What The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg Gets Wrong about Netanyahu's Impact in America and Israel

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and now a columnist for Bloomberg News as well is one of the most highly acclaimed reporters covering the Middle East. A former IDF soldier and a man with years of experience writing about the region, no one comes closer than him to providing solid material when he writes lengthy pieces about the conflict.

But when he editorializes and comments, he can be as off-base as anyone else, despite his own decades of writing and reporting. Like many liberals, Goldberg sees the settlements and the expansion of them by religious zealots as the main impediment to peace in the region, not Palestinian intransigence about any willingness to recognize a Jewish state anywhere in Palestine.  Take this column, in which Goldberg writes the following:

Their greatest achievement, though, is in the interconnected realms of ideology and propaganda. The settlement movement, its supporters, and its apologists (in Israel and in America) have successfully conflated support for their movement with support for Israel and for Zionism itself. They have created a reality in which criticism of the settlement movement has come to equal criticism of Israel. You see this at the AIPAC convention, where no speaker dared suggest that the settlements are, in fact, the vanguard of Israel's dissolution, rather than the vanguard of Zionism.

Does Goldberg really believe that if there were no settlements, and if they were suddenly abandoned, that Mahmoud Abbas would suddenly recognize Israel and be ready to make peace? He knows well that since 1948 and Israel’s creation, the Arab nations and the Palestinian leadership -- then commanded by the Nazi supporter the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem -- have vowed never to accept any Jewish state anywhere in Palestine. To them, all of Israel was an illegal settlement by colonialist-imperialist occupiers.

Has Goldberg read any of the penetrating columns by Sol Stern, who regularly has shown how Israel has offered to make peace, only to find Palestinian rejection facing them? (Stern’s most recent one can be read here.) As Stern writes, it is not the settlers who are the impediment to peace, but the false “Nakba narrative” propounded by the PA leaders, especially Abbas. Stern points out: “No one living under Palestinian rule dares publicly question this lie. No historian dares offer his people a balanced account of the 1948 war, of who attacked whom, and of the reasons for the flight of the refugees. As long as this remains the case, the ‘right of return,’ far more than any question of borders, will remain the principal roadblock to successful peace negotiations.”

Goldberg argues, however, that what he calls his “centrist” position:

[Is] that the settlements should be fought as if there was no such thing as anti-Zionism, and anti-Zionism should be fought as if there were no such thing as the settlements. This, I think, reflects the centrist position. A centrist on the question of Israel believes that the settlements represent a corruption of Jewish ideals, but that Israel remains the physical manifestation of a righteous cause.

Now that Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that in fact many smaller settlements outside of what will be a secure Israel after a two-state solution will in fact cease to exist, and the larger ones in areas everyone knows will be assigned to Israel proper, the settlement issue will fall by the wayside.

In another blog post, Goldberg argues that Netanyahu’s comments to the president at the White House meeting were a disaster, and he writes: “I watched the Prime Minister of Israel publicly lecture the President of the United States on Jewish history with a mixture of shock, amusement and bewilderment.” He is perplexed because he says that the president “the day before, gave Netanyahu two enormous gifts -- a denunciation of the radical Islamist terror group Hamas, and a promise to fight unilateral Palestinian efforts to seek United Nations recognition as an independent state.”