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Why did Washington Post and NYT lend themselves to ‘unglued’ ‘angerfest’ directed at Beinart?

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on 41 Comments

JJ Goldberg has a very good piece up at the Forward describing Peter Beinart as the liberal Zionist who kicked the MSM hornet’s nest. Goldberg marvels at the attacks on Beinart, and links them to the hounding of MJ Rosenberg, and concludes that it has to do with a dark period of Jewish panic.

Much of what’s been said about the book in the nation’s leading journals hasn’t been reasoned critique or analysis so much as vituperation. Something about this book has caused The New York Times, The Washington Post and some other normally high-minded publications to come unhinged. More precisely, to assign the book to reviewers who proceed, one by one, to come unglued…

The reviews, meanwhile, consist largely of, well, knee-jerk apologetics. They all seem to intone the shopworn catechism that absolves Israel of any responsibility for its own difficulties…

…[To] explain the attacks’ venomous, ad hominem intensity…. we must look to the general mood of panicked rage sweeping some segments of Israeli and American Jewry: the McCarthyite attacks in Israel on human rights organizations and the New Israel Fund, the attempts to keep J-Street speakers out of synagogues and to defund or shut down Israeli film festivals screening the wrong Israeli films. The legal threats against campus Arab student groups. The hounding of M.J. Rosenberg. It’s hard to remember such a dark mood of repression since the days of the enemies’ lists circulating in the community in the early 1980s….

Long ago, John Mearsheimer explained this dark primordial spirit to me. “It’s called nationalism.” And Jewish nationalists are right to think that their vision is now at risk. Goldberg again:

As for explaining the participation of The New York Times and The Washington Post in this anger-fest, I’m stumped.

This is an important question. I believe the New York Times and Washington Post’s eager participation in this rightwing frenzy can be explained by two trends: the large Jewish presence in the establishment, and the rightwing Zionist character of the Jewish establishment. C.f., the Iraq wardrums in the media. Some day, Jewish and American historians will marvel at this. The Zionist Captivity. (Thanks to Paul Mutter)

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41 Responses

  1. PeaceThroughJustice
    April 22, 2012, 12:20 pm

    Have any gentiles been allowed to speak on the book, anywhere? (Not that there’s many who would dare.)

    Looks like we’ve just got to keep waiting for the Jewish-American awakening. Now I know Phil assures us this is just around the corner, but I do wish it would hurry up.

    • radii
      April 22, 2012, 2:13 pm

      you know the routine: first ridicule, then hostility … then, suddenly it all seems so obvious … zionists seem to relish the hostility part for it has lasted decades

    • Kathleen
      April 22, 2012, 2:20 pm

      I know gentiles who have been meeting with Reps for over 20 years about the I/P issue. People must want to kid themselves if they think this has not been happening. No one I know who has been working on this issue for years has been waiting on the Jewish Awakening but this awakening..more like an admitting amongst many Jews sure has been a wonderful shift

  2. pabelmont
    April 22, 2012, 12:32 pm

    JJG has written a marvelous review of the reviews.

    One of the things that Beinart writes a whole chapter about is the way that the Jewish pro-human-rights organizations, which were earlier (1950s?) pro-ALL-H/R, lost so many contributing members to more broadly American (and hence non-Jewish) pro-H/R groups (e.g., ACLU, NAACP) that the only people still contributing to them were defensively-pro-Israel folks, so that organizations lost their universal character (so as to keep the $$ coming in from the defensively-pro-Israel crowd, mostly oldsters now) and became megaphones for Greater-Israel (and ready ignorers and suppressors of pro-Palestinian communication).

    The same concentration of big pro-Greater-Israel money (in AIPAC et al, but also in most MSM) is likely the reason why all these negative reviews were published (and hence the reason they were written by the mouthpieces who wrote them).

    Thanks, JJG.

  3. CigarGod
    April 22, 2012, 12:33 pm

    “Some day, Jewish and American historians will marvel at this. The Zionist Captivity.”

    Yes, but they will probably be joined in their marveling, by archeologists…in 10,000 years or 100,000 years.

    • atime forpeace
      April 22, 2012, 1:37 pm

      zionist captivities are usually resolved by a nationalist spirit of animus against those perceived to be trying to destroy the nation wherein their activities are perceived to be dominant and generally do not play out over thousands of years, historically a hundred years seems to be an outlier.

      Hubris is incurable they say.

  4. seafoid
    April 22, 2012, 12:39 pm

    “Why did Washington Post and NYT lend themselves to ‘unglued’ ‘angerfest’ directed at Beinart?”

    Because it is their job to defend the status quo and support the power structure.
    Why did the NYT print anything by Judith Miller 2002 ?

  5. marc b.
    April 22, 2012, 12:51 pm

    i like goldberg (as opposed to the spurious goldenberg, spiritual medium and unalloyed dope), but i’m stumped as to why he is stumped about the NYT and the Post. how is this surprising? chomsky, finkelstein and others have been kicking through the kabuki theatre of the labor versus likud dichotomy in israeli politics, and its american variation among diaspora zionists. all beinart is doing is picking a bit at a scab, albeit in public, the response to his bad manners (what happens in zion, stays in zion) being an equally public display of the uniformity of thought on this topic.

    • Citizen
      April 22, 2012, 4:47 pm

      yes, marc b, I was stumped by goldberg getting stumped myself. They won’t listen to how Atzmon cuts through the stumping, so nothing will really change until, say, a few years after Israel attacks Iran & US knee jerks into the fray. See atime forpeace’s comment re when it becomes academic thought nobody (again) will pay attention to that has any power. Or rather, they will take Bush Jr POV: I am the doer, they can scribble alter. Classified material has its advantages.

  6. seafoid
    April 22, 2012, 1:02 pm

    The NYT will stick the knife into Israel when it becomes obvious that the system of oppression is collapsing. But only then.

    • Citizen
      April 22, 2012, 4:49 pm

      When will that be, when street folks throw rocks through the NYT windows and appear suddenly at their gated communities? History shows that the French guillotine is less likely than more of the same, with minor inconvenience to those who might give the beggar at the door some cake.

      • Daniel Rich
        April 23, 2012, 2:44 am


        side note: French revolution is when and where governments around the globe learned not to hesitate to unleash armies on their respective populations.

        Believe in democracy? Go and try to abide by it in the streets [not you, Citizen], but don’t forget your bulletproof vest, anti-maze goggles, taser protections gear, teargas gadgets and baton-hardened helmet.

    • yourstruly
      April 22, 2012, 7:04 pm

      the anti-zionist movement finds a way to turn the public against an iran war and the beginning of the collapse will be underway

  7. W.Jones
    April 22, 2012, 1:10 pm


  8. Annie Robbins
    April 22, 2012, 1:16 pm

    I believe the New York Times and Washington Post’s eager participation in this rightwing frenzy can be explained by two trends:

    i think Mearsheimer was right:

    John Mearsheimer explained this dark primordial spirit to me. “It’s called nationalism.” And Jewish nationalists are right to think that their vision is now at risk.

    whoever are running the show at those papers are probably Jewish nationalists, or zionist nationalists.

    andrew sullivan wrote about ‘The Assault On Peter Beinart’ too making the same point as jj goldberg.

    Good God. The utter lack of engagement with the arguments of a book that has yet to be published is revealing – and the deployment of personal matters as a way to smear someone is exactly the same tactic as Jeffrey Goldberg’s abuse of private matters

    a few times actually.


  9. atime forpeace
    April 22, 2012, 1:29 pm

    Goldberg et al don’t see themselves as the rest of us see them, apparently they think they are invisible, either that, or they really think that the u.s and israel are one and the same, or that the american people are dumb as f-*k and simply can’t understand all the “adult talk”, so they think that the kids just don’t understand that the parents are fighting and a divorce is impending.

    “The Zionist Captivity. ”

    Historically zionist captivities have evolved into an animus directed against those perceived to be the zionists.

    History can never be a precise guide for the future, and things of this nature have never occurred in the past exactly as they are occurring now.

    It all reminds me of that line from the Trix cereal commercial.

    • Citizen
      April 22, 2012, 4:52 pm

      Yes, they do think Dick and Jane are dumb as fuck, and with good reason. They have good reason to think the doughboys will go over there; they always do.

  10. seafoid
    April 22, 2012, 1:49 pm

    The NYT has been with the Ziobots all the way.

    They published a very interesting selection called “the history of the state of Israel- a compilation of historic pages ” in 2010 and it mostly covers wars
    and has all the historic hasbara.

    Of note is the very first instalment

    August 15 1897 “the Jewish state idea”

    At that time they were prepared to ask the odd question:

    “It is interesting to ask what are the aims of Dr Herzl and his friends and in how far former success argues for or against their plan. Is it feasible, even if it is advisable ?”

    After 1948 they threw in their lot with the Bots and have been dutiful foghorns since but the question first asked in 1897 is as valid as ever.

  11. casaananda
    April 22, 2012, 2:07 pm

    It’s nothing new, what the NYT and Wapo are doing. The Zionist captivity? I should say, but it’s so bizarre, because most in the world understand what’s going on and who the enablers are.

  12. Kathleen
    April 22, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Some great conversations at Chris Hayes Up program this morning. Beinart uses the Holocaust as the excuse for running Palestinians off of their lands far to often for me. But guess because he is a “liberal zionist” (which still can not grab a hold of those two terms together) and famous his being finally willing to admit the human rights abuses taking place is a huge shift for other Jews.

    Eli Lake was basically rolled over

    He actually said something like the I lobby while influential in congress does not have much influence with the executive branch. Could hear folks spew all over their screens when he actually had the cajones to say this

    • Citizen
      April 22, 2012, 4:58 pm

      Maybe Eli Lake should spend a few minutes in the Truman Archives online? Every day I wonder how those in power and those in power in the media get there because they are so ignorant, or intentionally so–I suspect the latter. This is because I assume they have an educated brain. Or at least a functioning one, at least one, say, more available than who? Anybody who regularly uses the term ZOG? Rick Perry?

      • Sumud
        April 23, 2012, 3:25 am

        Eli Lake is a jerk. I recall him about 6-9 months ago on twitter trying to brand Palestinians as Nazis because 3,000 or so out of more than a million supported the Mufti of Jerusalem.

    • Rusty Pipes
      April 23, 2012, 8:23 pm

      This is true regarding AIPAC’s direct influence:

      while influential in congress does not have much influence with the executive branch.

      However, AIPAC has indirect influence on the executive branch through the pressure congresscritters of the same party put on even a lame duck President to not upset their fundraising with some major donors related to the “Democrats’ ATM.”

      Further, AIPAC is not the only player in the Israel lobby. In addition to all of the policy think tanks like JINSA and talking heads like Dershowitz that shape the public narrative and beltway wisdom in which a president operates, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ principal mission is “to pressure the White House when it acts in ways that the Conference opposes. … But there is an even more obvious way to shape an administration’s policy: the lobby’s goals are served when individuals who share its perspective occupy important positions in the executive branch.”(p.165)

      “By the same token, groups in the lobby also try to make sure that people who are seen as critical of Israel do not get important foreign policy jobs” (p.166) — or do not last long in them if they do.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    April 22, 2012, 3:27 pm

    RE: “Goldberg marvels at the attacks on Beinart, and links them to the hounding of MJ Rosenberg, and concludes that it has to do with a dark period of Jewish panic.” ~ Weiss


    • DICKERSON3870
      April 22, 2012, 4:08 pm

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      Ah the wars they will
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      The holy dove
      She will be caught again
      bought and sold
      and bought again
      the dove is never free.
      Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack in everything
      That’s how the light gets in. . .”

      ~ from “Anthem” on ‘The Future’ album by Leonard Cohen

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      P.P.S. FROM

      The line “a crack in everything” seems to come from a book by Jack Kornfield on buddhism. The story is that a young man who had lost his leg came to a buddhist monastary thing, and he was extremely angry at life, and always drew these pictures of cracked vases and damaged thing[s], because he felt damaged. Over time, he found inner peace, and changed his outllook, but still drew broken vases. His master asked him one day: “Why do you still draw a crack in the vases you draw, are you not whole?” And he replied “yes, and so are the vases. The crack is how the light gets in” ~ neptune235, 04-17-2005

      SOURCE –

      • DICKERSON3870
        April 22, 2012, 5:48 pm

        P.P.P.S. ELUCIDATION: So then, Peter Beinart (like M.J. Rosenberg) is a “crack” (not a crank). And: “That’s how the light gets in.”
        Now as to our Phil, we all know he’s probably more of a “crank”*; but we dearly love him just the same! [Lol! A good one, if I do say so myself! And I do so say. Thigh (or knee) slaps all around, y’all. On me, of course.]

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        Nicholas Hytner, Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour reprise their Tony-winning roles in this engaging film version of Alan Bennett’s play, chronicling a rowdy group of boys on their way to higher education. On a quest to attend either Oxford or Cambridge, the teens grapple with the intricacies of university entrance exams and admissions, ultimately learning as much about the education system as they do about academics.
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        P.P.P.P.S. The “wee man” Posner (played by Samuel Barnett) singing the ‘torch song’ Bewitched to “heartthrob” Dakin (played by Dominic Cooper) is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in a long, long time! Unfortunately, the only clip of it I can find where you can see some of the hilarious expressions on his face as he sings it has very poor audio (and not very good video). Ain’t life a bi_ch!
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      • DICKERSON3870
        April 25, 2012, 6:12 pm

        RE: “Maybe I need to sniff some glue, and put ‘em back together.” ~ Mooser (below)

        MY REPLY: I would recommend Super Glue® (ethyl cyanoacrylate) except that if you get some of it on your skin, trying to get it off will quite possibly drive you mad (insane). And they charge “an arm and a leg” for Super Glue Remover®.
        Go figure!

        P.S. I once had a couple of fingers stuck together for several months, but I was determined to be damned before I would pay for a tube of Super Glue Remover®.
        Come to think of it, that’s when “it” all began. . . OMG, I’ll be damned! Er, I mean, I have been damned!

      • Mooser
        April 23, 2012, 11:02 am

        “Over time, he found inner peace,”

        And people say that inner peace will cost you “an arm and a leg”! The story shows it can be done on the cheap.
        And the parable of the cracked vase gives me hope for my inner pieces. Maybe I need to sniff some glue, and put ’em back together.

  14. ToivoS
    April 22, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Concerning the final question about what is happening to the WaPo and NYT allow me to suggest cognitive dissonance. CD is an over-used and increasingly misused term to describe mass delusional behavior but I think it appropriate here.

    First their is the primary belief system — originally applied to religious beliefs but finds applications in nationalist and political movements — that is shared by a group. In this case belief in the goodness of Israel as the savior of the Jews. The belief consists of elements such as “A land without a people for a people without a land” , “the most moral army in the world”, “the only democracy in the ME”, and other beliefs that Israel is a bastion of Western civilization in a barbarian region.

    These beliefs are coming increasingly under assault by reality for all of the reasons that are so well documented here at MW. This kind of conflict between the belief system and reality results in a split in the movement. There are those that reject the myths but then others have a different reaction: they react to the conflict by embracing even more fanatically their original beliefs.

    I see WaPo and the NYT falling into the fanatical cult faction in this split. The good news is that it means the reality of Israel is beginning to infiltrate their minds if only at the unconscious level for now. The bad news is that they willing to actively pursue actions that are even more divorced from reality. Bad wars or other ruinous actions may result. The Chinese cultural revolution in the 1960s is one of the more spectacular examples.

    In any case rational debate becomes less and less effective in these kinds of environments. What the cultists need is good therapy. What is needed is a Zionist deprogramming organization.

    • yourstruly
      April 22, 2012, 8:49 pm

      treating cognitive dissonance (wikipedia) –

      Cognitive dissonance theory warns that people have a bias to seek consonance among their cognitions/{behaviors}. According to Festinger, we engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction”, which he said could be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the the dissonant factors.

      assuming that among the discordant factors potentially causing dissonance in zionists is their belief that israel is a peace seeking nation which contrasts with the reality of israel’s criminal behavior towards the palestinians. the zionist’s tendency to dehumanize the palestinian lowers the importance of said criminal behavior, falling for the myth about israel being the only democracy in the region adds a consonant element, whereas, deciding that israel’s being jewish trumps its being democratic, raises the bar, so to speak, on a potentially dissonant element.

      since dehumanization is less likely to occur among people immersed in a multicultural environment, the increasing separatism within occupied palestine
      is not encouraging. meanwhile, from a quick review of wikepedia’s material on cognitive dissonance (+ personal experience, of course), seems to me that increasing the “price” (shame, embarrassment, public disdain) that zionists must pay for not letting go of their zionist entity (along with the threat that leading israel firsters could be tried for treason*) is what it’s going to take to bring sanity to u.s. policies toward the mideast.

      *based on their giving support to a foreign entity deemed to be an enemy of the u.s. of a.

  15. eGuard
    April 22, 2012, 3:39 pm

    OP (Philip Weiss): the MSM hornet’s nest.

    Shouldn’t that be “the liberal Zionist hornet’s nest.”?

  16. sciri21
    April 22, 2012, 4:34 pm

    I think tribalism or ethno-centrism would be a more fitting descriptor than nationalism, because Beinart himself is Jewish nationalist but not an ethno-centrist or a tribalist.

    • Mooser
      April 23, 2012, 11:05 am

      “Beinart himself is Jewish nationalist but not an ethno-centrist or a tribalist.”

      And that makes all the difference? Look, we had a national intelligence test, centering around Iraq, and Beinart failed big-time.

      • Opaleye
        April 23, 2012, 2:52 pm

        So that’s what it was!? At last, a plausible theory for why Iraq happened. It was the world’s most expensive IQ test. Very cunning of The Powers That Be… they must have employed a few psychology grads to think that one up.

  17. MHughes976
    April 22, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Sciri is right, I think. I’ve now read Gordis’ review and found it colder and less emotional than Goldberg suggests. Judaism is ineluctably tribal, says Gordis. Beinart, Gordis continues, is mistakenly trying to export American liberalism to the ME, which is pointless, and to unite it with a kind of Jewish nationalism, which is self-contradictory. This is actually a reasoned critique of Beinart. Gordis adds that Israel is of and for the Jews, who accept the obligation to ‘protect and honour’ non-Jewish people but not an obligation to make a polity that is equally ‘for’ all concerned. The idea of human rights equal in all circumstances is rejected and Gordis is proud of the rejection.

    • Mooser
      April 23, 2012, 11:08 am

      “Judaism is ineluctably tribal”

      Yes, I do believe some big-time genetics institute in Sweden has identitfied the “ineluctably tribal” gene which all Jews carry or acquire by conversion. Jeez, no wonder conversion to Judaism is so much trouble, it involves gene-splicing.

      And what the heck is with this “ineluctably”? I thought the moderators banned comments with profanity.

      • MHughes976
        April 26, 2012, 8:58 pm

        Yes, eluction does sound like a rather dodgy practice.

  18. Daniel Rich
    April 23, 2012, 12:26 am

    WaPo and NYT don’t run by themselves, they’re owned. Owners [in general] decide what goes into those/the papers or what sort of template should be used.

  19. Opaleye
    April 23, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Great first line in the article. But like others here, I don’t see any mystery in the WP/NYT hatefest. Goldberg thinks they are “high minded”. Really? Let’s ask the surviving Iraqis what they think of that.

    • MarkF
      April 24, 2012, 3:07 pm

      “Goldberg thinks they are “high minded”.

      OK, a bit inappropriate, but now I have the vision of a bunch of NYT/WashPo stoners sounding like Beavis and Butthead talking about what a great idea it would be to invade Iraq.

      Not to offend Beavis and Butthead by comparing them to the WashPo & NYT pundits and editors who helped cheerlead us into war.

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