The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Rendall,,Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

Terrorism on the New York Times Op-Ed Page

Friedman supports civilian suffering as "education"


New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman endorsed terrorism in a January 14 column defending Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.

To answer his own question about Israel's plan--"What is the
goal?"--Friedman referred back to the 2006 attacks on Lebanon, which
killed about 1,000 Lebanese civilians. To Friedman, this was the
"education" of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah:

Israel's counterstrategy was to use its air
force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the
Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict
substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at
large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said
that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among
civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough
pain on the civilians--the families and employers of the militants--to
restrain Hezbollah in the future.

The "logical" plan, as Friedman explained it, is to punish civilians in
the hopes that this will force the political change you prefer. This is
precisely the "logic" of terrorists.

According to Friedman, this "education" worked on Hezbollah, and he
hopes it will work in the current conflict: "In Gaza, I still can't
tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to 'educate'
Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy
pain on the Gaza population." Friedman's preference is for the
terrorism "education."

This pro-terrorism argument has been made before by Friedman, who advocated the same sort of terror against Serbs, writing (4/6/99)
that "people tend to change their minds and adjust their goals as they
see the price they are paying mount. Twelve days of surgical bombing
was never going to turn Serbia around. Let's see what 12 weeks of less
than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance."

The New York Times has developed
certain rules and guidelines for its opinion columnists over the
years--they are not permitted to endorse political candidates, and they
are generally expected to refrain from criticizing one another by name
in print. Other policies have been made clear in the past--as when
liberal columnist Paul Krugman was instructed not to refer to George W.
Bush as "lying" during the 2000 campaign (Washington Post, 1/22/03).

Does the Times have a similar
standard for columnists who endorse inflicting suffering on civilians?
Or does the acceptability of advocating terrorism depend on who is
being terrorized?

ACTION: Ask the Times if Thomas Friedman's column advocating terrorism against civilians in Gaza meets the paper's standards for its opinion columns.

New York Times

Public Editor
Clark Hoyt
(212) 556-7652

Editorial Page Editor
Andrew Rosenthal

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