Nicholas Kristof’s sanctimonious “advice” to Israel in today’s New York Times sounded eerily familiar. Not the sentiment–“helping” Israel by bashing it repeatedly is a time-honored tradition among Israel’s “friends” in the media–but the actual language used. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” Kristof says, imploring Israel to stop building homes for Jews in Jerusalem.
That sort of clichéd silliness had a distinctly Friedmanesque ring to it. And so it was. Here was Thomas Friedman last year reacting to the news Israel planned to build more homes for Jews in Jerusalem: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” There are many reasons for someone to avoid writing like Tom Friedman. Chief among them is: What did the English language ever do to you? But if Times columnists are going to echo Friedman, I have a request. How about this paragraph?:
The issue today is not whether Jerusalem will remain the unified capital of Israel, but whether it will be the habitable capital of Israel. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem lately knows Israel’s hold over the city is unchallenged, and I’m glad it is. Jerusalem was never a more open city to all religions than under Israeli rule after 1967.
That’s Friedman way back in 1997. Things were very different then. Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister, the Israelis were being pressured to make concessions to an untrustworthy Palestinian leadership, and a Democratic president was attempting to influence Israeli politics so as to replace Netanyahu with an Israeli politician he liked better. OK, maybe things weren’t so different after all.
But Friedman was different. Notice the crisp logic, the unabashed admission that Israel’s control over a unified Jerusalem made both moral and legal sense. There would be noticeably more diversity on the Times op-ed pages if the paper replaced Kristof with 1997’s Friedman.
The rest of today’s column is as predictable as gravity. Kristof whitewashes Palestinian violence, blames Israel for Turkey’s turn away from the West, and scolds Israel for building new homes in areas he full well knows will be part of Israel in any peace deal. In fact, on that last point, the latest round of building that upsets Kristof is taking place not in eastern Jerusalem, but in southwest Jerusalem–west, in fact, of the Knesset.
But no matter. Today’s version of Tom Friedman says Israel is drunk, and so must Kristof. For without this echo chamber, without the comfort of the epistemic closure of which Paul Krugman brags and Friedman and Kristof openly practice, how could the scions of leftist moral relativism ever sleep at night?