Jeffrey Goldberg is the gatekeeper of the American discourse on Israel. But somebody’s getting under his skin– Andrew Sullivan.
Iran or the settlements? These are the two competing narratives, and Sully is in the way.
As far as Israel and the lobby are concerned, this is simply the wrong time to be thinking about the settlements. They had been successfully pushed off the mainstage of American mainstream discourse along with the Palestinians– unless you say, They’re invented. There’s no room for them in this election cycle. None, finito, no room whatsoever.
According to the Gatekeeper: we’re on a “straight line here“.
The straight line we were on during that first meeting in the White House when Obama said settlements and Netanyahu said Iran and we know who won that fight already. It’s ground taken; and as every hardline Zionists knows once they’ve taken ground they don’t give it up without a fight. It’s theirs and the only goalposts being moved here are for the hearts and minds of Americans, for bombing Iran. Got that, America?
Settlements are not on
Netanyahu’s Goldberg’s agenda. Settlements are sucking up way too much air in our discourse. They threaten efforts made over the last year to drive home the fear of an impending Iranian nuclear weapons program and divert attention from where we need, want and ought to be (24/7 Iran!) at a crucial time in American and world politics.
When Beinart inserted his book into the mix along with his NYT Op-ed calling for a boycott of the settlements, that was manageable. The foot soldiers were standing in line ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. You might anticipate the fallout is over.
But Andrew Sullivan presents a different kind of problem altogether. He’s is in a different circle and he’s acting as though he’s impervious to the way things work. Daring to speak the unspeakable, he aims a laser at Goldberg and insinuates he’s shilling for Netanyahu.
Well, isn’t that something: a government prepared to lie to its ally, risk escalation of what would be a global war, cynically exploit the Holocaust in a bluff, and do so via a journalist at the Atlantic.
I heard it, L.J.Wall referenced it as “on Bibi’s payroll“. Ouch. Of course, it definitely occurred to me too. Dylan Byers reporting for Politico says everybody, even Sullivan, acknowledges “without Goldberg or reporters like Goldberg, our insight into Netanyahu’s thinking would be severely curtailed“.
Uh huh– because where would the American public be without Bibi’s opinion?
Blind deaf and dumb no doubt.
Marc Tracy explains:
Goldberg is as much serving as a conduit for sources (in this case, high-level Israeli sources) as piecing together his own analysis. You could argue that it is more useful to see Goldberg’s reporting as evidence that Israel’s leaders want us to think an attack is imminent than as evidence that an attack is actually imminent.
Wait, let’s unpack that. If Goldberg writes what Israel leaders want you to think, the journalism is only as truthful as they are, which isn’t saying very much– about as truthful as a GOI spokesperson.
There’s a name for people who write and say what government leaders want you to think, and it’s called propagandizing. And governments have whole departments to disseminate messages to the foreign public.
Oh my, what would we do without Jeffrey Goldberg to bring us Netanyahu’s perspective? The week before last he thought it was a bluff but now he’s convinced Israeli national-security officials are “considering a pre- emptive strike in the near future”. His analysis? He understands these swings are…vertigo inducing… (for us). Obama and Netanyahu have “accomplished something extraordinary together”…(sanctioning Iran), and of course we are all on the edge of our seats waiting for the next chapter.
Next week, I’ll discuss why, from Netanyahu’s perspective, a strike on Iran, even if only marginally successful, might be worth the risk — and may be historically inevitable.
Now that’s exciting– not.
Sully asks the wrong question about settlements too (my bold):
Repeat after me what the Greater Israel Lobby and its acolytes will be chanting for the next few weeks:
Ignore. Peter. Beinart.
What would work to stop and reverse the settlements and forcibly remove the religious fanatics now upping the ante in a global religious war into which the US would inevitably be dragged? Nothing Israel or AIPAC is prepared to do, of course, as everyone who is aware of the profound “complexities” already knows. Even though Goldberg has argued that staying the current course could mean the end of the Jewish state, it’s all far too complicated to tackle or undo now. Always later. Always too complex. Until – bingo – the occupation cannot be undone, and the only options for Israel are ethnic cleansing or an apartheid state. At which point we’ll have another round of sighs, jibes and public hand-wringing. We may, in fact, already be there.
I repeat: What would be a very good way to remove those settlements? We await Goldberg’s next high-profile missive from the prime minister’s office – but shouldn’t hold our breath. A boycott of settler goods would not work, Goldberg avers, because they are fanatics and fanatics resort to doubling down when pressured. So Goldberg thinks these maniacs or state-subsidized settlers will leave eventually because … of what, exactly? A seminar with Deepak Chopra? A visit from the Pope? If pressure cannot work, and persuasion is impossible, and a settler fanatic is Israel’s actual foreign minister … then we are left with continued support (and aid!) for a demographically doomed Greater Israel, permanently dragging the US down in global power and credibility – and possibly a world war of unknowable consequences.
Goldberg can’t answer that. He won’t answer. You see, it’s…complex.
And Sully doubles down with The Complexities Of Jeffrey Goldberg, Ctd
The reason he was not outraged possibly being misled is that it is clear he’d be quite delighted to have played a part, even if unwitting, in a possible game of bluff, even if implausible, because it might work to America’s and Israel’s advantage.
But you cannot both express this excitement and pose as “merely a reporter”. A person who is excited about being a player in a game of bluff that could lead to war or peace … is a player, not a reporter. And a player with real fire, with the lives and deaths of human beings at stake. It was not his “thinking out loud” that “offended” me, as he now tries to spin it. It was that his thinking out loud raised serious questions about his role as an objective reporter, who was caught musing hopefully about his having written a cover-story about Israel’s determination to go to war with Iran that was, in retrospect, fed by possible lies, bluffs and deceptions.
Look: you cannot be a player delighted in retrospect to have conveyed bluffs in a game of lethal geopolitics and also claim to be a mere reporter. It’s about as convincing as Rush Limbaugh’s self-description as a mere entertainer. The right response of a journalist to the possibility of being lied to and misled by a source in a foreign government is anger and introspection. Goldberg’s response wasn’t. That’s worth knowing. It makes his latest conviction that Israel isn’t bluffing … well, subject to an asterisk.
But guess what. The “Israeli campaign worked”. Ynet:
It certainly looks as though the Israeli campaign launched during the previous fall, where rumors of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran were disseminated, secured its objectives. Western statesmen clung to this campaign and utilized it in order to impose on Iran the devastating sanctions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded two years ago already.
Goldberg bit off more that he can chew, he’s wrangling with a master marksman, who’s not afraid of him and wants some answers. Goldberg will be doing some homework and getting back to us with a prepared ad hominem custom tailored to Sully:
1) I’ve decided that Andrew Sullivan is right, that I should provide Goldblog readers with the specific examples of where I think he has been so unfair to Israel and to Jews (and Christians, and everyone else) who support it. This requires me, for starters, to re-read, at many long sittings, everything he’s written on the subject. I will devote the time to this when I’m reconnected to the Web, but my answer to Andrew may not appear until after Passover, or possibly by Tisha b’Av.
This is the kind of reporting we need/snark. Needless to say his “answer to Andrew” will not be addressing either issue. It’s really unthinkable to divert the attention of the American public during this election cycle away from the Iranian threat to annihilate Israel and their development of a weapons program to the settlements or his contribution to this madness. We’ve got to get our war on.
I’m waiting with bated breath for Goldberg’s next report updating us from Netanyahu’s perspective, why a strike on Iran will not be the disaster many American officials fear it will be, and how it will be worth the risk — and may be historically inevitable.
Fun. But unlikely to be as hot as Sullivan’s Israel And The A-Word.
P.S. Things are getting a little out of control in his own backyard: gossip about Goldberg nurturing Israel like a son protecting his diseased alcoholic mother…heavens!