Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic is positively apoplectic that I dared to question his Zionism in my column last week, “Anti-Zionism at 60.” That column critically analyzed present day anti-Zionist discourse as it manifested itself – among other places — in Goldberg’s Atlantic cover article this month entitled “Will Israel Survive?”
Goldberg made his fury known in his blog on the Atlantic’s website.
I focused on Goldberg’s article in my column because in my view it is a typical example of the anti-Zionist boilerplate often espoused by Jews with an unhealthy relationship to their Jewishness. Brushing aside the majority of Israelis who are not leftists, Goldberg set up his “Israeli national dialogue” as an conversation between leftist political opportunists represented by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and radical leftist ideologues represented by non-Zionist Israeli author David Grossman.
I found this bookending of the national debate between two leftists appalling and insulting both to the Israeli public and to my intelligence. Then too, this biased, preconceived limiting of Israel’s national discourse led inevitably to Goldberg’s perverse conclusion that Israel is doomed because it is morally damned.
In his defense against my critique, Goldberg took another cue from the radical leftist, anti-Zionist playbook. Rather than contend with the content of my arguments, he attacked me personally. My arguments are unworthy of note because I am “a far right columnist.” Then too, just in case his readers needed to know why that is bad, Goldberg explained that I “represent a certain strain of mainly-American Jewish [that is, not authentically Israeli] thinking: She believes that all criticism of Israel is illegitimate; she believes Jews who disagree with her are traitors to her cause; and she conflates the settlement movement with the entire Zionist project.”
Truth be told, I couldn’t care less what Goldberg thinks of me. I certainly bear him no grudge for feeling unhappy that I said he is anti-Zionist. Beyond that, I am very proud of my American Jewish heritage, just as my Moroccan, Persian, German, Yemenite, Polish, French, British, Kurdish, Argentine, Canadian, Mexican, Bulgarian, Tunisian, Libyan, Iraqi and Rumanian Jewish friends and colleagues in Israel are all proud of their own distinct heritages. Israel is after all a country of immigrants and each group has made its own unique contributions to Israeli culture and society.
The only reason I think it is worthwhile to note his attack on me is because his little rant is emblematic of the way that the Left has for so long worked to silence debate in Israel and about Israel. Specifically, the Left has two arguments. First, regardless of what the non-leftist says, the Left’s rejoinder is that the person is “a far rightist” and therefore unworthy of note. That is, nothing any non-leftist says matters because the very fact that the person is not a leftist renders his or her view irrelevant. This of course is the view Goldberg clearly enunciated in his article where he included only the views of opportunistic and true believing leftists in his conversation.
Second, the Left has only one answer to every single argument. If you say that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was a disaster which empowered jihadists, the Left’s response is to blame the settlements. If you say that Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was a disaster which empowered jihadists, the Left’s response is to blame the settlements. If you say that Israel is not facing a demographic threat to its democracy and that the view that it is facing such a threat is based on PLO propaganda, the Left’s response is to say that the settlements are responsible and therefore there must be a demographic threat.
In short, the settlements, the settlers and everyone who doesn’t hate them or even – heaven forbid – supports them, is the cause of absolutely everything that happens in the Middle East. As long as they are around, they are responsible. And if, as in the case of Gaza, they are gone, the settlers qua refugees are still responsible because people who are not leftists and therefore are irrelevant insist on pointing out that it was a strategic error of the first order to throw them out of their strategically situated communities and to transfer their lands to the Hamas and Fatah terror groups.
The only thing notable, and actually sort of well nice, about Goldberg is that he apparently isn’t a very good leftist. New to the anti-Zionist game, he didn’t know that he was supposed to ignore me. I am irrelevant aren’t I? So what are you getting so bent out of shape about? Don’t sweat it Jeff. Andrew Sullivan thinks you’re just brilliant. David Grossman patronizes you and Avrum Burg thinks you're a legitimate voice. Take it easy.