So since I’m talking about the Atlantic‘s biases: today Jeffrey Goldberg, the credulous Iraq war shill, contributed more to his long history of attacking critics of Israel by equating such criticism with anti-Semitism. Indeed, even by Goldberg’s incredibly low standards, this is pretty ugly:
many protesters are challenging Israel’s very right to exist, not its policies in the territories it came to occupy in 1967 (or in Gaza’s case, territory it occupied in 1967 and then turned over to Palestinians in 2005). A second is that the line separating anti-Zionism—the belief that Jews have no right to an independent state in at least part of their ancestral homeland—and anti-Judaism, already reed-thin, has pretty much vanished.
So, 1) territories Israel “came to occupy” has gotta be the funniest way to phrase that I can imagine– whoops, we slipped and fell into almost 50 years of brutal occupation! 2) it’s absurd to say that the Israelis turned over Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005, given that they control Gaza’s borders, airspace, and waters, impose a brutal economic blockade against it, and feel absolutely no compunction against launching military strikes against its citizenry whenever they feel the need; 3) a man who denies Palestine’s right to exist, and in fact participated in that denial as a member of the IDF, complains about those who question Israel’s right to exist; 4) Goldberg ignores the fact that it has actually been Zionists who have worked tirelessly to collapse the distinction between Zionism and Judaism; and 5) anti-Zionism is an old and principled stance and one that was once a perfectly mainstream position within international Jewry, before Zionists undertook the previously-mentioned effort of conflating support for the Jewish people with support for the Zionist state. Details! In any event, when we talk about how accusations of anti-Semitism are used to police debate about Israel, sometimes people object and claim that doesn’t really happen anymore. Well, saying that the “already reed-thin” line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has vanished is pretty much the definition of that practice.
Now, were I the kind of person to have the ear of the august Atlantic, I might ask a few questions. For example: would you ever, in a million years, employ a former member of the PLO or Hamas, and give them carte blanche to publish pro-Palestinian propaganda the way you have given carte blanche to Jeffrey Goldberg? Why not? Do you feel any sort of responsibility to balance your coverage? Does the fact that Goldberg admitted to covering up prisoner abuse in his book factor into your decision to give him a forum? If a Palestinian writer similarly admitted to participating in the abuse of an Israeli prisoner, would you give him a forum? Does the fact that he was notoriously duped in the run-up to Iraq, in a way that contributed to that disastrous war, change your confidence in him as a journalist? Do you find it embarrassing that he used the cover story of your print magazine to describe an Israeli attack on Iran as imminent, given that it’s been over 4 years since that story ran and no attack has occurred? Is there a certain amount of times Jeffrey Goldberg’s reporting can go disastrously wrong before you’ll consider no longer giving him a forum? These are my questions.
But this gets back to my earlier point from today: to give a permanent forum to a former member of the IDF who publishes endless defense of Israel and attacks on its critics is, in the context of American media, not a particularly noteworthy move, and not one that is seen as particularly controversial or indicative of any kind of political bias. But to extend a similar invitation to a Palestinian– to give a former member of the PLO, say, a cushy gig as a blogger on the Atlantic— would be unthinkable. It would call down immense controversy and be seen as inherently radical and left-wing. The default, in American media, is the unwaveringly pro-Israel position. This again illustrates one of the greatest privileges in American political culture: the privilege of having your views be interpreted as non-partisan.