A Response to Andrew Sullivan

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Peter Beinart hopes to convince mainstream American Jews that Israel is primarily to blame for the impasse in the peace process, and he calls on the Jewish community to boycott the settlements. And with allies like Andrew Sullivan, how can he fail?

Andrew, who consistently grants the regime in Iran the benefit of the doubt on the nuclear issue while simultaneously assuming the worst about Israel's government, has posted a long attack on me, which is nothing new, but usually he keeps himself informed about what I've written before he attacks. Not so this time. Here, Andrew, you should probably read this, and then revise accordingly.

What happens is this: When I get new information, I revisit my analysis. So, on the issue of whether Israel is bluffing or not about a preemptive strike, I try to conduct interviews, both in Israel and in Washington, to in order to understand the nature of the Israeli position. Right now, I take the same position as Leon Panetta, which is that Israel isn't bluffing. If I get information to suggest that I am wrong, I'll write about it.

Andrew, however, seems impervious to the influence of new information. Also, he's more and more incapable of expressing nuanced understanding of Middle East politics, and he's oblivious to the existence of anti-Semitism. (Peter's book, alas, downplays the global hate campaign directed against Israel and Jews as well). All I can suggest to Peter is that he needs to find more allies who are not widely considered to be irrationally hostile to Israel. What he doesn't need is people who fly into rages about Israel and its dark manipulation of world politics.

In re: the argument for a settlement boycott, Peter has had the grace to publish on his own website a piece by Yehudah Mirsky (also excerpted below), which rebuts the argument, and which happens to capture my feelings almost exactly.

P.S. Andrew makes no effort at all to render my views accurately. InĀ the column to which he refers, I wrote that, "I remain fairly confident that Netanyahu means it when he says that Israel would strike Iran to prevent it from going nuclear." But as we've learned over time here at The Atlantic, (and by The Atlantic, I mean here at Goldblog HQ) there's no arguing with the guy.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/a-response-to-andrew-sullivan/254819/