In his latest screed, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has accused the “Israel lobby” of standing in the way of U.S. President Barack H. Obama, preventing him from reaching a desirable agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
“Never have I seen Israel and America’s core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s,” Friedman wrote in his latest op-ed blog piece.
“I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations,” he added.
Friedman does admit that the sanctions have had the desired effect. "I don’t begrudge Israel and the Arabs their skepticism, but we still should not let them stop a deal. If you’re not skeptical about Iran, you’re not paying attention. Iran has lied and cheated its way to the precipice of building a bomb, and without tough economic sanctions — sanctions that President Obama engineered but which Netanyahu and the Arab states played a key role in driving — Iran would not be at the negotiating table," he wrote.
But still, a deal is necessary - and if there is a war, it will be Israel's fault, he wrote. "If Israel kills this U.S.-led deal, then the only option is military. How many Americans or NATO allies will go for bombing Iran after Netanyahu has blocked the best effort to explore a credible diplomatic alternative? Not many. That means only Israel will have a military option," he wrote.
Friedman has written extensively about the “Jewish lobby,” which he claims has a practical stranglehold on Congress. Last December, Friedman spoke out in favor of appointing former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, because he was not on the “same page” as Israel in many areas. “Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now,” Friedman said. Hagel has been quoted as saying, among other things, that “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here, but I'm a United States senator. I'm not an Israeli senator.”
Friedman has also written that the White House is “disgusted” with Israeli interlocutors, and that Israeli settlers are a “cancer for the Jewish people” and those who “collaborate” in the building of settlements are “enemies of peace” and “enemies of America’s national interest,” among other things.