Goldberg smears JVP after ‘NYT’ columnist mentions them for defending Hagel

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 14 Comments
JVP protest
A Jewish Voice for Peace protest in Washington, D.C. (Pete Marovich/European Pressphoto Agency)

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof defends the nomination of Chuck Hagel today, and also mentions the efforts of Jewish Voice for Peace, who defended Hagel. Atlantic writer and Israel-discourse police officer Jeffrey Goldberg responded on Twitter by smearing Jewish Voice for Peace.

Kristof also defends the use of the term “Jewish lobby.” Many of the neoconservative attacks on Hagel have centered on his comment to Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates intimidates a lot of people up here [in D.C.].” More from the New York Times:

Critics are pounding President Obama’s choice for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, as soft on Iran, anti-military and even anti-Semitic. This is a grotesque caricature of a man who would make a terrific defense secretary…

The nastiest and most shameful innuendo about Hagel is that he is anti-Semitic. A Wall Street Journal column suggested as much, and Elliott Abrams, a former George W. Bush administration official, asserted that Hagel “appears to be … an anti-Semite.” I’m standing up for Hagel right now partly because I find this so offensive.

The “evidence” is that Hagel once referred to the term “Jewish lobby” rather than “Israel lobby,” and that he has generally been more willing to criticize Israeli policies than many of America’s feckless politicians.

For starters, “Jewish lobby” is a term that has been widely used: A search of “Jewish lobby” on the Web site of Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, has 27 pages of citations. And Haaretz has criticized Israeli policies much more harshly than Hagel.

Leaders of Jewish organizations themselves have used the term “Jewish lobby.” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, used the term a couple weeks ago.

It’s bullying and name-calling to denounce people as anti-Semitic because they won’t embrace the policies of a far-right Israeli government that regularly shoots itself in the foot. In a world in which anti-Semitism actually does persist, this is devaluing the term so that it becomes simply a glib right-wing insult. Maybe that’s why Jewish Voice for Peace, a liberal American Jewish organization, has announced that its supporters have sent 10,000 e-mails to President Obama in support of Hagel’s nomination.

This is what Goldberg had to say on Twitter:


It’s fair enough to point out the differences between J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, but denouncing Jewish Voice for Peace for “working for Israel’s elimination” is pure slander. Jewish Voice for Peace works for a just solution in Israel/Palestine based on the principles of human rights and equality. Goldberg’s reference to “Israel’s elimination” is likely a reference to the fact that the group does not take a position on a solution to the conflict, and that they work against the system of Jewish privilege that dominates from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. As they note on their website: 

As activists in the movement for peace and justice in the Middle East, JVP members are often asked for our position on how the Palestine / Israel conflict should ultimately be solved. Our mission statement endorses neither a one-state solution, nor a two-state solution. Instead it promotes support for human rights and international law. As a result, we have members and supporters on both sides of this question, as well as many others who, like the organization as a whole, are agnostic about it. If a short answer is required, it would be that we support any solution that is consistent with the national rights of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, whether one binational state, two states, or some other solution. In this paper, we provide a longer answer. JVP’s stance has always been that the people living in Israel-Palestine are the ones who must decide on their own political formations and how best to resolve this conflict. In fact, much of our strategy and approach is based on the conclusion that it is outside interference, especially that of the United States, that is the biggest obstacle to the two peoples creating that solution.

Zilch about “eliminating” Israel in there. “Elimination” implies that JVP would be fine with the eradication of Israeli Jews, which they are clearly not in favor of. But Goldberg’s just afraid that the discourse of human rights in relation to Israel/Palestine will become paramount, and so he wants to discredit the organization. 

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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14 Responses

  1. Les
    January 10, 2013, 3:25 pm

    The Times is sure to make mention of Corporal Goldberg’s military experience, not in the US military, but in the IDF, as a campguard of native Palestinians. Who could be more qualified to speak out against Vietnam combat veteran Hagel?

  2. pabelmont
    January 10, 2013, 3:27 pm

    JVP: “the people living in Israel-Palestine are the ones who must decide on their own political formations and how best to resolve this conflict.”

    Not too bad, but forgets another class of people, “the people who should be allowed to return to I/P as refugees from 1948 and thereafter, and their progeny”.

    I doubt JVP meant to say “OK” to the expulsions-and-exiles of 1948, but the above formulation suggests that. (OK, I see that it is difficult to make a neat, concise formulation that includes the exiles.)

  3. seanmcbride
    January 10, 2013, 3:27 pm

    I’m glad I jumped out in front of the crowd in defending the use of the term “the Jewish lobby” — even a leading New York Times columnist agrees. :)

    We need two new terms for discussing Mideast politics:

    1. the Jewish/Israel lobby
    2. the Christian/Israel lobby

    In terms of pure financial and propaganda power, the Jewish/Israel lobby is more influential than the Christian/Israel lobby within the overall Israel lobby. Compared to, say, Malcolm Hoenlein or William Kristol, John Hagee or Mike Huckabee is a joke.

    It is important to start dealing forthrightly with these facts of life.

    I love the way that Kristof Googled into Haaretz for the hard data — he’s a cyber-hep cat. :) I did the same thing a few weeks ago — but also folded the Jerusalem Post, the Forward and some other mainstream and reputable Jewish publications into my inquiries.

    Chuck Hagel said nothing controversial whatever — and there was no need for him to offer an apology for his truthful remark. What he said needs to be said — loudly and repeatedly.

  4. seafoid
    January 10, 2013, 4:00 pm

    The concept of “Antisemitism” has been debased by the bots to the point of meaninglessness.

    Hungarian soccer fans at a match versus Israel display Iranian flags. This is deemed “antisemitic”.

    Italian fans at a match against an Israeli team display “free Palestine” flags. “Antisemitic”. WTF.

    Running a sovereign sadistic militaristic ethnocracy means taking responsibility for the reaction to it.

    • Mooser
      January 11, 2013, 5:47 pm

      “Running a sovereign sadistic militaristic ethnocracy means taking responsibility for the reaction to it.”

      I thought it meant pretty much disdaining and rejecting any responsibility for the reaction to it. Would have thought it was intrinsic in it, considering the first thing an ethnocracy has to do is screw some other people.
      But if Zionism were capable of being cognizant of and taking responsibility for reactions to it, it wouldn’t be Zionism, would it?

  5. German Lefty
    January 10, 2013, 6:18 pm

    “Elimination” (of Israel) implies that JVP would be fine with the eradication of Israeli Jews.

    I totally disagree. Wanting to eliminate (= dissolve) a state is not at all the same as wanting to eliminate (= kill) the people who live in this state.

  6. Hostage
    January 10, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Not too bad, but forgets another class of people

    Don’t fret, the political platform contained in the JVP Mission Statement calls for a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law and equity.

  7. yonah fredman
    January 10, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Goldberg’s glib use of “elimination” is wrong, but is it slander? It is shorthand used in this age of twitter.

    The just solution offered by JVP threatens some Jewish Israelis, or maybe even most Jewish Israelis and is not seen as this innocent offering of a world of peace and justice. The proposals of JVP are seen to them as offers of being Sunni in Iraq and Alawite in tomorrow’s Syria and Christian in today’s Egypt. And can you tell them why they are wrong and your vision is the more likely one?

    • Cliff
      January 11, 2013, 12:31 pm

      Wondering Jew,

      You are entitled to your ‘feelings’ but not to facts and reality.

      Zionist Jews like you and those who you defend are concerned first and foremost in preserving their privilege above ALL else.

      Your analogies are hysterical. The Palestinians have been subdued effectively and Palestinian violence is a blip compared to the overwhelming force used by Israelis.

      Palestinians already live in fear. You simply fear living with Palestinians. Why? You’re a racist Jewish nationalist and desire the land to yourself.

    • Mooser
      January 11, 2013, 5:53 pm

      “And can you tell them why they are wrong and your vision is the more likely one?”

      If a society based on peace and justice is not to an Israeli’s liking, without even reading it I would bet that JVP would not countenance forcing them to stay there, in a Palestine based on peace and justice, in a million years. They would be perfectly free to leave, who knows, maybe even with compensation, to help them with a fresh start in a society of their choosing, based on the right amounts of peace and justice for them.

    • Mooser
      January 11, 2013, 5:58 pm

      “And can you tell them why they are wrong and your vision is the more likely one?”

      And can you tell us why, how, and how long, things should go on the way they are?

  8. Basilio
    January 10, 2013, 10:56 pm

    Those who quickly throw around the word anti-Semite in many cases are anti-white, anti-black. How about they look at their own racism? America belongs to all races, creeds, and ethnicities. All men are created equal. Enough of the slandering of people. We won’t tolerate the unfair character assassinations of anyone.

  9. jimmy
    January 11, 2013, 10:00 am

    those Goldbergs….

    over at anti-war
    Hagel Continues to Face Tough Opposition in Senate
    Report: Sen. Kirk’s Office Being Used to Organize Anti-Hagel Campaign

    And the public list may only be part of the opposition, with reports that Sen. Mark Kirk (R – IL), who hasn’t come out officially on the issue one way or another, is allowing his office to be used as the center of the anti-Hagel campaign, with his deputy ” chief of staff Richard Goldberg ” sending round after round of mass emails to politicians warning of the “threat” of Hagel.

  10. Joeygee23
    January 11, 2013, 11:27 am

    If it’s a “Jewish Lobby”….its anti-semetic™…so the logical and PC term is “Israel Lobby.” Fine. Time to register them all as agents of a foreign nation….immediately.

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