Media Analysis

Thomas Friedman is still afraid to write about either the US/Israel effort to goad Iran into war, or Netanyahu’s proposed annexation in the West Bank

Friedman, the foreign affairs writer with the largest potential influence on earth, has taken his intellectual cowardice to a new level.
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Thomas Friedman, the foreign affairs writer with the largest potential influence on earth, has taken his intellectual cowardice to a new level. His New York Times column today continues to ignore two crises in the Mideast, even though they are unfolding in the region he specializes in.

  • Friedman still says nothing about the violent U.S./Israel sabotage campaign inside Iran, which is designed to goad Teheran into hitting back, a dangerous escalation that could nonetheless politically help both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump.
  • And Friedman has yet to publish a single word about the Netanyahu/Trump “peace plan,” which encourages Israel to illegally annex up to 30 percent of West Bank Palestine. Annexation has provoked argument across the world, raised the risk of more violence, and even started to split the Israel lobby in the U.S. — but Thomas Friedman, Mideast expert for nearly 40 years, is silent.

By contrast, Jackson Diehl, the Washington Post deputy editorial editor, has written about the U.S./Israel provocations inside Iran, and the Post’s editorial board, unlike Friedman’s similarly muted ed page colleagues at the Times, have not been afraid to raise doubts about Trump’s policy of confrontation with Teheran. 

Friedman’s column today is a pedestrian centrist look at Donald Trump’s attempt to win support by demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement in America. Your Uncle Al posted the same views on his Facebook page weeks ago.

What’s mildly intriguing is that Friedman titles his piece “Trump’s Wag-the-Dog War” — but he doesn’t mean that the desperate U.S. president could instigate conflict with Iran to try and rescue his shipwrecked reelection campaign. Instead, Friedman says in his first sentence that he’s worried Trump “seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home.” Friedman tosses in some background about Bashar al-Assad and Syria back in 2011, to remind you of his Mideast expertise, but he says nothing about dangers in the region today. 

Let’s turn to Jackson Diehl to see what Friedman might have written. Right in the headline, Diehl says “Netanyahu’s secret war against Iran is enabled by Trump. . . ,” and continues:

In the past few weeks, Israel has apparently been conducting what amounts to a slow-motion, semi-covert military campaign against Iran’s nuclear and middle programs, and perhaps other industrial and infrastructure targets as well.

Nothing like this has appeared on the New York Times editorial page in any way, shape, fashion or form. 

A day after Diehl’s column appeared, the Post’s entire Editorial Board wrote that Trump’s “‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran has manifestly failed to achieve either its stated or unstated aims. . .”

It’s worth remembering that Jackson Diehl is not a left-wing sympathizer (he supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and that the Post’s editorial page is considered to be more conservative than the Times. (The Bari Weiss contention that the Times editorial department has been invaded by “wokeness” is laughably inaccurate.)

Why is Thomas Friedman quiet about both the Israeli/U.S. effort to provoke conflict with Iran, and about the risk that Israel will illegally annex even more of Palestine? Let’s apply Ockham’s Razor, and look for the simplest explanation. Maybe he’s just been wrong so many times that he doesn’t want to risk embarrassing himself yet again? Whatever the reason, the New York Times should get rid of him, and hire a foreign affairs columnist who has enough intellectual courage to do their job. 

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Friedman doesn’t know which way to turn. He is acutely aware that a major shift has begun in American public opinion, i.e., away from “Israel” and increasingly toward the Palestinians. 

When Tom, back during the beginnings of Israel’s 20 year occupation of Lebanon, reported that the Israelis were indiscriminating shelling schools and hospitals, the NYT refused to print it. So, maybe it’s a case of him thinking what’s the point. And who wants to be called a self hating Jew anyway. Telling the truth about Israel will get him the same treatment as Mr. Beinart is receiving, and I’m afraid Tom just doesn’t have what… Read more » “Good News from Washington: AIPAC, Israel Losing to Progressive Democrats” Defend Democracy Press, July 22/20 EXCERPT: “The age of total dominance of Israel over the US Congress is likely over, and hopefully, this time, for good” by Ramzy Baroud “While the US administration of President Donald Trump remains adamant in its support for Israel, the traditional democratic leadership continues to employ underhanded language, the kind of ‘strategic ambiguity’ that offers full support to Israel and… Read more »

“While it is too early to proclaim that ‘those days are over,’ judging by the vastly changing political discourse on Palestine and Israel, the many opinion polls, and the electoral successes of anti-Israeli occupation candidates in national and local elections, one is compelled to say that AIPAC’s tight grip on US foreign policy is finally loosening.”

You really miss reading him? The guy’s a terrible “writer”!