Jeffrey Goldberg

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

  • On Repenting with Goldblog

    Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz, a prominent rabbi in the Hassidic community -- also arrested for money-laundering in 2007 and again last week for tax fraud -- addressed a Borough Park symposium Tuesday to repent and assume responsibility for his crimes:

    Nathaniel Popper reports:

    "Unfortunately we have to admit in public that things happened that were not supposed to happen," Weisz told the men in attendance (women were not invited to the forum). "We must have to express our wish that these matters will never happen -- we have to commit that in the future this will never happen again." Weisz spoke in great detail about the compliance program that [his] board has entered with the government and he said, "Our community, baruch hashem, (thank God) is not lacking in smart experienced lawyers and accountants that are willing to teach the tzibur [community], how to conduct their communal affairs in a manner that is in compliance with the law in all respects."

    The meeting was called in response to all the unfortunate publicity surrounding the apparently never-ending reality show, "When Orthodox Rabbis Go Bad." Those in attendance were seemingly receptive to Weisz's call for responsibility, though several demonstrators protested outside the building about the Jew-baiting media, calling last week's massive corruption bust a "pogrom." On the other hand, Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel read actual excerpts from my earlier post about this crisis -- and no one booed. I'm big with the Hasidim, apparently.

  • Self-Hating Jews and Other Sad Cases

    I've received a lot of mail already in reaction to my post about the crisis in Israel -- a crisis caused by the willful disregard of settler extremists to Israeli law, and by the Israeli government's impotence in the face of such law-breaking -- and I'll post some of it throughout the day, but here's one sample:

    Mr. Goldberg,

    I've decided your a self-hating Jew. You would rather have the approval of Barack Hussein Obama and the self-hating Jews that are his lapdogs than of your own Jewish people. You want to make Israel Judenrein, and Heaven will punish you for that. Shame!

    Shame is right. By the way, if I'm a self-hating Jew, then anyone who is not a rabid, land-stealing settler is a self-hating Jew. I believe such a category exists -- though in my experience, the Jews who hate being Jewish and afflict the rest of us with their hatred generally tend, in an overall way, to love themselves very much. But what you have in this debate over self-hating Jews -- remember, there's a report out that Bibi himself has called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews -- is the hijacking of Judaism by a group of extremists who have conflated support for the settlement project with love for Israel and the Jewish people.  

  • Here's Another Way to Raise Money for Journalism

    Via Romenesko, police arrested a New Hampshire sportswriter yesterday for allegedly running a prostitution ring. If I were to start a newsroom-based prostitution ring -- and I'm not, but if I were -- I would at least try to build a clientele of politicians and other potential sources, and I would offer discounts in exchange for secret documents. A full-service journalistic whorehouse, in other words. 

  • The Crisis in Israel

    One of the chief complaints leveled against the Palestinian Authority in the years of the Oslo process was that it did not, or would not, control the people who lived under its rule. The Palestinian government had no monopoly on violence, in other words; anyone with a gun had power. This was a legitimate complaint. It went to the seriousness of the Palestinian regime, and to its competence.

    Well, the government of Israel today is facing a similar crisis. The building of new "illegal" outposts by West Bank settlers -- building accompanied by racist slurs directed at Israel's main benefactor, the President of the United States -- is a direct challenge to the legitimacy of Israel's democratically-elected government. If these outposts are allowed to stand, it will mean that the government of Israel is incapable of enforcing its own laws, or unwilling to do so. Israel and the United States demanded of the Palestinian Authority that it jail those who defied Palestinian law and threatened the Palestinian national cause. Israel should treat these settlers in the same manner. They are criminals who undermining the sovereignty of the Jewish state. If they are not stopped, then we might as well face the harsh truth, that the settlers are in open revolt against the government of the State of Israel, and that their fanaticism may destroy the 2,000-year-old dream of Jewish independence.

  • Not Such a Great Afghan Export

    Nigeria now has its own Taliban, and it is filled with geniuses, apparently:

    In an interview with the BBC, the group's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, said such education "spoils the belief in one God"...There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam," he said. "Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.
  • Is Avigdor Lieberman Hiking the Appalachian Trail?

    Possibly -- and understandably. Newsweek reports:

    The Israeli foreign minister is enjoying a 10-day tour of Latin America, including stops in Rio, Lima, and Bogotá. Officially, his mission is said to be a long-scheduled effort to strengthen ties with South America. Unofficially, Israeli wags suspect, his mission is to stay out of the way. The foreign minister, who is considered an embarrassing loose cannon by large swaths of the Israeli public, has never been taken particularly seriously in diplomatic circles. Western officials complain that his hard-line policy proposals, which include transferring some Arab Israeli communities to Palestinian control, undermine Arab-Israeli coexistence.

  • Department of Bad Ideas

    Newsweek is suggesting that President Obama make George W. Bush his Mideast envoy:

    During the Bush years, Israelis were consistently among the few foreign populations that gave the American president high approval marks--often in far greater proportion than Americans themselves. Senior officials in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, where I worked, spoke on their cell phones daily with their White House counterparts--circumventing the State Department and the Israeli Foreign Ministry entirely.

    That closeness paid off. It's no coincidence that, during the Bush years, Ariel Sharon had political cover to suggest "painful concessions" for peace--a euphemism for withdrawal from territory. The unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip--followed by preparations to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank that were interrupted only by the Hizbullah war of 2006--almost certainly would not have happened with anyone else in the White House less trusted to ensure Israel's safety.

  • Is Obama Giving the Palestinians a Free Ride?

    The inbox runneth over. Goldblog reader Thom Seaton writes:

    There are many Zionists who do not support the settlement project but who believe that Obama's approach has essentially provided Palestinians with a free ride.  Settlement expansion can be verified; attempts to curtail incitement cannot be verified and Abbas can escape responsibility for the continued failure of Palestinian leaders to accept the existence of a majority Jewish state.  ... If American leaders and many Jews among J Street, Brit Tzedek, et al were quick to condemn Bibi's reluctance to embrace a two-state solution, why did not the administration find fault with Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state.  If this is to be a matter for final negotiations, why is not the settlements also a matter for such discussions.

  • Obama's Red Lines

    Jennifer Rubin at Commentary is mad at me:

    Many thanks to Jeffrey Goldberg, both for taking a reader's question "paraphrasing" me as to whether there is "any red line for [him] vis-a-vis Obama and Israel?" and for again demonstrating that there is apparently nothing Obama can do that would offend a certain segment of American Jewry....

    I have many red lines, of course, when it comes to the question of Israel's survival, and readers of this blog know this. I want Israel to remain a Jewish-majority democracy, I don't want it to be a pariah, in part because pariahs don't survive, and I want Israel to protect itself from the threat posed by Iran. I think Israel must be ready to compromise on questions related to the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and to settlement expansion on the West Bank, precisely because these other issues are so important.

  • Michael Oren on Settlements (Cont'd)

    People are making such a big deal about settlements, I figured I'd ask Michael Oren to help me calculate their ultimate importance to the peace process. This is a continuation of our discussion held at the Aspen Ideas Festival:

    Jeffrey Goldberg: Do you think if settlements were frozen right now, that the Arabs would reach out to Israel for peace talks?

    Michael Oren: Very difficult, very difficult. They'd maybe reach out to peace talks. I don't know where those peace talks would run, but I'll tell you several weeks ago, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu, gave a speech. And in the speech he recognizes the need for an independent Palestinian state. He wanted the state to be demilitarized because we've had some nasty experiences with Palestinian entities that shoot at us. And he also had another demand. It wasn't a precondition but it was a demand, that at some stage before the final treaty is signed, that that Palestinian state is going to have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, as the nation state of the Jewish people. And many people in the Arab world, many people in Europe, were sort of scratching their heads and saying 'why do you need this, isn't this just an obstacle to peace?'

    A.B. Yehoshua, who's a very good friend of mine, called me up on the phone screaming, saying 'why do you need this? It's just another obstacle! The prime minister doesn't want peace.' And I explained to [him], I said what you see as an obstacle, I see as a door. And this is a notion that I have held for many, many years, well over 15 years, that without recognition of the legitimate existence of a Palestinian people with an historic land, the right to an independent state in that land, without the reciprocal recognition of a Jewish people with an historic tie to a land and a legitimate claim to a state, there will never be an end to the conflict. That is, only on the basis of that reciprocity can we actually end the conflict, because if you don't have that, if you only have the Jewish state recognizing the Palestinian state, then they will always regard the Jewish state as illegitimate, foreign and temporary.

    And there, to me, lies the essence. So Israel can freeze settlements tomorrow -- we plucked up 21 settlements out of Gaza two years ago, and you know I was there, it was the most traumatic event of my military career, was pulling Jews out of their houses -- we did that, and we turned around and got 7,200 rockets fired at us. Settlements are not the issue. The issue is the recognition of the mutual legitimacy of these two peoples, the legitimate claim to these two states.

    JG: There are so many ways to go with this, but let me go with a very specific point. You say settlements are not the issue. The Obama Administration believes that settlements are a clear issue, in a way that very few administrations have, they have made this the early centerpiece of their move, their desire to reignite peace talks. Do you think they are making a mistake?

    MO: I never said that settlements aren't an issue. I cant speak for the Obama Administration, but I think that they understand as well that the settlements are not the issue, that it's one of many issues. Another issue is the degree to which the Arab states are willing to embark on a process of normalization with us and that process is right now moribund. I think that both sides - the Israeli side, the American side - are working earnestly, ardently, to try and find a compromise over the question of the degree to which construction can continue in the settlements to accord for what we call normal life, and I think, I'm fairly confident, that in the coming period, we will find a solution for this.

    JG: You've been studying this for 30 years. Do you actually believe that there's a moment in time, in the near future, when the Palestinians will recognize Israel as a legitimate Jewish state?

    MO: I think there is a time in the future, but that moment is the culmination of a process. It's a process that begins with the schools, it begins with changing textbooks, which deny Israel's legitimacy and right to exist. Two weeks ago, I watched public service announcements by the Palestinian Authority -- paid for, by the way, with American taxpayers' dollars -- and the PSA said 'Welcome to PA television, we are going to liberate not only Tulkarem... but we're going to liberate Haifa and Jaffa and Tiberias.' Now that is not the way to go. That does not lead to mutual recognition to the right of two people to their independent states. And that process has to start now. We have recognized our obligations under previous agreements. One of those agreements talks for a sequential process in which Israel will find a solution for the settlement issue, but the Palestinians have to begin to end what we call hatred on their television sets and in their textbooks. Without that, you are raising generations to regard Israel as an alien hostile temporal state. That's not a prescription for peace.

  • On the Madoff Scandal

    Goldblog reader Zev Klagsbrun writes, in reference to a previous post on the morality crisis in Orthodox Judaism:

    I found the following language in regard to the Madoff scandal misleading and unfair: "I mean, just in the last year, we've had the scandal of Agriprocessors, and the Madoff scandal (admittedly, he wasn't leading even the facsimile of an Orthodox life, but the scandal has involved some prominent Orthodox Jews and institutions) and now this." This sentence implies that Orthodox Jews and institutions were involved in perpetrating the scandal, while in fact they just featured prominently amongst the victims.

    As an Orthodox Jew, I am all too well aware of the ethical disdain exhibited by many of my coreligionists. We have enough scandals actually perpetrated by Orthodox Jews to be ashamed of without having the Madoff scandal thrown into the mix.


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