from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Mr. Friedman’s Diatribe Against Israel

December 14, 2011

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Occasionally critics of the government of Israel and of its American supporters put aside polite talk and bare their souls, and that can be an edifying if deeply unattractive moment. Such a moment arose today in the New York Times, where its columnist Thomas Friedman exposed the depth of his hostility:

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.

Now, it is a fact that Americans remain extremely supportive of the State of Israel, as poll after poll has shown year after year and decade after decade. That support is near an all time high. Here is what the Gallup Poll found this year:

In recent years, with no major breakthroughs in the Mideast peace process and no resolution to the Hamas vs. Fatah political rift in the Palestinian Territories, Americans’ sympathies toward the conflict’s players have leaned heavily toward the Israelis. In fact, with more than 60% of Americans sympathizing with Israel since 2010, public support for the Jewish state has been stronger than at any time other than in 1991, when Israel was hit by Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf War.

Of course, that support is suspect to Mr. Friedman, for Gallup also found that it is higher among Republicans than among Democrats and higher among conservatives than among liberals. But what in the world except prejudice can lead Mr. Friedman to make the ugly charge that support for Israel in Congress, need support for Mr. Netanyahu in Congress, is "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby?"

I would hope that in the cold light of morning Mr. Friedman would re-read what he wrote and withdraw the remark. Members of Congress in a country that is two percent Jewish stand to applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu because they, like their constituents, support Israel and want America to support Israel. Many of those standing and cheering were from districts where there are no Jews or a handful of Jews, and where Evangelical churches form the strongest base of support for the Jewish state. Now perhaps Mr. Friedman means those churches when he refers so nastily to the "Jewish Lobby," but I doubt it. I think we all know what he means, and that is why he should withdraw the ugly remark fast. He owes an apology to hundreds of members of Congress who spoke for their constituents when they applauded Mr. Netanyahu, and to the millions of Americans Jews and Christians whom they faithfully represent.

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