In Defense of Tom Friedman: Krugman’s Worse

The Deep Thinker


John Hinderaker of Powerline examines the not quite worst New York Times columnist:

Tom Friedman isn’t the worst of the New York Times columnists–not while Paul Krugman is around–but he is the most overrated. If Friedman has ever had an original thought, he has chosen not to share it with his readers. Unfortunately, the thinkers he recycles keep going downhill. Now he has come to the bottom of the barrel, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

In his current column, Friedman blasts Newt Gingrich for his “invented people” riff and Mitt Romney for saying he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a long-time Republican Party Platform plank. These criticisms are par for the course for Friedman, a loyal Democrat. But he goes on to bash, simultaneously, all of Congress, the “Israel lobby,” and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government:

“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.”

I can’t explain the weird obsession that so many on the Left have with the “Israel lobby.” In some cases, it is transparently driven by anti-Semitism… But that diagnosis doesn’t seem to apply to Friedman. Maybe in his case, like so much that one reads in his columns, it is just a reflexive repeating of something he heard someone else say. But one hardly needs a nefarious “Israel lobby” persuading Congressmen–let alone bribing them, as Friedman claimed–to support Israel.

Israel enjoys broad support among the American people, and it is natural to see that support reflected in Congress. This graph from Gallup shows how Americans have answered the question, “In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” from 1988 to 2011:

I love the reference to an audience at the University of Wisconsin. Of course Netanyahu’s speech before such an audience would be boycotted and/or booed because the University of Wisconsin, like most universities, is a bastion of leftist orthodoxy which requires its adherents to hate Israel.

Friedman, like most Democratic intellectuals, does not seem to understand that most Americans who do not live on university campuses (bless their unsophisticated hearts) see Israel as a tiny “sliver of Jews” (in Mark Steyn’s words) surrounded by zillions of Arabs and Muslims, many of whom are impossibly rich, but nonetheless cannot tolerate and would like to murder a handful of Jews (or anyone else who isn’t Muslim) in the neighborhood.

Most Americans also understand that when you lose multiple wars, you don’t get to dictate terms to the folks who defeated you.

Friedman and the other international intellectual apologists for the Arabs cannot see things the way the commonsense community does. And they never will. It must be the fault of a secret cabal known as the “Israel lobby.”

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