Tom Friedman Goes Ballistic

Steven Weiss at Jewsweek reports on an evening at the Israel Policy Forum, featuring Geneva architects Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abbed Rabbo, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. After his talk, Friedman was approached by a critic, and this is how he handled it:

I run over to the stage to catch Tom Friedman for that question-and-answer he promised I’d get after his speech. Harvey Schwartz, a Manhattan lawyer, greets Friedman and with a smile on his face tells him he learned two things from Friedman that night: That the columnist, “Supports drilling in ANWR,” and is, “willing to sacrifice Israel on the altar of Iraq.”

Friedman yells “F**k you,” hits the guy with his right hand, and then shoves him into a small crowd of people with their backs turned. Schwartz has a good foot and 100 pounds on the diminutive Friedman, but he went about three feet backwards from Friedman’s push.

Friedman turns around and sees me with my notebook and tape recorder. Deer in the headlights. Schwartz goes, “Did you get a picture of that?” Still under the lull of the truth is untrue/up is down nature of the event, I consider for a moment whether I’m a photographer. Friedman runs over to an IPF executive, the one who said he does “the most unbelievably insightful reporting ever,” (sans an adjective) to tell on Schwartz. Like those wimpy nerds in grade school, he hits first, tattles second, screaming about “that asshole,” who apparently is so mean that his innocuous comment deserves a whack.

Finally, I have Friedman cornered. Can he answer some questions? “No, no.” But I’ve got one question I think he’ll have a cool answer to: What do you think your role is for the Geneva Accord? “I’m a journalist, I’m a columnist,” he says and then runs away. Sure, he is those things, but only in the loosest sense: more, he’s an actor, a trader, and a fighter.

The man who spent the past few hours pronouncing how we need to see past the present, the rhetoric, and the attacks to achieve peace has just gone violent on some random guy.

You couldn’t ask for a more fitting ending.

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