Jeffrey Goldberg: A Dying Breed
Few would argue with the assertion that Jeffrey Goldberg is a prominent and respected member of the liberal media. He has interviewed notable figures ranging from President Obama to Fidel Castro (ok, maybe it's not that wide a range), and he has been published in the most influential magazines and national newspapers. And his liberal credentials are impeccable, with his support of socially liberal policies in the U.S. and his pushing for a Palestinian State and an end to the Israeli settlements abroad.
Lately, though, many of his colleagues on the left have become increasingly unwelcoming to Mr. Goldberg. To those on the left, it has become a mortal sin to reject any criticism of Israel and its supporters or, even worse, to actually defend Israel's policies. Case in point, Goldberg recently denounced the use of the historically anti semitic term "Israel-firster" to describe certain supporters of israel. To several prominent left-wing bloggers, such a denouncement was a declaration of war. Andrew Sullivan (notwithstanding his denial of being on "the left") accused Goldberg of trying to intimidate and bully legitimate criticism of Israel. Glen Greenwald, likewise, accused Goldberg of trying to shut down the conversation, and even went as far as to investigate whether Goldberg took a loyalty oath while serving in the Israeli army. You see, if he did take this oath then he is a disloyal American and his comments on the subject cannot be trusted anyway. Corey Robyn outdid them both and argued that it is in fact Goldberg who is the anti-semite.
But Goldberg failed to learn his lesson. Not too long after the Israel-firster spat, he criticized Peter Beinart's New York Times op-ed, which called for a boycott of products produced by Israeli settlements, on the grounds that such a move lays all the blame for the current peace process impasse at Israel's feet. As luck would have it, Goldberg's colleague at The Atlantic, Robert Wright, was there to officiate. And what do you know? He concluded that the blame lies squarely with Israel.
But Wright wasn't the only Atlantic editor who has been made uneasy by Goldberg's views. None other than the distinguished James Fallows was so troubled by a recent Goldberg article on the Israel-Iran standoff that he took the time to pen Goldberg a personal email, treading ever-so-gently, requesting a step-by-step detailed explanation of Goldberg's thought process on whether Netanyahu was bluffing Iran. The tone of the letter was respectful, but it was clear that Fallows couldn't help but believe that Goldberg was a willing participant in the bluff. In other words, he believed Goldberg put Israel's interests ahead of those of the U.S. Goldberg's lengthy response, unsurprisingly, did not at all impress Fallows.
To be sure, there still are liberal journalists and pundits, aside from Goldberg, who are willing to defend Israel, but they are few and far between, and they are constantly besieged; not only by fellow liberal journalists, but also by most liberal readers and commenters. But what's an even more significant development is that none of the liberal bloggers or journalists who are willing to come to Israel's defense are of the recent younger crop of liberal punditry. To a person, if a blogger is liberal and under 35 (arbitrary cut-off, I know), he will not defend Israel against criticism in any way shape or form. The best you will get is a Beinart-like "saving Israel from itself" argument.
There is little doubt in my mind that if Jeffery Goldberg were coming up through the journalistic ranks today, and wanted to maintain his current Mid-East views, he would be more likely to find a home at a conservative publication than he would at a magazine like the New Yorker.