New York Times senior columnist urges Biden to ‘stop’ Netanyahu

Thomas Friedman wants the U.S. president to prevent Israeli judicial reform by applying “tough love.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A senior columnist for The New York Times penned an op-ed Tuesday asking President Joe Biden to prevent Israel’s new government from enacting a bill it is formulating to reform the judiciary.

Thomas Friedman, a longtime political commentator on the Middle East known for criticizing right-wing governments in Israel, has adopted the Opposition’s claim that the proposed restructuring of the balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government – which would give more power to those elected by the public – would wipe out democracy in the country.

According to Friedman, Biden should intervene with some “tough love in a way that no other outsider can…

“The outcome has direct implications for U.S. national security interests,” he wrote. “Israel is on the verge of a historic transformation — from a full-fledged democracy to something less, and from a stabilizing force in the region to a destabilizing one.”

To back up this idea, he referred obliquely to the brief visit National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made to Judaism’s holiest site last month that was slammed around the world as an attempt to change the status quo.

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Biden should tell Netanyahu that “if extremist ministers will change the status quo on the Temple Mount,” he “will not be a patsy” on the issue “because that could destabilize Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Abraham Accords — which would really damage U.S. interests.”

This would be in addition to telling Netanyahu that “you are riding roughshod over American interests and values,” and that if he was “going to put [the] courts under your political authority in a way that makes Israel more like Turkey and Hungary,” the president would “not be a patsy for that,” either.

Friedman ended in nearly apocalyptic terms, writing that if the administration turns “a blind eye to Netanyahu’s judicial putsch … we’ll sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

Friedman advised Biden to declare that the judicial reform is unacceptable and that the U.S. will not “be Netanyahu’s useful idiots and just sit in silence.”