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Judah Macabee - Chanukah heroTom Friedman: Protector of his People ?

By Jeff Dunetz

Most of the time I enjoy my monthly lunches with my friend Phil.  He always makes me laugh.  Phil  is the type of person  who never has a mean word to say about anybody. Today’s meal was  very different.  When he walked in today he was practically frothing at the mouth, going on and on, ranting about Tom Friedman, the NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. 

“Phil calm down” I urged, “this isn’t like you. You will get reflux or something. Why are you so angry?” He had a newspaper in his hand  and slammed it down on the table. “Here, read this” he demanded. 

So I picked it up and saw that it was a copy of the NY Times from a few days ago. It was open to the latest offering from Mr. Friedman.  It was the  typical offering from the Pulitzer Prize winner, the usual political slant and eloquent prose. In his column Friedman was basically implying that the Jewish people in America control the President's policy, saying  “ Sharon has had Mr. Arafat under house arrest in Ramallah and He has had Mr.Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office.” He goes on to say “Vice President, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates....” Then he announced that Sharon ’s plan to take the settlements out of Gaza were part of a bigger plan to annex 50% of the West Bank . (this must have been an exclusive because I didn’t read about that anywhere else). 

I looked over the top of the paper and saw Phil glaring and me. “Well?” He said, waiting for my review.

“I gotta admit this guy is good.” I said. Phil's face got dark purple, he looked like a shofar blower at the end of a very long note . “Good?” he yelled. “GOOD? HE HAS DONE SO MUCH HARM TO ISRAEL ! NOT ONLY HAS HE GIVEN PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE TERRORISTS, BUT HIS WORDS ARE USED BY PEOPLE TO ATTACK ISRAEL…THAT IS GOOD? . The deli got very quiet, except around poor Mr. Rosenberg’s table. He got so startled he jumped, knocking over a delivery guy causing him to spill a case of frozen kenaydloch all over the place.  

“Calm down Phil, you’ll get us thrown out of here” I whispered, hoping that he would copy my tone. “Don’t you get it?  Tom Friedman is misunderstood. He's just  trying to protect Israel and the Jews.” Phil looked at me like I had just grown a third eye, but I kept on going. “Why would he perpetuate stereotypes about Jews controlling the world? Why do you think he would say those horrible things about Israel ? No Jew would really say that about his own people. He blames all the violence on Sharon government, even though this violence started under the watch of a more liberal Prime Minister.  Tom Friedman is just trying to show how wrong those Anti-Israel sentiments are.  This over the top  article must be  trying to show the world that the old Jewish stereotype can’t be true. Let’s face it if the Jews can't control one of their own, how can people think we control the world?” 

Phil seemed to calm down a little. “Really?” he asked.  

“Of course,” I answered, "look at some of the things he's said. Like the time he said that the only reason President Bush supported Israel was that he didn’t want to alienate the Jewish vote. “Mr. Bush blinked because he didn’t want to alienate the Jewish Voter.” (NY Times June 30th 2002 )  Does that really sound like someone who’s last name is FRIEDMAN? No that sounded like it came from the Prime Minister of Malaysia.   It’s like he is ignoring Palestinian terrorism totally.  He can’t really believe that, he must be acting like an  Anti-Semite to make a point. “ 

“Look at his statement this past January 18th that Israel is standing in the way of the Arab/Muslim world modernizing? Could any sane man really believe that? Totally ignoring the repressive regimes such as Iran and Syria refuse to modernize because it will lead do democratization…and the end of their power. Come on!  He even uses terms like 'vicious cycle of violence,' putting the blowing up of a bus and the killing of terrorist on the same moral plane. I bet that Tom Friedman hates saying that.  Surely  every time he describes a West Bank settler a "fanatical Jew" a tear come to his eye! But he is taking one for the team, fighting Anti-Semitism by taking it to the extreme. What a nice guy that Tommy is!” 

One of his columns from last November is a particular favorite of mine.  It really shows to what extent he will make himself look like he hates Israel, just to protect the Jewish people, “last three years of Palestinian uprising, suicide bombs and Israeli settlement expansion have blown away any remnants of understanding between Israelis and Palestinians”  “ The current government in Israel behaves as if country is weak little victim” “Israel should use its overwhelming strength to take some initiative; says it should work with new Palestinian prime minister, make tough demands but not expect perfection overnight, not allow itself to be goaded by Hamas into freezing everything, take its own initiative to dismantle settlements and tap Palestinians' interest in improving their lives”  “The Bush administration has done nothing to stop Israel's ideologically driven leaders from squandering country's great strength rather than channeling it into creative options”

 “Isn’t he wonderful? Blaming the victim!  Wow what style.  He calls Israel ’s leaders ideologically driven (although I have never seen one of them call for someone to blow themselves up) and then the cool part: he says that Israel should take the initiative to dismantle settlements.  Look for creative options and then when she does, like last week’s Gaza announcement, he rips it to shreds saying it’s a plot to take over the West Bank . So you can’t say anything bad about Tom Friedman.  He is a hero, getting called a traitor because he's spewing Anti-Israel and Anti-Jewish hatred. And he is doing it just to prove how mean spirited that position may seem” 

Phil was dazed. “You really think that he is doing it all on purpose, just to combat anti-Semitism?" 

“Isn’t it obvious !  As a matter of fact, I hear rumors that for his next project he is working with Pat Buchanan co-writing a screenplay for Mel Gibson. It is called: The Jews Killed Kennedy, Mr. Rodgers and Captain Kangaroo.

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Author Biography:
Jeff Dunetz is a 20-year marketing veteran, and a freelance writer. He is married and the father of two kids who ask lots of questions about being Jewish that he can't answer. Jeff has been active in Jewish organizations since his USY days. Presently he is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Dix Hills Jewish Center.