From Where I Sit
From Where I Sit

The Views and Personal Opinions of Joel Block


I wrote this after reading Tom Friedman's column in yesterday's NY Times. It made my blood boil.


From Where I Sit

The Views and Personal Opinions of Joel Block

In his New York Times Column of Sunday, May 16, 2004 (Tyranny of the Minorities) Thomas Friedman tries to make a point that may or may not be valid (“The center must make itself heard in Israel & Iraq”), depending on your point of view. However, in my opinion he chooses to present his argument in a way that totally invalidates anything he has to say. Mr. Friedman starts his piece with a question: “What do the Shiite extremist leader Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army have in common with the extremist Jewish settlers in Israel?” He, of course, is ready with the answer: “More than you’d think. Both movements combine religious messianism, and a willingness to sacrifice their followers and others for absolutist visions, along with a certain disdain for man-made laws, as opposed to those from God.”

I’m sorry, but Mr. Friedman uses a sick moral equivalence to make his point. Jihadis and Jewish settlers on the same level? Not just any settlers either, but extremist Jewish settlers! Did it ever occur to Thomas Friedman that not all settlers are extremists? Even if they are, the worst of them do not and cannot even begin to compare with the Jihadi followers of Moktada al-Sadr and his ilk? How would he feel if I were to compare his column with columns that used to appear in the Volkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the Nazi Party? After all, his comparison demonizes Jews no less than any given article or column in that newspaper.

Later in the column, Mr. Friedman quotes Ari Shavit, an essayist for the well-known left-wing Israeli newspaper HaAretz, who was referring to the blowing up of an APC in Gaza last Tuesday, in which 6 soldiers of the Givati Brigade tragically lost their lives: “The current war has been redefined since the events of May 2. On that day, the current war ceased to be a war on terror. It ceased to be a war for Israel’s existence. May 2, 2004, the war became a war of not-a-single-settlement [is to be given up].”

What nonsense! One APC is blown up in Gaza, costing six of Israel’s finest their lives, and this redefines the war? Let us get something straight here. The operation in which those boys were involved had nothing to do with settlements or settlers, but everything to do with the valid military goal of going after those who would kill Israelis and destroy the State of Israel if they could. Israeli military operations will have to continue in Gaza as long as there are those there that wish to kill Israelis and do away with the Jewish State. It has nothing to do with settlements; that’s just the latest version of the Big Lie. Remember, there were no settlements before 1967, and yet Israel was under constant threat of terror attacks. What was the excuse then?

Whether he means to or not, Thomas Friedman, in columns of the sort that he wrote yesterday, is perpetuating the principle of Big Lie; a principle developed and used against the Jews to such devastating effect by Josef Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Does he really want to be in that kind of company?

Joel Block, 2004

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Joel Block is a long-time friend of Rabbi Cassorla and has lived in Israel since 1968

Reprinted by permission.