For years, many people in the pro Israel community have felt that The New York Times is biased against the State of Israel. Whether that is true with regard to the paper’s news coverage will be an ongoing debate.
But the bias of the Times’ editorial page and Op Ed columnists against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government is unquestionable. Since his election in 2009, Times editorials have consistently criticized Netanyahu’s policies and blamed him first and foremost for the absence of a “peace process.” The same has been true for the Times’ regular columnists.
This week, however, the Gray Lady reached a new low in Tom Friedman’s Wednesday column. His most egregious statement, and one that has come under much public criticism is that the standing ovations afforded PM Netanyahu in Congress last Spring were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” The Times has been kind enough to publish a sober letter differing on that.
(The letter I submitted to the Times is below.)
Less lamented was that Friedman listed the latest “bill of particulars” against Israel. Yet, in the course of doing so he – shockingly – omitted any mention of the fact that PM Netanyahu opposes the Knesset bill to block funding for Israeli NGOs and has spoken out against gender segregated public bus lines, actually placing him in agreement with Tom Friedman’s views on these issues.
Thus, it is not surprising that in rejecting the Times’ request to the Prime Minister for his own Op Ed for publication, senior aide Ron Dermer cited Sen. Pat Moynihan’s famous statement that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
To the Editor:
Tom Friedman prays “God save me from…American friends” of Israel “who want to love them to death.” (Op Ed; Dec. 14)
Perhaps another prayer we might add to the liturgy is “God save us from pundits who traffic in stereotypes and slander.” Mr. Friedman did just that when he derided the standing ovations received by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as being “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
Mr. Friedman has his views, and prescriptions, of the array of issues confronting Israel, and he is entitled to them. He is just as entitled to object to Mr. Netanyahu’s policies and be “confused” by an array of Israeli domestic debates.
But it crosses the line for Mr. Friedman to leap from defensible dissent to despicable diatribe that paints a picture of American supporters of Israel corruptly bribing congressman to act at odds with American interests.
Mr. Friedman suggests many Israelis are asking themselves “who are we?” Today, many in Israel and the United States are asking “Who is he?”
Nathan J. Diament
Exec. Director for Public Policy
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America