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.

  • Michael Oren at Aspen: Has Zionism Succeeded? (Cont'd)

    After Michael Oren discussed his Zionist biography, we got to tougher issues, such as whether the very premise of Israel's existence is flawed:

    Jeffrey Goldberg: It seems that it's safer to live as a Jew in America than it is to live as a Jew in Israel, but the basic Zionist urge was to create a place where Jews can live in physical safety. And yet today we see, and I don't think you could deny this, that it is dangerous to be Jewish in the state of Israel, and it is not dangerous to be Jewish in the U.S. How do you square that and do you think that Israel has failed in that particular mission to date?

    Michael Oren: I think Israel hasn't achieved that goal entirely yet. But let's put it this way: it was one of the goals of Zionism. One of the goals of Zionism was to secure a place where Jews could live out their lives free of threat, but I think the overarching goal of Zionism was to create an environment where Jews could take responsibility for themselves as Jews.  And it's the only place in the world where you do take responsibility for yourself as a Jew. You take responsibility for your lamp post and your sewage system and your education systems and your wars and your successes and your failures -- we take responsibilities for them as Jews, and I think that is the great accomplishment of the Zionist dream -- [it] was to transform the Jews from passive actors in their history to active agents in their history, to transform Jews from the role of victims, which is a very fundamental transformation for ourselves, people who take responsibility for all of their actions -- look at how many commissions we have after all of our wars to examine how well we did in the war and how and why we failed in those wars if we failed.

    JG: Let's talk about something that the philosopher Avishai Margalit called the 'Immaculate Misconception of Zionism' -- that there was no one in the ancient land of Israel, in Palestine, when the Jews decided to go back. And that, he sees, and many people see, as the essential tragedy of the Middle East -- that you have two people with compelling claims to the same piece of land. Is there a solution to that original misconception? Was that a misconception of early Zionists?

    MO: Well it was certainly a misconception of some early Zionists, including some non-Jewish early Zionists. The aphorism 'a land for a people for a people without a land' was actually coined by a British lord in 1848, a non-Jew. A Jewish Zionist in the latter half of the 19th century believed that Palestine was largely uninhabited, and if you travel the literature of the period, for example Mark Twain's piece from 1867, "The Innocents Abroad," everybody remarks, all these writers remark, about how under populated Palestine was, and it was at the turn of the 20th century, there were roughly eight hundred, nine hundred thousand people in all of Palestine and that is less than the population of Washington, D.C. It was roughly unpopulated for all sorts of reasons, not the least of them were ecological.

    But, nevertheless, there was another people there. A people, which, at the time of Zionism's form of stage, didn't necessarily think of itself as a people. You don't find the term Palestinian-Arab in any of the literature well into the 1950s. There's a reason why the partition of 1947 calls for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state, not a Palestinian state. The term Palestinian, before 1948, referred almost exclusively to Jews. The Palestine exhibit at the 1930 World Fair in New York was a Zionist exhibit, not an Arab exhibit. You could have gotten great Palestinian schnitzel. A genuine Palestinian meal you could have had there -- schnitzel. Falafel then was unknown.

    Having said all that, at the end of the day, you're absolutely right. The tragedy, not of the Middle East but certainly of Israel, and its relationship with the Palestinians, is that there is another people that calls itself the Palestinian people, and we can't define for the Palestinians what they think of themselves. They think of themselves as a people who also inhabit the land. That fact does not in any way diminish our right to this land. The Jews have an inalienable right, an irrevocable right, to settle in what they regard as their ancestral biblical homeland, and anywhere in it, because if you can't settle in Hebron, you can't settle in Tel Aviv. And if you can't settle in Bet El, you can't settle in Haifa. This is the land of Israel. But we recognize that we must resist the urge to realize our right. ... We recognize that we can't actualize our right fully because it conflicts with the rights of another people, so we have to find a way to make our rights accord with their rights.

  • Cambridge and Racial Profiling

    Ambinder, who, before he dove into the muck of political journalism, was the Crimson's police reporter, knows a thing or two about the apparently mean streets of Cambridge:

    "What happened to Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. is hardly unique and in my reporting experience, these clashes tend to involve young white students being strung out by overaggressive cops on generally bogus "disorderly conduct" charges, which is the Cambridge police officer's catch-all charge for "generally just pissing me off and acting holier than thou."  Indeed, college kids in Cambridge often showed disrespect for the cops, so it's not surprising that the cops felt disrespected by the students.

    I remember listening one night to a report of a loud party in the Kendall Square neighborhood near MIT. A single cop arrived. He was white. The partygoers, about a dozen of them, were black. It's sensible in 1 on 12 situations -- even for something as relatively minor as a quality of life complaint -- for the cop to call for back-up.  The cop did. At some point before the back-up arrived, a scuffle began. Who touched whom was unclear, at least to someone listening over the police radio. Within 5 minutes, more than a dozen Cambridge officers were at the scene -- most of the entire city's night shift deployment.  12 on 12. The cops are thinking that one of their guys is in trouble, and the partygoers are thinking that the cops have shown up because they are black.  More scuffling. People are arrested. Lawsuits are filed."
  • In Iran, Russia is the new America

    "Death to America" chants in Iran don't work anymore.

    Salon reports:

    "In an ever escalating competition of appropriation, Iranians are finding new and clever ways to turn the Revolution inside out. Most compelling of all is the exquisitely subversive "Death to Russia!" and its companion "Death to China!" "Marq bar Russi-e! Marq bar Chin!" For 30 years, ever since the Revolution, Iranians have been chanting "Death to America!" with the regime's encouragement. It has long been a convenient outlet for any domestic discontent. Somehow the protesters have collectively decided that from now on, the U.S. will be left alone, all chants against that nation must cease. "Death to Russia" has become the new "Death to America.""
  • Unhappy Iran News, Part 48

    Israel's Arrow missile defense system was designed to intercept Scud missiles with a range of 300-400 kilometers. After it became clear that the Iranians -- with aid from North Korea and China -- are increasing the range of their missiles, Israel was forced to regroup and cope with the new reality, leading to the development of the Arrow 2 System. But it's not working out so well. Ha'aretz says that after a missile test failed to reach even the direction of its target on Wednesday night, Israel must develop a better way to defend itself against an attack from Iran, whose Shihab 3 missile's range exceeds 1,000 kilometers -- more than enough to reach Israel.

    It gets worse:

    "Iran is about to incorporate a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers into its arsenal. Not coincidentally, even though there has been little media attention on the subject, Israel is mulling the purchase of the U.S.-made THAAD missile defense, which is still in the development phase. ... This mishap will be thoroughly examined in Iran. There is no doubt that Tehran's director of its missile program will be rubbing his hands with satisfaction. Beyond the technical glitch, this failure is also a psychological blow for Israel and the U.S, its partner in the project."

    Oh, and it doesn't help that Israel, at least in public, is calling all of this a "partial success" for its missile defense strategy. 

  • On Obsessing about the Settlements

    I just saw this, from David Rothkopf:

    Despite the endless and baseless propaganda to the contrary, getting tough with the Israelis on settlements or on other elements of the Israel-Palestine agenda will actually do precious little to address our greater concerns in the region while accepting a nuclear-capable Iran because we don't have the will to stop them from getting will damage U.S. interests in great and lasting ways.That's not to say we shouldn't seek to actively advance a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians. It doesn't say we should agree with Israel on everything and we shouldn't pressure for change where we disagree. But as a potentially unprecedented rift looms and as a shift in the politics of the relationship seems to be taking place, it's probably worth taking a deep breath and asking ourselves if we have fully thought through the consequences of what might come next.
  • Tweeting at the Western Wall

    Or to the Western Wall, I should say:

    A new Web site offers those seeking to have their prayers answered a chance to "Tweet at the Kotel." The non-profit service, launched two weeks ago, allows people to submit their prayers or wishes, which are then printed on small notes and placed in the wall's cracks. Through other services, it is already possible to send notes via fax, email and text messages to the Western Wall.

    Me, when I'm writing to a big rock like the Western Wall, I like to write long (it's my magazine training, I guess) and quote a lot from the sources, to show God, who reads the notes the very same night (or so I'm told) that I'm keeping up on my Jewish learning. But how to quote the Bible in so short a space? Twitter only allows 140 characters. The Christian Bible has some short, pithy lines -- the best, of course, being, "Jesus wept." But Jesus isn't weeping at the Western Wall, so I asked David Wolpe, the Chief Rabbi of Goldblog, for some similarly short passages I could tweet to the Wall. This is what he came up with: "Let there be light." He pointed out that in Hebrew, it's only two words.

  • A Note About The Atlantic

    From the Times:

    mag interest.jpg

    I agree with the advertisers who think that The Atlantic is a great magazine. And I should say -- because it doesn't get said on the editorial side very often -- that I appreciate the people who sell advertising for our magazine in this adverse climate. They help support some very good journalism. In other words, they're on a mission from God. And you, Goldblog readers, can get right with God by subscribing to The Atlantic, here. Subscribing doesn't guarantee you a place in heaven, but it can't hurt.
  • Are Birthers the New 9/11 Truthers?

    Bob Cohn recently tweeted the idea (I can't believe I just wrote that) that the new hip nutjobs are the birthers, and compared them to the now-out creationists. I get the point, but the more appropriate comparison might be to the 9/11 "truth" movement. Creationists don't believe in conspiracies; they just believe that dinosaurs are 5,000 years old. Birthers and 9/11 truthers (or, alternatively, "birfers" and "troofers") both believe that the government is out to get us. 

  • McKinsey Draft Report on Rethinking Conde Nast

    Conde Nast recently hired McKinsey and Co. to "rethink" the magazine business after a year of advertising turmoil.  I've managed to get my hands on a draft memo written by one senior McKinsey consultant after his first three days at 4 Times Square. Here are excerpts:

    To: Chuck Townsend, CEO, Conde Nast
    From: McKinsey and Co.

     In the interest of vertical interconnectivity and maximum impactfulness, we just wanted to share some of our initial observations/questions with you. We hope these don't seem too obvious:

    1. The role of writers in the magazine production process seems worthy of examination. What do they do? Why are there so many?
    2. Some of the writers -- we're thinking Jon Lee Anderson, George Packer, William Lagewishe Langeswishce Langewiesche -- spend a lot of money traveling to foreign countries such as Afghanistan and Baghdad. The Week covers these countries at a fraction of your cost. Could The Week be a model for your news coverage?
    3. Old Sushi. Could the cafeteria's uneaten sushi be used for Gourmet photo shoots?
    4. Has the company considered using the World Wide Web as a platform for its magazines? "Weblogs" and other websites could then "link" to Conde Nast articles. This would surely generate significant advertising income.
    5.  Two words: Salon dinners.
    6. Does Big Apple use pedicabs as well as Town Cars? Might be worthwhile for short trips.
    7. Is "A. Leibovitz" the accounting code for a corporate jet?
    8. We enjoy The New Yorker, but could you make it more like Cookie? Also, is Sasha Frere-Jones a black woman or a white male? Not sure who to look for in the cafeteria.
    9. In re: Central services efficiencies, could Wired editors staff the "Help Desk"? Might be big downstream upside here.
    10. Whatever happened to Dan Baum? He was a good writer.
    11. We think Graydon Carter was mocking us in our first meeting. Not sure. Could you check?
    12.  We're having difficulty making Anna Wintour talk to us. Is there something you could do about this?
  • Michael Oren on Zionism and the Diaspora Jewish Experience

    My interview with Michael Oren, the new Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., was quite lengthy (but fascinating throughout!), so I've broken it up (actually, Goldblog Deputy Managing Editor for Transcription Tali Yahalom has broken it up) into smaller pieces, and by topic.  Below is our exchange on Zionism and the American Jewish experience.

    Jeffrey Goldberg: Do you think that the Jews who stayed in America, who didn't pick up and move to Israel, are living in exile today? Do you think of this country as a form of exile for Jewish people?

    Michael Oren: No. ... The Zionist movement, as it was conceived in the 19th century, and as it was formulated by the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, never came to grips with the realities of American Jewry. American Jewry didn't fit the Zionist paradigm. In the Zionist paradigm, Jews cannot become major figures in a government; they can't have more than a minyan in Congress, or in the Senate -- that would be inconceivable. To be a powerful Jew in a Zionist universe, you have to become an apostate. You have to be an Israeli.

    JG: Is the American Jewish experience, then, a reproach or a critique in a way of this Zionist idea? I mean, Herzl ignored American Jewry because he couldn't explain American Jewry. So is the fact that American Jews, that Jews in America, have found a kind of promised land in a Christian majority country, does that mean that the Jewish state is somewhat superfluous?

    MO: No, it means that it forms an alternate utopia for the Jewish people. And just as Zionism never came to grips with American Jewry, American Jewry never came to grips with the Zionist experiment. I'll give you a personal example: in the 90s, the then-president of the state of Israel, Ezer Weizman ... decided to hold a conference of the Jewish people at the president's house when he became the president of Israel. And he gathered Jewish leaders from around the world and he offered them a deal. He said 'Let's make a new covenant.' And the covenant would be based on two concessions: the Diaspora Jewish leaders would agree that aliyah, moving to Israel, constituted a possible solution for Jewish continuity. The Zionist state, the state of Israel, would have to recognize that life in the Diaspora was a legitimate choice for Jews. The two sides sat, debated for three days and, in the end, neither would agree to these concessions. There was no concession.

    So the two utopias exist side-by-side and, over the years, we have developed a more or less confluent and peaceful interaction with one another. And at the end of the day, we find that we really need one another. Israel needs the political and economic support of American Jewry, and American Jewry increasingly needs the spiritual infusion of the Jewish state. ... In recent years, we have found that a 10-day visit to the state of Israel by American Jewish youth does more for Jewish identity than seven years in Hebrew school. In fact, seven years in Hebrew school, as one poll shows, does some damage to Jewish identity.

    JG: I'm looking at my 12-year-old daughter.

    MO: She's nodding furiously.

    JG: But you're supposed to hate Hebrew school. People don't understand that. That's part of the American Jewish experience.

    MO: In order to get us to Hebrew school, my parents used to give us a dollar, which in those days could buy a lot of candy, so you'd stop off, you'd buy the Milk Duds, you'd buy the jujubes, and then you'd sit there and have ADHD attacks while this guy was trying to teach you the alphabet.

    JG: No wonder you couldn't read Hebrew.

    MO: We need each other.

  • Hezbollah: We Do What Iran Says

    Despite unleashing a global wave of controversy and criticism -- and political turmoil in the region -- Iran continues to draw loyal support from Hezbollah, which not only "subscribes to that nation's ideology of theocratic leadership" but also accepts the conduct and outcome of last month's elections. As such, "the outcome of current debates there over the way theocratic authority is wielded, and the secular question of how Iran should manage its external relations, is sure to reverberate inside Lebanon." Sheikh Naim Qassem, the militant group's second-in-command, told the Christian Science Monitor that Hezbollah looks to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hard-line supreme leader, for religious rules and sets the guidelines for the party's general political performance.

    Other than that, Hezbollah is an authentic Lebanese resistance group.

  • "Loud and Tumultuous Behavior"

    Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,is arrested in his own home in Cambridge by police, who then accuse him of "loud and tumultuous behavior." Let's see -- if the police were arresting me in my own house -- for breaking and entering into my own house -- I might become both loud and tumultuous. Word fail when you read stories like this. I'm sure Pat Buchanan will be on television tomorrow arguing that it wasn't, in fact, Gates' house.

  • Will It Ever Be Okay to Dress like a Nazi?

    Today marks the 65th anniversary of Operation Valkyrie, so it is fitting that Radu Mazare, the 41-year-old mayor of Constanta, Romania, went with his son to see the eponymous film, which features Tom Cruise as the unsuccessful Hitler assassin. Here's the twist: father and son left feeling so inspired that both decided to wear Nazi uniforms to a Romanian fashion show and goose-step on the runway over the weekend. Mazare is not sure why people are outraged, or why some are calling for an investigation of his eligibility to be mayor. Perhaps he should have worn an eyepatch.
    crazy runway.jpg


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