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Thomas Friedman, Iran and the ‘Israel Lobby’

Why else would lawmakers oppose easing sanctions on Iran? Maybe they think it's a really bad idea

The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman appears to have a problem with our traditional American democracy.

A preferable option, he seems to think, would be a dictatorship, with elected congressmen and senators docilely following a supreme leader’s direction, without debate, discussion or opposition.

Friedman acknowledges that opposition to President Obama’s emerging policy on Iran is bipartisan, coming from many Democrats and Republicans, but suggests their opposition cannot have been brought about by thoughtful consideration, understanding of history or discussion with experts, but by their own venal and unprincipled motives.

In yet another of his self-referential columns, entitled “Let’s Make A Deal,” Friedman writes:

Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers —Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.

In this way, the pompous pundit not only belittles the intellect and morals of America’s elected representatives but those of a large segment of U.S. citizens who oppose easing sanctions on Iran, because they, like the French, Saudis, and Israelis, believe that Iran cannot be trusted and that overturning the military balance in the Middle East would ultimately be detrimental to the U.S.

The opposition to President Obama’s Iran proposal clearly infuriates Friedman, who apparently believes a sitting president should not be subject to any criticism of his policies. According to the columnist, the U.S. should unilaterally act on the president’s proposal regardless of its allies’ concerns. Those allies can be disparaged as “craaaaaazzzy,” as he puts it. The growing internal opposition among Americans, on the other hand, he dismisses as bogus, bought and paid for by Jewish votes and money delivered by the “Israel lobby.”

Of course, there are valid arguments on both sides of the sanctions question that can be debated. But Friedman, with obsessive tunnel vision, prefers to focus his target on Israel and her Jewish supporters (even throwing in a gratuitous, unrelated jibe about Israeli settlements), while treating French and Saudi objections as inconsequential. “If Israel kills this U.S.-led deal, then the only option is military,” warns Friedman.

This is not the first time Friedman has conjured up the ugly, anti-Semitic specter of a nefarious “lobby” that uses Jewish money and votes to corrupt American lawmakers in order to mold U.S. policy to Israel’s benefit and  American harm. Two years ago, the columnist aroused the ire of elected U.S. representatives with similar offensive charges that denigrated those expressing support for the Jewish state as having been “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

In this article, Friedman goes even further, suggesting that any elected representative whose views differ from those of the U.S. president, must have been corrupted by the Zionists. With the belief that no opposition should be brooked, Friedman makes obvious his disdain for American democracy and its citizens’ representatives.

About the Author
Ricki Hollander is a senior analyst at CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
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