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.