Most of the time I enjoy my monthly lunches with my friend Phil. He is the type of guy who always has something funny to say. 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 a rash 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.
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 called “Playing the Hand We’ve Dealt”. It was the typical offering from the Pulitzer Prize winner, the usual political slant and eloquent prose. In his column Friedman was telling the President to negotiate with the terrorist group Hamas. He was begging the government to go back to days of Clinton, Carter and Bush Sr. In those times the US Presidents allowed the Palestinian terrorists to play them like a fool, negotiating with them when they had no interest in making peace. These negotiations gave terrorism legitimacy as a method of political expression and lead to scores of deaths in both the United States and Israel.
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 the SOBs that attack Israel for propaganda…that is good?
The deli got very quiet, except around poor Mr. Rosenberg’s table. He got so startled by Phil’s outburst that he jumped, knocking over a delivery guy causing him to spill a case of frozen kenaydlach 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.
Then Phil really lost it, “Protect Israel? This guy is the definition of the self hating Jew. Don’t you remember when he wrote a column implying that the Jewish people in America control the President’s foreign 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 went 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.” (Sharon had his stroke before he could confirm what Friedman said, and it wasn’t reported anywhere else).
I dropped my voice hoping that Phil would follow “Phil, Why would he perpetuate stereotypes about Jews controlling the world? Why do you think he would say those horrible things about the Jews and Israel? No Jew would really say that about his own people. He blames all the Mid-East violence on Israel and on the Bush administration. Don’t you get it? Tom Friedman is just trying to show how wrong those anti-Semitic/anti-Israel sentiments are. That is why his writing is so over-the-top. Friedman is trying to look ridiculous to show the world that the old Jewish stereotypes can’t be true. He is showing that the Jews can’t control one of their own, so 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 other 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.” 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.
He even once wrote that Israel is standing in the way of the Arab/Muslim world modernizing? Could any sane man really believe that? He’s totally ignoring that 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 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 comes 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 about Hamas is a particular favorite of mine. It really shows to what extent he will make himself look like a self-hating ass 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 the country is weak little victim”
“Israel should use its overwhelming strength to take some initiative; say 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 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.