Media Analysis

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel was brought to you by Jeffrey Goldberg

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A reckoning among American Jews who have been Netanyahu’s enablers for so long must take place now, before his successor takes office. Another Israeli leader must never again be allowed to use and abuse American Jews in such a way and take the Diaspora for granted.

–Anshel Pfeffer in the Forward.

On August 3, 2018, US Senator Cory Booker was photographed with a pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) group and a sign that reflected a Palestinian perspective on the conflict with Israel:

Cory Booker and pro-Palestinian activists, from twitter.

After a public outcry, Booker disavowed the photo.

The reason why Booker felt compelled to disown the image was not because of “pro-Israel money,” or Jewish votes, as most think. Even if presidential aspirant Booker can replace every dollar and vote, he would still feel compelled to repudiate the photo. And that is because of the taboo associated with the Palestinians’ side of their conflict with Israel—the taboo associated with BDS.

This taboo is reflective of Israeli and Diaspora discourse right now. It dismisses attempts to portray Palestinians—or people critical of the Israeli government—as making decisions about what to support based on rational criteria. Instead, people are reduced to ideas, to symbols of ancient Jew hatred. “BDS is a modern version of an irrational hatred of the Jewish people,” says Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL.

Listen to President Obama’s foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes describe in his recent memoir the resistance to the Iran deal coming from the Jewish community:

Even to acknowledge the fact that AIPAC was spending tens of millions to defeat the Iran deal was anti-Semitic. To observe that the same people who supported the war in Iraq also opposed the Iran deal was similarly off limits. It was an offensive way for people to avoid accountability for their own positions.

Obama had a similar reaction: “Come on… This is aggravating… This isn’t about anti-Semitism… They’re trying to take away our best argument, that it’s this or war.”

Like the Palestinian perspective that’s taboo, the “best arguments” that Rhodes and Obama used to discredit the anti-Iran deal forces were also “off limits.” It was impermissible to claim that the same people that argued for the war in Iraq were the most vociferous against the Iran deal. It was “anti-Semitic” to publicize Netanyahu and AIPAC’s machinations against the deal.

These taboos don’t appear out of thin air.

Nobody has cultivated the tribal Jewish political culture that Booker, Rhodes and Obama had to contend with more than Jeffrey Goldberg, now the editor in chief of the Atlantic. Read Goldberg’s treatment of Obama’s arguments for the Iran deal. This is precisely what Rhodes and Obama were complaining about:

Why does it seem to a growing number of people (I count Chuck Schumer in this group) that an administration professing—honestly, from what I can tell—to understand Jewish anxieties about the consequences of anti-Semitism in the Middle East does not appear to understand that the way some of its advocates outside government are framing the Iran-deal fight—as one between Jewish special interests, on the one hand, and the entire rest of the world, on the other—may empower actual anti-Semites not only in the Middle East, but at home as well?… I suspect that opponents of the deal in the American Jewish community are wrong in their views, but this does not make them warmongers, in the way Charles Lindbergh once understood Jews to be warmongers.

What Goldberg was doing in that article was enforcing a Jewish tribalist perspective on mainstream politics. In, fact, Goldberg’s own agitation about “Jewish anxieties” created a self-fulfilling prophesy. Goldberg exacerbated Jewish anxiety by exaggerating it. Goldberg imposed a kind of blackmail when he claimed Obama and Rhodes were not playing fair in the “war of ideas” about the Iran deal.

And this is not unusual for Goldberg. He has spent his career attempting to discredit ideological opponents the same way. For example, Paul Starobin in his 2013 profile of Goldberg quotes Goldberg’s reaction to the journalist Andrew Sullivan’s “war of ideas” against Netanyahu’s Israel:

Sullivan has… become an increasingly vocal critic of Netanyahu’s government for failing to confront the settlers and make peace with the Palestinians—a posture that in Goldberg’s view amounts to a blame-the-Jews mindset. “He thinks I’m a terrible Netanyahu apologist, and I think he’s a scapegoater of Jews,” Goldberg wrote of Sullivan on Goldblog in March [2012]

On an earlier occasion Goldberg said it didn’t really matter whether Sullivan was himself an anti-Semite because Sullivan’s criticisms of Netanyahu (and of “Bibi’s” enablers like Goldberg) were, again, “empowering anti-Semites”:

[H]e sometimes uses his blog to disseminate calumnies that can cause hatred of Jews, and of Israel… Andrew’s posts on Israel and on Jewish political power in America have lately given comfort to some very repulsive people.

Goldberg’s discourse is not a reflection of the real world. The “blame the Jews mindset” that Goldberg so often detects among Israel critics says more about Jeffrey Goldberg than it does about his targets. Listen to Goldberg’s take on Jimmy Carter’s 2006 “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid” warning. In a review of the book in the Washington Post Goldberg wrote:

There are differences, however, between Carter’s understanding of Jewish sin and God’s. God, according to the Jewish Bible, tends to forgive the Jews their sins. And God, unlike Carter, does not manufacture sins to hang around the necks of Jews when no sins have actually been committed.

When Jimmy Carter warned that Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett’s 2018 Israel was on the horizon, Jeffrey Goldberg determined that Carter was manufacturing sins to “hang around the necks of Jews.”

Goldberg also said that when Carter looked at the state of Israel he saw “the Pharisees.”:

When you read it carefully, you realize that it is essentially a theologically based rant. The essential argument of his book is that Israel today plays the role the Pharisees played 2,000 years ago, during the time of Christ. And the conclusion I came away with was that Jimmy Carter never got the memo that evangelical Christians are supposed to like the Jews now, and he’s still stuck in sort of an old mode of thinking.

This essay is about Jewish tribalism. Jewish tribalism has conquered Israeli political culture. Jewish tribalism has cultivated a moral panic among Jews the world over. Just as Goldberg’s was wrong about the moral “meaning” of Jimmy Carter and Andrew Sullivan’s interest in Israel, so too is his fear of “empowering anti-Semites” a fantasy.

In the real-world Benjamin Netanyahu and Jeffrey Goldberg using tribalist tropes to agitate against ideological opponents is what empowers anti-Semites.

But “empowering anti-Semites” is only one of the tropes that Goldberg has wielded throughout his career. And it is this “hasbara culture” discourse itself, separated from the real world, that is his goal. Because with his ethnocentric projections the ideological Goldberg has created “moral meaning” in Jewish and American political culture.

Jewish tribalism is what’s behind the growing diaspora disillusionment with Israel.

There is no greater threat to Jewish body, mind and soul than Jewish tribalism.

What is Jewish tribalism? Jewish tribalism is an ethnocentric perspective that fails to take into account how another person or group looks at the world. Jewish tribalism finds solutions to Israel’s 21st-century problems in a mythical Jewish past. The Jewish tribalist perspective represents an approved story, a “kosher” ideology for Jews looking to make sense of their place in the world. Jewish tribalism brooks no opposition. Often the Jewish tribalist perspective overwhelms reality.

The successful cultivation and proselytization of the Jewish tribalist narrative has transformed Israel and Jewish culture. Another name for this tribalism is “hasbara culture.” As I have written previously, hasbara culture is a belief system about the world so strong that it successfully projects a social construction of alternative reality. The narrative of victim hood and the politics of Jewish ethnocentricity cultivated by Netanyahu and Education Minister Bennett are elements of that culture. So is the unabashed Jewish tribalism that we see from Israel every day. In fact, it’s the same perspective that Jeffrey Goldberg has proselytized the past twenty-five years.

Hasbara culture means being so ethnocentric you can’t even believe the Palestinians can be ethnocentric too.

No, in hasbara culture every type of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation is not about the Palestinian situation. It is about Israel; it is about “the Jews.”

This essay is the first of two parts focusing on the Jewish discourse of Jeffrey Goldberg. By examining Goldberg’s rhetoric and writing we can see a profile of the “hasbara culture” worldview emerge. We must understand this tribalist weltanschauung if we are to understand what is dividing the Jewish world.

Jeffrey Goldberg matters because he has successfully put himself forward as a spokesperson for the Jewish people. In his recent profile in Jewish Currents, “Jeffrey Goldberg Doesn’t Speak for the Jews,” David Klion writes:

More than any other mainstream journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg has repeatedly taken it upon himself to speak for the Jewish people … with at least the passive approval of an elite network, Goldberg has spent years passing harsh, biblical judgment on both Jews and gentiles who dare to weigh in on issues related to Israel, from authors to organizations to U.S. presidents.

Goldberg hasn’t limited himself to policing the Jewish discourse in the diaspora. He has attempted to do so in Israel as well. Here are some examples of Goldberg trying to censor the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Goldberg policing Haaretz

And some further comments:

“I think I’m getting ready to leave Ha’aretz behind, actually.” — Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) August 1, 2016

@BarakRavid @haaretzcom I love you, I’m just tired of reading about the evil Jews all the time on the opinion pages.” — Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) August 2, 2016

Goldberg’s problem with Haaretz is that the newspaper treats Israel like a normal country. Haaretz Israeli writers don’t see “the Jews” and their enemies every time they look out into the world. According to non-hasbara culture Jews, Israel’s behavior has consequences. It makes sense that the way Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel behave breeds enemies and animosities.

But from the hasbara culture perspective, Israel’s challenges are a continuation of the same struggles Jews have always faced: irrational Jew-hatred. According to Jeffrey Goldberg and hasbara culture, it is anti-Semitism that is the “roots” and the “something deeper” of the Palestinian resistance to Israel.

Yair Rosenberg on Jeffrey Goldberg’s understanding of the roots of Palestinian violence.

Jeffrey Goldberg and Ha’aretz have a fundamental different experience of the world. And according to the tribalist Goldberg, Ha’aretz is committing the crime of giving succor to Israel’s enemies -of making “neo-Nazis” happy.

It would be one thing if Goldberg were just another writer sounding off on twitter. He isn’t. Goldberg’s career has been spent trying to establish his version of Jewish reality: A sense of Goldberg’s influence can be seen from the coverage of the Ha’aretz story in the Jewish media.

Chemi Shalev of Ha’aretz responded to it. Israel National News covered it.

So did Israel Hayom. “Prominent American journalist decries anti-semitism at Ha’aretz.”

The Jewish Press on Goldberg walking away from the “Ha’aretz cult.”

Algemeiner: Goldberg sparks twitter frenzy.

Gideon Levy sought to counter this influence in a column titled, “The Dangerous Fantasies of Jeffrey Goldberg.” He accused Goldberg of

the greatest boorishness of all: the rather primitive idea that Israel’s critics are the ones giving it a bad name, not its actions and policies, that criticism of Israel was born of articles in Ha’aretz, not the crimes of the occupation. The video footage released Tuesday showing a Border Policeman throwing the bike of a terrified Palestinian girl into the bushes in Hebron did more damage to Israel than all of my pieces in Ha’aretz combined. Goldberg probably thought it should never have been posted, because of the neo-Nazis.

The same ideological disagreement between Gideon levy and “hasbara culture” was seen after so many of the world leaders flew to Israel for Shimon Peres’s funeral in 2016. In “Shimon Peres’ Funeral Proved That Anti-Semitism Is Dead,” Levy argued that:

On Friday, the world made a very clear and resolute statement: we love Israel and hate the occupation; we love Israel and hate its policy; we love to love Israel, long to embrace it and admire it — just give us a sign, a hint, a signal. Show that you are headed toward peace, that at least you are doing something toward ending the occupation — a speech, negotiations, a conference, lip service, anything — and we’ll shower you with all our love, even more than you deserve. You won’t be pariahs.

You are currently pariahs not because you’re Jews and not because you’re Israelis — don’t believe your demagogic leaders, who tell you this to absolve themselves and you of the heavy responsibility and blame. You are pariahs because you are brutal occupiers. You are pariahs because you thumb your noses at the world and its institutions, as almost no other country would dare do… The whole world is against us? Nonsense! It is Israel that is against the world. It’s not important what Israel does? That’s the only thing that is important. An end to the occupation will end Israel’s pariah status.

Levy is describing the non-hasbara culture reality. Though Levy is a supporter of BDS, even BDS opponents like J Street followers recognize the truth of Levy’s reality.

In a since-deleted tweet Jeffrey Goldberg called this Levy column a “parody.” According to Jeffrey Goldberg and hasbara culture, Israeli behavior has little or nothing to do with the world’s criticism. According to hasbara culture when “the world” looks at Israel they see the same “Jews” they always have.

Yair Rosenberg on Gideon Levy

What makes Goldberg’s “Jewish” accusations against Ha’aretz especially persuasive and pernicious is that Goldberg is thought of as a political liberal, a Jewish centrist. So, if “even Jeffrey Goldberg” thinks Ha’aretz has a “Jewish problem” it must be true. Goldberg’s politics reflect what readers think of as the “liberal Zionist” position. But on the Jewish cultural front Jeffrey Goldberg represents something else entirely.

In fact, Goldberg’s politics obscure more than they enlighten.


To understand Jeffrey Goldberg’s influence, it is instructive to contrast him with genuine liberal Zionists, Peter Beinart and other Jewish J street supporters. To the uninitiated, Goldberg and Beinart might seem very similar: both argued for the Iraq invasion, support a two-state solution, and were in favor of the Iran deal. But ideologically they are very far apart indeed. Jeffrey Goldberg and Peter Beinart represent two different Jewish worldviews. Take BDS that Corey Booker was so afraid to be associated with. When we listen to Goldberg’s rhetoric on the non-violent Palestinian movement, or even to an economic boycott of settlements, we discover that Goldberg, just like Netanyahu, is reminded of Nazi Germany and historical European anti-Semitism.

Here are some examples of how Goldberg “framed” BDS over the years. In a 2010 Atlantic blog post Goldberg wrote:

Because I’m running a campaign on this blog against the cheap deployment of Nazi imagery in argument-making, I am going to resist the urge to point out that the European-centered campaign to launch an economic boycott of the world’s only majority-Jewish country smacks of something historically unpleasant, except now I didn’t resist the urge. But I do actually think it’s a fair analogy, and the BDS movement, like no other anti-Israel propaganda campaign, has sent chills down the collective Jewish spine precisely because economic boycotts have been, throughout history, used to hurt Jews.

By projecting that BDS “has sent “chills down the collective Jewish spine,” Goldberg cultivates the “fair analogy” between BDS and “Nazi imagery,” in Jewish and American political culture.

And read what made Goldberg “queasy” in 2014 when listening to then Secretary of State John Kerry at the Munich Security Conference:

Goldberg feels queasy

When Kerry pointed out the reality of the “delegitimization campaign” against Israel-the reality that Israel’s behavior was causing a backlash, Jeffrey Goldberg was reminded once again of Nazis.

And what was Goldberg’s read of this Facebook photograph of a Norwegian ska/punk band called Razika holding up BDS signs in 2016?

Razika band supports boycott of Israel.

The psychological need to excoriate Jews is deeply embedded in European culture.

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) May 2, 2016

I don’t think Jeffrey Goldberg reached his conclusion about these women’s Jew hatred by intrepid reporting or having a deep source inside the Norwegian BDS campaign, for that matter (as I wrote at the time).

Jeffrey Goldberg is calling these women anti-Semites and connecting them to the Holocaust and historic Jew hatred without knowing anything about the actual human beings holding up the signs. But as far as Goldberg and hasbara culture is concerned, and as the Greenblatt/ADL Tweet seen earlier claimed, BDS is not a rational response to the political situation but rather an “irrational hatred of the Jewish people.” That’s why it’s ideologically useful for Jeffrey Goldberg to find “links” between BDS and “far right anti-Semitic racial supremacists.”

According to Jeffrey Goldberg BDS and Nazis make natural allies because “Jew hatred” is what drives them both.Now let’s contrast Peter Beinart with Jeffrey Goldberg’s “meaning” of BDS. Even though Beinart like Goldberg is a Zionist and opposes BDS, the two men’s rhetoric on BDS could not be more different. Listen to Beinart describe his opposition to BDS. In a Ha’aretz article in 2016, titled, “Why Rabbi Sacks Is Wrong: Palestinians Don’t Have to Be anti-Semites to Be anti-Zionists,” Beinart wrote:

And yes, of course, some Palestinian anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. But equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism means claiming that virtually all Palestinians are anti-Semites, even Palestinians like Knesset Member Ayman Oudeh, whose political party, Hadash, includes Jews, or intellectuals like Ahmad Khalidi and commentators like Rula Jebreal, who have Jewish spouses.

Equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism turns Palestinians into Amalekites. By denying that they might have any reason besides bigotry to dislike Zionism, it denies their historical experience and turns them into mere vessels for Jew-hatred. Thus, it does to Palestinians what anti-Semitism does to Jews. It dehumanizes them.

Beinart says from a Palestinian perspective, BDS makes sense, and to impugn their motives dehumanizes them. Beinart argues BDS is not about Jew hatred no matter how Israel or pro-Israel Jews might feel about BDS

Here are two liberal Zionists, and their ideas about BDS could not be further apart. Beinart says calling BDS anti-Semitic is itself “anti-Semitic” – it is the same dehumanization anti-Semites do to Jews. While Goldberg tells Kerry and everyone else that BDS should remind them of Nazis.

To determine what the motives of BDS supporters are, Beinart role-plays: He imagines what it would be like to be Palestinian. And when he does, he doesn’t find BDS morally objectionable. Notice how different Goldberg’s approach is. He is not giving an objective assessment about BDS. He doesn’t try to determine the “meaning” of BDS from the Palestinian perspective but rather relies solely on his own perspective.

It doesn’t matter to Goldberg what BDS means to those Norwegian musicians. For Jeffrey Goldberg these women represent an idea, not actual human beings. Anyone with any connection to reality understands that the “idea” that BDS=Nazis has nothing to do with these women’s values, motives and perspectives for supporting BDS. As we know, other Jews who see this image don’t conclude these women hate Jews. In fact, many Jews themselves support BDS. According to Beinart, Jeffrey Goldberg is dehumanizing these women with his characterization of them:

By denying that they might have any reason besides bigotry to dislike Zionism, it denies their historical experience and turns them into mere vessels for Jew-hatred.

Both Goldberg and Beinart are making Jewish arguments. They are using Jewish authority to make their point. Beinart says the lesson of “anti-Semitism” is not to “dehumanize” BDS supporters, while Goldberg says the lesson of Jewish history is that BDS supporters should be treated like those boycotting Jewish stores in Nazi Germany. Peter Beinart represents an alternative Jewish moral clarity from the one Goldberg has been forever enforcing, and that now represents Jewish conventional wisdom.

The same Jewish difference over BDS explains the brouhaha over British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s taking the side of the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. Is Corbyn’s anti-Zionism an “existential threat” to Jews as Former UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues, or, does how Corbyn feel about the State of Israel informs nothing about his “anti-Semitism”?

In an article tweeted by Peter Beinart, the political leader/activist Daniel Levy is not puzzled why Corbyn is no fan of Israel. It goes along with the rest of his politics:

Corbyn is a strong and principled supporter of the Palestinians and critic of Israel, a position consistent with his worldview across a range of issues expressed over decades.

Levy argues that in the real world, the Jewish overreaction to Corbyn, inflamed by the hasbara culture worldview, has consequences:

There are consequences to ratcheting-up the oy-vey-o-meter to eleven absent sufficient cause.

By insisting on being at the forefront of the broader effort to bring Corbyn down, the Jewish establishment is risking the genuine possibility of a backlash—one that could spin out of control irrespective of who leads the Labour party or the country.

The Jewish war of ideas over BDS and Corbyn is at its core whether to look for the “meaning” of anti-Zionism, by contemplating the world view of anti-Zionists themselves, or rather to have hasbara culture “ideological Rottweilers” project their own tribalist attribution error, to make sense of Jeremy Corbyn and those who share his views and values.


Nothing reflects the difference between the Jewish tribal perspective and a more open-minded one than the discourse over Iran. What is the nature of the Iran regime? Is Iran like other countries in the world or is it sui generis? The discourse over Iran in American political culture is so divergent that depending on who you read, it doesn’t even sound like the same country is being debated: Is Iran a “rational actor” or is it a “suicidal apocalyptic cult”? Is Iran a “Nazi-like incarnation of evil,” or can Iran be reasoned with? How to make sense of Iran’s discourse on Israel?  Is it “overheated rhetoric,” or is it evidence of a “ruthless commitment to killing Jews?”

The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street supported Obama and Kerry’s Iran deal. And when news broke of the Iran deal’s passing in Congress, Logan Bayroff, a J Street staffer (in a private capacity), retweeted this tweet from former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski:

“Obama/Kerry = best policy team since Bush I/Jim Baker. Congress is finally becoming embarrassed by Netanyahu’s efforts to dictate US policy.”

Jeffrey Goldberg reacted aggressively to this tweet.

“Jews run America, suggests ex-national security adviser:

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) November 24, 2013

Bayroff responded:

@JeffreyGoldberg He doesn’t say or even imply that. Willingness to accuse everyone of anti-Semitism makes it impossible to respect you.”

Goldberg replied:

The differing interpretation of the Brzezinski tweet by Goldberg and Bayroff is an example of how different liberal Jews of J Street and hasbara culture Jews like Goldberg experience the world. To J Streeters there is nothing mysterious or malicious about Brzezinski’s exasperation with Netanyahu’s meddling in American politics. But the muscular Jewish tribalism that Jeffrey Goldberg represents hears Brzezinski echoing historical tropes about Jews when expressing aggravation with Netanyahu.

It is instructive to read how non-hasbara culture Jews responded to this Goldberg display.

The J Street-supporting American-Israeli journalist Emily Hauser took umbrage at Goldberg’s assumption of Jewish authority. Emily Hauser:

with all due respect to Jeffrey Goldberg, I’m not so sure that any Jews, of any stripe, require his defense to remain inside “the Jewish tent.”

Hauser questioned the insidious “meaning” Goldberg gave to the Brzezinski tweet: “That is: in saying that Israel’s Prime Minister tries ‘to dictate U.S. policy,’ Brzezinski joined the ranks of the authors of the Elders of Zion.”

Hauser continued:

Now. One could argue about the relative qualities of the two policy teams in question. One could argue with the premise that Congress is “finally becoming embarrassed” by anything. One could even argue as to whether or not Israel’s Prime Minister has tried to “dictate” U.S. policy, but given the multitudinous times that Benjamin Netanyahu has done things like a) stood before Congress and said point-blank that his country would reject stated U.S. foreign policy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; b) endorsed a Presidential candidate; c) sent a senior cabinet minister to lobby Congress against President Obama’s efforts with Iran; and d) said things like “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily” ― I think we can all agree that he has certainly tried to shape American policy.

That Emily Hauser brings up the infamous Netanyahu – “America is a thing you can move very easily” video is a sign that she is not haunted by Jewish tribalist tropes. Because to Jeffrey Goldberg, paying any attention to that video is evidence of a “Jews control the world” mindset. “Jews run America” is what Goldberg made of the Brzezinski tweet.

Hauser treats Brzezinski like a human being not an idea. Hauser can put herself in Brzezinski’s shoes, and his behavior is no mystery. It makes sense. But when the tribal Goldberg looks at Brzezinski he doesn’t see a person, he sees an idea. Goldberg likely agrees with former Israeli PM Yitzchak Shamir that most Polish people “drink in (anti-Semitism) with their mother’s milk.”

After all what did Goldberg suggest was behind the interest of the co-author of “The Israel Lobby,” John Mearsheimer, in Jewish affairs? His “German American” lineage:

(a suspiciously Jewish-sounding name, though I’m told he’s German-American)

Goldberg’s dehumanization of the “enemies” of the Jews is not very different from how anti-Semites have historically demonized Jews. It takes away people’s individuality and portrays them as just part of a rival tribe. And It doesn’t even dawn on Goldberg that someone concerned about leaving the impression “Jews control America” would leave the Brzezinski and Bayroff tweets in peace.

The Jewish political theorist Corey Robin rejected Goldberg’s Jewish authority in a blog post titled: “Rabbi Goldberg, Can I Come Back into the Tent?”:

By what authority does Jeffrey Goldberg arrogate to himself the right to defend (with the implicit threat that he might not in the future) someone or some group’s “place in the Jewish tent”? Who elected him Pope to excommunicate or not some heretical Jew? Who made him Defender of the Faith?”

Robin finds Zionism at the heart of Goldberg’s discourse:

Zionists like Goldberg like to style themselves as open, hip, and pluralist. They think what distinguishes them from the Black Hats is their embrace of secular modernity. But as you can see from this incident…, Zionism has not only made these types intolerant and anti-pluralist; it has turned them into Popes and Inquisitors, enthralled with their imagined power to exile and excommunicate.

Under their watch, one of the most important questions that lies at the heart of the Jewish tradition — What does it mean to be a Jew? — gets taken off the table. Because we already know the answer: support for the State of Israel. If you do, you’re a Jew in good standing; if you don’t, you’re not.

It is the contention of this essay that Zionism is not the “faith” Goldberg is defending. “What it means to be a Jew” to Goldberg and what’s behind his “implicit threat” against J Street Jewishness is something else entirely. Goldberg’s Jewish identity revolves around a unique tribalist perspective and Jews who don’t share that view, according to Goldberg have an inadequate Jewishness.

Zionism is a component of hasbara culture’s ethnocentric perspective but hasbara culture is much more than Zionism. After all, J Streeters are Zionists. Bayroff is a Zionist. Emily Hauser is a Zionist.

Adherents to hasbara culture believe that the challenges facing Jews in the 21st century are no different than the anti-Semitism threat facing Jews in 19th century and early 20th century. Only this time the Jews are armed. The lesson of the Holocaust to hasbara culture is how to treat the Palestinians. When Elie Wiesel was criticized as an apologist for ethnic cleansing:

Wiesel applied the Holocaust lesson to Palestinians

When Goldberg reviewed Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds for the Atlantic in 2009 his reaction was telling. He wrote:

When I came out of the screening I was so hopped up on righteous Jewish violence that I was almost ready to settle the West Bank—and possibly the East Bank.

This is more than a Goldberg quip: it is a worldview. While on paper Jeffrey Goldberg might be in favor of a two-state solution and thinks expanding settlements a bad idea, he has spent his career as Netanyahu’s ideological partner to make a two-state solution culturally if not politically impossible.

In his 2006 essay in Ha’aretz, “The Country That Wouldn’t Grow Up,” Tony Judt helps us recognize a side of Goldberg’s ideological “self-presentation”:

The contradictions of Israeli self-presentation—”we are very strong/we are very vulnerable”; “we are in control of our fate/we are the victims”; “we are a normal state/we demand special treatment” — are not new: they have been part of the country’s peculiar identity almost from the outset. And Israel’s insistent emphasis upon its isolation and uniqueness, its claim to be both victim and hero, were once part of its David versus Goliath appeal.

But today the country’s national narrative of macho victimhood appears to the rest of the world as simply bizarre: evidence of a sort of collective cognitive dysfunction that has gripped Israel’s political culture. And the long cultivated persecution mania— “everyone’s out to get us”—no longer elicits sympathy.

But Netanyahu and Goldberg have added something to Judt’s “macho victimhood.” Netanyahu and Goldberg highlight a “sacred” component to the Israel/Jewish/Zionist “self-presentation.” The State of Israel has replaced Jews in the hasbara culture imagination. Israel’s battle with its enemies and detractors is a continuation of an ancient conflict. Israel is facing the same peril Jews having always faced. Yair Rosenberg at Tablet magazine is a hasbara culture disciple of Jeffrey Goldberg. This Rosenberg tweet is how hasbara culture experiences accusations of Israeli apartheid. According to hasbara culture doctrine “the least surprising tweet progression,” is the leap from Israel is guilty of apartheid and “The Holocaust didn’t happen.”

Yair Rosenberg tweet on AIPAC

Hasbara culture refuses to accept that people of good will can look at Israel and see apartheid. It’s always about the Jews.

Yair Rosenberg like Jeffrey Goldberg before him has spent years scouring twitter for confirmation of hasbara culture dogma.

Before becoming Atlantic Editor in Chief, Jeffrey Goldberg was less inhibited about sharing hasbara culture tweets. He would range the entirety of Jewish history, to connect protests against Israel to anti-Semitism; as he did when a Spanish music festival cancelled a pro-Israel performer in 2015 because of his work supporting the occupation.

Goldberg on Spanish music festival

Like Netanyahu, Jeffrey Goldberg believes all Jews ought to share that same perspective and Jews who don’t have something lacking. And Jeffrey Goldberg has long found J Street Jewishness wanting. Even when Goldberg finally welcomed J Street into the Jewish tent, he did so with a caveat. Here is Jeffrey Goldberg’s complaint about the “cringing Diaspora Jews” of J Street:

Let me be clear about something: There are many things about J Street I dislike. I think some of its members actually don’t like Israel very much, and especially don’t like the idea of Israel. I think many J Street supporters are cringing Diaspora Jews who are embarrassed by displays of Jewish muscularity,

And what was Goldberg’s judgement of J Street’s support of the Iran deal that Goldberg himself at the end finally approved of?

Goldberg on J Street

Goldberg displayed the “Jewish muscularity” he expected from J Street, during Netanyahu’s speech to Congress against the Iran deal.

Goldberg praises Netanyahu speech to Congress

(In part two of this essay I will unpack the hasbara culture meaning of Goldberg’s “stab in the back” rhetoric towards fellow Jews.)


It is no accident that it was the Iran-deal discourse that had Goldberg question J Street’s place inside the Jewish tent. Once again, the difference of opinion on Iran among influential Jewish opinion makers is indicative of two different Jewish experiences of the world.

So, what does J Street’s most notable supporter, Peter Beinart, make of Iran? Are its leaders rational or “mad Mullahs”?

In a 2015 Atlantic article called “Iran’s leaders are not suicidal,” Beinart wrote:

That’s why the Bush administration’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate said Iran is “guided by a cost-benefit approach.” It’s why Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in 2012 that “we are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor.” It’s why Benny Gantz, then head of the Israel Defense Forces, declared the same year that “the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.” It’s why Meir Dagan, the longtime head of Israel’s intelligence agency, called the Iranian regime “rational” in an interview with 60 Minutes. And it’s why Ron Burgess, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress that “the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or provoke a conflict.” Could all these men, who analyze intelligence about Iran for a living, be wrong? Sure. But [NYT columnist David] Brooks provides no evidence that they are.

Beinart says experts are convinced Iran’s leadership is rational, and no one has shown him evidence to challenge that view.

An American Jewish journalist even more preoccupied with Iran than Beinart was Roger Cohen of the New York Times. Cohen has been a proponent of rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran. In 2009 Cohen visited Iran and spent time with the Jewish community there. His impression of Jewish life in Iran and his views of Iran led to a bitter conflict with Jeffrey Goldberg that is instructive for us. The fracas began after a Feb 2, 2009, Cohen New York Times column called “What Iran’s Jews say”:

Perhaps I have a bias toward facts over words, but I say the reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran—its sophistication and culture—than all the inflammatory rhetoric. That may be because I’m a Jew and have seldom been treated with such consistent warmth as in Iran.

The feud between Goldberg and Cohen-another J Street Jew, “has both the tribalist and more universal Jewishness on display.

Jeffrey Goldberg insists that his “ideas,”- the “meaning” he assigns, the ideology Goldberg projects, this time to Iranians and Muslims, are all more real than Roger Cohen’s real-life experiences.

In “Roger Cohen’s Very Happy Visit with Iran’s Jews,” Jeffrey Goldberg responded to the “credulous” Cohen’s column.

Goldberg said:

The people with whom I visit—and I count the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah in this group—are raised by their families to be kind to guests. It’s very lovely and civilized—Israelis could learn a thing or two about politeness from Muslims—but it’s irrelevant to their politics, or to their beliefs about what should happen to the Jewish state and its supporters.

So that Iranian hospitality is not as meaningful as Cohen thinks. Goldberg says Cohen is making too much of his personal experience with Muslims. He’s been hoodwinked. Goldberg is claiming the “politeness” of Muslims to Jews says nothing about how they really feel about Jews.

Similarly, here is Goldberg’s 2016 reaction to a Haaretz photo essay capturing Jewish Iranians casting ballots at the Yusef Abad synagogue in Tehran:

“Totally spontaneous scenes from a Tehran petting zoo:

— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) February 28, 2016

Daniel Lubin at Lobelog discusses ­why Cohen’s Iran reporting was such an ideological threat to Jeffrey Goldberg:

The Cohen-Goldberg feud began in February, when Cohen published the first of several op-eds arguing for the Iranian regime’s basic pragmatism, evidenced by the experience of its Jewish community. Cohen’s piece provoked howls of outrage from predictable quarters, as neoconservatives charged that he underplayed the suffering of Iranian Jews. However, as Cohen correctly pointed out in a second piece, the real reason for these hysterics was not that Cohen’s critics were offended that he might have miscalibrated the precise degree of oppression faced by Iranian Jews. Rather, it was that the very existence of an Iranian Jewish community shatters the paranoid vision of “an apocalyptic regime — with no sense of its limitations — so frenziedly anti-Semitic that it would accept inevitable nuclear annihilation if it could destroy Israel first.” Once the (frankly absurd) premise that Tehran’s only desire is to kill as many Jews as possible regardless of consequences is discarded, the case for military action against Iran becomes considerably weaker. The hawks sensed that Cohens argument was an extremely dangerous one for them, hence the almost comical fury directed at his columns.

Lubin is arguing that Roger Cohen’s reports about Iran’s Jews provoked a backlash because if Netanyahu and Goldberg’s claim about the nature of Iran’s anti-Semitism is true, why is Jewish life in Iran so tranquil? Where is the “eliminationist anti-Semitism?”

Lubin was detecting “hasbara culture’s” angry response to the cognitive dissonance that serene Iranian Jewish life represented. The “comical fury directed at his [Cohen’s] columns” is because Cohen’s experience with Iran’s Jews threatened to discredit the “frankly absurd” ideas about Iran’s “eliminationist anti-Semitism.”

Cohen and Goldberg engaged in a very public “war of ideas” about the nature of Iran’s hostility toward Israel. There was a lot on the line in that dispute. The American politics surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, and of the Iran deal aimed at curtailing it, would play out differently depending on the perception of Iran in American and Jewish political culture.

Cohen rose to the challenge directly. In an April 8, 2009, column, “Israel Cries Wolf,” he elaborated on his difference with Netanyahu and his “faithful stenographer” Goldberg:

Now here comes Netanyahu, in an interview with his faithful stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, spinning the latest iteration of Israel’s attempt to frame Iran as some Nazi-like incarnation of evil:

“You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”

…This “messianic apocalyptic cult” in Tehran is, of course, the very same one with which Israel did business during the 1980’s, when its interest was in weakening Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That business — including sales of weapons and technology — was an extension of Israeli policy toward Iran under the shah…

I don’t buy the view that, as Netanyahu told Goldberg, Iran is “a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest.” Every scrap of evidence suggests that, on the contrary, self-interest and survival drive the mullahs.

Both Beinart and Cohen argue that “[every] scrap of evidence” suggests Iran is a rational actor on the world stage.

But “every scrap of evidence” was not enough to dissuade Goldberg from his conclusion about Roger Cohen:

“He [Cohen] is a Jewish apologist for an anti-Semitic regime, and he should be reminded often that he has debased himself.”

And Goldberg wrote a different time he wished that “he [Cohen] were as sympathetic to his own people as he is to the Poles.”


Where does Goldberg gets his authority to dismiss other Jewish opinions the way he does? Why is Goldberg as influential as he is? Where does Jeffrey Goldberg’s cultural clout comes from? David Klion sees the 9/11 period as crucial to understanding Goldberg’s sway:

Goldberg started out as a police reporter but achieved greater renown as a national security correspondent, with dispatches from Gaza, Cairo, and Iraqi Kurdistan in the months before and after 9/11. This period is crucial to understanding Goldberg’s influence — he had already become one of the most widely read reporters on the Middle East at precisely the moment when the Washington establishment became single-mindedly focused on terrorist and extremist threats from the region. This gave him an outsized role in shaping liberal elite discourse, with outsized consequences.

Paul Starobin, in his Washingtonian profile of Goldberg, dug deeper. Starobin called Jeffrey Goldberg a “Never again” journalist:

“Saddam Hussein is uniquely evil, the only ruler in power today—and the first one since Hitler—to commit chemical genocide,” against the Kurds, Goldberg wrote in Slate in 2002, before the war. “Is that enough of a reason to remove him from power? I would say yes, if ‘never again’ is in fact actually to mean ‘never again.’”

Never again. No other phrase in the modern Jewish lexicon packs more power. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust, and that was only 70 years ago—not long at all in historical time. Goldberg is perhaps best understood as a “never again” journalist. IS IT POSSIBLE TO THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST?, a Goldblog headline asked. His reply: “No, the answer is no—it is not possible to think about the Holocaust too much.”

Starobin claims that Goldberg’s role as a “Never again” journalist has him speaking for the Jews. It’s as a “Never again journalist” that Goldberg gets to throw his moral weight around.

And again, this Jeffrey Goldberg’s moral discourse matters. In New York, Jason Zengerle ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>quoted Eric Alterman of The Nation finding Goldberg’s unique role in Jewish discourse similar to a referee’s:

When it comes to the topic of Israel, Goldberg is currently the most important Jewish journalist in the United States.

And among Jewish journalists who write and think about Israel, he’s become something of a referee. “He’s a marker in the debate as well as an enforcer of its boundaries,” Alterman says. “So, when he moves, the 50-yard line moves.”

But Goldberg’s credentials have not gone unchallenged. Here is Robert Wright back in 2002 responding to Jeffrey Goldberg’s “moral clarity” Iraq invasion arguments:

…Goldberg, in contrast, doesn’t even address the possible downside of war—except, obliquely, in his aforementioned assurance that war in the Middle East won’t breed any hatred.

His is a moral argument—he uses the words “moral” or “morality” five times in his post, with a dollop of “evil” thrown in for good measure. Of all the annoying undercurrents and overtones of the pro-war rhetoric, this is the one that annoys me the most: the suggestion that those of us who are clinically weighing all the possible downsides and upsides of war, rather than spending all our time marveling at how evil Saddam is, are being something other than moral. When I think about war in Iraq, I think about the long-term results in terms of human suffering and human fulfillment. I consider that a morally grounded framework. The fact that, within that framework, I try to be rational, rather than employ the Iraq hawks’ tone of pre-emptive outrage (a tone that is also used on the anti-war left), is not something I’m ashamed of. I agree that Saddam Hussein is a terrible man. The question is how you end his terror without creating lots more terror.

(Goldberg dispatched with Robert Wright by accusing him of having “dictator-coddling tendencies” and being a “genocide denier”:

But even Goldberg’s one-time “mentor,” the (now- disgraced) Jewish intellectual Leon Wieseltier, questioned Goldberg’s “mashgiach” qualifications. As Starobin wrote:

He [Wieseltier] sees Goldberg not as gatekeeper to the pro-Israel tent but as a would-be, journalistic equivalent of the mashgiah. That’s the Hebrew word for the supervisor—a rabbi or someone else of impeccable credentials—who makes sure everything going out of the kitchen at a kosher restaurant is truly kosher. “Goldberg is a little bit in the business of deciding who is kosher and who is not,” Wieseltier says. The problem, he explains, is that Goldberg fails to qualify for the role: “He’s a blogger. He’s not an analyst, he’s not a scholar.”

And what determines which Jews are kosher, according to the “mashgiach,” is, of course, which ideas those Jews espouse.

As a “Never again journalist” who was speaking for the Jewish people, Goldberg was highly influential in his opinion of the Iran deal.

Goldberg’s project in the Iran discourse was to associate Iran with Nazi Germany, “eliminationist anti-Semitism” and Jew hatred from the distant past. He didn’t do it on behalf of Netanyahu or Israel, as some have alleged. It’s just that Goldberg and Netanyahu share the same  “hasbara culture” perspective.

“Iran, like Nazi Germany, Has ‘Ruthless Commitment to Murdering Jews”, says Netanyahu.

Sounding very much like Goldberg:

Once again Munich reminds Goldberg of Nazi Germany, and Iran reminds Goldberg of the Third Reich, and it’s all the same “eliminationist anti-Semitism.”

The association that Goldberg is making can be thought of as a social construction of alternative reality. But since there are so many who are susceptible to these fictions, Goldberg’s edicts and pronouncements create political culture. For many in the Jewish community and for politicians who need to be sensitive to Jewish concerns, the Iran=Nazi Germany analogy became real.

Since a main feature of the hasbara culture ideology is that “anti-Semitism” in history is one interrelated demonic thing, and at its core is the same prejudice, and has at root the same cause, Iran represents not only Nazi Germany, but “Amalek” too.

That is what Jeffrey Goldberg told New York Times readers in an op-ed called “Israel’s Fears Amalek’s Arsenal.”

Goldberg on Amalek

In plain English, Goldberg is suggesting in a New York Times op-ed that if Netanyahu concludes Iran is the Amalek from “Jewish tradition,” he, Netanyahu, will have no choice but to do something about it.

So entrenched is Jewish tribal discourse in mainstream political culture that the invocation of this superstition on the New York Times op-ed page provoked no cultural reaction (not even from the atheist warrior for reason Sam Harris, who always has a reason not to touch Israel).

Goldberg also introduced the concept of “Holocaust calculus” in 2012 when discussing the possibility of Israel attacking Iran:

Bibi is in a box, and he’s trying to bust it open, but he can’t. Given the direct warnings communicated to him from the Obama Administration and a number of European countries, it is very hard to see him doing anything except vent over the next two months. It’s not impossible that he would make the Holocaust calculus, which is to say, he believes that stopping a second Holocaust is worth the risk of alienating the U.S., but I think he also knows that we’re far from the moment when a second Holocaust might be possible to contemplate [emphasis added].

If Goldberg thinks Netanyahu realizes “that we’re far from the moment when a second Holocaust might be possible to contemplate,” why exactly is “Holocaust calculus” included in this article?

So convinced was Goldberg on his Iran take that in 2015 he reprimanded President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on their “unwillingness, or inability, to grapple squarely with Iran’s eliminationist desires”:

Kerry’s understanding, in shorthand: Iran is dangerous to Israel at this moment…; Iran has had plenty of opportunity to hurt Israel but has chosen not to; and, finally, the answer to the question concerning the true intentions of Iran’s leaders when it comes to Israel is unknowable, and also irrelevant to the current discussion.

I found many of Kerry’s answers to my other questions convincing, but I was troubled by what I took to be his unwillingness, or inability, to grapple squarely with Iran’s eliminationist desires.

As with Beinart and Cohen, it didn’t help Obama and Kerry to use the defense that they were relying on evidence and scholarship on Iran and “anti-Semitism.” Because when “Never again journalists” peer at Khamenei, they see Hitler:

I made a decision on the spot—later partially regretted—not to deploy the H-bomb [Hitler] just then because I am a) very mindful of Godwin’s Law; b) I don’t believe the Iranian regime is the modern-day equivalent of the Nazi regime, in part because the Nazi regime is without peer; and c) the invocation of Hitler’s name in these matters tends to set teeth too much on edge. In retrospect, though, I should have raised it, because Hitler is the perfect, but not singular, example of a world leader who made decisions that seemed, to his adversaries, deeply irrational except if you understood his desire to wipe out the Jews of Europe as an actual overriding policy goal, a raison d’etre of his rule. Anti-Semitism was not simply an “organizing tool” for him. And if you’re paying attention, you will see that bringing about the end of the sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East is a paramount political and theological mission of the Iranian regime.

Notice how Goldberg lowers the bar on “eliminationist anti-Semitism.” According to Jeffrey Goldberg even Ayatollah Khameini’s anti-Zionist “referendum” fantasy of “eliminating” Israel by bringing about “the end of the sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East” is reminiscent of Hitler and the Holocaust.

The hasbara culture perspective on Iran doesn’t even feel the need to reckon with reality. “Never again journalist” Jaime Kirchick has no compunction claiming it’s “anti-Semitism” that’s behind the respected journalist James Fallows “intense interest” in Netanyahu’s Iran hysteria. That Jewish Israeli security experts themselves deride Netanyahu’s “existential threat” discourse did not protect Fallows from Kirchick’s out-and-out defamation:

[T]he brave charge against Jewish conniving in recent months has been Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows. In reaction to the controversy surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress earlier this month, Fallows published a long series of blog posts in February and early March, not only disputing the suitability of appropriating the Holocaust with regard to the risk posed by Iran to the Jewish State, but implying that certain actors are deliberately exploiting the Nazi genocide to manipulate U.S. foreign policy for predictably uncouth purposes.

“I am deadset against my country drifting into further needless unwinnable wars,” Fallows wrote in one of his first posts on the subject, by means of explaining his intense interest.(my italics) What bugs Fallows is that his intellectual adversaries keep on invoking the Holocaust, that old conversation stopper, to exaggerate the problem posed by a nuclear Iran, just as “they” did with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

It is telling that Jaime Kirchick finds no contradiction between 5000 words in Tablet on James Fallows’s supposed anti-Semitism and his own jeremiad that “identity politics” is the end of Western civilization.

So, what does Jeffrey Goldberg make of the Israeli experts who think that Netanyahu’s Iran’s “existential” threats discourse from is “wrong if not a deception?”

In a 2012 Atlantic column “How Israel Reckons with the Holocaust,” Goldberg endorsed the view that :

[T]he instinctive condemnations of Benjamin Netanyahu by the Israeli left… for invoking the Holocaust when issuing warnings about the intentions of the Iranian regime are not only unfair, but symptoms of an unwillingness to grapple straightforwardly with the enormity of the Shoah, and with the threat posed by an Iranian leadership that has embraced eliminationist anti-Semitism as a policy:

So, according to Goldberg, objecting to Netanyahu’s use of the Holocaust in his anti-Iran campaign is evidence of an “unwillingness to grapple straightforwardly with the enormity of the Shoah.”


What is the upshot of the hasbara culture discourse I have described? What is the relationship between the tribal discourse heard in this essay and Jewish and Israeli political culture of 2018?

The hasbara culture narrative Jeffrey Goldberg has agitated for has won in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel is Jeffrey Goldberg’s Israel.

Hasbara culture has conquered Israeli political culture. It’s how Israel can look in the mirror while harassing visiting Jews, such as Simone Zimmerman and Peter Beinart and others, who have devoted their life to Jewish concerns. To hasbara culture those Jews are “stab in the back” “worse than Kapo” Jews. Read Ambassador David Friedman and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post on Beinart and J street.

No one is more responsible for that hatred and delusion than Jeffrey Goldberg.

Hasbara culture takeover of Israeli culture is the “meaning” of the Elor Azaria saga.

It’s how an IDF medic can be caught red handed killing a prone Palestinian, and Netanyahu, Bennett, and the “liberal” Israeli politician Yair Lapid, can call for his pardon. Because according to hasbara culture Elor Azaria is just an innocent Jew defending his people.

Listen to Naftali Bennett and Azaria plea to President Rivlin for that pardon. Bennett claims, “Elor was sent into dangerous territory in which there had been an attempt to murder Jews.”

And Azaria sees himself as an “Israeli soldier whose freedom of taken away from him because he acted against vile people who came to spill Jewish blood.”

And to be a successful politician in Israel these days it is necessary to view the UN as a band of Cossacks.

Yair Lapid on the UN

Because that’s what hasbara culture dictates good Jews believe about the United Nations:

Yair Rosenberg on the UN

But Jeffrey Goldberg and the American Jews who are most responsible for the hasbara culture rout have gone missing. Despite the upheaval Jewish culture has gone through the last year, the people who lorded over the Jewish discourse have gone silent. And that’s because they need to flee association with Netanyahu and his ideas.

It’s not easy excusing “Bibi’s” flirting with fascism, and his war against democracy in Israel, while at the same time being celebrated for “moral clarity” and “fidelity to principles” in the “war of ideas” against Trump.

David Frum isn’t defending Netanyahu’s authority these days.

Bret Stephens isn’t dismissing corruption cases any more.

Benjamin Netanyahu no longer reminds Jennifer Rubin of Winston Churchill.

The question these people are fleeing is: what role did “Jewish intellectuals” Jeffrey Goldberg, Bret Stephens, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Bill Kristol, Jamie Kirchick play in Israel burgeoning benightedness?

In part two, this essay will take a closer look at the roots of the hasbara culture ideology. Where does the hasbara culture taboo of seeing “the other side” come from? What’s the relationship between hasbara culture’s “foundational antisemitic paradigm” understanding of anti-Semitism, and the Jewish discourse on Israel?

Also, the idea of the “self-hating Jew” is an important hasbara culture trope. No one has wielded the “auto-anti-Semitism” weapon more than Jeffrey Goldberg. What that’s about will be unpacked in part two.

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Thank you for this excellent piece. We’ve seen similar nonsense this summer in the UK with all the anti-Corbyn nonsense. The likes of Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian endlessly droning on about ‘tropes’ and about how Jews in the UK see an ‘attack’ on Israel as an attack on themselves – tough I say. We had his fangirl Hadley Freeman writing a typically narcissistic piece last week about how, at Jewish New Year, the only… Read more »

I tried to read the first quotation from Goldberg: “Why does it seem to a growing number of people (I count Chuck Schumer in this group) that an administration professing—honestly, from what I can tell—to understand Jewish anxieties about the consequences of anti-Semitism in the Middle East does not appear to understand that the way some of its advocates outside government are framing the Iran-deal fight—as one between Jewish special interests, on the one hand,… Read more »

With my retired editor’s hat on, I cut over 30% of Goldberg’s waffle, without, I hope, changing the meaning (such as it is): “Why does it seem to growing numbers of people (including Chuck Schumer) that an administration claiming to understand Jewish anxieties about the consequences of anti-Semitism in the Middle East does not understand how some advocates of the Iran deal outside government are framing it? They say it is between Jewish special interests… Read more »

so many logical fallacies

so much hypocrisy and contradictions

i don’t get how people can function normally day-to-day and be pro-Israel like Goldberg

he seems mentally ill

Thank you for this analysis of an important topic. You obviously invested much time and effort in this. I look forward to reading the second part. I’m not a social scientist, but I’ve recently read books by Jonathan Haidt (“The Righteous Mind”) and by Robert Sapolsky(“Behave”) that suggest that tribalism is a common part of human nature, one that deserves careful attention. While reading your essay, I was reminded of a short lesson by Rabbi… Read more »