Jeffrey Goldberg’s Continuing Netanyahu Hagiography

by Brien Jackson

From today’s New York Times:

Nevertheless, the prime minister’s preoccupation with the Iranian nuclear program seems sincere and deeply felt. I recently asked one of his advisers to gauge for me the depth of Mr. Netanyahu’s anxiety about Iran. His answer: “Think Amalek.”

“Amalek,” in essence, is Hebrew for “existential threat.” Tradition holds that the Amalekites are the undying enemy of the Jews. They appear in Deuteronomy, attacking the rear columns of the Israelites on their escape from Egypt. The rabbis teach that successive generations of Jews have been forced to confront the Amalekites: Nebuchadnezzar, the Crusaders, Torquemada, Hitler and Stalin are all manifestations of Amalek’s malevolent spirit.

If Iran’s nuclear program is, metaphorically, Amalek’s arsenal, then an Israeli prime minister is bound by Jewish history to seek its destruction, regardless of what his allies think. In our recent conversation, Mr. Netanyahu avoided metaphysics and biblical exegesis, but said that Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons represented a “hinge of history.”

So let me get this straight; Netanyahu’s fixation with Iran is the result of a belief that the Iranians are the latest manifestation of an ancient malevolent spirit that, according to religious tradition, has been tormenting the Jewish people since the days of Moses, and is responsible for Babylonian conquests, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Hitler and Stalin…but Iran is the “apocalyptic messianic cult?” Seriously?

Snark aside, this is to be expected from Goldberg, who ultimately is nothing but an AIPAC hack who will shamelessly shill for whatever Israeli policy is at the moment. Some people have taken to referring to the AIPAC wing of the American “Israel debate” as the “Likud lobby,” but this strikes me as being wrong. AIPAC, Goldberg, and company will mostly shill for whatever Israeli policy is at the moment, regardless of who is leading the government at the time. This is, in no small part, because on the question of the Palestinian conflict, there’s really no difference, beyond superficial optics, between the major three parties in Israel.

The real shame here lies with the Times for accepting a submission from Goldberg. Jeffrey Goldberg is the writer who not only savaged Jon Mearshimer and Stephen Walt in one of the most unprofessional, unserious “book reviews” ever printed by a major media publication (eventhulibrul New Republic), he’s the “journalist” who was most loudly running around in “mainstream” outlets trumpeting the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in the run up to the Iraq War. You would think that being that spectacularly wrong about such a critical piece of information, and his obvious lack of objectivity in matters regarding the Middle East, and Israel in particular, would largely disqualify him from getting any further warmongering published in “respectable” outlets, let alone in the week when we’re getting quite a bit of knowledge about the ways in which torture was employed to produce “evidence” of the arguments Goldberg was advancing prior to Iraq.

But that’s not how American journalism works anymore, is it?

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