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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.

Yakov Hirsch

Yakov Hirsch is a professional poker player and a writer. His twitter handle is @Yakovhirsch and his articles are posted at

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112 Responses

  1. Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 15, 2018, 2:20 pm

    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 topic was …. yes you’ve guessed it, anti-semitism. You’d swear Jews were being forced to wear yellow stars or their places of worship were being fire bombed. Instead, a leader who doesn’t enjoy Israeli crimes as much as they do might possibly get elected at some indeterminate time in the future. Again, tough.

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

    I’m a European. I don’t know a single European who feels “the psychological need to excoriate Jews”. In fact – and this is probably what would irritate Goldberg most – the vast vast majority of Europeans don’t care much about Jews one way or the other. If anything, Jews are viewed positively – as hard-working and clever – and there is huge sympathy about the holocaust. Other minorities don’t fare nearly so well. There’s a rather distasteful type of tribal obsession going on in Goldberg’s head.

    “BDS is not a rational response to the political situation but rather an “irrational hatred of the Jewish people.”

    Is there such a thing as a ‘rational’ hatred of any group?

    And it must be very very strange going through life beliving that the majority of your countrymen and women are out to get you, even though you belong to perhaps the most succesful minority in the land. I do not believe such striving for vicarious victimhood can be healthy. It sounds slightly deranged to me.

    • RoHa on September 15, 2018, 8:22 pm

      “- the vast vast majority of Europeans don’t care much about Jews one way or the other. ”

      And that’s what makes them anti-Semites!

    • RoHa on September 15, 2018, 10:27 pm

      “Is there such a thing as a ‘rational’ hatred of any group?”

      Tricky question.

      First we must decide what hatred is. There is an emotional aspect, but is there more to it? (“Factor X”, let us say.)

      Then we have to decide whether rationality can be applied to emotions. (E.g. It is natural, understandable, and, I would say, even reasonable to have negative and oppositional emotions towards someone who has harmed you, but is that emotional response rational?)

      If we decide that the emotional response is not rational, we have to decide whether Factor X (if such there is) can be rational. If so, does Factor X necessarily carry the emotional response with it?

      Finally, if we have concluded that hatred can be rational, we have to decide whether or not that hatred can be rationally extended to a group.

      Sorting out those questions should keep the journals going for a while.

      • Stephen Shenfield on September 16, 2018, 11:17 am

        An emotion cannot be rational in the same sense as a “rational argument” but it can be rationally based, i.e., a functional response to a situation that is rationally perceived and interpreted. If a person or organized group has harmed you and/or others you care about, and especially if he/she/they intend to continue inflicting the harm, then I would say hatred is a rational response in that sense. Hatred is functional is various ways. It provides psychic protection because it hurts less to be harmed by people you hate than by people you love. That does not exclude the possibility that hatred may be dysfunctional in some other ways.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 17, 2018, 10:34 pm

        RoHa, here are 2 links you might find relevant to your concerns (they are very hard, but they might inspire you). It’s state of the art analytic philosophy, a discussion between analytic philosophers who specialize in this issue of what you refer to as the rationality of emotion — my uneducated understanding is that this comes under the heading “fittingness of emotion X”, or , what comes down to the same thing, “warranted emotion”. Roughly: is it “appropriate” to feel emotion X under certain stipulated circumstances? Here is the first link:

        “We are working on a book, Rational Sentimentalism, about a class of values that we call sentimental values. These are values like shameful, funny, disgusting, and fearsome, which have an essential connection to natural emotions: emotions such as shame, amusement, pride, etc. which we contend are pan-cultural psychological kinds that can be characterized independently of the values we want to use them to explain. We defend a sentimentalist theory of these values, which will be familiar to most of you as a form of fitting attitude theory, on which the emotions are amenable to rational justification. Roughly: to think something F (shameful, funny, etc.) is to think it fitting to feel F (shame, amusement) toward it. Equivalently, this is to think the object merits response F. “

        Here is the second link:

        In case it helps, there is an online Philosophy Encyclopedia that is all the rage in analytic philosophy:

        This one is not that hard as the discussions at PEA Soup but it is still hard enough — the entries are from professional philosophers.

      • RoHa on September 18, 2018, 12:32 am

        Thanks for those links, and the warning that they are from professional philosophers. I shall proceed with care. I know professional philosophers are sneaky buggers, and I don’t trust them an inch.

        It isn’t actually one of my concerns, though. I am quite content to let others argue it out in the journals, so I will simply comment that one part of the question is whether we are using a “thin” concept of rationality or a “thick” sense.

        The “thin” sense would be limited to Stephen’s rational arguments, with all the premises clearly laid out, and the logical relations between them noted in the margin. (A Humean version.)

        The “thick” sense would be more like the version Blackburn gives.
        “To accept something as rational is to accept it as making sense, as appropriate, or required, or in accordance with some acknowledged goal, such as aiming at the truth or aiming at the good.”*

        Stephen’s “functional response” would be “thick”.

        *Blackburn, S., 1994, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford. p. 319.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 18, 2018, 9:39 am

        RoHa i had no clue you are so knowledgeable on the issue, i posted the links thinking that you were making uninformed “proto-thoughts” which were definitely in the right direction , and i thought the links would be useful to someone not familiar with analytic philosophy, but you are far more informed than i am.

      • RoHa on September 18, 2018, 10:42 pm

        Actually, I’m not particularly knowledgeable on the issue, and those were close to uninformed proto-thoughts.

        I am one of the sneaky buggers, though. That’s how I know you can’t trust them.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 19, 2018, 12:38 am

        RoHa, you mean you have studied philosophy?

      • RoHa on September 19, 2018, 3:01 am

        Taught it in universities.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 20, 2018, 11:01 am

        RoHa this is great, i am a fan of analytic Philosophy! I had seen many professors in the mondoweiss comment section but i didn’t know there was an ex prof of analytic philosophy (and you don’t even mention it in your bio). I could tell your reasoning was of the analytic-philosophy kind (hence my first comment to you in this thread) but you were neither flaunting your analytic skills, nor laced them with jargon, hence my surprise to find out about your studies in Philosophy. I look forward to philosophical discussions pertinent to Israel-Palestine.

      • Mooser on September 20, 2018, 6:15 pm

        “but you were neither flaunting your analytic skills, nor laced them with jargon”

        Of course not. “RoHa” uses the Sarcratic method .

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 20, 2018, 10:27 pm

        Mooser! Sarcratic! 😛

      • RoHa on September 20, 2018, 10:57 pm

        “my surprise to find out about your studies in Philosophy.”

        “Studies” would be a surprise to me, too. I haven’t studied much. You can fake a lot in philosophy.

        You’ll find MHughes has studied a lot more than me. (I think he’s a better philosopher, too, but I wouldn’t admit it to his face.)

        There is another prof. phil. among the commenters, but his name escapes me at the moment.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 22, 2018, 8:54 pm

        Mooser i forgot there are supporters of Israel in here, maybe i should have explained for their benefit that sarcratic=sarcastic+socratic 😊

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on September 22, 2018, 9:13 pm

        RoHa thanks for telling me about MHughes and it’s nice to know there’s at least 3 of you around. If you come to remember the third one i’d love to know. As for the “amount” of your studies in analytic philosophy, it’s certainly bigger than mine and, on the plausible assumption that it is correlated with a corresponding increase in analytical capability, i still have good reason to consult your expertise when philosophical issues arise. My credence in your epistemic authority in philosophical analysis has sharply increased, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      • RoHa on September 22, 2018, 9:30 pm


    • Misterioso on September 17, 2018, 10:57 am

      Maximus Decimus Meridius, et al

      For the record:

      Thank you Jeffrey Goldberg! Although you obviously do not realize it, along with Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson, et al, you are digging Zionism’s grave. You’ve had a free (i.e., financed by US taxpayers) ride and fooled the world, but your fascistic 70 year orgy of slaughtering, dispossessing, imprisoning, torturing, expelling and humiliating defenseless Palestinians is gonna’ end. Your time is running out. As is readily apparent, increasingly, people everywhere, including Jews, are seeing you for the racist monsters you are.

      To wit:
      “Israel’s Irreconcilable Differences With U.S. Jews and the Democratic Party May Soon Lead to Final Divorce”

      By Chemi Shalev. September 16/18, Haaretz

      “Netanyahu is accelerating the pace of his country’s estrangement from everyone but ethnocentric and anti-democratic nationalists and xenophobes”

      “These are some of the events concerning Israel that have recently made headlines in the U.S. and the West: Paul Manafort reveals an Israeli accomplice to his Ukrainian dirty tricks; the prime minister’s spokesperson stands accused of serial sexual harassment, a charge downplayed and ignored by the Israeli ambassador to Washington; the universally-opposed impending evacuation of Bedouin outpost Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank; humanitarian crisis in Gaza and massive bloodshed on its fence; wild cheers for Donald Trump’s harsh measures against the Palestinians; the nation-state law and anti-democratic legislation; political filtering of critics at the airport; and a prime minister mired in corruption charges.

      “And so on and so forth, for the list is long. Israelis may still believe they are a chosen and embattled people, a light unto start-up nations, a paragon of morality and virtue and the most unfairly maligned country on the face of the earth, but Israel is having an increasingly hard time convincing anyone who is not a right-wing ideologue or Evangelical believer of these supposedly self-evident truths. For all the rest, in varying degrees, Israel’s stature has steadily deteriorated from good to bad to worse.

      “In recent years, the pace of the shift from one end of the spectrum to the other has accelerated, reaching demon speed in the wake of Benjamin Netanyahu’s unexpected victory in the February 2015 ‘Arabs coming to vote in droves’ elections. For reasons that may include the right-wing bent of his coalition, the surprise triumph of Trump, a heightened sense of victimhood, an urge for vindictiveness and a feeling that he is finally free to act on his core beliefs – Netanyahu has pushed Israel further and harder to the right, thus alienating, by definition, increasingly large sections left and center.

      “The critical stations on Netanyahu’s highway to left wing hell are well-known, from clashes with liberal Barack Obama to infatuation with his populist successor; from courting Eastern European authoritarians, despite their anti-Semitic stench, to rebuffing their liberal Western European counterparts because of their sympathy for Palestinians; from aversion to any and all diplomatic processes to deliberate degradation of potential PLO partner Mahmoud Abbas; from the warm embrace of Evangelical Christians to open disdain for liberal American Jews; from ongoing incitement against minorities and constant dissing of dissenters to support for a soldier-turned-killer like Hebron shooter Elor Azaria; from backing, or at least succumbing to, the anti-liberal, anti-democratic theocratic impulses of his coalition partners to uncannily Trump-like efforts to escape the long arm of the law; from distancing Israel from the liberal Weltanschauung of modern Jewry to adopting the chauvinistic norms and vocabulary of their worst oppressors and enemies.”

      “What’s more, Netanyahu and his cohorts don’t seem to care anymore. They play to their populist galleries at home and are oblivious to the damage their actions create abroad. They are now prisoners of their concocted piousness. Israel and its supporters abroad, most significantly in the American Jewish right, have practically given up on convincing, persuading or at least keeping an open ear to legitimate objections. Instead they rely on character assassination, undeclared boycotts, secret enemies’ lists, the demonization of BDS and the weaponization of anti-Semitism. As far as the left is concerned, Israel has adopted a sure-fire formula to lose friends as well as the ability to influence them to reconsider.

      “The process of jettisoning inexorably moves from fringe to the center. First, in the wake of the Six Day War, the occupation of Palestinians and Jerusalem’s increasingly tight relations with Washington, Israel lost the radical left. Then, from the First Lebanon War through the intifada, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the rise of Netanyahu himself, Israel’s behavior began to sow doubts among moderates as well, losing sympathy among centrist and left-of-center parties throughout the world. Now, it seems, Netanyahu and his allies are going for broke, by distancing Israel from American Jews and by ignoring the sentiments of the Democratic Party, for which U.S. Jews overwhelmingly vote. The principle of U.S. bipartisan support, long considered a lynchpin and vital component of Israel’s national security, has fallen prey to an ever-rising tide of self-centered arrogance, imperiousness, resentfulness and total lack of self-awareness.

      “Which is why, three years after Netanyahu’s abrupt turn to the right, Israel is fast approaching a tipping point, from which there may be no return. It stands on the edge of a precipice as it speedily and voluntarily removes the last barriers that prevent its fall. It is following in the footsteps of South Africa before the imposition of universal sanctions, as it tightened apartheid in response to global criticism – which also emanated mainly from the left.

      “The gap between Israel’s self-absorption and willful blindness and the basic tenets of enlightened liberals will soon become unbridgeable. They already amount to ‘irreconcilable differences’ that, in many countries, constitute valid grounds for turning a trial separation into a no-fault divorce. Which is all fine and dandy, perhaps, as long as Trump stays in power, Evangelicals remain committed, Republicans offer blind support, Sheldon Adelson keeps his cheque book open, right-wingers are ascendant throughout Europe and widespread fear and loathing of emigrating Muslims translate into default support for the country whose leader openly boasts of serving as the forward Western outpost that keeps them at bay.

      “Otherwise, Israel will ultimately and inevitably pay a steep price for its foolhardy neglect of the liberal world. The first accounting may come as early as November 6, if the U.S. Congress falls into the hands of a reinvigorated Democratic Party, depleted of its pro-Israeli stalwarts, increasingly beholden to its liberal, left-wing flank, eager to flex its muscles and to start exacting its revenge. It’s what the genuinely Israel-hating part of the liberal-leftist world, once miniscule and insignificant, has been waiting for all along.”

      • annie on September 17, 2018, 11:26 am

        thanks for the shalev, Misterioso – seriously good.

      • Mooser on September 17, 2018, 2:39 pm

        “for turning a trial separation into a no-fault divorce.”

        “No-fault”? I doubt anything that amicable will be arranged.

      • gamal on September 17, 2018, 5:50 pm

        “I doubt anything that amicable will be arranged”

        but surely any consequences like a loss of naches for supporting Zionism would be antisemitism if applied to “Jews” and their officials who have vigorously promoted hatred of Muslims and others, that’s the latest news karma now entails no consequences we’ve moved on from that shit, we have smart weapons, smart weapons..there was joke from a sketch show years ago that ran… a spoof car ad…

        designed by computers

        built by robots …and the shiny alpha spider burns down to the first corner misses it rolls and burns

        Driven by Italians…

        people, all people have an innate sense of fairness, you violate it it will eat you away from the inside out, confession isn’t as stupid as it sounds or as easy, you should practise it firstly by no longer lying, no longer lying.

      • gamal on September 17, 2018, 7:19 pm

        OT, but also Mooser since you dabble in Jackie Mittoo as an organist you probably know Winston Wright

        liquidator…it builds the spirit, for those who feel it, some things never grow old

    • Keith on September 17, 2018, 7:55 pm

      MAXIMUS- “Is there such a thing as a ‘rational’ hatred of any group?”

      A victim group hating the victimizer group is quite rational. It would be entirely rational for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust to hate the Nazis. Likewise, it would be rational for the victims of the Nakba to hate their Zionist oppressors. Hatred without causation is irrational, hatred with causation is rational, admonitions to turn the other cheek notwithstanding.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 18, 2018, 4:55 am

        Those are political groups though – you can choose to be a Nazi or a Zionist. And if you do so choose, you obviously subscribe to certain rather distasteful political viewpoints. I was thinking more in terms of ethnic or national groups that you are born into and can’t really do much about. Goldberg tells us that hatred of Jews is ‘irrational’. Does he mean that hatred of other ethnic groups, such as blacks or Arabs, might by contrast be ‘rational’?

      • Keith on September 18, 2018, 7:12 pm

        MAXIMUS- “I was thinking more in terms of ethnic or national groups that you are born into and can’t really do much about.”

        And you think that Jews fall into this category? The only two groups who conceive of “Jewish” blood are/were the Nazis and the Zionists. “Jewishness” is an ideological construct which the Zionists have successfully promoted. Secular Jews are Jews by choice as a consequence of Judeo-Zionist indoctrination which posits an inherent difference between Jews and non-Jews which leads to irrational and eternal anti-Semitism. A belief which is inherently anti-Gentile. I might add that the term “Gentile” implies some sort of organizational affinity between all non-Jews who are lumped together and held to be hostile to Jews. Also, the demonstrable success of Zionism in increasing Jewish wealth and power makes being a member of a powerful minority practicing kinship solidarity an attractive option.

        As for Goldberg’s statement, this is typical Zionist apologetics claiming a lack of agency in their relations with the surrounding non-Jewish community. As if working to advance the Christian King’s interests at the expense of the peasants has no bearing. In reality, much of the so-called pogroms were peasant uprisings.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 20, 2018, 10:55 am

        Keith – No, I don’t think Jews are a race, and have argued this several times here. Anyone can convert to Judaism and any Jew can convert to another religion, so obviously Jews are not a ‘race’ in any normal sense of the word. I guess you could argue that Jews constitute an ‘ethnicity’, so what I’m saying is that hating Jews – or Catholics or Hindus – on the basis of being born into a certain group is different from hating a Nazi or Zionist, who actively chooses, as an adult, to be part of a political group.

        “As for Goldberg’s statement, this is typical Zionist apologetics claiming a lack of agency in their relations with the surrounding non-Jewish community. As if working to advance the Christian King’s interests at the expense of the peasants has no bearing. In reality, much of the so-called pogroms were peasant uprisings.”

        This is interesting. Do you know of any sources which offer a history of the Jews which doesn’t just assume endless victimhood and ‘irrational hatred’?

      • Maghlawatan on September 20, 2018, 11:56 am

        Original sins by Beit Hallahmi looks at other political situations involving influential merchant minorities – Chinese in Indonesia, Lebanese in West Africa – and finds similar episodes of occasional violence. This tends to be outweighed by the good years.
        I could never figure out how all the misery produced such a rich culinary culture.

      • Keith on September 20, 2018, 4:19 pm

        MAXIMUS- “This is interesting. Do you know of any sources which offer a history of the Jews which doesn’t just assume endless victimhood and ‘irrational hatred’?”

        The first I would recommend is the delightfully short “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” by Israel Shahak, followed by “The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State,” by Benjamin Ginsberg (with qualifications), and “The Jewish Century,” by Yuri Slezkine (with qualifications). Shahak is essential reading.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 21, 2018, 2:17 pm

        Thanks for the recommendation – I’ll look out for it.

        “Original sins by Beit Hallahmi looks at other political situations involving influential merchant minorities – Chinese in Indonesia, Lebanese in West Africa – and finds similar episodes of occasional violence. This tends to be outweighed by the good years.”

        Amy Chua (who went on to write the silly ‘Tiger Moms’ book) wrote a book called ‘World on Fire’ in 2003 which had a similar theme – while we tend to think of minorities as being less priviliged, very often, at least outside of the Western world, the opposite is true. I believe Russian Jews were one of the minorities she discussed.

  2. John O on September 15, 2018, 2:32 pm

    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, 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.”

    It is one sentence (assuming the ellipsis doesn’t conceal a full stop). I then tried the Flesch-Kinkaid readability test (which basically assesses how many syllables there are compared with how many words and sentences, to arrive at a score indicating how difficult the passage is to read). It actually achieves a negative score – which since , tragically, Wikipedia doesn’t actually include in its tabulation, gives me the opportunity to classify it as “total gobbledegook”.

    So, take comfort, mes braves – few people without a PhD in Bulls**t will even have the faintest idea what Goldberg is on about.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 15, 2018, 2:42 pm

      Yeah, for a highly paid professional journalist, Goldberg really has a poor command of English.

      I guess what he’s essentially saying is: “Criticising Israel is anti-Semitic. Because I say so.”In a remarkably verbose and incoherent way.

      BTW on the Israeli PM’s own twitter account, said PM – in between telling us that the strong will destroy the weak and that’s how it should be – proudly boasted about how Israel had brought down the Iran deal. What does Jeffery Goldberg have to say about that?

    • Boomer on September 15, 2018, 4:42 pm

      re: “few people without a PhD in Bulls**t will even have the faintest idea what Goldberg is on about.”

      I’m relieved to learn that I’m not alone.

    • echinococcus on September 16, 2018, 3:17 am

      And even without a PhD in Bull$||t the sharp readers will recognize the style… le style, c’est l’homme. It’s obvious: Jeffrey Goldberg cannot hide any longer from fellow Mondoweiss readers: he is the Wondering Jew, aka Jonas Fredman!

      • Mooser on September 16, 2018, 1:05 pm

        The Charles Lindbergh mention gave it away.

  3. John O on September 15, 2018, 3:52 pm

    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 and the rest of the world and may empower anti-Semites, both in the Middle East and at home. […] American Jewish opponents of the deal are wrong, but this does not make them warmongers in the way Charles Lindbergh once understood Jews to be warmongers.”

    • RoHa on September 15, 2018, 10:30 pm

      “With my retired editor’s hat on,”

      Keep it on. The world needs more strict editors to excise gobbledegook and misplaced commas.

  4. Cliff on September 15, 2018, 4:29 pm

    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

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 15, 2018, 7:18 pm

      I said something similar above. This desperate desire for victimhood, this utter departure from reality… it’s pathological.

  5. Boomer on September 15, 2018, 4:40 pm

    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 Ruti Regan that I recently happened across. It was thought-provoking for me, because it presented a reading from a perspective different from the one to which I, as someone reared as a Christian, am accustomed. Among other things, I was struck by the reference to Amalek. Exactly how is the reader today intended to apply that reference from a distant mythological past, I wondered. Your essay helps me to understand that.

    Her meditation begins:

    “In Jewish thought, forgiveness is seen as too powerful to be given freely. Under the right circumstances, forgiveness is a path to peace. Under the wrong circumstances, forgiveness strengthens the hand of those who abuse and oppress.

    “There is a time to let go of grievances, and there is a time to pursue justice. Not everything can be or should be forgiven. Because recklessness with something as powerful as forgiveness does harm.

    “Deuteronomy 25:19 admonishes us not to forget the ways that Amalek attacked the weak among the Israelites in the desert. To reconcile with Amalek would be to treat these actions as acceptable.”

    • Mooser on September 16, 2018, 2:51 pm

      “Deuteronomy 25:19 admonishes us not to forget the ways that Amalek attacked the weak among the Israelites in the desert. To reconcile with Amalek would be to treat these actions as acceptable.”

      Maybe that advice is worth something, but the positing of Jewish power to take revenge or forgive? That’s priceless.

    • Brewer on September 16, 2018, 3:46 pm

      To reconcile with Amalek would be to abandon the racism inherent in attributing guilt/responsibility to a race or identity.

    • RoHa on September 16, 2018, 10:02 pm

      “To reconcile with Amalek would be to treat these actions as acceptable.”

      And if we replace “Amalek” with “Zionists”?

    • eljay on September 17, 2018, 8:13 am

      || Boomer: … I was reminded of a short lesson by Rabbi Ruti Regan … Her meditation begins:

      … “Deuteronomy 25:19 admonishes us not to forget the ways that Amalek attacked the weak among the Israelites in the desert. To reconcile with Amalek would be to treat these actions as acceptable.” … ||

      So who should the Palestinians view and treat as Amalek – only Zionists or all Jews?

      I would argue the former but Zionists – with their on-going conflation of Zionism and the “Jewish State” with all Jews and all Jews with Zionism and the “Jewish State” – seem anti-Semitically to argue the latter.

  6. Mooser on September 15, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “No one has wielded the “auto-anti-Semitism” weapon more than Jeffrey Goldberg.”

    Sometimes that weapon is a bludgeon, and sometimes, it’s a wet noodle.

    • RoHa on September 15, 2018, 10:34 pm

      Those of us who have learned the secret teachings of Jodan-ryu Ninjitsu know that a wet noodle can be a very effective weapon.

      • Mooser on September 16, 2018, 2:50 pm

        Well, you better give “Hophmi” a scholarship at the wet-noodle dojo.

      • RoHa on September 16, 2018, 10:06 pm

        He would have to show he can be trusted with such power.

  7. Steve Macklevore on September 15, 2018, 4:49 pm

    Thanks for a brilliant and thoughtful article which is extremely important. I look forward to reading Part 2. Thanks for writing it and doing so much valuable research.

  8. JLewisDickerson on September 15, 2018, 6:41 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Jeffrey Goldberg

    ■ ‘End of days’ prophecy announced by Jewish fundamentalist group linked to Israel government
    • The birth of a red calf in Israel has led to an Israeli Jewish fundamentalist group to say the end of times prophecy ushering Armageddon has been fulfilled
    September 11, 2018

    Israel and Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu talks to Benny Hinn.

  9. JLewisDickerson on September 15, 2018, 6:56 pm

    RE: “Golberg’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.” ~ Yakov Hirsch


    [EXCERPT] . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, [Thomas] Friedman asumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states.

    The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime. . .

    SOURCE –

  10. JLewisDickerson on September 15, 2018, 8:49 pm

    RE: In part two of this essay I will unpack the hasbara culture meaning of Goldberg’s “stab in the back” rhetoric towards fellow Jews. ~ Yakov Hirsch

    MY COMMENT: Dolchstoßlegende!*

    * Stab-in-the-back myth —

  11. RoHa on September 15, 2018, 10:39 pm

    “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,”

    Americans do get some weird ideas. At one time, they seemed to think we are all supposed to like the French!

    But even if you do go around liking people (not something I recommend), that does not mean you have to excuse everything they do.

  12. Greta on September 16, 2018, 12:56 am

    I had to read this extensive (and well-researched) article to figure out that this former prison guard and member of the IOF (during the First Intifada) at Ktzi’ot Prison, a prison camp set up to hold arrested Palestinian participants in the uprising is a disgusting putz?

    The fact that he was a prison guard at an infamous prison that held Palestinian resistance fighters should have been in the first paragraph of this article because it explains everything.

  13. DaBakr on September 16, 2018, 3:33 am

    Anshel Feffer has written some of the most outlandish articles about the supposed behavior of American liberal Jews that never came to pass. He’s made even more hysterical predictions for coming conflict which have not panned out as advertised and… If that’s not enough has literally made up garbage talking opeds about Americans that isn’t sourced and absolutely laughable in the level of political innocence and naivety he believes Jewish American are afflicted with. I would say to feffer, ‘ do better research. You grasping at straws. Go outside your comfort zone.

  14. DaBakr on September 16, 2018, 6:46 am

    The first bullshit about the so-called’taboo’ is that it’s taboo. It’s discussed everywhere. Pro bds Israel/jew haters on mw just think it’s not enough while the wool pulling politicians charged with portraying Israel as the ’11th’ happiest nation think there’s enough.

    The second bullshit taboo is that somehow palestinian Arabs aren’t given a voice. Of course there are political that stress the importance of sticking to the bds but rarely, if ever, has a jew hating blog like MW ever done a fair report on the thousands of Palestinians who don’t support the implementation of bds because it hurts them economically. They may even pay lip service to to idea but not to anything that will concretely take away their livelihoods. In sites like MW and ei Arabs that don’t support bds are often portrayed negatively, not taken seriously or they are ignored and worse, threatened. Kind of like, we do it for your own good wether you want it or not. (So Leninist)

    The third biggest bullshit is that Goldberg somehow’brought’ or whatever Netanyahu to liberal American Jews or Zionist? Really. Thought bibi was brilliant as UN spokesperson in 80s when politics weren’t in his way. (His two phds in scholarly pursuits didn’t hurt) his military service was a bit more intense then goldbergs ambience core (though thanks) and, while his personality may not be best suited for politics he’s turned out to be brilliant at holding the line at….. Call it status quo if you like. Arch enemies use it pejoratively while political enemies sling it like mud yet he continues to get elected. Because, in times when nobody is making any compromises (and yes, wake up, the litany of so-called compromises people here claim the Arabs have agreed to is totally bogus and in Arabic they say as much almost daily) a leader sometimes needs to keep the status quo no matter how irritated others get. Nothing at all had moved since the second intifada. Gaza is simply armed better and the Hamas controls interior security. Even if there was a visionary leader from either side they works be killed before the two peoples allowed anything to change significantly.

    . There will be a leader stone day, arab or jew that might have the courage to move ahead without worrying about lining their cronies pockets with stolen billions or having to support a brilliant, right wing , probably not very corrupt on the scale of corrupt politicians but not-so-visionary , imperious, arrogant but again, back to brilliant in holding and waiting.

    But the idea that Goldman made Netanyahu and not the other way around is absurd. Goldberg is still grabbing bibis dirty socks c trying to hang on while reporting the gaggle of geese around him too.

    P’s. Mssr: stfu of you think I’m muttering. anybody not muttering about this conflict is a bleeping idiot. I’d rather mutter then pun my way through your sticky saccharin brain cell

    And, while I won’t swear by this i just think it’s true that were Netanyahu to run for us election enough polls show him beating trump, Hillary, even Biden and Bernie. But he can’t and it honestly would be a nightmare on too may lee levels

    • annie on September 16, 2018, 7:21 am

      i just think it’s true that were Netanyahu to run for us election enough polls show him beating trump, Hillary, even Biden and Bernie.

      i wasn’t aware polls like this existed. can you link to a few of them please?

      • DaBakr on September 16, 2018, 9:20 am


        Yeah, there were. It was probably between his infamous speech to Congress and before Obama was out of office. I honestly can’t remember but are really that surprised? He is better then Trump but I doubt those polls were ever taken seriously except by the most over the top radical Zionist and maybe a very very nervous Israel hater. I know you hate bibi but he’s good at his job. Rabin was an icon who would have disappointed you deeply. I can’t think of anybody that you would approve of that would be a realistic candidate. Sharon had potential but had baggage like Arafat. Netanyahu is so much LESS corrupt then any other serious israeli candidate it’s a joke of you know who is leaking all this bs about Sarah cashing in bottles. I’m sure you will find it hard to believe at all but bibi is, imo, the most moderate pm at this point. Not liberal. He’s deff right wing but I believe he’s holding back a war that a lesser skilled politician(or, if you prefer, a shthead, which he is) But , you shouldn’t believe all the cartoonish portrayals. You know how Obama was very smart, no matter if you liked or disliked? It’s much better to have a brilliant leader you don’t like then something like trump. g Of course bibi is going to kiss trumps ass fur things he’s been trying to get for decades. None of them were trumps or Jared ideas. No way. Bolton, Haley, Pompeo,. Israel will be expected to give up something painful for the Palestinian policy change. But there will be no war with the West Bank for now

      • DaBakr on September 16, 2018, 9:47 am


        So, I’m not a linker but, I just searched quickly. If it was a legit US poll it was only republicans and before the primary. Other hits came up as bibi being republicans’favorite’ leader. So, definitely in Republican land. One site had Sarah Palin endorsing him but pretty sure it’s satire. so, it could be that I read some shit two years ago that was junk journo. or maybe it was a Zionist journal? Don’t worry, it can’t happen. Things have to get better for you after Donald. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a poll of republicans who hypothetically liked him over the other cast of characters. You know how Zionists control the Congress and all…

        I’m gonna get so much hate/ridicule heaped on me for ranting away tonight I’m going to just ease out on my 72 Laverda and chill with my unearned privilege. I’m just another opinionated shthead on somebody’s site

      • annie on September 16, 2018, 10:03 am

        it could be that I read some shit two years ago that was junk

        you crack me up, in a comment about bullshit, this really takes the cake. and maybe it was just republicans who like netanyahu more than they like democrats? — shocking!

        and these “thousands of Palestinians” who don’t support BDS, did you just imagine that too? i’d love to read your source on that allegation (not to be confused with BS of course). i wonder if those palestinians also like netanyahu.

      • echinococcus on September 16, 2018, 12:53 pm


        When anyone says that
        a mass murderer who spoke twice, or as many times as he wishes, to US Congress, easily circumventing the sitting US President when needed, and got a standing ovation, 29 or 39 or as many times he wants to, from each of the 477/535 assembled turds, each of whom did get elected,
        can get elected ahead of any US person,
        he is speaking the truth.
        Cavilling about polls or trying to believe in US “democracy” is no help here.

      • Mooser on September 16, 2018, 1:45 pm

        “I’m just another opinionated shthead on somebody’s site”

        “Dabakr”, that will not do. You have got to do something to make these people take you seriously! You are becoming a joke.
        Try an long, disjointed mutter, and make it threatening, too.

      • Talkback on September 16, 2018, 3:20 pm

        DaBakr: “I’m gonna get so much hate/ridicule heaped on me for ranting away tonight …”

        And if you do, you will find a ridiculous way to paint this also as jew hatred. LOL

      • DaBakr on September 23, 2018, 1:38 pm


        very confidant I know jew hating when I read it or hear it. if I think a commenter hates jews I have no problem pointing it out .


        “Takes the cake…”. Maybe so. But I never present as somebody obsessed with hyper linking as this site is strictly opinion afaik. In fact, as long as your laughing, I very well might have gotten to the Netanyahu poll thru a link here from a Netanyahu critic ridiculing the love republicans showed him. So, it’s hardly a farfetched notion when considering how random and ridiculous polls can be. But I’m glad you like my take on BS

      • Talkback on September 24, 2018, 11:36 am

        DaBakr: “very confidant I know jew hating when I read it or hear it. if I think a commenter hates jews I have no problem pointing it out”

        We allready know that your accusation is not rational and you need to hide your racism behind it.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 16, 2018, 11:13 am

      ” (His two phds in scholarly pursuits didn’t hurt)”

      What’s a phd in ‘scholarly pursuits’? Is it different from a Phd in a non-scholarly pursuit?

      And you’d think someone so academically gifted could communicate in a more sophisticated medium than cartoons.

      “Of course bibi is going to kiss trumps ass fur”

      It doesn’t matter how nice you try to make it sound, but killing trumps ass fur seems rather vile to me. Each to their own and all that.

      • Shingo on September 16, 2018, 6:16 pm

        And you’d think someone so academically gifted could communicate in a more sophisticated medium than cartoons.

        Probably comes from the same cognitive dissonance that gave us ”we are very strong/we are very vulnerable” and “we are in control of our fate/we are the victims”.

      • amigo on September 23, 2018, 5:47 pm

        “very confidant I know jew hating , blah blah blah.”Duhbaker

        Duhbaker, I am very confident , you would make a lousy confidant.

      • DaBakr on September 24, 2018, 12:19 am


        In history and probably political science. There do exist phd in areas requiring physical and field work. But if you want to quibble fine. He has two PhD s . I not implying there aren’t others with greater accomplishments. he ran circles around obama and while he could w with trump is a mute point. he doesn’t need to with trump. isn’t that one of the reasons you loved Barack so much. he called bibi a chickenshit. that was a real guffaw. I’m sure it literally crushed bibi to pieces

        Please do keep checking on my auto-correct. maybe wth some extra concern it will learn to correct more then just spelling.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 24, 2018, 10:50 am

        “In history and probably political science. ”

        Where do I do a degree in probably political science? It sounds interesting. Probably.

        “But if you want to quibble fine. He has two PhD s .”

        So what? I work in a university and meet people with fancy letters after their names all the time. Many of them are nothing special intellectually.

        BTW doing a PhD takes several years. At least a proper PhD in a proper university. Where and when did your hero do all these first-rate degrees in history and probably political science?

        “he ran circles around obama”

        Lol how? With cartoons? 45 second stare-downs at the UN?

        “isn’t that one of the reasons you loved Barack so much.”

        I’m not a fan of Obama’s at all, since you ask.

    • Mooser on September 16, 2018, 3:10 pm

      Mssr: stfu

      I don’t think I will be doing that. You’ll have to deal with it the best you can.

      • DaBakr on September 24, 2018, 12:27 am


        If I wrote that.., And I can’t find it but Your right. I wouldn’t expect that to happen. It’s obviously something that will never happen.

    • amigo on September 16, 2018, 5:02 pm

      duhbaker , There is help available for drunkenness.There is help available for Zionism , but put the two together and , well , Psychiatry is still in the embryonic stages of research into that phenomenon and is seeking volunteer , “Lush, zios” to be a part of a new research program to build a force of sober , clean living Hasbaristas to take on Hate sites such as MW.

      • gamal on September 17, 2018, 5:12 am

        “There is help available for Zionism”

        Like at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, with Afif Safiyeh

        “they took his land, then they took his legs, then they took his life”

      • amigo on September 17, 2018, 11:17 am

        Thanks for link gamal.

        Sinn fein is gaining in stregth and will soon be a major force in Irish pol life.

        The State of Palestine will be declared and no ammount of US or goi inteference will prevent it.SF Pols are not for sale in this matter.

    • Shingo on September 16, 2018, 5:14 pm

      and yes, wake up, the litany of so-called compromises people here claim the Arabs have agreed to is totally bogus

      Complete and utter BS. Agreeing to for 22% of what was once theirs is a massive and irrefutable compromise. Somewhere during your hasbara programming, they left out the fact that Israel has ZERO legal claim to one inch of territory outside it’s 1948 borders without Arafat agreeing to it

      • on September 24, 2018, 1:46 am

        Hi Shingo. This a bit random but my name is also Shingo. Your comments on this forum are popping up in Google search results for our shared name and specifically for google searches of me. Big ask, but is there a way you could change your username? I know that might be tough if you’ve already established yourself in the community. Thanks for the consideration. – AlsoShingo

      • Bumblebye on September 24, 2018, 1:00 pm

        I googled Shingo and got multiple different accounts. Are you asking all of them to alter their names? “Our” Shingo has been a commenter here for at least eight years. Perhaps you should change your nom de plume?

      • gamal on September 24, 2018, 1:29 pm

        ” “Our” Shingo has been a commenter here for at least eight years. Perhaps you should change your nom de plume?”

        a name change violates the dearly held traditions of MW-13, the code, so it’s war AlsoS.
        The loser will be christened Roza Bal and there had better be no srinagaring.

        Do you use asaf, if not better get some.

      • on September 25, 2018, 9:38 am

        Haha. I guess I should have been more clear. I believe both our real names are “Shingo”. Google searches (by potential employers and others) for me are pulling results from this forum (specifically this “Shingo”) and then assumed to be comments made by me. I was just hoping that “Shingo” could change his username to “Sh1ngo” or something to throw off the Google hounds.

      • gamal on September 25, 2018, 10:15 am

        “and then assumed to be comments made by me”

        that is really disturbing, the only Shingo I can think of is Shingo Nakamura(?) a Japanese DJ,

        in this day and age “assumed” to made by you sounds odd, perhaps you should direct your inquisitors to the profile page but names can’t be changed and we should all resist the plague of unwarranted scrutiny, so it’s still war but it all yours.

        ( i am butting in so apologies to all Shingos, i will return to minding my own business)

      • Mooser on September 25, 2018, 12:02 pm

        “Google searches (by potential employers and others) for me are pulling results from this forum (specifically this “Shingo”) and then assumed to be comments made by me”

        And as a result, you are continually offered jobs way above your competency level, which you are obliged to refuse.

    • Shingo on September 16, 2018, 6:42 pm

      It was probably between his infamous speech to Congress and before Obama was out of office

      Don’t confuse standing ovations from the world’s most expensive rent-a-crowd with polls you can’t even cite. Netanyahu’s popularity is in the gutter with Democrats and independents and always has been.

      • echinococcus on September 17, 2018, 12:17 am


        Between rent-a-crowd and elections there is no daylight.

    • Misterioso on September 17, 2018, 11:23 am


      Sigh. You’ve really got to get out more. A huge shift is taking place around the world and its only a matter of time until it takes full flight in the US. The Zionist orgy is coming to an end.
      “You can fool some of the people all the time….”

      Here’s more reality:

      “As mass killings horrify the world, Netanyahu’s circle dwindles” Canada’s Globe and Mail, by Doug Saunders, May 15/18

      “’You have made history,’ Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said to U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday as the two leaders, flanked by a discomfiting alliance of far-right politicians, ultra-Orthodox rabbis and evangelical preachers who have declared that Jews are doomed to burn in hell, officiated over the U.S. embassy’s move to the contested city of Jerusalem.

      “On Tuesday, the world learned just what sort of history had been made. May 15 is known to Palestinians as Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) Day, to mark the 1948 expulsion of Arabs from newly created Israel. On this 70th anniversary, viewers around the world recoiled at a gruesome series of funerals, as Arabs buried some of the about 60 Gaza residents who were killed by Israeli Defence Forces bullets while the two leaders went about the business of congratulating one another.

      “For Mr. Netanyahu, this mixture of human tragedy and empty ceremony was the culmination of a Faustian political bargain, in which he has purchased political support for his right-wing coalition at the price of the world’s respect and his country’s peace and security.

      “If Monday horrified the world, Tuesday drove home the nature of this bargain, as both leaders were all but silent on the killings, and on the scores of other deaths, and thousands of injuries, inflicted by IDF soldiers on Palestinians protesting the embassy move over the past month (there were reports of more killings after the funerals on Tuesday).”

      London Review of Books , Vol. 40 No. 10 · 24 May 2018
      “The Two-State Solution: An Autopsy” By Rabbi/Professor Henry Siegman, former Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America.

      “[Minister of defence,] Avigdor Lieberman’s opinion of the value of the lives of Palestinians mirrors the view expressed by Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s minister of justice. A year before her appointment in 2015, Shaked posted on her Facebook page an article by Uri Elitzur, a settler leader, in which he said that Israel should target not only militants but the ‘mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which the snakes were raised. Otherwise more little snakes will be raised there.’

      “Shaked is a member of the settlers’ political party, Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home), whose leader, Naftali Bennett, is Netanyahu’s minister of education. In 2013 Bennett said during a cabinet debate: ‘If you catch terrorists, you simply have to kill them.’ When Israel’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, pointed out that this would be illegal, Bennett retorted: ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there is no problem with that.’”

  15. echinococcus on September 16, 2018, 12:32 pm

    Yeah, there was such a huge need for a long, annotated, almost-scholarly paper to know that J. Goldberg, official mouthpiece in the US of the Zionist criminals against humanity, himself a proudly boasting uniformed war criminal, supports the Yahoo. We didn’t know, you know!

    The author’s beef with the Yahoo seems to be that
    “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”.

    It’s hard to see why people facing the business end of the Zionist+US abomination should give a rodent’s behind about the “harassment”-by-interview of fellow mythonationalists (who “devote their life” to new justifications for colonialist intruders to continue squatting in Palestine with a cleansed conscience and keep their cake, too.) Or about the fine distinctions between naming the Yahoo’s murder propaganda Sebarah and other Jewish-nationalist and Zionist propaganda, like Beinart’s and Zimmermann’s, left unnamed.

    • John O on September 16, 2018, 2:05 pm

      Regular Mondoweiss readers will know a lot about Goldberg. Someone coming to this site for the first time may well not know much about him, and be greatly enlightened.

    • Donald on September 16, 2018, 2:49 pm

      It is good to know how various people think. And there is a difference between Beinart and Goldberg. Beinart was writing pieces earlier this year debunking some of the standard excuses people give for the Gaza blockade. I can’t imagine Goldberg doing this.

      • echinococcus on September 16, 2018, 4:16 pm


        You continue to confuse the different levels.

        Beinart and INN (or whatever the letters) are out to keep the invaders squatting in Palestine and make some anticolonial noises at the same time. I’d be thankful for it because they exacerbate some of the internal contradictions of Zionism, were it not for the fact that their “liberal”-looking “solution” to keep the invaders squatting and to deny the Palestinian right to land and sovereignty is very likely to give an undying pretext to the Western allies of the Zionists/US for continuing their support. It is also the best strategy for keep Palestinians submissive for much longer.

        The Western support I’m discussing here is only ostensibly that for a pie-in-the-sky “equal-rights state”. In practice it will be about renewing support to the current policy of the endless talks-about-future-talks “process”… while the genocide continues.
        So at that level, the difference is that between crocodiles and poisonous snakes.

        The other level is that of the possible easing of the worst so-called excesses of Nazionism. At that level, sure, people like that may be useful and should be supported over here, by encouraging them to write to their fellow Jewish tribalists, or quoting them to US politicians, etc. No problem with that.

        Now look at the article, above: the support given to these people is strictly at the intra-Zionist level. The “new” Sebarah culture, or however they transcribe it, is being opposed to the much more effective propaganda of the old-timer “Labour” genocidaires.

        Finally, yes it’s good to know what people think but it is irritating to often see this site looking almost like a propaganda forum for “liberal Zionists” and their usual US-lib following, given also the low relatively frequency of articles dismembering Zionism, with only very occasional ones taking the knife to Jewish nationalism.

      • JWalters on September 17, 2018, 7:59 pm

        echinococcus, you are right that the immediate victims will not be interested in a scholarly analysis. But this war will be won by changing minds, either by words or by bombs. A good scholarly analysis can be a bomb in the realm of words and thoughts, and affect people’s decisions.

        The value of a scholarly analysis is that it sets out the evidence in an objective, clear, and orderly way. This can be a reference frame in advancing the discussion. And it can be a reference document for key facts. It can help a wider social consensus arise that is solidly based on facts. Intuitively, in a natural setting, people like facts.

      • echinococcus on September 18, 2018, 9:28 am


        My point was that this almost- scholarly piece is in fact camouflage, smokescreening off the more dangerous, “liberal” Zionists.

  16. Marnie on September 16, 2018, 11:08 pm

    Jewish tribalism is no different than the tribalism of the KKK, Aryan nations, the party of tRUMP, any and all white nationalist movements and that should be more than enough to wake up anyone who believes the latest turn of events here is a benign natural evolution of the zionist experiment and silence is complicity, which plays right into the bloody hands of netanyahooo and co.

  17. Jackdaw on September 17, 2018, 1:22 am

    Yakov, Tati, you wrote an essay!

  18. annie on September 17, 2018, 8:16 am

    thanks yakov!

  19. Boomer on September 17, 2018, 10:43 am

    Reading Rubin’s comment now, “Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us” reminds me why I started avoiding her stuff years ago. Once again I’m amazed that she gets space and money to publish such ideas in respectable American publications. And being reminded of Goldberg’s role after 9/11 reminds me how loudly some of those mentioned here called for the invasion of Iraq. At the time, the urgency of doing so wasn’t clear to me. Only after we invaded did Tom Friedman explain to Charlie Rose that “we” did it in order to tell the Arabs to “suck on this.”

    Reading this thread reminds me as well of the dismay and humiliation many Americans felt to see the alacrity with with which our political elites responded to the war lobby, as they did equally to Wall Street. Recently I heard Tim Geithner once again laboring to explain how it is that the American people are too dumb to understand the need to bail out the bankers and ensure their bonuses, with no accountability. Bankers’ losses must be socialized, not their profits.

    Many Trump supporters, I suspect, can’t articulate why they feel screwed, but they are smart enough to recognize the feeling. Unfortunately, they found a flawed champion.

    • Maghlawatan on September 17, 2018, 4:24 pm

      Trump’s blue collar voters got taken for the biggest ride since PT Barnum. The betrayal underway is Biblical.

      • gamal on September 17, 2018, 6:32 pm

        “PT Barnum. The betrayal underway is Biblical”

        that’s really fine, the PT Barnum testament is the American bible and its all going to happen right now the end with all those thrilling bells and whistles..and victory….. there used to be a guy on Oxford St. in a sandwich board with “The End is Nigh” on the front, he’d probably make a good President, even though we assumed he was a nutter.

  20. nelle on September 17, 2018, 12:21 pm

    Israel itself, by being called “the Jewish state” from its inception, courted anti-Semitism. This far-too-long article (eyes glaze over; one cannot finish it) blames a single individual. Dr. Israel Shahak, perhaps Israel’s greatest dissident, predicted that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would produce anti-Semitism — genuine anti-Semitism, not all-criticisms-of-Israel-are-anti-Semitic anti-Semitism. At the same time, Noam Chomsky warned that the BDS campaign, in pushing “Boycott Israel” rather than “Boycott Settlement Products,” would backfire. And so it has. I wrote periodically about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank between 1979 and 2009, so I certainly followed the progress of the settlements, and of what we can now call Israeli apartheid. I am Jewish, by the way, and many Jews feel as I do. Save for, I suppose, BDS and ‘boycotting Israel’ rather than only the settlements. Even my argument is academic anymore, however.

    • echinococcus on September 17, 2018, 2:31 pm

      Noam Chomsky warned that the BDS campaign, in pushing “Boycott Israel” rather than “Boycott Settlement Products,” would backfire

      Well, Chomsky’s full of it. We’ve always known him as a Zionist, anyway. Of the old-fashioned, now extinct species of the smart Zionists raised in the regular world, outside the bubble.

      He’s full of it because instead of hasn’t backfired and, even with a largely Jewish nationalist participation trying to render it toothless, it has educated many thousands of people on the genocidal invasion and the total illegitimacy of the Zionist entity. This was greatly helped by the NaZionist lobby’s efforts at banning boycott activities.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 17, 2018, 3:28 pm

      The ‘boycott the settlements but not Israel ‘proper’ argument is spurious in the extreme.

      Here’s why:

      a) It would be extremely easy to circumvent by simply relabelling ‘settlement’ produce as ‘Made in Israel’. I beleive this has already happened.

      b) It would have very little economic or political impact, other than making Zionists lite such as yourself feel good about themselves. That’s why it’s so popular among such types – it wouldn’t do a thing to further the cause of justice for Palestinians, but would make ‘liberal’ Zionists feel even more smug.

      c) Most importantly, the ‘settlements’ are not something apart from Israel. They are built with money from the Israeli government, populated by Israeli citizens encouraged to move there by the state and guarded by Israeli occupation forces. As far as the Israeli government is concerned, they are de facto as much a part of Israel is Yorkshire is a part of England. Israeli transport maps show them as part of Israel, which is how they are intended to remain indefinitely.

      Oh, and what do you mean by saying that BDS has ‘backfired’? Backfired for who? How?

  21. Ossinev on September 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    “and of what we can now call Israeli apartheid. I am Jewish, by the way, and many Jews feel as I do. Save for, I suppose, BDS and ‘boycotting Israel’ rather than only the settlements. Even my argument is academic anymore, however”

    You need to clarify. What you have said seems to be accepting that there is Apartheid in Israel`s actions in the occupied territories and that it is deserving of BDS but that BDS is still only appropriate in relation to any trading or any form of interaction with the state sponsored funded and subsidised “settlements”. Even before addressing the clearly Apartheid nature of the State of Israel given the enactment of the “Nation State For Jews only ” law are you saying that it is somehow right to boycott the settlement residents but it is wrong to boycott the state which created and sustains the settlement residents and the whole settlement enterprise.

    Feel free to correct me if I you feel have misunderstood or misrepresented your views .

  22. Maghlawatan on September 17, 2018, 3:40 pm

    ”hasbara culture is much more than Zionism. After all, J Streeters are Zionists. Bayroff is a Zionist. Emily Hauser is a Zionist.“

    Pick a few outliers
    Hasbara culture is Zionist. Zionism is for the birds because as Shulman observed Zionists live in a mythical world of good v evil where Jews are good and everyone else is potentially evil (even though we are supposed to trade with Israel)

  23. Maghlawatan on September 17, 2018, 4:07 pm

    I wouldn’t blame Goldberg for Netanyahu’s Israel either. Countries don’t go over to the dark side because of Atlantic editorials. Netanyahu’s Israel is the rotten fruit of years of work in the education system, the Israeli army, AIPAC and the Israeli media. Every attempt to inject humanity into Israeli discourse was destroyed. Every attempt to steer Israel onto a saner path was crushed. Every half decent politician 20 years ago is now replaced by a rabid extremist. Goldberg didn’t start the fire. He threw some petrol on it.

    • Yakov Hirsch on September 17, 2018, 7:42 pm

      Hi Maghlawatan, please see this article of mine for the cultural difference between Rabin and Netanyahu’s Israel.
      Also, this Daniel Bar-Tal essay is very good on the same subject:

      • Maghlawatan on September 18, 2018, 12:01 am

        Hi Yakov

        I often think about the difference between Israel 20 years ago and Israel now.
        Netanyahu never recognized Palestinian rights. He built a coalition of Mizrahi and Orthodox and put a Manichaen wrapper on it. He fed his baby and it came to fruition in Gaza in 2014.

        Rabin was a different kind of bastard. We don’t know how he would have managed post 95 had he survived.
        Israeli demographics are really important to the development of Israeli nihilism. The proportion of educated people in the population decreased.
        Economic changes were also germane. Israel became more and more unequal post 95. Israel is the most unequal society in the OECD now. Netanyahu channeled the anger of weaker sections of Jewish society into existential hatred.
        Rabin didn’t have to deal with the economic situation.
        Zionism as a dogma never took the Palestinian issue seriously. The tropes of Zionism just ignore the Palestinians. Zionist Jews are not going to give up their economic privileges unless there is no choice.
        I don’t think there is a coherent Zionism waiting in the wings to take over from Netanyahu. I don’t think Rabin would have got a different result given the demographics and the economics. Zionism was never coherent. It was always audacious and short termist.
        Zionism has always preferred to delay a decision on the Palestinian issue rather than behave in its own long term interest.
        Now Gaza is a few years from imploding. Jews are a minority in Eretz Israel hashlemah.
        It is very messy.

  24. Keith on September 17, 2018, 7:39 pm

    YAKOV HIRSCH- “The reason why Booker felt compelled to disown the image was not because of “pro-Israel money,” or Jewish votes, as most think.”

    I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the effect of Jewish Zionist money on Booker’s decision, particularly without evidence. Your statement that “Even if presidential aspirant Booker can replace every dollar and vote….” borders on magical thinking. Jewish Zionist money comprises such a significant part of Democratic funding that your hypothetical is unrealistic. Not to say that other factors are not involved, but a taboo not supported by power is a weak taboo.

  25. JWalters on September 17, 2018, 7:56 pm

    Thanks for this very thoughtful look at the tribalism factor in the case of Israel. And Jeffrey Goldberg is a good entryway.

    Goldberg AVOIDS a true analysis, a scholarly, thorough, balanced analysis, the type of analysis generally considered as the main method of finding the truth. Instead, he reaches his conclusions based largely on his feelings. It seems to me the only way he could get promoted for such amateurish “analysis” is by working for a patron who wants it done. Goldberg looks like a hired tongue.

    I look forward to part 2 on “Where does the hasbara culture taboo of seeing ‘the other side’ come from?”

  26. Keith on September 19, 2018, 6:09 pm

    YAKOV HIRSCH- “The “blame the Jews mindset” that Goldberg so often detects among Israel critics says more about Jeffrey Goldberg than it does about his targets.”

    It also reflects a key Zionist tactic of dismissing any and all discussion/criticism Of Jewish Zionist behavior as an attempt to scapegoat Jews who are depicted as the eternal victims of irrational Gentile hatred. It reflects a Manichean mindset in which all non-Jews are the evil other. A mindset which is a core component of Zionist internal solidarity and behavior.

  27. anomalous on September 24, 2018, 3:52 pm

    What a fascinating, highly critical discussion of Israeli policy in the context of Jewish identity!

    Reminds me of this fateful declaration:

    It seems we’ve all evolved a bit!

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