Thomas Friedman takes page from Holocaust scholars’ playbook

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Credit: Charles Haynes via Wikimedia Commons.

( For years, an organization of Holocaust scholars has been waging what it says is a lonely effort to convince the Obama administration to prevent Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir from traveling freely, because of his role in the Darfur genocide. Now, the group has gained an unexpected ally of sorts—New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

“President Bashir has been visiting numerous Arab and African countries, including major recipients of U.S. aid such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, yet no action has been taken [by the U.S.] to arrest him,” according to one of the petitions organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, signed by 100 Holocaust scholars including professors Yehuda Bauer, Deborah Lipstadt, and Michael Berenbaum.

Friedman has not written in the Times about the Sudanese leader’s travels. But in his Sept. 4 column, Friedman took a page from the Wyman Institute’s playbook, urging the Obama administration to “shame” Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his associates, in order to “put the mark of Cain on their foreheads so they know that they and their families can never again travel anywhere except to North Korea, Iran and [Russia]…”

“We need to metaphorically put their pictures up in every post office in the world as people wanted for crimes against humanity,” Friedman wrote.

“That’s what we’ve been saying about Sudan’s Bashir, and it’s equally true about Syria’s Assad,” said Wyman Institute Director Dr. Rafael Medoff. “The U.S. should be ‘shaming’ all mass murderers—the Butcher of Darfur as well as the Butcher of Damascus—and not just with words, but also with financial consequences.” Medoff urged Friedman to support a bill by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) to withhold aid from regimes that host Bashir. The Obama administration opposes the bill. 

Full disclosure: Wyman Institute Director Dr. Rafael Medoff periodically writes for


Posted on September 4, 2013 .