Terrorism Advocate
on NY Times Op-Ed Page

Friedman supports civilian
suffering as “education,”

January 14, 2009

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

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
[email protected]
(212) 556-7652

Editorial Page Editor
Andrew Rosenthal
[email protected]

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effective. You can post copies of your letters to the New York Times on
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