Friedman responds to criticism over PM jab

Columnist says he should have chosen words more carefully after saying congressional ovations for Netanyahu were "paid for."

By JTA
December 21, 2011 12:32
1 minute read.
'NY Times' columnist Thomas Friedman

'NY Times' columnist Thomas Friedman 311 (R). (photo credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

 
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WASHINGTON - New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said that he should have used a more "precise term" when he wrote that congressional ovations for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

"In retrospect I probably should have used a more precise term like ‘engineered’ by the Israel lobby - a term that does not suggest grand conspiracy theories that I don’t subscribe to,” Friedman told The New York Jewish Week on Tuesday.

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In a column last week about what he said were concerns that US Jews had with Israel's direction, Friedman sparked outrage when he wrote that Netanyahu should not overly invest in applause he garnered when he addressed Congress in May.

"That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby," Friedman wrote.

Among the rebukes was one from Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington. 

"The term 'Israel lobby' implies the existence of a Zionist cabal wielding inordinate economic and political power," Oren told JTA. "Unintentionally, perhaps, Friedman has strengthened a dangerous myth."

Friedman told The Jewish Week that he stood by his overall argument that US Jews are deeply worried about where Israel is going today.

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"It would have helped people focus on my argument, which I stand by 100 percent,” he said.

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