World Jewish Digest
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has long been suspected of harboring self-hating tendencies. Those suspicions now appear to have been confirmed by a recent column in which Friedman explicitly embraces an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
In a column published on Saturday, Friedman went on a lengthy rant that more or less blamed all the problems of the Middle East on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while erasing any mention of Palestinian terrorism or their refusal of peace offers. This is par for the course for Friedman, and can be written off as the mere raving of a Likud-hating sympathizer with the Israeli far left.
His remarks on Jews in the United States, however, were much uglier. Friedman claimed that Netanyahu's policies have
Left the U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.
The idea that a powerful Israel lobby can "force" the president of the United States to act against American interests is a classic antisemitic conspiracy theory. While it is self-evidently absurd that any "lobby" has the power to "force" the most powerul man in the world to do anything, this particular theory has many adherents in the media and politics.
It has its basis in centuries old myths of omnipotent Jewish power, and takes its content from the recent antisemitic writings of John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, with their theories of an avaricious "Israel lobby" that was responsible for, among other things, the Iraq War.
This latter theory was profusely praised by Osama Bin Laden. Now, the late Bin Laden's enthusiasm appears to be shared by Thomas Friedman.
Friedman has long been considered a problematic figure by pro-Israel Jews. While he is perhaps the New York Times's most famous columnist and a bestselling writer, his comments on Israel have been criticized as consistently unfair, hostile, and biased toward the Palestinians and the Arabs in general.
Indeed, Friedman first came to fame for his attacks on Israel, with his reporting during the first Lebanon War helping to cement the Palestinians' version of the war as the official version put out by the Western media. Over the years, he has been a consistent advocate of Israeli concessions to the Palestinians and was a fervent supporter of the Oslo Accords. When the Palestinians broke the Accords and launched a terrorist war against Israel, Friedman continued to criticize any anti-terror actions taken by Israel and to push for concessions.
As a result of this, many have come to consider Friedman a self-hating Jew. Nonetheless, Friedman has always confined himself to attacking, however unfairly, Israeli policy, and has not openly endorsed antisemitic theories or rhetoric.