Thomas Friedman is Stoned

Posted on December 13th, 2010

I thought that New York Times senior columnist Thomas Friedman was out of line when he referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a drunk driver earlier this year. Well now, according to Friedman, Netanyahu is no longer a drunk. Now he is a crack addict.

His call to arms is that the U.S. “stop being their crack dealers.”

Of course people who write like to use colorful language to draw attention to their work. However, referring to the leader of the U.S. only democratic ally in the Middle East as a “crack addict” is not only a bit over the top — it also makes no sense according to Friedman’s own reasoning.

Friedman claims that Israel is so addicted to U.S. aid and affection that it is failing to follow policies that will bring about peace. But in the same article he writes that Netanyahu actually turned down an offer of aid and affection to avoid freezing settlements. Wait. If we are really addicts wouldn’t we have simply agreed to anything in exchange for another hit of more aid?

Doesn’t the fact that Bibi — according to Friedman — said “No” to the White House prove that we are not so dependent on presents from the U.S. that we will agree to anything? Come on Tom, addicts need to feed their addiction all the time, regardless of the long -term consequences. What were you smoking when you came up with your attention-grabbing, completely flawed analogy?

But let’s look even closer at your main accusation, Tom: Israel spurned a sweet deal from the U.S. in order to continue building settlements. As the Times documented for the last few weeks, Netanyahu accepted the U.S. offer and even had the votes in his “right-wing cabinet” lined up to approve the freeze. Where were you when your colleague Mark Landler wrote:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to push his cabinet to freeze most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days to break an impasse in peace negotiations with the Palestinians

All Netanyahu asked for was that the offer be put in writing so he could have something to show his detractors.

Why are you the only one who knows exactly what was in the offer if it was never documented?

Friedman seems to think that recipients of government funding should agree to anything in exchange for money. He says:

I guarantee you, if someone came to these cities and said, “We have $3 billion we’d like to give to your schools and fire departments if you’ll just do what is manifestly in your own interest,” their only answer would be: “Where do we sign?”

If the President of the United States said to the NYC Fire Department, “we will give you more funding as long as you let armed gang members hang out in the firehouses and drive the trucks around on weekends,” I think the answer would be a polite, “No, thanks.” Don’t laugh; the last time we gave up settlements to the Palestinians that’s exactly what happened. An armed gang called Hamas moved in and used the remains of abandoned Jewish houses to fire rockets at us.

The demand for a ‘Give us money, where do we sign?’ policy is a demand that we act like the mindless crack addicts he accuses us of being. Sorry to disappoint you, Tom, we Israelis will not endanger our security for some vague promises of additional aid and affection.

We are not crack addicts and with millions of readers, you should not write when you are not thinking straight Tom.

Send some love to Tom Friedman. Find his e-mail address by clicking here.


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  1. Paul Goldstein says:

    This guy is scary, but you’ve got to admire a columnist who won’t let the facts get in the way of a story. No?

  2. rutimizrachi says:

    Hey, Tom: Just say no to drugs in your hyperbole. Your lack of respect toward a country’s leader would not be tolerated by the people who read you and applaud you — as long as the leader is on the right side of their political fence, of course. Israel rarely is.

    Nice job, Yarden. Thanks for clearly pointing out the inconsistencies.