Accuracy in Media

(Exclusive to Accuracy in Media)

On Easter/Passover Eve, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman served up “A Middle East Twofer,” his newest seasonal Mid-East peace plan combining Friedman’s own special home recipe of hypocrisy, lovingly layered with finger-licking idiocy:

“Palestinians need to accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95 percent of the West Bank and all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and would swap the other 5 percent for land inside pre-1967 Israel.”

Friedman knows very well that rocks are not a peaceful means to a peaceful end. He was attacked by Palestinian Arab rock throwers who stoned his car on Jerusalem’s Salahadin Street in 1988, just before leaving his job as the Jerusalem-based bureau chief of the Times. Friedman did not think of rocks then as peaceful protest.

“If I had a gun I would have blasted the faces of all those sons of bitches,” Friedman reportedly yelled, returning from the Arab side of town to the Times office, then at Rivlin Street in the mostly Jewish downtown center. Apparently, he never mentioned the incident—or his strong reaction to it—in his many books or columns.

After Friedman’s rocky ride, Yoram Ettinger, then-head of Israel’s government press office, told Friedman his experience ought to make him a bit more sympathetic to Israelis who Friedman called “trigger-happy” and who often get stoned (and killed) by Arab rocks, but generally do not kill all the Arabs in the area at the time.

It is perfectly understandable why Friedman was upset at the time. Getting stoned is no laughing matter, and women are sometimes still stoned to death for alleged indiscretions in certain Muslim countries. In the Mid-East, rocks are not a tool for peace, but are usually seen as a form of punishment, even capital punishment.

So Friedman was right to be upset. He was hypocritical not to report it then and is hypocritical to treat Arab rocks as a natural part of “bargaining,” where Arab attacks in 1967 are repaid by the Arabs getting all the land back they used to attack Israel.

Friedman’s piece on rocks and peace also lauded Palestinian mass murderer Marwan Barghouti, head of the Tanzim organization within Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. Barghouti is serving five life sentences for several murders, but Friedman and some left-wing Israelis, want to forget this too.

Forgetting and forgiving the rocks and mass murder was hypocrisy then and now. Friedman likely felt it was not wise to recall his stoning and antagonize Arab readers. He and other Times reporters often “forgot” or ignored Arab violence or threats against reporters when covering Arafat’s PLO in Beirut in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Friedman and his colleague John Kifner wrote about how the PLO “protected” journalists, rather than the real picture of how it and its Syrian ally harassed and threatened them. Reporters from other newspapers and TV outlets did likewise.

It is good the Times published former NY Mayor Ed Koch’s letter criticizing Friedman for treating Arab rock throwing as nonviolence, but this does not begin to scratch the warped way Friedman and The New York Times have dealt with Arab-Islamic extremism and terrorism.

When the U.S. was attacked on 9-11, most of the terrorists were Saudis, but Friedman helped Saudi leaders sell themselves as moderates offering peace to the entire Middle East. He regaled readers with tales of a trip to the Saudi king’s horse farm to hear about a “peace plan” whose details later proved less than peaceful.

Meanwhile, the Saudis got a badly needed image re-make, blurring the fact that not just most 9-11 terrorists were Saudis but that Saudi royal money and Saudi exports of Wahhabi Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood enabled the 9-11 terror.

When Friedman rarely and gingerly alludes to Saudi faults or to Arab terrorists, he only does so by first equating them with Israelis, usually Israeli settlers, comparing “the Muslim Wahhabi extremists who are choking Saudi Arabia’s future and the Jewish Wahhabi settlers who are doing the same to Israel.”

Comparing all “settlers”—mostly law-abiding people in the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—to Wahhabi fanatics or terrorists is a mockery of analysis. It is like calling rocks a path to peace or treating a mass murderer as a peacemaker.

Such rhetoric by Friedman and his ilk blocks our ability to see the real role of real terror and real extremism in today’s Middle East. It is the mark of someone who does not know much about the Mid-East or, worse, someone who really does not want his readers or listeners to know much about the Middle East.

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


  • Jaime L. Manzano

    “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

  • alan schultz

    Wasn’t it the Spanish philosopher George Santayana who said something about He that learns not from history will relive it?

  • Brujo Blanco

    Throwing rocks is deadly force and needs to be acted upon as such. This type of activity is encouraged be the enemies of Israel to provoke Israeli cops and security personnell tonkillnormwound young people.

  • John Maher

    Friedman for Nobel,Peace Prize, using standards applicable to Obama (none) and standards used for Economics prize (confused) for another NYT columniast – the bug-eyed one whiose name escapes me but pops up occasionally on ABC head shows..

  • GerryC

    Back when I was in college we had several books by TF on the “required reading list”. For anyone who think TF is anything but an idiot, I suggest reading his ludicrously inane and ahistorical “The Lexus and the Olive Branch”. His premise of this book is that economically strong nations don’t go to war against each other therefore we should promote economic growth and development, Mutually Assured Economic Destruction of the Neo-Cons. After all just look at history. This was a college course by a liberal professor with a limited knowledge of history. So of course I could help shoot a million holes in this “theory”. Looking back at history, by TF’s “theory” : Rome never fought the Punic Wars with Carthage, the Spartans and the Athenians didn’t fight the Pellopanesean War, the Philistenes never fought the Egyptians, WWI and WWII never happened, the Hundred Years War was wasn’t fought, Spain, France and England spent the entire 16th-18th Centuries in perpetual peace, the Crimean War never occured, the Italian City-States of Milan, Venice, Genoa worked in full economic cooperation, Napolean didn’t take the Economic Superpower of his day, France, and ravage all of Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries. In fact throughout history economically poor militarily weak countries never go to war against rich powerful ones. Every nation throughout history knows that peace can only be bought by keeping yourself strong and powerful and everyone else weak and impotent.

  • Phil

    Saying that X should accompany Y is the same as saying that Y should accompany X.
    Commutative property of addition, or something like that.
    Thus, Friedman’s sentence could have read like this:

    “Palestinians need to accompany every map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95 percent of the West Bank and all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem with a boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel.”

    Friedman really ought to stop and think for a minute before he puts pen to paper.

  • ruth

    may his tongue wither up in his mouth and may he choke on his vicious words. today would be excellant.

    how much does he get paid to sell out jews – all these liberals dont do it for free.

    oh yes you dont like rocks thrown at you now do you hmmm would you prefer the muslims show their love and appreciation for you in their style like say daniel pearl –