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February 22, 1985 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-02-22

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Friday, February 22, 1985



'Times' Reporter
Contrasts Covering
Lebanon and Israel

Thomas Friedman, who
won a Pulitzer Prize
for his New York Times
coverage of the
Lebanon War, feels
at home now
in Jerusalem.


Special to The Jewish News

Friedman: "I wouldn't trade
my job for any one I know."

-Thomas Friedman recalls
driving down the coastal road
from Lebanon, where he won
a Pulitzer Prize for his war re-
porting fpr the New York
Times, to his new assignment
in Israel. On the road to Jeru-
salem he noticed a sign that
read: • "Beware of high
"They kill each other like
flies in Lebanon," he remarked.
"Here in Israel they warn
you about winds."
For Friedman, becoming
head of the New York Times
Jerusalem bureau was the
realization of a dream. That
and having won a Pulitzer.
Trouble is, at the age of 31,
what more could a journalist
look forward to?
Friedman may seek new
worlds to conquer in the fu-
ture, but for now he is per-
fectly content. "I've wanted
to sit right here for as long as
I've wanted anything," he
said from behind his execu-
tive desk in an interview with
The Jewish News.
"I wouldn't trade my job
for any one I know," he said.
"And it's a lot of fun living in
Jerusalem. It's a remarkable
"Certain cities are great
news stories, but they're aw-
ful places to live — like Bei-
rut. Some places are great
places to live, but they're re-
latively awful news stories —
like London or Paris.
"And some places are great
news stories and great places
to live — and Jerusalem is
one of them."
It was no series of lucky ac-
cidents that brought Tom
Friedman here. As far back
as high school, he had decid-
ed that he wanted to be a
Middle East correspondent
and he started preparing him-
self for the job.
"I was fascinated by the
Middle East, and also knew
that I wanted to be a re-
porter. This kind of brought
the two together."
He majored in Middle
Eastern studies as an under-
graduate at Brandeis Univer-

sity and as a graduate stu-
dent at Oxford University in
England, where he earned an
M.A. degree. He learned to
speak both Hebrew and Ara-
"A good, honest reporter
will do a good, honest job no
matter what his language,
but you're handicapped if you
don't know the language.
You miss nuances."
His Hebrew language stu-
dies started at Talmud Torah
in Minneapolis and at nearby
Camp Herzl in the summer.
In addition, he spent all three
of his high school summers at
Kibbutz Hahotrim in Israel,
and did a semester of his
sophomore year in college at
Hebrew University on a Young
Judaea program. He studied
Arabic at Brandeis and Ox-
ford, also attended the Amer-
ican University in Cairo for a
Does the preponderance of
Israel-oriented programs in
his youth indicate a Zionist
family background?
"Let's say there was a
strong interest in Israel —
I'm not sure Zionist is the
right expression," he replied.
"I don't use it pejoratively by
any means, but I'm not sure
that I ever intended to live
here, or that what was driv-
ing me was a desire to live
"What drove me here was
certainly a fascination with
Israel and with the Middle
East as a whole, but I by no
means expect to remain here.
I'll be here, and then I'll move
on to my next assignment.
I'm a New York Times em-
ployee, and intend to make
my career at the New York
All the same, moving from
the constant dangers of his
post in Beirut to the relative
safety of a berth in Jerusalem
came as a relief. Having his
wife with him during almost
five years in Lebanon had ad-
ded to the strain. They had
gotten married shortly before
he was sent there, and he
often wondered if it was right


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