Should NYT’s David Brooks Disclose His Son’s Israeli Military Service?

by Margaret Sullivan
October 5, 2014

Columnists play by different rules than news reporters. By definition, they express their opinions. Columnists also, appropriately, get a lot of leeway in what they write and how they write it.

Having acknowledged that, I nevertheless understand the complaints of those readers who are bothered by something they have recently learned about David Brooks: his son is a member of the Israel Defense Forces. In a recent Hebrew-language interview in Haaretz magazine, Mr. Brooks was asked about his worries as a father. The article noted that the columnist’s “connection to Israel was always strong.” It continued: “He has visited Israel almost every year since 1991, and over the past months the connection has grown even stronger, after his oldest son, aged 23, decided to join the Israel Defense Forces as a ‘lone soldier.’ ” (The reference is to a soldier whose family is not living in Israel.)

Mr. Brooks described the situation as “worrying.” He added: “But every Israeli parent understands this is what the circumstances require. Beyond that, I think children need to take risks after they leave university, and that they need to do something difficult that involves going beyond their personal limits. Serving in the I.D.F. embodies all of these elements. I couldn’t advise others to do it without acknowledging it’s true for my own family.’”…..


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