Tom Friedman has a troubling column today in the New York Times. "I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics," Friedman writes. "That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."
This remark prompted a sharp comment from New Jersey congressman Steve Rothman, a Democrat. "Thomas Friedman’s defamation against the vast majority of Americans who support the Jewish State of Israel, in his New York Times opinion piece today, is scurrilous, destructive and harmful to Israel and her advocates in the US. Mr. Friedman is not only wrong, but he’s aiding and abetting a dangerous narrative about the US-Israel relationship and its American supporters," Rothman says in a statement released by his office.
Rothman continues: "I gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a standing ovation, not because of any nefarious lobby, but because it is in America’s vital national security interests to support the Jewish State of Israel and it is right for Congress to give a warm welcome to the leader of such a dear and essential ally. Mr. Friedman owes us all an apology."
Elliott Abrams comments on Friedman's remarks:
I would hope that in the cold light of morning Mr. Friedman would re-read what he wrote and withdraw the remark. Members of Congress in a country that is two percent Jewish stand to applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu because they, like their constituents, support Israel and want America to support Israel. Many of those standing and cheering were from districts where there are no Jews or a handful of Jews, and where Evangelical churches form the strongest base of support for the Jewish state. Now perhaps Mr. Friedman means those churches when he refers so nastily to the “Jewish Lobby,” but I doubt it. I think we all know what he means, and that is why he should withdraw the ugly remark fast. He owes an apology to hundreds of members of Congress who spoke for their constituents when they applauded Mr. Netanyahu, and to the millions of Americans Jews and Christians whom they faithfully represent.