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

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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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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