OpinionIsrael at War

David Brooks’s reckless comments on Israel

“The New York Times” columnist claims Israel has used “reckless force” in Gaza, even as he admits this is untrue.

“New York Times” columnist David Brooks speaks at the A. B. Freeman School of Business during the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University, March 16, 2024. Credit: William A. Morgan/Shutterstock.
“New York Times” columnist David Brooks speaks at the A. B. Freeman School of Business during the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University, March 16, 2024. Credit: William A. Morgan/Shutterstock.
Michael Berenhaus
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance activist who works to combat anti-Israel bias in the media. He has been widely published in news sources such as The Economist, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In his March 24 op-ed “What Would You Have Israel Do to Defend Itself?” New York Times columnist David Brooks recklessly claims that Israel has used “reckless force” in Gaza.

Strangely, Brooks wrote this shortly after he proclaimed, “John Spencer is the chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, served two tours in Iraq and has made two visits to Gaza during the current war to observe operations there. He told me that Israel has done far more to protect civilians than the United States did in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

So, how is Israel reckless? The answer would appear to be that it isn’t.

Brooks admits further, “Spencer reports that Israel has warned civilians when and where it is about to begin operations and published an online map showing which areas to leave. It has sent out millions of pamphlets, texts and recorded calls warning civilians of coming operations. It has conducted four-hour daily pauses to allow civilians to leave combat areas. It has dropped speakers that blast out instructions about when to leave and where to go. These measures, Spencer told me, have telegraphed where the IDF is going to move next and ‘have prolonged the war, to be honest.’”

Given that they have only prolonged the war, one might think Israel has been “reckless” in its humanitarian efforts—many of them undertaken to assuage the Israel-haters.

Brooks also admits, “Judged purely on a tactical level, there’s a strong argument that the IDF has been remarkably effective against Hamas forces.” This would appear to indicate Israel’s “reckless force” is not reckless, but prudent and successful.

Despite Brooks’s concession, however, he states, “On a larger political and strategic level, you’d have to conclude that the Israeli strategy has real problems. Global public opinion is moving decisively against Israel.”

“The key shift is in Washington,” he claims. “Historically pro-Israeli Democrats like [President Joe] Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer are now pounding the current Israeli government with criticism.” Brooks does not tackle the question of why this might be the case given Israel’s superlative conduct of the war—admitted to by Brooks himself. Nor does he address why Biden has said that Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre has been “over the top” and “indiscriminate” when Brooks’s own expert Spencer explicitly states that this is untrue.

With the nationwide increase in anti-Israel protests and accompanying antisemitism, one would think that Brooks would be more careful—or at least consistent—about what he says.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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