Israel’s Goldberg Problem

I have a fair amount of respect for Jeffrey Goldberg, now of the Atlantic, who has done some first-rate reporting on the Middle East. So I was all the more shocked at the slippery reasoning of his New York Times op-ed: “Israel’s ‘American Problem.'” He argues that it is imperative for Israel’s long-term safety

to create conditions on the West Bank that would allow for the birth of a moderate Palestinian state. Most American Jewish leaders are opposed, not without reason, to negotiations with Hamas, but if the moderates aren’t strengthened, Hamas will be the only party left. And the best way to bring about the birth of a Palestinian state is to reverse – not merely halt, but reverse – the West Bank settlement project. The dismantling of settlements is the one step that would buttress the dwindling band of Palestinian moderates in their struggle against the fundamentalists of Hamas.

So not only is it imperative for Israel to make concessions in the West Bank to the Palestinians–regardless, it seems, of whether they make concessions in response–but, he goes on to argue, it imperative for America to have a president “who prods the Jewish state” in that direction “publicly, continuously, and vociferously.” And why won’t America’s current president prod Israel in that direction? According to Goldberg,

[t]he leadership of the organized American Jewish community has allowed the partisans of settlement to conflate support for the colonization of the West Bank with support for Israel itself.

Although he goes on to criticize the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis that this nefarious “Lobby” holds hostage American policy toward Israel, Goldberg concedes most of their substantive case. Which is crazy, because nearly every strand of his argument is deeply flawed.

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Israel’s Goldberg Problem

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