New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman admitted Tuesday that he wrote too strongly that the enthusiastic reception for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Congress earlier this year “was 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. “It would have helped people focus on my argument, which I stand by 100 percent.”

He insists that many Jews in the United States “are deeply worried about where Israel is going today.”

His snipe at Israel, which also was an insult to the Congress, was widely criticized both in Israel and the United States. The Washington Post’s columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that Friedman hit “rock bottom.”

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, wrote in his blog that Friedman “crossed a line” and that his comment suggested “the ugliest anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

Friedman has railed against Israel’s nationalists for years and once described ”settlers” as terrorists.

However, he insists he is a strong supporter of Israel.