Tom Friedman Has the Wrong Narrative on Islamic Hatred

Thomas Friedman’s explanation of why Major Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people at Ft. Hood, and why Arabs and Muslims hate America, misses the point. How does such a bright, articulate journalist get it so wrong?


Friedman correctly blames what he calls “The Narrative” — the “cocktail of half-truths, propaganda, and outright lies about America.” For example, there is the Arab perception of an “American/Crusader/Zionist conspiracy” against Muslims. However, his analysis misunderstands the problem and misleads readers by ignoring the central place of jihad in Muslim and Arab thinking.

Asking why Muslims “take to the streets” over a cartooned Muhammad (minus the murder and mayhem) but won’t protest Muslim suicide bombers is a proper recognition of fault, but it also confuses the nature of the conflict.

Jihad is to Islam what belief in Jesus is to Christianity or following Torah is to Judaism. Jihad is essential to “The Narrative,” and understanding the threat of jihad is essential to non-Muslims.

As interpreted by Muslim clerics, jihad means enforcing the superiority of Muslims and Muslim law over anything and anyone else. Islam does not preach tolerance. It is a religion of totalitarianism.

Friedman laments:

Don’t they appreciate how much we’ve done for them … trillions of dollars, thousands of American and allied soldiers lives lost to bring democracy and stability to Iraq and Afghanistan?

Of course they do not appreciate what we have done.

For many, Israel is the “oppressor of Muslims” and the “occupier of Arab land.” A reasonable conclusion might suggest the U.S. drop relations with Israel in order to improve relationships with Arabs and Muslims. This seems to be Obama’s policy — weaken Israel, force it back to the armistice lines of 1949, and arm Palestinians to the teeth.


Then, miraculously, Arabs and Muslims will embrace America’s “crusade” against Muslim countries. No more 9/11s and Ft. Hoods. A second Arab Palestinian state will make things better! No more nasty jihad!

Hardly. As smart as Friedman is, he distorts the conflict (and “The Narrative”) between Israel and Arab Palestinians by defining it as territorial rather than existential. He and his colleagues at the New York Times fail to understand the true nature of “Palestinianism,” in which Maj. Nidal Hasan believed, and its jihadist roots. Israel’s presence in any form is unacceptable, and anyone who supports Israel deserves death.

The “occupation of Palestine” did not begin in 1967; it began in 1948, when Israel was established. The root of “Palestinianism,” as Matthias Kuntzel points out in Jihad and Jew-hatred, Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, is “the narrative” of jihad. Israel represents everything America and Western civilization stand for — democracy, tolerance, modernity — which is precisely what Islamists and jihadists despise.

Naively, Friedman calls on Muslims to promote a “positive interpretation” of Islam. Nice, if you don’t get murdered trying. And what about “liberating Palestine”?

If “ending the occupation” is a prerequisite for rapprochement, as Friedman proposes, let’s get that narrative straight. If “Palestinianism,” wiping out Israel, is simply another form of jihadism, then why not include that in “The Narrative”?


When genocidal calls to eliminate Israel are not only tolerated but applauded in the United Nations; when Israel is vilified daily, not only by the Arab world, but by the media, including the Times; when Arab terrorists are called “activists” and Arabs preaching incitement and Jew-hatred receive U.S. and EU funding, why isn’t that part of “The Narrative”?

“The Narrative” against which Friedman writes so eloquently is not only about Islamists; it is also about those who preach “Palestinianism” as another form of jihad, masking a fake and virulent nationalism supported by the international community that seeks Israel’s elimination.

Homicidal Muslim leaders aren’t the only danger — so are the respectable politicians and journalists who believe that giving Arab Palestinians a state and appeasing terrorists will end the violence.

Friedman’s take on “The Narrative” is not a solution. It’s part of the problem.


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