I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that Jeffrey Goldberg is so overwrought about the Israel-Palestine bloggers session at the J Street conference that he has devoted a goodly portion of a post to pissing and moaning about us. The bad news is that the utter banality of his “analysis” confirms even further his utter irrelevance to the debate over U.S. Middle East policy.
Someone who didn’t even attend the session (Goldberg) has determined through his well-placed proxies that it was a silly waste of time. I always admire people so sure of their own powers of judgment that they don’t even need to have any first-hand knowledge of an issue or event to expound upon it with authority. Poor Jeffrey, he writes as if we gave him an ulcer:
I’m telling people who are worried about the hijinks at the unofficial J Street bloggers’ panel not to become overly bothered by it; it was a clownish event, and the people on the panel were marginal figures except in the rather circumscribed universe of anti-Zionists-with-Jewish parents (where they are giants).
Gee, where have I read that same term used to describe our session? Oh that’s right, our other good friend on the Jewish right, Michael Goldfarb:
The “independent” blogger panel at J Street’s conference can only be described as clownish.
You can tell where Jeffrey Goldberg gets some of his “best” material. From his partner in pro-Israel journalism, Goldfarb.
I’m going to come right out and call Goldberg a liar. I wrote him a personal e mail after his last diatribe pointing out the diversity of our panel and that it contained bloggers with many different perspectives on the issues. Yet he deliberately ignores what the two co-hosts of the session wrote to him, deliberately ignores the fact that I am a progressive Zionist and that Jerry Haber’s blog is titled The Magnes Zionist, for God’s sake. This is intellectual bad faith. Goldberg didn’t even have the courtesy to respond to my e mail. Jerry, by the way, invited Goldberg to join our panel, which he declined to do. You see, he’d rather take his marbles go home and complain about what nasty people we are than engaging with us in any sort of serious manner.
Goldberg hated the fact that J Street hosted a panel of Iran pragmatists, who he noxiously describes as “apologists.” Here is what passes for “analysis” from Goldberg:
The panel featured Hillary Mann Leverett, who, with her husband, Flynt Leverett, is an apologist for the Iranian regime. [and] also included Trita Parsi, who also does a lot of leg-work for the Iranian regime…
I find it interesting that the Mujahadeen al Khalq, the radical Iranian anti-clerical group which supports violent overthrow of the regime and is listed as a terror organization, also agrees with Goldberg, calling Parsi a supporter of the regime. This is a commonality of which Goldberg should be proud. Any reasonable person who really heard (as opposed to Goldberg relying on second-hand reports) what Parsi said, and who followed the powerful testimony from Parsi and his group NIAC during the civil unrest that followed the fraudulent Iranain elections in June, would know that what Goldberg says is a despicable lie. In fact, Parsi called those elections fraudulent at the conference. I, as opposed to Goldberg, was there and in the room when he said this. Somehow in the twilight world that is Goldbergland, calling the elections a fraud becomes twisted into apologetics on behalf of the regime. Besides, you’ll notice that Goldberg never provides a shred of evidence for any of these claims. Typical.
For Jeffrey Goldberg, if you don’t endorse Israel’s vision of an Iran that is an existential threat to Israel and the world, and if you don’t endorse draconian sanctions and the possibility of military attack if they don’t work–then you’re an Iranian apologist.
Here is more distortion from Goldberg:
…The consensus on the panel…was that Iran doesn’t think about Israel, doesn’t care about Israel, and certainly doesn’t want to obliterate Israel.
I blogged yesterday on what Trita Parsi actually said, which was far more nuanced than Goldberg allows. Parsi, seeking to explain the disconnect among all the players and their delusions about their own importance and their own perceptions of how their enemy sees them, said this:
Israelis think about Iran 90% of the time and think that Iranians think about Israel 90% of the time. They don’t.
No one on the panel said Iran doesn’t want to obliterate Israel. No one said it does. The subject simply was not addressed in that fashion, which would of course annoy Goldberg no end. Here’s a guy who deals in absolutes who can’t stand when people a lot smarter and better educated on the subject than he, talk in a fashion that allows for far more grey, far more complexity and nuance.
Interestingly, Goldberg also ignores the racism, noted by Hillary Mann Leverett in her presentation on Iran, directed at Iran by pro-Israel apologists:
[They advance] the stereotype of Iranians as chronically duplicitous and unprepared to keep any commitment they enter into. … Those stereotypes are simply not supported by the historical record. … They are fundamentally racist — if someone were to criticize Israeli diplomacy by referring to rabbis as lying and conspiring behind their beards, as far too many commentators accuse Iran’s mullahs of lying and conspiring behind their beards, we would rightly — and I’d be the first to — denounce that as an anti-Semitic stereotype.
When I first heard Leverett’s comment I thought it was very acute. Goldberg can’t be bothered to address it. Instead he misdirects in his response:
Rabbis aren’t in charge of Israel. Mullahs are in charge of Iran. This is a fact that probably does seem relevant to most people, though not to Hillary Mann Leverett.
We might leave aside the fact that fundamentalist rabbis, in fact, ARE in charge of many major aspects of Israeli life, though perhaps not decisions on whether to use nuclear weapons. But the most important point to note here is, who is to say that Iran’s mullahs are pursuing a policy that is any less rational than Israel is pursuing? Israel has started two horrific wars in the past three years killing thousands, including many civilians, in two different countries. It has used sophisticated and powerful weapons of destruction (though not “mass” destruction) that have killed indiscriminately. It has been sanctioned by international bodies and its own domestic human rights organizations for violations of human rights and international law.
Iran’s record in the past six months hasn’t been pretty either. Nor are its support for Hezbollah and alleged support for Hamas, laudable. But if we compare records of the two countries the mullahs appear quite a bit more rational than Israel’s leaders over that same three year period. How can that be, Jeffrey Goldberg, Zionist champion, Israel’s defender, that Israel has more to answer for than Iran? You’re worried that Iran wants nuclear weapons, when Israel already has them. You’re worried that Iran is violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty provisions, when Israel refuses even to sign the Treaty. Seems to me your concerns are a bit misplaced. Worry about Iran? Sure. Worry about Israel? Even moreso.
RE: “I’m going to come right out and call Goldberg a liar.”
MY COMMENT: Works for me!
In a few months from now, Goldberg will be sooo last century. He was always a windbag to begin with.
Never understood what some people, even some liberal Jews, saw in him. To describe this conference as ‘clownesque’ is really what a third rate two bit neocon blogger would do. Bweurk!
yaacov lozowick says
Don’t you run the danger with this line of reasoning, Richard, whereby one must be present at an event to be able to comment on it, that you ought not comment on Israel? It seems to me there are ways of be informed besides being present.
As for how significant any particular voice is or isn’t, you’d probably have to give an indication of the parameters you’re using to measure it.
Richard Silverstein says
I’ve pointed out in the post how Goldberg distorted the truth of what actually was said at the conference panels. This happened partly because he relied on 2nd hand reports & partly because of his own ideological biases. If he was interested in attacking the conference he should have attended as other critics did. We invited him, he declined.
Exactly how have you compared Israel and Iran to conclude that “Israel has more to answer”? So called “international bodies” have automatic majority against Israel, and in fact all they discuss is just Israel! They never discuss the horrible executions and oppressions taking place DAILY in Iran and other member countries of the Arab League. I would suggest you to experience the difference between Israel and her neighbors first-hand, before making such comparisons. But you probably won’t. You prefer to compare the incomparable.
“Israel has started two horrific wars in the past three years killing thousands, including many civilians, in two different countries.” – Israel has only responded to unprovoked attacks, after a great restraint. Is this called to “start a war” in the new Jewish jargon?
Mr. Silverstein, you distort the reality and do a great service to the enemy. In case you have forgotten – there still exists such thing . The enemy which has tried to obliterate Israel several times, and now it is trying again.
Richard Silverstein says
I truly feel sorry for people like you who are so afraid, so angry, & so programmed to hate Arabs and believe Israel is pure as the driven snow.
* Israel army has the highest moral standards – this is an objective fact.
* I know that Israel is not pure. I live there for many years, and, by the way, being an atheist, have no problem with the rabbis whatsoever. But compare it to any other Arab or Muslim country (not Western, because the conditions are not the same) – and you’ll understand the difference. Or maybe you are just **afraid** to make such a comparison?
* My anger with the Arabs has gradually built up. How do you explain that the Arabs rejected every proposal Israel has offered, right from the start? Including the 1999 Barak offer? They publicly declare that they “come to negotiate the borders of 67”. They refuse to acknowledge the 3000 year-old Jewish history, including the existence of the Temple at Haram-al-Sharif. And they raise their children in hatred, teaching them that no such country as Israel exists (see e.g. MEMRI and PMW). They don’t want any peace, and these days one should try very hard not to see it.
* Fear is a survival treat. Those who lack it don’t end up very well. I feel sorry for all those European Jews who couldn’t see the Holocaust coming.
Richard Silverstein says
Blah, blah, blah. You convince no one but yrself of yr own racist, Islamophobic ideas. You’re really wasting yr time. No one here is going to pay yr ideas the least attention since they don’t deserve any. We’ve already discussed virtually every argument you mention above & refuted all of them. There’s simply no pt in wasting time or energy addressing them. If you Google any of the keywords you use you’ll find past threads that addresses all of yr red herring arguments.
This is not a debating society in which you propound yr propagandistic ideas & we go back & forth. If you want such a venue you can find them other places. This blog is meant for serious discussion of the issues. Your ideas are pro-Israel, Islamophobic propaganda. They won’t be addressed (as they already have been in earlier threads multiple times).
You’re very quick to label one’s ideas by such stereotypes.
You have not addressed any of my “propagandistic” claims in a manner which would fit a “serious discussion”, so it’s really no point to continue. And your laughable “Comment Rules” preclude a possibility of such a discussion anyway.
For your information: I am always ready to change my mind if sufficient evidence is available. But when I get a response like yours, I very much doubt that the answers you claim to have on your site exist at all, or at least are of sufficient quality.
This is not a very clever way to convince people.
Richard Silverstein says
I’ve addressed every single issue you raised because hasbarists have preceded you here & published precisely the same arguments & I’m not going to repeat myself. That’s a waste of my time.
Insulting my comment rules is itself a violation of them. You’re skating on very thin ice & could fall through at any moment.
You are not ready to change yr mind. Yr mind is made up & the propaganda that you advance as truth (but which is anything but) clearly indicates that.
As for whether the threads exist on this site, it’s rich that you’ve doubted that they do w/o even attempting to verify it.
I have absolutely no desire to convince you of anything. But I do have thousands of readers who find what I write sufficiently persuasive that they read & subscribe. Thankfully, they haven’t been hijacked by hasbara rhetoric as you have.
The issue of whether or not there is a Palestinian or Israeli people will not be debated here by anyone fr. the right or left. Period.
In fact I have Googled your site but it didn’t help much. Do you seriously expect people to read through hundreds of pages in order to find that single thing which you claim exists? You could save your time and mine by just posting a link to a previous thread. Or publish a special “REFUTTALS OF THE HASBARA PROPAGANDA” with addition to your Comment Rules.
Making up one’s mind doesn’t mean he/she is not ready to change it. But you just missed that opportunity. I have genuinely attempted a discussion but you are not interested.
Don’t bother to ban me because this will be my last post here anyway.
May you continue to enjoy the comments you like. But beware: hasbara may hijack those readers as well.
Richard Silverstein says
Now that’s rich. I’ve written over 2,000 posts & prob. 5,000 comments in which I’ve addresed all your hasbara arguments and you say I CLAIM that I”ve done so? You think you’re the first reader who’s ever raised these issues here? Really, that’s rich. And you can’t be bothered to use Google search keywords for those arguments to try to find the comment threads in which they’ve been addressed? And you think I have a special obligation to you to find those threads for you? Think again.
My, my, you’re going to steal readers away fr. me with the acute powers of your hasbarist persuasion. I can feel them beating a path to the exits as they read yr words they’re so…powerful.
Is he making the “Mad Mullah” argument?
To be honest, that always amused me. These are the same religious and political leaders that sold the Embassy hostages back to the US for the opportunity to buy American weaponry in secret, even after the hostages became a major propaganda victory in Iran. Many of them, particularly Rafsanjani, are corrupt pragmatists to the very core.