The PBS current affairs program Amanpour & Co. hosted the invariably self-assured long-time New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Thursday, a journalist who fancies himself an expert on foreign policy. He has dispensed advice to presidents and more recently opined on the Israel-Hamas war with dubious suggestions, like giving Hamas a “free pass” to escape to the Hamas-stronghold of Qatar after releasing the hostages.
Reporter Walter Isaacson spoke to Friedman about the Israel-Hamas was and Friedman unleashed some harsh criticism of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But then things took a surprising and welcome turn, as Friedman criticized journalists’ double standards in its war coverage.
Isaacson: One metric in a situation like this is, are you creating more terrorists than you're killing? Do you think the response by Israel is proportionate, or do you think it is actually going to cause Israel harm?
Friedman started his reply with a typical one-sided journalistic take, putting the onus on Israel, before making a surprise turn and jabbing his fellow journalists in the process for their biased treatment of Israeli leaders vs the leaders of the Hamas terrorist group that have run Gaza for years.
Friedman: I very much worry that the amount of civilian casualties in Gaza, that the long run implications of that, it will be very serious and troubling and problematic for Israel. That said, we have to remember one thing, Walter, we can ask the Israeli government any question we want, any day, and you'll get an answer, from the military spokesman or the prime minister spokesman, you may not like the answer, it may not be full or complete, it may not even be straight, but you'll get an answer.
Then he compared Israel’s government favorably with the terrorist thugs of Hamas that run Gaza. That sounds like a low bar to clear, but it’s sad how few mainstream journalists manage it, instead laying all the moral responsibility at the feet of Israel for a war it did not start. Friedman called them out.
Friedman: No one has asked one question to Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader. He hasn't had to answer one question. Why did your men -- they actually raped people. This is -- we have independent reports of this. They shot parents in front of their kids. They shot kids in front of their parents. They abducted infants and grandparents. Was that on your orders? What was that about? And so, man, I have -- I'm deeply disturbed by the amount of civilian casualties in this war. I repeat, it will be, I think, a real stain on Israel in the long run. But let's remember that Hamas basically built its military infrastructure underneath and alongside civilians, launched this war knowing what the Israeli response would be and that they bear enormous culpability in this as well. And so, I think we have to ask, what's going to be the reaction for Hamas in the long run from that as well.
However, the exchange does beg the question, has veteran journalist Friedman himself asked Sinwar anything?