New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently faced a silent protest to which he did not answer with counter arguments and only responded with: “That’s stupid.”
At the conclusion of his talk at Yale University last week, Friedman was faced with a banner which read: “With friends like Chomsky, Soros, Mearsheimer and Thomas Friedman, does Israel need enemies?”
The banner was held up by Rabbi Shmully Hecht, the rabbinical advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish Society at Yale. It was meant to express his dissatisfaction with Friedman's anti-Zionist writing on Israel.
He has also called to re-adopt the United Nations 1947 Partition Plan, which the Arab world rejected at the time and instead tried to annihilate Israel. He was recently the subject of a Facebook campaign launched by the grassroots Zionist group Israel Online Ambassadors. The campaign was entitled “Tom Friedman, Get Out of Our Lives!”
In the Yale incident, when Friedman dismissed Rabbi Hecht as stupid, the rabbi then held up the back of the banner, which read: “Jews don’t need solutions from your 11,000 square foot Ivory tower.”
“Thomas Friedman has no right and no basis for telling the leadership of a democratically elected government of a sovereign nation what to do regarding its delicate and hard won security,” Rabbi Hecht said, explaining his silent resistance to the Friedman lecture.
“Friedman asks the Israelis to make concessions when there is no credible partner for them to conduct a lasting settlement,” he added. “And yet, the Chomskys and the Mearsheimers are easier to deal with, because their hostility is naked. Friedman comes to the subject cloaked in the language of moderation, neutrality and respectability.”
He added, “The road to peace may look straight from Thomas Friedman’s very privileged worldview in his mansion on his huge estate, but for Israelis everywhere, especially Judea and Samaria, every decision is one that literally tilts the State and her citizens towards either life or death. In the real world, Jews don't need ‘solutions,’ Jews need safety and security in their historic homeland and reborn refuge.”
Despite Friedman’s personal insult to him, Rabbi Hecht said he believes in hearing all opinions, and invites him to join the many writers and intellectuals of all backgrounds and opinions who have lectured at Eliezer.
“I have devoted my life to dialogue,” he said. “I would welcome the chance to discuss these important issues with Thomas Friedman.”