Today’s breathtaking announcement by Atlantic media’s owner David Bradley that Jeffrey Goldberg will become editor-in-chief is curious not for the accolades it showers on the star writer — “no greater journalist writing in the country today” — but for the laundering it does of his resume.
There is no mention of his one book about Israel, Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. No mention of the fact that Goldberg emigrated to Israel and served in its armed forces as a corporal. No mention of his Iraq war resume, giving America grounds for invasion with bad reports on Saddam’s connections to Al Qaeda and his manufacture of chemical weapons. No mention of Goldberg’s substantial Israel portfolio. The word Israel appears only once in the announcement, in the delectable phrase, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
It would seem that both the Atlantic and Goldberg are determined to pivot and rebrand. I’m no longer the go-to expert on Israel, no longer the war-drum-beater who told the world that Israel was about to attack Iran, I’m no longer the most powerful Jewish reporter in the country. I’m Jeffrey Goldberg, American editor in a literary line that goes back to Hawthorne, Emerson and Robert Frost. And so much for the fearful anti-semitism of my youth; I’m past all that.
Bradley says that “Jeff’s best-known writing” is “long-form narrative for the print magazine.” Well that’s not entirely accurate. Narrative has never been as important to Goldberg as information and driving an argument. And he is surely best known today for his writing about the Middle East, notably those flat tires in Iraq and his promotion of Israel, like his first and only book.
The media establishment is today a self-protection racket, for all the journalists who supported the greatest foreign policy disaster in U.S. history. “In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality” — Jeffrey Goldberg said that in 2002, Yousef Munayyer reminds us today.
Goldberg has appeared at numerous Zionist events, for instance the American Jewish Committee conference, and Zionism 3.0, where he was introduced by Charlotte Halle, English edition editor at Haaretz, as “for many, the preeminent voice among American Jews.”
The word Jew made no appearance in the Atlantic announcement. Here’s the cleansed resume paragraph from Atlantic media:
As background only, here is Jeff’s story in brief: raised in New York, Jeff attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he edited the Daily Pennsylvanian. Beginning his career as a crime reporter for The Washington Post, Jeff moved through The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. Jeff joined The Atlantic in 2007. Across his nearly-10 years with us, Jeff has written many of our most-successful cover stories, including this year’s “The Obama Doctrine,” and has interviewed many world leaders on our behalf including King Abdullah of Jordan, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and the former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
For the record, Goldberg made aliyah to Israel in his early 20s (30 years ago) and spent several years in Israel. “The Diaspora was the disease, and Israel was the cure,” he wrote in his book. He felt that a red river of anti-semitism flowed just under the surface of American life, and even after he decided to come back stated that America was “unhealthy for Jews and Judaism.” He came back because he realized he wasn’t all that comfortable with Israeli culture, and because he was journalistically ambitious, which is of course no crime.
Goldberg said when his book came out in 2006 — “I love Israel, with all its flaws. I’m deeply committed to its safety and its future” — and he demonstrated as much with all his reporting that promoted the American involvement in Israel’s battles in the Middle East. Like the famous Point of No Return in the Atlantic in 2010, which pressured the United States to take action against Iran before Israel launched its jets within the next year. That article was one of several that earned him the reputation that even his colleague Robert Wright noted: a “channel” for Benjamin Netanyahu.
Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, that is. Just in case you all forgot who Benjamin Netanyahu was…
Not long ago (2011) Goldberg observed, shrewdly (and he’s nothing if not shrewd), that while he vehemently disagrees with the left’s position that Zionism is a settler ideology, the left “has the wind at its back.” Five years have passed, and the wind has become a simoom: we’re in the 50th year of the occupation and leading Israel Zionists talk fearfully about growing fascism in Israel and on September 29, as he was negotiating this job, Goldberg at last cashiered Netanyahu with a piece in the Atlantic titled the “Unbearable Smallness of Netanyahu.”
Seems like Goldberg has chosen just the right time to pivot.
Thanks to Adam Horowitz and Yakov Hirsch.