by M.J. Rosenberg
For two days, the Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg has been calling Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and other critics of Bibi Netanyahu “anti-Semites.” Nothing new about that. For Goldberg, a major AIPAC neocon, all critics of Israeli policies are anti-Semites by definition. (See this good piece on Goldberg).
But why is he obsessing about Walt so much now?
It is because, in August, Goldberg is coming out with his big Atlantic piece calling on the United States to bomb Iran so that Israel does not have to.
But Goldberg has a problem. As an American who chose to serve in the Israeli army (he was a guard at a Palestinian prison camp), he fears that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer — who accused the Likud lobby of promoting war with Iraq in their groundbreaking bestseller — will point out that Goldberg is just about the least credible advocate for war with Iran.
I mean, think about it. How many Americans are so dedicated to Israel that they join its army and take its citizenship? I’ll tell you. A couple of thousand since 1948. So it is fair to say that Jeff Goldberg is extraordinarily loyal to Israel. Unlike the other neocons, he is no chickenhawk. He served in the military — just not ours.
And Goldberg needs to prevent commentators and pundits from citing that fact when his Iran call-to-arms comes out. If he can label Walt (and others) anti-Semites, he thinks they will not be able to remind readers that Goldberg who helped lie us into Iraq out of dubious motives and loyalties is simply trying to do it again.
Goldberg is conflicted. He desperately wants to see Iran bombed. But he also knows than as an American who chose to serve in the Israeli army, he could well be the wrong guy to be the neocons’ chief advocate for war. So he is has decided to neutralize his critics by smearing them in advance.
His hope is that he can make them afraid to speak up when his Iran war manifesto comes out next month. He’s wrong.
When Goldberg’s declaration of war comes out, Stephen Walt will surely be first out to remind anyone who has forgotten who Jeff Goldberg is. But he won’t be alone.
Jeff Goldberg’s reputation today is solely as an apologist for Israeli policies. This isn’t 2002. Goldberg in 2010 has as much credibility on any matter related to Israel as Andrew Breitbart now has on race. Except Breitbart is all talk. Goldberg walked the walk, just not here.
As for Stephen Walt, I envy the guy. He and John Mearsheimer wrote a book that utterly changed the terms of the debate on the Middle East. And he just gives the neocons conniption fits. Honest to God, you just know that just thinking of Walt and Mearsheimer keeps Goldberg up at night. Sweet!
More on Goldberg soon, especially after his War Manifesto hits the internet.
First published at Talking Points Memo and re-published with the permission of the author.