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.

  • The Responsibilities of Police Officers

    From the Goldblog inbox:

    You write that you know almost certainly that Sgt. Crowley was trying to provoke Gates into being arrested. How can you be so sure? Aren't you being judgmental here? Do you have any idea what kind of pressure cops are under?

    To answer the first question, yes, I know what kind of pressure cops are under. Am I being judgmental? I don't think so. I haven't argued, by the way, that Crowley was motivated by racism (though in my experience, white cops sometimes seem to have a problem with black men who are more educated, and wealthier than they are -- but again, I don't know Crowley, so I can't say this is true for him).

    But coming back to the issue of the pressure cops feel, let me ask another question: Are cops aware of the immense power they have? The power to arrest someone is awesome; any cop, at any moment, can take temporarily take your freedom. Yes, there are courts to protect the rights of the innocent, but in the meantime, a police officer can still put handcuffs on you, shove you in the back of his vehicle, fingerprint you and lock you up for at least a couple of hours; and lock you up with some pretty mangy people if he so desires. That is real power, traumatizing power. Society grants police officers that power, but in exchange, we must expect certain things -- that the police officer granted this responsibility show more patience, more kindness, and better judgment than the average citizen. Which brings us back to the issue of Sgt. Crowley. Once he ascertained that Henry Louis Gates was the legal occupant of the house, it was Sgt. Crowley's responsibility to apologize, turn around and walk out. It does not matter at all whether Gates yelled at him, mocked him, got loud at him. It was Crowley's responsibility to understand why Gates could have been upset, and it was his responsibility to turn around and leave. Good police officers know how to control their tempers, and know enough to understand why someone might be upset with them. Crowley should have left the house.   

  • Is Madoff a Symbol of Jewish Exceptionalism?

    Alana Newhouse asks the right questions:

    The question is of Jewish exceptionalism, and it is, to understate it, a thorny one. Hitler designed an entire political philosophy--and attendant death machine--based on the belief that the answer to this question was a resounding "yes." But awkward as this may be, this is, from a different perspective, a view shared by many Jews themselves, like the man who sends me the same e-mail once a month about the number of Jews who have won Nobel Prizes. ("Remarkably, Jews constitute almost one-fifth of all Nobel laureates. This, in a world in which Jews number just a fraction of 1 percent of the population.") And it's not just kooks and your grandmother: Even liberal, assimilated Jews can't help but believe that there is something special--better, smarter--about their people. Except when their people show up in handcuffs on the news...
  • The Party's Over

    So says Tom Friedman in an important column:

    Here's what Israelis need to understand: President Obama is not some outlier when it comes to Israel. His call for a settlements freeze reflects attitudes that have been building in America for a long time. For the last 40 years, a succession of Israeli governments has misled, manipulated or persuaded naïve U.S. presidents that since Israel was negotiating to give up significant territory, there was no need to fight over "insignificant" settlements on some territory. Behind this charade, Israeli settlers bit off more and more of the West Bank, creating a huge moral, security and economic burden for Israel and its friends.
  • Love Me, I'm a Liberal

    Over at Shrinkwrapped, some criticism of my belief that there exists a cohort of Palestinian moderates with whom Israel can do business:

    Leaving aside the fact that the current Palestinians are spiritually indistinguishable from their predecessors, Jeffrey Goldberg makes the typical error of the well meaning liberal.  Liberals see the best in people at all times, even when the best does not appear obvious to any other observers.  For Jeffrey Goldberg and other liberals, it is an article of faith that Palestinian moderates exist.  I have a great deal of sympathy with this position, which I held for many years.  Tragically, this has proved to be an unwarranted assumption, for several reasons.
  • Parental Melancholy, Late July Edition

    Not that I didn't know this already, but Michael Gerson can write like very few people can write. My oldest daughter is away for an overnight camping trip -- one night! -- and I'm in a terrible funk. And then I read this, from Michael:

    So this is the independence we seek for our children -- to turn our closest relationships into acquaintances. Of course, I knew this getting into parenthood. But the reality remains shocking. For a time, small hands take your own -- children look upward, and you fill their entire universe. They remain, to you, the most important things in the world. To them, over time, you become one important thing among many. And then an occasional visit or phone call. And then a memory, fond or otherwise.

    The memory of my own father, gone these 17 years, is fond and blurry. He shrank in my mental universe from sun to star, bright and distant. With every season of camp, I dim to my sons as well. It is the appropriate humility of the generations. It is also harder than I thought. And I don't know how to let go.
  • Business Ethics and Orthodox Piety

    Goldblog reader David Starr, a genuine Jewish scholar up at the Hebrew College, wrote in with an interesting insight about a disturbing trend in the American Orthodox community:

    You're getting at something re. Orthodoxy.  Many years ago Haym Soloveitchik wrote an article about the increasing prevalance of humrot in post WWII Orthodox communities-the desire to impose ever-greater strictures upon oneself. He viewed this increasing strictness as a response to migration and acculturation and the need for greater boundaries demarcating Orthodoxy from non-Orthodoxy. At a talk he gave at Harvard Hillel, someone asked him about whether this tendency applied to the realm of ethics as well as ritual strictness, since his piece dealt only with the latter.  He replied no, it applied only in the field of ritual.  The reason why it didn't apply to ethics, including business, owed to the market.  That is, if one competes in a market, one follows the standard of the market.  To behave more stringently than the market standard is to engage in an act of market suicide, in effect. I offer this not as justification but as explanation. I take all this as further evidence of what Mark Twain I think said of the Jews, they're like everyone else, only more so.  

  • Respect for Those Who Fought Against Us

    Via Gershom Gorenberg, Yoram Kaniuk on what it means to be a Jewish state:

    While inside the Knesset fortress I thought that maybe it is still possible, before my death, to turn this state into a Jewish State - not one populated by zealous masses called Jews, but rather, Jews like we used to be; a state where we respect those who fought against us and were defeated. When that will happen, we will see the establishment of an Arab state alongside us, and the city of Jerusalem, also known as al-Quds, will become the capital of two states, one Jewish and one Arab. And then peace will come to Israel. Amen.
  • On the Hitler-Loving-Mufti Photo

    Seth Lipsky thinks it's actually a good thing that Avigdor Lieberman is encouraging Israeli government officials to circulate a picture of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the late mufti of Jerusalem, palling around with Hitler in 1941. Lipsky laments that Lieberman's decision was greeted with ridicule inside Israel's own foreign ministry -- and by me, by the way -- but then cites a piece I wrote in 2008 to make a semi-reasonable sound argument that the mufti's ties to Nazi Germany actually had a pretty significant impact on the rampant anti-Semitism seen around the world today. It is true that the Mufti was a terrible genocidal Nazi; it's also true, however, that he's dead. In the interest of encouraging Palestinian moderates -- the sort of people who scare Lieberman the most -- I think it's not overly useful to equate the Palestinians of today with their long-gone leader.

  • Beer Break

    The news has gotten a bit heavy this week, and though I welcome the onslaught of  name-calling clogging my inbox, it seemed like a good time to talk about beer, especially because Sgt. Crowley and Henry Louis Gates are supposed to be drinking heavily just now at the White House. Slate has compiled a list of the top five "bonding over brewskies" moments in movie history. Here's number four, proof that beer helps catch criminals and create unlikely friendships -- even if you're Jewish!

  • Quote of the Week

    This is just an extraordinary statement. I've covered politics off-and-on for a while, and I've never heard anything like this. From Sarah Palin's farewell speech to the state of Alaska:

    I say it is the best road trip in America, soaring through nature's finest show.Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice-fogged frigid beauty.  The cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime, such extreme summertime, about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska, that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.
  • White Cops Are Always Right

    That's been my experience as a citizen and as a reporter. Back in the day, I used to write about the subject of racial profiling a bit, and and I'm reasonably sure, based on my reporting, that Sergeant Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department a) is a self-righteous man who was enraged when his authority was questioned, and b) set-up Gates for an arrest because of these feelings of rage. By set-up, I mean he that he made at least a semi-conscious effort to gaslight Gates, that he went out of his way to make sure that Gates would be so angry at his treatment that he would be, by Crowley's standards, a plausible candidate for arrest.

    I don't know Crowley though, and since I have family members who are serving, or have served, in various police departments, I know I shouldn't generalize, but Crowley strikes me, after days of watching this story, as a type I've met over and over again. There is one specific cop -- a very good, if flawed cop, I once profiled who seems very much in the Crowley model. This is from a New York Times Magazine story I wrote ten years ago that was about, in part, a Maryland state trooper named Mike Lewis, who was a brave cop but one who was consistently sure that he was right, and consistently sure that any complaints directed against him by black people were rooted in prejudice against white cops. He was so sure, in fact, that even when black people didn't accuse him of racism, he knew that they were thinking he was a racist:

    As we drive, Lewis watches a van come up on his right and pass him. A young black man is at the wheel, his left leg hanging out the window. The blood races up Lewis's face: "Look at that! That's a violation! You can't drive like that! But I'm not going to stop him. No, sir. If I do, he's just going to call me a racist."

    Then Lewis notices that the van is a state government vehicle. "This is ridiculous," he says. Lewis hits his lights. The driver stops. Lewis issues him a warning and sends him on his way. The driver says nothing.

    "He didn't call me a racist," Lewis says, pulling into traffic, "but I know what he was thinking." Lewis does not think of himself as a racist. "I know how to treat people," he says. "I've never had a complaint based on a race-based stop. I've got that supercharged knowledge of the Constitution that allows me to do this right."

    In the old days, when he was patrolling the Eastern Shore, it was white people he arrested. "Ninety-five percent of my drug arrests were dirt-ball-type whites--marijuana, heroin, possession-weight. Then I moved to the highway, I start taking off two, three kilograms of coke, instead of two or three grams. Black guys. Suddenly I'm not the greatest trooper in the world. I'm a racist. I'm locking up blacks, but I can't help it."

    His eyes gleam: "Ask me how many white people I've ever arrested for cocaine smuggling--ask me!"

    I ask.

    "None! Zero! I debrief hundreds of black smugglers, and I ask them, 'Why don't you hire white guys to deliver your drugs?' They just laugh at me. 'We ain't gonna trust our drugs with white boys.' That's what they say."

    Mike Lewis's dream: "I dream at night about arresting white people for cocaine. I do. I try to think of innovative ways to arrest white males. But the reality is different."
  • Is Obama Evenhanded?

    Over the last week, the Economist tasked Daniel Levy and David Frum with debating whether President Obama is an "honest broker" in the peace process. Levy, who serves as director of the New America Foundation's Middle East Task Force ("task force" sounds so martial, but whatever), argues that Obama's no-nonsense handling of Israel is a refreshing -- and hopeful -- approach, while Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues that Obama's role as mediator here is detrimental to Israel. The two do agree that, for better or worse, Obama's strategy and attitude is sharply different from Bush's, and perhaps from any president in recent American history. Here is a glimpse of their back and forth, the winner of which will be declared on Friday.

    On previous attempts to broker peace:

    Daniel Levy: Aaron David Miller, who advised six secretaries of state on Middle East policy, in his "The Much Too Promised Land" describes the three "bad boys" of Arab-Israeli peacemaking: Kissinger, Carter and Baker. ... Under Kissinger's guidance, when Israel dragged its feet on Sinai redeployment talks with the Egyptians, President Ford in 1975 announced a "reassessment" of the US-Israel relationship and froze new arms agreements. President Carter brokered Israeli-Egyptian peace at Camp David that included a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai to the 1967 lines and full settlement evacuation. This happened despite the fact that Israel's prime minister Menachem Begin was committed to keeping the Sinai and to personally retiring to the Yamit settlement there. President George H.W. Bush and Secretary Baker imposed loan guarantee penalties on Israeli settlements' expansion in 1991.

    David Frum: Messrs. Kissinger and Carter achieved successful and enduring results. One, Mr Baker, did not. What made the difference? The answer is obvious: Messrs. Kissinger and Carter were brokering disputes between Israel and Egypt; Mr Baker between Israel and the Palestinians. By 1973, Egypt had very finite demands upon Israel: It wanted the Sinai back and in return it offered a permanent end to hostilities. But Mr Baker tried to mediate with the Palestinians. The demands presented by the accepted leaders of the Palestinian polity are not finite. Nor can Palestinian leaders safely offer a permanent end to hostilities. (The Israeli, prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has again flushed out this unwillingness by his demand for the recognition of Israel's Jewish character.) The result was that Baker's much vaunted toughness led nowhere. ... If Mr. Baker's approach does not work, why repeat it?


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