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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Open Letter to Andrew Rosenthal: Why Has Thomas Friedman's "Iron Empires, Iron Fists, Iron Domes" Not Been Corrected?


Dear Andrew,

As provided by Section 15 of your newspaper's "Ethical Journalism, A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" (

"The Times treats is readers as fairly and openly as possible. In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. It is our policy to correct our errors large and small, as soon as we become aware of them."

The Times corrects its errors large and small, as soon as it becomes aware of them? Oh, really. Let's have a look together at Thomas Friedman's December 4, 2012 op-ed entitled "Iron Empires, Iron Fists, Iron Domes" (, in which he declares:

"The far-right group running Israel today is so arrogant, and so indifferent to U.S. concerns, that it announced plans to build a huge block of settlements in the heart of the West Bank — in retaliation for the U.N. vote giving Palestinians observer status — even though the U.S. did everything possible to block that vote and the settlements would sever any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state."

A "huge" block of settlements? Do plans for 3,000 housing units comprise a "huge" block of settlements? Friedman forgets to mention that Israeli settlements are built on less than two percent of the total territory of the West Bank.

More important, would this "huge" block of settlements "sever any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state"? Sorry, but a quick look at a map demonstrates that this is not true (see: Of course, you can object to this announcement - as I do - by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's government; however, it certainly does not "sever any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state."

Friedman also writes in this op-ed:

"Israelis have responded to the collapse of Arab iron fists around them — including the rise of militias with missiles in Lebanon and Gaza — with a third model. It is the wall Israel built around itself to seal off the West Bank coupled with its Iron Dome antimissile system. The two have been phenomenally successful — but at a price. The wall plus the dome are enabling Israel’s leaders to abdicate their responsibility for thinking creatively about a resolution of its own majority-minority problem with the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem."

Friedman, who refers repeatedly to the "wall" throughout his op-ed, is again mistaken. Some ninety percent of that "wall" separating Israel from the West Bank is in fact a fence. And anyone who has ever driven on Israel's Highway 6 knows that the walled portions of the separation barrier are located in places intended to prevent sniper fire into Israel.

Moreover, there is no "wall" between Jordan, once comprising 77 percent of the Palestinian Mandate and where Palestinians constitute the majority of the population, and the West Bank.

So why hasn't the Times issued a correction concerning the errors, large and small, appearing in this op-ed?

I would appreciate your reply, which, with your permission, I would like to post in my blog.

Section 16 of your "Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" provides:

"Simple courtesy suggests that we not alienate our readers by ignoring their letters and e-mails that warrant reply."

I believe this e-mail indeed warrants a reply.

Yours sincerely,

cc: Public Editor, New York Times

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, you don't know how painful is for me to watch American "Jews" activities. My father's entire extended family - babies, elderly, pregnant women - siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, parents and cousins - wonderful human beings - all perished in the most horrible way.
    And here you have: Thomases and Andrews, privileged and rich, narcissistic and empty, glib and manipulative, sitting in their mansions and corner offices ...
    No conscience, no intelligence, no decency.