Know what? Jeffrey Goldberg’s kind of a jerk

More Bogus Charges from Jeffrey Goldberg (sigh) | Stephen M. Walt

I suspect that what really ticks Goldberg off is this: My co-author and I (and a few others) have had the temerity to write critically about the political role of “pro-Israel” forces (both Jewish and non-Jewish) in America today.  This is a topic that the goyim aren’t supposed to talk about openly. It’s fine for Goldberg to write at length about this topic, or for former Forward editor J. J. Goldberg, to devote an entire book (which is well worth reading) to it. But when a non-Jew writes about this issue, and suggests that these groups are advocating foolish and self-defeating policies, then that person must of course be an anti-Semite. If Jews express similar doubts, they must be labeled as “self-hating” and marginalized as well.

Please. I really do understand this sort of tribalism and up to a point, I’m sympathetic to it. Given Jewish history — and especially the dark legacy of genuine anti-Semitism — it is unsurprising that some people are quick to assume that any gentile who criticizes the present “special relationship” must have sinister motives, even when there’s no actual basis for the suspicion. But that sensitivity doesn’t make the elephant in the room disappear, and given that America’s Middle East policy affects all of us, the various factors that shape that policy ought to open to fair-minded discussion devoid of name-calling and character assassination.

So yes, Jeffrey, there is a powerful “Israel lobby” (though it’s not “all-powerful”). Yes, many individuals in the lobby think the United States should do whatever it takes–including the use of military force — to eliminate Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. They aren’t the only people who think this, but they have been among the loudest and most persistent voices advocating this course of action. And yes, like most (all?) lobbies, some of the policies that it promotes are not in the best interests of the country as a whole. These facts are so obvious and so easy to document that it’s no wonder that a zealot like Goldberg prefers to throw mud whenever somebody points them out.

11 comments on “Know what? Jeffrey Goldberg’s kind of a jerk

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  1. Goldberg, the guy who has friends in Hamas, one of the original refuseniks for settlement duty, Jeff was being a little tongue and cheek in his description of the scenario sketched out by Wikileaks.
    Sometimes neither the Gulf lobby, or their antithesis, can get the
    proper result, there is a historical context to the word ‘Jewish lobby’
    let’s not play games, that goes back to the Okrana and Serge Nilus, and subsequently to the ravings of King Faisal, that can’t be ignored

  2. We argued that if the United States were foolish enough to start a war against Iran, it would be largely due to the influence of Israel and especially the lobby.

    and, of course, while counter-attacking, Walt slips in this little sentence, which indicates that Goldberg hasn’t misread Walt to the extent that Walt attempts to claim.

    anytime that somebody goes as far as to say that a lobbying group can likely compel a nation to attack another when that attack is not in the interest of the nation but in the interest of the lobby, that person or persons is most definitely calling that lobby vastly powerful and decidedly sinister.

    whether Goldberg is correct about calling Walt an anti-Semite is
    another, lesser (to the wider world), matter and one that Goldberg is likely not going to be able to substantiate.

  3. @ miguel cervantes: has it ever occurred to you that character assassin, while a very nice and comfortable employment opportunity for a young man, is really only a starter job.
    after a decade or so, one should attempt to branch out a little and apply oneself in hope of attaining a more substantial position.

  4. @ fuster:
    Good point. Would you consider Walt’s statement acceptable if he had instead said something like this?

    We argued that if the United States were foolish enough to start a war against Iran, it would be largely due to over-commitment to Israeli interests as defined and reinforced by the lobby.

  5. @ CK MacLeod: I consider Walt’s thesis about the pervasiveness of the “israel lobby” acceptable as it stands.
    It just happens to be unproven and not likely to be proven.

    I would not consider that he knows his ass from a tea kettle if he thinks, in any form, that the US is going to go to war with Iran in Israel’s interest.

    It’s pretty unlikely that it will ever be demonstrated that the US was motivated to attack Iraq because it perceived such attack to be good for Israel, and that charge has been brought many times. It might even bear a small element of truth that we thought it would be good for Israel, but saying that Israeli influence was, in the main, responsible, isn’t.

  6. One would think Mearsheimer as a supreme realist, should consider what are the consequences to Iran getting the bomb under this current leadership, I put it to you, they are not good. As for character assassin, you’re a fine one to ribbit

  7. @ fuster:
    I think Walt makes a mistake in giving primacy to Israel in the calculations of, say, your run of the mill Officer Bolton type. Even if Walt doesn’t mean to do so, he appears to be making a dual/wrong loyalty charge which I think we can assume applies to at most a very small minority of NeoCons. If that’s so, then he’s arguing essentially that they’re soft-headed sloths whose poor little brains are being manipulated by the conniving Israelis… and so you end up stinking a little bit of classic conspiracist anti-semitism.

    However, he’s right that an Israel lobby exists, that it’s influential, and that – like all lobbies, as he says – it has to be presumed to be arguing from some extraneous interests. That would have to be true, unless you believe that American and Israeli interests in the Middle East are or can ever be identical – which I think approximates the position of many the NeoCons as well as the Dual Covenanters and fellow travelers… just as many enemies of Israel have rather severe doubts about America as well…

  8. miguel cervantes wrote:

    As for character assassin, you’re a fine one to ribbit

    I’m mighty fine at so many things, but all I’m really asking of you is that you broaden your arguments a little to go beyond who’s in the group of bad guys.
    There are a hell of a lot of things over which two groups contend and in which neither group is all good and all bad and in which both groups have a claim little better than the other.

    If Walt and Meirsheimer set out to write a book claiming and quite lucidly detailing that there has been an extremely large and powerful Israel lobby that is composed overwhelmingly of Israelis and Jewish Americans calling the work or the authors anti-Semitic and linking them

    to the Okrana and Serge Nilus, and subsequently to the ravings of King Faisal

    is pretty lame, when the extensive and powerful lobby’s existence is just one of the facts of life. It existed, it skewed elections by pouring money into elections, it ended the political careers of Americans that it opposed because they called for a slightly different set for American policies in the ME.

    Now, if you can prove that Walt only wrote the book because of bigoted feelings rather than as a scholarly work, go right ahead.
    But if you have little or nothing to indicate that it’s bigotry or that the book is not factual, then you’re linkage isn’t good.

  9. @ CK MacLeod: I don’t ever wish to make the mistake of not assuming that the bulk of the neo-cons aren’t shallow thinkers and/or utterly stupid. The people who worked in Cheney’s office were mostly idiots and thought themselves brilliantly playing a deep game.

  10. Right the ones who forced the release of 65 detainees, that was the Levick Group, who as Burlingame has shown, actually whitewashed the man who shot William Spann, Khalid al Mutayri, among many others.
    Much of the big figures arguing for another waste of wood pulp, in the start treaty, were the ones who made entirely the wrong decisions
    with regards to the Middle East, Powell, Armitage, Scowcroft, I’ll leave
    Kissinger off the the list, because it’s too easy.

  11. no miggs. Burlingame doesn’t “show’ things, she makes arguments.
    if you want to claim that Burlingame has a QED on something, link to it, please and let us have a look.

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