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Sullivan unmasks Goldberg as a propagandist for Netanyahu’s ‘lies, bluffs and deceptions’ aimed at getting us into war

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Jeffrey Goldberg (Getty)

Jeffrey Goldberg is the gatekeeper of the American discourse on Israel. But somebody’s getting under his skin– Andrew Sullivan.

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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.

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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.

Lest we forget:

 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.

Triple Ouch.

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 motherheavens!

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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27 Responses

  1. Citizen on March 28, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Good article Annie!

    • annie on April 6, 2012, 10:31 pm

      thank you citizen. i appreciate that. i was just reviewing the article myself (10 days later..) and recalled my (possibly over) excitement. and remember first reading your comment and how good it made me feel. i’m so over the top about sullivan’s zeroing in on this issue in a big way. i appreciate it so much, probably because i have so much hope. i know it sounds corny but i really do have hope. it’s gonna take lots of people becoming engaged and sullivan is engaged. i thank him, thank the world for that engagement.

      big thanks citizen.

  2. marc b. on March 28, 2012, 2:05 pm

    damn, but you are blossoming into an excellent writer. time to march into phil’s office and ask for a raise.

    on point, i have been ambivalent about the so-called cracks in the american-zionist armor, but this stuff makes me believe that i’ve been overly pessimistic. these are some caustic, penetrating, vituperative exchanges, the smell of rome and cat fur burning and all that. and the peretz/beinart dust-up, well, that’s just beautiful. put a smile on my face.

  3. Mooser on March 28, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Wait a minute. We need to back up here. We have way more important things to worry about than the Iranians! Think about it; if the Chinese the Red Chinese, have nuclear weapons, we are already dead, and can only look forward to ekeing out somekind of survival in an irradiated nuclear winter. Even a cursory perusal of the news during that time will show the truth of that.
    I don’t think it’s necessary to worry about Iran’s nuclear bomb is we have already been killed by Chinese nuclear bombs, and before that Russian nuclear arms.

  4. radii on March 28, 2012, 3:17 pm

    in the time Goldberg takes to answer Sullivan, israel will murder more children, force more Palestinians from their homes, humiliate thousands at checkpoints, deposit tens (or hundreds) of million$ from the US gov’t, and harden its form a little more as a pariah state

  5. seafoid on March 28, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I guess Sullivan is, er, bearish on Israel.

  6. DICKERSON3870 on March 28, 2012, 4:21 pm

    RE: “L.J.Wall referenced it as ‘on Bibi’s payroll’. Ouch.” ~ Annie Robbins

    How Mossad Justified Its Murder of an Innocent Iranian Electrical Engineer, by Gareth Porter,, 3/17/12

    (excerpts)…The possibility that Mossad killed the wrong Iranian scientist cannot be completely ruled out. But almost immediately after his murder, Israel sought to justify the murder of Rezaeinejad by presenting him as working on the covert nuclear weapons program Israel had been claiming for years. Associated Press correspondent in Vienna George Jahn reported on July 28 that an anonymous official of an anonymous “member state” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told him Rezaeinejad had been participating in “developing high voltage switches,” which he described as “a key component in setting off the explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.”. . .
    …Two months later, on September 19, Jahn and his anonymous source from the unnamed member state were back at it again, this time with a purported “intelligence summary” claiming to identify the researcher who had allegedly collaborated with Rezaeinejad…
    …Finally, the intelligence summary claimed that Rezaeinejad was not an electrical engineer at all, but a “physicist” who had worked for the Iranian defense ministry on not only high-voltage switches, but also on other projects linked to nuclear weapons development – which it did not identify.
    But an investigation into the Rezaeinejad case reveals that Israel had used the AP’s Jahn to carry out a deliberate disinformation campaign about the victim to justify his murder. Rezaeinejad left a record of published research which makes it very clear that he was indeed an electrical engineer, rather than a physicist, and that he had been working on basic electrical power engineering technologies…


    • dahoit on March 30, 2012, 11:36 am

      Are the Iranians the recipients of those Krytons stolen by the Zionists from California nuke labs?Vedy interesting!

  7. DICKERSON3870 on March 28, 2012, 4:38 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Andrew Sullivan

    MY CONTRIBUTION: Down, down, down into the deep, dark abyss we go; hand in hand with Israel.

    • DICKERSON3870 on March 31, 2012, 12:02 am

      BETTER (I THINK): Down, down, down we go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.

  8. pabelmont on March 28, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Two questions, please: [1] why does Atlantic still publish JG? [2] how many influential people read and care what Sullivan writes?

    • annie on March 28, 2012, 6:06 pm

      the first question, i suppose you would have to ask the owned david g. bradley “who has described himself as “a neocon guy”. he hired both goldberg and sullivan.

      sullivan is read widely. from his wikipage

      In late 2000, Sullivan began his blog, The Daily Dish. By the middle of 2003, it was receiving about 300,000 unique visits per month.

      In February 2007, Sullivan took his blog from TIME to the Atlantic Monthly magazine, where he had accepted an editorial post. Since then, his presence has increased traffic by 30% for Atlantic’s website.[23]

      In 2009, The Daily Dish won The 2008 Weblog Award for Best Blog.[24]

      Sullivan left The Atlantic to begin blogging at The Daily Beast in April 2011.[26]

      he’s not just a blogger, more at the link.

  9. Justice Please on March 28, 2012, 6:00 pm

    “There’s no room for [Palestinians] in this election cycle.”

    Except for the fact that one candidate, Ron Paul, has openly defended the Palestinians’ efforts at the UN and criticized the US administrations efforts to block them:

    “While I do not see UN membership as a particularly productive move for the Palestinian leadership, I do not believe the US should use its position in the UN Security Council to block their membership. I believe in self-determination of peoples and I recognize that peoples may wish to pursue statehood by different means.”

    So there WOULD be much room for the Palestinians in this election cycle, if the mainstream media and mainstream public stopped pretending that there is no candidate with interesting and helpful positions.

  10. chet on March 28, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Let me make the strongest of recommendations to view Peter Beinart’s interview by Rabbi David Golub regarding the key points he makes in his book – intelligent, articulate and relentless in advocating the cessation of settlement building as an absolutely essential requirement and in his criticisms of the injustices that the Palestinians are compelled to endure from the Israelis.

    • Pixel on March 28, 2012, 10:26 pm

      I included the same link in the comments section of another post today.

      I couldn’t agree with you more!!

  11. Don on March 28, 2012, 6:57 pm

    I agree…very interesting article, Annie.

    But I think the most significant aspect of Andrew Sullivan standing up (and that is the right phrase) to Goldberg is that Sullivan, like Walt and Mersheimer, is not Jewish (he is Catholic). I think in some significant ways what Sullivan is doing takes more courage. He has no academic standing. If he can take the withering assault…more will undoubtedly follow.

    I can certainly understand Goldberg’s frustration…what gentiles have been able to withstand the public accusation of anti-semitism (since the end of WW2))? Not many. And as a result, I think Goldberg et al have simply assumed they can do as they please on this issue….dictate the discussion. As Phil has pointed out many times…American Jews do not want American gentiles involved in this discussion.

    I don’t mean to underestimate Walt and Mearsheimer…but Sullivan is doing the equivalent of Gary Cooper in High Noon.

    He is out there all alone.

    • annie on March 28, 2012, 7:21 pm

      i agree don. that’s what i meant when i said “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.”

      imho, this has to break out of a dialogue conducted, for the most part, thru the israel lobby.

    • chet on March 28, 2012, 7:44 pm

      Not completely alone – Juan Cole, Robert Fisk, (off the top…)

      • Rusty Pipes on March 28, 2012, 9:02 pm

        He may not be totally alone, but he’s out in front of the pack in American media (while they both face slings and arrows, their risks are different than Sullivan’s: Juan Cole is tenured and Robert Fisk is British)

      • annie on March 28, 2012, 11:04 pm

        someone just sent me a pic of sullivan and partner at the white house and wrote he recalled at the time obama told him he read sullivan’s blog, the dish. it’s not uncommon to for sullivan to be on those sunday morning talk shows. he definitely has a msm presence.

      • ritzl on March 28, 2012, 9:40 pm

        Greenwald too, on occasion.

  12. Pixel on March 28, 2012, 10:17 pm

    ” ‘…without Goldberg or reporters like Goldberg, our insight into Netanyahu’s thinking would be severely curtailed.’ “

    “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

    • annie on March 28, 2012, 10:58 pm

      personally, i wouldn’t mind a little vacation from netanyahu’s thinking. what was it that obama said? he had to deal with him every day?

  13. jewishgoyim on March 28, 2012, 11:11 pm

    Nice piece! Goldberg never disappoints. And Sullivan is an Obama shill but he does good…

  14. MladenAndrijasevic on March 31, 2012, 1:21 pm

    Something is very wrong with American journalism when several leading journalists of the Atlantic can in their email exchange discuss the Iranian threat with absolutely no mention of Shia eschatology, the Mahdi and the inapplicability of the MAD doctrine to Iran. All the religious/ideological factors are skipped over as if they did not exist. This would be comparable to a Kremlinologist during the Cold War explaining the Soviet threat with no mention of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin

    As a result you have several blind men exchanging emails about Iran to an equally clueless audience who cannot even grasp that they are being bamboozled since even the words to describe the situation have been discouraged by the PC accepted Newspeak.

    See MAD is Dead

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