Posts Tagged ‘Jeffrey Goldberg’


I weigh in on the controversy over Barack Obama’s possible nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Secretary of Defense in a guest post at Muzzlewatch, Jewish Voice for

Senator Chuck Hagel

Senator Chuck Hagel

Peace’s blog. On the issue of Israel and the Middle East, rarely has there been a more important moment for US policy. This is a moment where the Israel Lobby could well suffer a significant defeat, and that matters.

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This article originally appeared on LobeLog

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for his trip to Washington, there has been considerable political rhetoric on both sides of the globe directed at the Obama Administration and pushing it to harden its lineon Iran.

Obama, with backing from military leadership, is effectively resisting pressure to lower the bar for war with Iran

There’s been comparatively little pushback, which isn’t all that surprising as President Obama really needed to get out in the lead on such rebuttals. Now he has.

He has done so, not accidentally, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the US’ leading “liberal hawks” on Iran, and a widely recognized pro-Israel voice who was once, in fact, a corporal and prison guard in the Israel Defense Forces.

Obama knew this was an interviewer who would focus on taking tough stands, who would surely be leading towards questions about how the United States was going to address Netanyahu’s concerns, but who also would, ideally, like to end up with an interview that both strengthened Obama and toughened the US’ stance toward Iran.

If that’s so, I’m not at all sure Goldberg got his wish.

The headline of the interview is a line Clint Eastwood could easily have uttered—“Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff.’” But just what is it that he’s not bluffing about?

In the interview, at least, Obama sticks quite hard to his established policy, and in fact defends it. He re-states his point that “all options are on the table,” but also implies that a military option is the choice of last resort.

Obama cleverly defends this by pointing out that, “…the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table. That’s what happened in Libya, that’s what happened in South Africa. And we think that, without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested. They recognize that they are in a bad, bad place right now. It is possible for them to make a strategic calculation that, at minimum, pushes much further to the right whatever potential breakout capacity they may have, and that may turn out to be the best decision for Israel’s security.” (more…)

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In my latest piece for Babylon Times, hosted by Souciant, I use a recent piece by Jeffrey Goldberg to examine how it is that some ostensible two-state, anti-settlement, so-called “pro-Israel” types seriously distort the daily realities life under Israeli occupation for Palestinians, particularly on the West Bank.

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In the latter part of the 20th century, trying to uncover bias became all the rage. Once it was acknowledged that news, history, academic papers, and all sorts of information sources reflected the inherent bias of the author, de-construction became a full-time job.

As with most such things, it got taken to an extreme. The result, in its worst form, was the ability of a right wing, massively funded news network to call itself “fair and balanced” as juxtaposed against an allegedly liberal media.

Nowhere is this dissection of alleged bias more visible than in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both sides complain endlessly about the bias against them in media and academia. And both sides are right, to some extent. One should, indeed, read a history book or news report with a consciousness about who is writing it and what the publication that is dispersing it might have invested in it. If you do that, there is only a very small, and easily spotted, amount of material that needs to be summarily dismissed.

Not everything written by a Jew who supports Israel is necessarily false or misleading, or that everything written by an Arab is false or misleading in the opposite direction.

There are huge strains of this on both sides: on the pro-Palestinian side, we have the “Zionist-controlled media” canard, as well as more serious examinations that look at how a close US ally might be given quite a few breaks in the media. On the “pro-Israel” side there is a virtual industry (populated by such well-heeled organizations as CAMERA and Palestinian Media Watch [PMW]) built around it.

In my experience – and I have been engaged in media and historical analysis on this issue since I was an undergraduate student – most serious sources, with a few glaring exceptions, either legitimately strive for objectivity or make their political agenda clear. Anyone looking for a realistic picture should, in this or any other arena, gather their information from a variety of sources. (more…)

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