from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Friedman: There He Goes Again

November 21, 2013

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Here’s an interesting quote:

Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.

Pat Buchanan? Some other voice of the anti-Semitic fringe? Who after all can be "certain" that there is a "growing tendency" on the part of  "many American lawmakers" to put aside American interests and loyalties and simply do what their Jewish, Zionist paymasters require and demand?  Well, Thomas Friedman of the  New York Times is "certain," and here uses language that is the usual fodder of anti-Semitic journals and writers. Indeed you can be sure-- or "certain," to use his terminology--that anti-Semites will be quoting his lines for years on end. (By the way, what evidence does he offer for this astonishing charge? None.)

This is awful stuff. It does not seem to occur to Friedman that those lawmakers simply agree with the Saudis (and many other Arabs) and Israelis that the Obama policy they oppose is dangerous for the United States. They are not "taking Israel’s side against their own president’s" but taking America’s side against a policy they see as foolish and dangerous. Does Friedman think John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the key critics of Obama’s Iran policy, are beholden to "the Israel lobby" for their re-election campaigns, for donations, for future promotion? This is nonsense on stilts. To take a single example, when AIPAC worked with the Obama administration to support the President’s plan to strike Syria because his "red line" against using chemical weapons had been broken, it failed to sway members. The votes were not there. Can Friedman explain why? Why did those members of Congress fail "to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations?" The answer is because they disagreed, as did their constituents, with the President’s policy--despite the pleas of the "Israel lobby" that Friedman thinks all-powerful.

Friedman parades out these accusations against Congress whenever there is a strong and visible demonstration of agreement with an Israeli prime minister he does not like. It is absolutely fair for Friedman to argue that the views of these members of Congress are foolish, ignorant, dangerous, and so on, but calling these men and women disloyal, willing to put aside U.S. interests to get "Jewish...campaign donations," is quite something else. It ought to be beyond the pale. It is a gift to anti-Semites everywhere, it will increase anti-Semitism, and it is a vile and baseless insult to the scores of Representatives and Senators who are trying to protect American security as best they know how--but have apparently committed the crime of disagreeing with the great Tom Friedman. I guess one alternative theory, that they are right about the policy issues and he just might possibly be wrong, has not entered his mind.

I suspect that if a guy named Joe Doaks sent in a proposed op-ed article to the Times that claimed (offering zero proof) that members of Congress are in the pay of the Jews and that’s why they vote as they do, more and more, taking Israel’s side against our president’s, the editors would reject it out of hand. And they’d be right.

 

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