestine was to be given to the Jews. Palestine included Gaza, the State of Jordan (before it was carved out by the English and given to the Hashimite family) and all is what is referred to as the West Bank. If that was to be given to the Jews, how can they now be illegal occupiers?

  • J Brooks

    If there was a way to excommunicate Jews I would nominate Thomas Friedman. He uses his birthright as a Jew to help prove his “unbiased” opinions. What a fool he is. He lives in America and thinks he is knowledgeable enough to tell the Israeli government what to do. Seriously he is a fool and just another reason that I don’t read the NYT.

  • Saul Goldman

    The efforts that the IDF makes in order to be a “moral army” is not only futile; it is in many ways immoral. The citizens of Israel do not send their sons to the IDF so that they can be social workers. They send their sons to protect their families. So when a pilot decides that his assigned target is surrounded by Hamas’ human shields and aborts that mission, he is placing the lives of innocent Israelis at risk. The IDF is hardly a moral army when a pilot decides that the life of a Hamas child is more important than Jewish lives. After all, to paraphrase Jewish lives matter. It is time for Israeli leaders to reconsider the difference of morals and self-destructive acquiescence to their anxiety over what will the world say?

  • naro12

    Friedman will not have a job at the anti semitic and anti Israeli NYSlimes, if he did not adhere to their virulent anti Jewish hatred. To those who think that Jews somehow own the NYSlimes, it is not true. Pinch Sulzberger is an Episcopalian, the Editorial page editor Rosenthal is a Roman Catholic, and the newly hired Editor in Chief is an affirmative action, Israel hating black.
    Any Jew who subscribes to the NYSlimes or buy from its advertisers is a traitor.

  • Shlomo Rifkind

    I have a cousin who is an avid reader of the NYT. He sent me Thomas Friedman’s Op Ed: “If I Were an Israeli Looking at the Iran Deal”

    The following is my response to him:
    Dear P____:
    I carefully read with real interest Tom Friedman’s Op Ed that you sent me: “If I were an Israeli…” especially since I know you find his opinions important due to your feeling that he is a supporter of Israel. Now, I am aware that it is considered a very cleaver strategy to destroy an argument by attacking the person and avoid dealing with the argument itself. But, I think it is very important at the outset to realize that Friedman, who is a brilliant writer, is not trying to convince Israelis but rather to convince Democrats to allow the deal to sneak by unopposed. P_____, I absolutely disagree that Friedman is a supporter of Israel. It makes no difference that he was born a Jew with a Jewish sounding name. His entire motivation is in supporting his Rock Star of a President using every single trick he can possibly drum up. He is essentially nothing more than one of Obama’s trusty ‘Yes Men’ promoted to the level of ‘Court Jew’. He is no more Pro-Israel than the malicious J-Street who have both learned you can easily cause more harm to Israel and the Jews by claiming to be PRO than without. If it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck – it IS a duck no matter how much it CLAIMS to be a ‘Pro-Israel Swan’. In his heart of hearts I have no access – but in practice, Friedman is Anti-Israel. Even before examining Friedman’s logic – I readily admit that if he had been against this horrid agreement with Iran – I would have initially considered being FOR it just on the merit of his rejection.
    Because of Friedman’s gravitas – I would not be at all surprised if much more qualified writers deal with and debunk his intellectual mush. But I will mention a few points. Even those very few Israeli Generals (who have received financial and other benefit for not openly rejecting the deal) – not a single General or Military or Security Expert think it is a great deal or even a good deal or as Nancy Pelosi gushed ‘a diplomatic masterpiece’. The only question is if this bad deal is good enough to qualify it not being labeled as totally horrendous.
    The deal asks us to choose between two distinct possibilities. Either Iran has spent a huge fortune and nearly gone to war to slightly lower its already low electricity rates by acquiring nuclear energy OR it wants a nuclear bomb. The deal assumes that Iran wants lower electricity rates. Iran’s constitution tells us that it really wants: Jihad. And unlike Obama, Iran’s leaders can be trusted to live up to their Constitution. The deal is based upon a lie which is obvious for everyone to see. Even worse is the problem that Iran is a theocracy that really really believes that Israel and the US are actually evil and that it is their divine mission to destroy both. The Communist Bomb could and was deterred just as North Korea can be deterred. Iran cannot. Destruction in the name of Allah’s fight to force submission upon the evil infidels is a worthy goal to die for and therefore a goal which they can absolutely welcome and will lead to rich rewards in the after life – even if the total destruction of every single Iranian is the result.
    So the absolutely best case scenario is that this deal will directly lead to a Nuclear Iran (albeit ever so slightly delayed) and thus inevitably to War. This Chickensh*t deal just kicks the can down the road a few years when its ever so ‘cleaver’ authors will not be around to accept the consequences of their folly.
    Friedman also hints to one of the other reasons why this deal is so disastrous for Israel. It grants Iranian hegemonic world wide recognition and thus when Iran and Obama try to force Israel into a suicidal retreat from Judea and Samaria, perhaps using the hypocritical and anti Semitic UN, Israel will be under further intolerable pressure and international isolation. This is what Friedman expects and actually desires. He actually believes that forcing Israel into giving up land to the fake Palestinians will lead to a more tolerant Iran and accepting world. This is ludicrous and hallucinatory illogical foolishness. The damage caused by this deal even if voted down by any serious and patriotic American will be hard, but not impossible, to repair. BUT the alternative will be disastrous for the US as well as Israel.

    I am absolutely certain that in 1938, Neville Chamberlain gave many plausible explanations for his seductive sounding deal of appeasement with Adolph Hitler. Winston Churchill immediately understood the fallacy of this deceptive rationale and screamed his warning for all to hear.
    Today it is vital that we understand why the myopic world failed so miserably to comprehend how Chamberlain’s reasoning was so fatally flawed. Only 55+ million deaths later, did everyone finally understand.
    I am hoping that the democrats in the US Congress will put aside narrow partisan considerations and put the good of United States (and Israel) first by voting down this monstrosity of a bad deal.
    This, and only this, will force the creation of a better deal which still has a real chance to avoid the use of military force against Iran.
    I hope you, P____, will help by forcefully making your family and friend and thus your Representatives in Congress aware of these issues and the importance of voting down this monstrous deal.

    Here is Caroline Glick’s Lecture on the actual merits of the Iranian deal.

    Hope to hear good news from you on this!


    • michael

      Brilliant response. Thank you for writing and posting the truth about the lies

  • Michael Fox

    They walk amongst us. Genetic Jews. They are the postmodern version of Nazi Germany’s kapos,Jews who betrayed their brothers and sisters for a little more food or a better pair of shoes. Thomas Friedman is a well fed genetic Jew but he is flabby of body and soul.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Tom Friedman is a self-hating Brandeis educated Jew.

    He’s the one who brought the peace plan from Quatar to Obama which would have destroyed Israel.

    Friedman is one of those Jews who follow Rabbi Lerner whose philosophy is to share everything you own with the people who hate you so that they will like you.

    It’s never worked for the Jews because all it does is make them know how easy it is to hate you and get everything they want.

    It’s called LOSE-LOSE instead of WIN-WIN.

  • Francis Figliola

    Why can’t I access the comments?

  • Jack Halpern

    Thank you Mr Korn for bringing out Friedman’s hypocrisy.

  • z

    They keep him around because he parrots the party line. The issue is not some idiot tool and a clown by this or that last name; the issue is with those who sponsor that clown and provide him with a platform, as that clown is used for their propaganda platform.

    The propaganda is deeper than Friedman, deeper than the NYT, deeper than the nazi CIA gov mafia. This propaganda originates with the Vatican, which is really the source of all the war propaganda, all the false narratives, all inquisitions, all war and mass murder.

  • Simon

    jews as Friedman should have been eliminated by “random” shooter, a long time ago…yet it’s never too late.

  • Mr. Thomas Friedman is the prototype of the pathological, selfhating Jew.

    If he is defaming and demonizing Israel, than the same must be done against him. I bet, he was a croock or worse. If it is not possible to make him shut up, then he should know:

    One day, nobody will remember you nor your name.

  • Poor Mr Friedman: if one is born & grows up as a liar, what other course of action is there?

  • David Katz

    ad homonym, ad infinitum.

  • In his book from Beirut to Jerusalem, Friedman relates how he drives over the road under which the thousands of SYrians killed by their dictator are buried but is horrified by the Palestinian slaughter of the refugees at Shatillah. Already a double standard in response to death. He has always be so impressed with himself – another self-hating Jew who never outgrew his radicalism as a student at Brandeis in the heady days of the 60’s. And he fits in perfectly with the philospophy and agenda of the NYTimes.

  • steven L

    Friedman demands self-immolation from Israel so the liberal ideology can prevail. That is why he and the liberals are all with the is at the NYT.

  • aleetlebirdietolme

    The only way James Baker the Turd would play tennis with a Jew is if the guy had a big business deal for him or if Baker thought he could actually beat the guy at tennis. They’re both a couple of idiot jackasses. No brains at all, neither one..

  • Jack Holan

    In every generation we’ve had self-haters who felt compelled to share that hate with the World so they can hide from their fears.

  • That its Citizens and Jews abroad instantaneously come to the defence of Israel, whensoever any slight is visited upon it is uniformly known. This phenemenon is far from uniformly respected.
    As well, Such conduct on the part of Jews whether in Israel or elsewhere, operates to diminish then Greatness of the Jewish People—referring here of course to Jewish Achievements in every field of endeavour, and I mean too many to recount in this Comment.
    It is in this context, that I feel the likes of Friedman and Others inclined to his posture(s) ought to be left alone to “do their thing” to borrow from the colloquial vernacular. I can perceive of no harm that such folks wish on Israel, or could succeed in accomplishing.
    Therefore, I urge Israel and the Jewish People to not call more attention to these folks in question, and thereby aggravate rather than ameliorate antisemetic and other such curses visited upon on the Jews.

    • Mickey Oberman

      Yours is familiar advice to Jews.

      Sit still, keep quiet and be killed.

      Thanks, Harry

  • Ephraim

    He might be, but the New York Times is an arch anti-Israel organization, and fraud by one of its editorialists, in the name of its worldview, would be welcome not condemned.

  • Trillium

    Korn is right on spot.

    My dream is to gather some money and have someone write a thorough, respectable, serious book (“The Journalism of Thomas Friedman”) about the real — and not so respectable — Tom Friedman, his stupid economics, the laughing stock of economists (they joke: “the world is not flat, Friedman is…”), about his self-referencing journalistic style (“when I was having dinner with King Faisal at his Riyadh palace last week….”, and his substance — not journalism, but Washington policy punditry, a self-appointed “negotiator” – criticizing one side this week, the other side next week, kissing up to the administration — whether republican or democrat, and collecting high speaking fees… Truly revolting!

    Friedman is neither naïve, nor misguided. He is a very clever, articulate and ambitious man who made a great career for himself crossing over from journalism to position himself as a Washington “player” and opinion maker. He is using – in fact, abusing — his Jewishness to get away with bashing Jews and Israelis with accusations no gentile would dare make. He is a Jew; he is safe.

  • Tessie

    Why bother writing or reading about this anti Israel judas
    He is a disgraceful Jew who writes with a poison pen
    Why have him think he is important or relevant?

  • Scott

    Mr. Korn……thank you!

  • Francis Figliola

    Mr. Friedman is a fraud and one reason I cancelled my NY Times subscription in favor of the WSJ. Tired of the pure advocacy in the guise of Journalism spewing from the ilk of Messrs Friedman, Krugman, and others writing for the Times.

  • Der Sturmer was his dream job. But he was born too late.

  • Judith Benattar

    Right on! Friedman is a charlatan par excellence. He is sadly way out of step with the facts and seeks to advance his own political and personal agenda. He represents the worst of journalism: promoting his own ideas and beliefs rather than reporting the truth and the facts as they exist in plain sight.

  • Rob Cohen

    Why isn’t this article sent to the New York Times for submission?

  • nelson marans

    Unfortunately he is one of a clique of commentators who parrot and cooperate with Obama. The two make a perfect pair with Obama having the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi as mentors and Thomas Friedman devoting his career to smearing Israel.
    Both have egos and are arrogant but unfortunately are a pair in power. Hopefully, a new administration will disown both of them.

  • Barry

    So really what’s new? Fraudman, just another democRAT jew-hating aliskyite. And “mainstream” jews continue to read his garbage and vote nobama.
    Insanity. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

  • dante

    I knew that friedman was a loathsome, repellent, contemptible toad but I had always believed his tale of disillusionment. (The disillusionment could only have been the product of an infantile, self-absorbed and self-infatuated hump, but friedman seemed to fit perfectly…it seemed plausible.)

    now, that ol’ tom has been outed as a hateful moron who has conspired with Israel’s enemies, he will be shunned by decent people who know his story.

  • yussi 7


  • MAH

    Thomas Friedman is living proof the American Dream is alive and well.
    Despite bring nearly always wrong in his Middle East analysis for decades, Friedman is still employed by the New York Times as an ‘expert’.
    Only in America.