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.

  • Problem: Can I Take My Baby Monitor to the Bar?
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    Problem: Can I Take My Baby Monitor to the Bar?

    Q: My husband and I live above a bar and, naturally, patronize it several times a week. It does not serve food, so according to state law, minors…

  • Problem: My Daughter's High School Wants Me to Send Her to Africa
    Adriane Ohanesian/Reuters
  • Problem: I Think My Wife Is Annoyed That I Went to Paris Without Her
    Glenn van der Knijff/Getty
  • Signing Off

    I'm not going to rehearse the manifold victories of Goldblog, or wallow in its setbacks.

    So, for whatever reason (psychological, I have to assume), I haven't formally signed-off from Goldblog, after threatening to do so for more than a month. But here goes -- this is it, halas, the end. Dayeinu, in other words. At least for now. I will continue to file stories for The Atlantic (the one and only original print magazine), but I will be found digitally at Bloomberg View (and, as ever, on Twitter, at @jeffreygoldberg).

    It's been five years since I decided to start this experiment in unfiltered Goldbloggery, and I've only regretted my decision a couple of dozen times. I've made mistakes along the way (or should I say, mistakes were made along the way), but overall, I have to say that this was a thrilling experience, due mainly to my wonderful colleagues, and to a large cohort of  wonderful readers (including those who e-mailed every week with withering criticism, but not including those readers who are actual Nazis, or Hamas members).

    I'm not going to rehearse the manifold victories of Goldblog, or wallow in its setbacks. I think it would be best simply to thank the many people at The Atlantic who made this possible, starting with David Bradley, the proprietor, who always, and very charmingly, said he read every word I posted (which explains why he now knows the names of so many utterly obscure rabbis); James Bennet, the editor-in-chief (and pre-Atlantic friend of Goldblog), who originally cooked-up this idea; Scott Stossel, my long-suffering story editor, and the editor of the magazine; Bob Cohn, the maestro of Atlantic Digital, who brought our traffic up from 2 to 25 million (I don't mean two million -- I mean, literally, two); John Gould, the deputy editor, and my fellow zombie-obsesser; Betsy Ebersole and Clarissa Rappoport-Hankins, who had to explain to me over and over again which button on Movable Type did what; past interns and assistant editors, including Josh Miller; Justin Miller; Steve Miller and his band; Elizabeth Weingarten, and many others; and of course Jim Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates and all of my fellow bloggers, who proved that you could build a disputatious but civilized community on the Web. Jim and Ta-Nehisi in particular made this an experience worth experiencing. (And to paraphrase Jim one more time, there's something you can do to keep The Atlantic vibrant and strong, which is to subscribe!)  

    And so, farewell, and thank you.    

  • If You're in Washington, D.C., on May 28 and Think About the Future of Israel ...

    Come to our panel!

    ... Then come to an Atlantic-sponsored discussion at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue about Israeli democracy, demographics and, also, everything else. The panelists will be Ari Shavit, Israel's leading columnist and the author of the forthcoming My Promised Land (which I have read in galleys, and which I guarantee you, you will want to read, too), along with Goldblog. Moderating the discussion will be Akiba Hebrew Academy graduate and CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper. You can find more information about the event right here. We promise that it will be very exciting.

  • Just What Makes Goldblog a Middle East Expert, Anyway?

    A look at the archival evidence

    Since I announced that Goldblog would be coming to an end, I've received many e-mails from longtime readers who have expressed various kind thoughts about the blog, and about my efforts here. I also appreciate, grudgingly, the criticism directed my way, except for the criticism from Nazis, Hamas apologists, and Hebron settlers. I've also received many questions from readers about issues they felt I'm leaving unaddressed, and I'll try to answer a couple of those questions before my final post in this space, later this week.

    One question that came to me, from a hostile reader, was this: "Just what do you think makes you qualified to comment on Middle East affairs?"

    It is a legitimate question to ask, but as luck would have it, I have an answer. Thanks to the assiduous archiving of family documents by Goldblog's mother, I have recently discovered written proof that my studies of the Middle East date back several decades, and were quite rigorous, even in my youth. The document in question is a report card from my Hebrew School confirmation class, which I attended in 1979 and 1980.
     
    The synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, on the South Shore of Long Island, is one of the leading temples of the Reform movement (it is now known as as Temple Am Echad, following a merger with another local temple); the rabbi, who is mentioned in the report, was Harold Saperstein, who is generally regarded as one of the giants of 20th century Reform Judaism. Though this transcript contains one troubling note (which I will discuss below), I think this will help Goldblog readers understand why I'm uniquely qualified to comment on Middle East politics:

    Goldberg-Report-Card.jpg

    Overall, I did very well, I think. I was absent very few times, I would note, though I clearly wasn't the most enthusiastic service-goer. Surprisingly, my worst grade came in the class called, "What is the P.L.O.?" Also a surprise: That Temple Emanu-El taught a class called "What is the P.L.O.?"

    My children now attend Hebrew school, and I'm pretty sure they are not studying the history of the  P.L.O. I'm not actually sure what they're studying, but this is a subject for a different discussion.

    UPDATE: A number of supporters of the Hebron settlers wrote me to complain that I'm equating their friends with Nazis and Hamas apologists. I'm not. I'm simply saying that they send really execrable hate mail.   

  • Problem: My Neighbor Is Having Shockingly Loud Sex All the Time
    Rogan Ward/Reuters

    Problem: My Neighbor Is Having Shockingly Loud Sex All the Time

    Try blasting recordings of chimpanzees. Our advice columnist to the rescue.

  • Is This the End of Goldblog?

    Watch this space for further developments.

    Some home news: In the all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end department (and, for those of you non-fans out there, in the all-bad-things-must-come-to-an-end department), Goldblog is going away. Not today, but shortly. I've decided to spend more time focusing on my column at Bloomberg View. I've found it difficult to divide my online work between The Atlantic and Bloomberg View, and this seemed like an obvious way to bring some clarity and order to my life.

    The good news (or, again, bad news, depending on where you sit) is that Atlantic readers will still have me to kick around. I'm going to continue to write stories for The Atlantic itself (for the big enchilada, the print magazine), which makes me very happy, because I've been so proud to be affiliated with this magazine, which is one of history's all-time greats. TheAtlantic.com is also wonderful, though not yet one of history's all-time greats, because it's like 10 minutes old.

    Anyway, when I started-up Goldblog (I'm not sure who gave it that name -- it might have been me, or Andrew Sullivan, or the Knesset), shortly after the end of the Civil War, I never thought I would have the energy to keep it going for as long as I have. Several thousand posts later, here we are. Watch this space for further developments. I'm not disappearing yet. Later, I'll thank my editors, lawyers, agents, and especially the people who have explained to me 600 times how to post pictures in this space.

  • Do You Really Need a Silencer to Kill a Deer?

    Silencers have their legitimate uses. But hunting Osama bin Laden is one thing; hunting "varmints" is another.

    As Goldblog readers know, I believe, quite strongly, that Americans have the right to defend themselves with arms, provided that the aforementioned Americans are screened, vetted and trained by the appropriate authorities. What I'm not for is handing out silencers to gun owners. I missed this Mother Jones piece when it came out, but I think it is worth noting, as frequently as possible, that the silencer industry -- yes, there is a silencer industry -- is trying to loosen the laws that restrict sales of their product:

    In 2011, frustrated by the silencer's image problem, (Silencerco CEO Josh) Waldron, along with Advanced Armament Corp., Gemtech, and other silencer manufacturers helped founded the American Silencer Association. Their goal, Waldron told me, was "to get more people and legislators to understand that silencers are actually safety devices and not what everybody thinks they are because of Hollywood."

    The ASA and the NRA, which receives financial support from Waldron's Silencerco, are pressuring state legislatures to ease up and let people own and use silencers for hunting. Several states have obliged recently, including Wyoming, and Montana and Georgia are in the pipeline, too. The NRA touts the health benefits of sparing hunters' hearing. It also plays the Roosevelt "varmint hunting" card, arguing that silencers enable ranchers to kill rodents without scaring the livestock.

    Silencers have their legitimate uses. I would never want to tell SEAL Team 6, or some other special-forces unit, that they could not use devices that suppress the noise made by their weapons. But hunting Osama bin Laden is one thing; hunting "varmints" is another. Silencers, in civilian life, have an important purpose -- to help criminals commit violent crimes without drawing too much attention to themselves. A person defending his or her home from a violent criminal does not need a silencer. Quite the opposite -- the sound of a racked shotgun (as Joe Biden will attest) is often enough to scare an intruder out of your house, without a shot being fired.

    It is true that guns are loud, and that hunters who don't wear ear protection may eventually damage their hearing. The solution is to wear ear protection. No silencer needed. It is also true that livestock can be scared by sudden sounds. But as a person who worked in a big dairy operation for a time, I can tell you that everything scares livestock. And what are the consequences of scaring livestock? Not much. They usually just calm down.

    The campaign to broaden the market for silencers is just another example of needless extremism among some gun advocates, and some manufacturers (obviously, the manufacturers are motivated by money, more than ideology). For more on this sort of extremism -- extremism that gives responsible gun owners and manufacturers a bad name -- please read this National Journal piece by Ron Fournier, who outlines the lies and exaggerations of the gun lobby, and then argues that its tactics "undermine reasonable efforts to protect gun rights:"

    It is understandable that many Americans don't trust the federal government, especially when the White House is controlled by a Democrat. Some members of Obama's party are virulently antigun.

    But rather than serve pro-gun Americans, the gun lobby and its GOP co-conspirators are exploiting their fears. If they overreach and lose credibility with the public, their actions today may be more threatening to the Second Amendment than anything Democrats want to do.
  • Remembering Michael Kelly

    I miss Michael a lot, not least because he was one of the few funny people in Washington, but also because I miss what he would have written over the past ten years.

    Today marks the tenth anniversary of Michael Kelly's death in Iraq. Michael was once the editor of this magazine, which he shaped in lasting ways (Here's a very good obituary from Jack Shafer).

    The day doesn't feel much different than any other day without Michael, but I thought it would be worth noting today, for the sake of people who didn't know him, that he is missed very much. Like Jim Fallows, and everyone else who knew Michael, I won't ever forget the moment I learned of his death. I was in northern Iraq; a group of us had just returned from covering an operation Michael would surely have liked to cover -- U.S. Special Forces and Kurdish guerillas -- the peshmerga -- had just routed an Islamist terror cell near the Iranian border -- when Chris Chivers, of The Times, got the news somehow that Michael had died several hours earlier, outside of Baghdad. He passed the news on to me, and I called my editor at the time, David Remnick, to confirm. From David's voice, I knew that it was true. Our whole gang of reporters in Sulaymania was shell-shocked. So was everyone else.

    I miss Michael a lot, not least because he was one of the few funny people in Washington, but also because I miss what he would have written over the past ten years. It's a bit of parlor game to guess what Michael might have made of the aftermath of the Iraq war (and of everything else to come). I tend to think he would have turned on the Bush Administration for its incompetence and negligence (I have a feeling Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, would have been the unhappy, and deserving, recipient, of Michael's righteous anger), but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have repudiated his support for the idea of toppling Saddam Hussein. He hated Saddam, and what he did to the people of Iraq, too much, to disavow his overthow.  Here's one passage from Michael, written in February of 2003, shortly before the invasion was launched, that helped shape my thinking on this:

    I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications of, America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti, or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, over-muscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?

    We'll never know what he would have thought, of course, and we, his friends and loyal readers (including those readers he regularly drove mad), are the poorer for it. HIs sons, who were so young when he died, should know, and should be told regularly, that their father is a hero to many, many people.

  • Happy Passover

    Celebrating the holiday that provided the world with what long ago became its most important, and metaphor-ready, story of human liberation

    No holiday embodies the essential tension at the heart of Jewishness like Passover does. The story of Passover is the story of a particular people moving from a specific land of slavery to a particular land of freedom (President Obama, on his trip last week to Israel, seemed to understand very well the -- you should pardon the expression -- Zionism at the heart of the Exodus story).  Passover is also the most universal of Jewish holidays. It provided the world with what long ago became its most important, and metaphor-ready, story of human liberation. It also inculcated in Jews a restless and eternal urge to upset the status quo. The tug between the universal and the particular plays out in Jewish life in all sorts of ways, most notably on the Middle Eastern stage. I'm in the camp that still holds that Israel can have its particularlity while still becoming a light unto the nations. We're not there yet, but that's one point of Passover, to remind us of the work we still have to do.

    The Goldblogs are getting on a plane for the other Jewish homeland, Miami (the homeland in which two peoples, the Jews and the Cubans, have figured out a way to co-exist peacably) so I must cut short this Passover post. Chag kasher v'sameach, happy Passover, and a Happy Easter as well.

  • If Obama Had Given That Speech at AIPAC ...

    ... quite a few people in attendance would have booed him.

    If Obama had delivered the speech he just gave in Jerusalem to the annual AIPAC convention, he might have been booed. No, check that, he definitely would have been booed. Not by everyone, of course, but by quite a few people. (I've been to enough of them to know.)

    He would not have been booed for his vigorous endorsement of the Zionist idea, of course; nor for his promise to stand by Israel though thick and thin; not for his expressions of admiration for Jews and Judaism; and not for the promise to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge; but for asking his audience to sympathize with ordinary Palestinians, who have lousy lives in good measure because of the occupation. He definitely would have been heckled for that one. And I'm sure of one other thing: His endorsement of a Palestinian state, as an answer to the existential dilemma of the Palestinians, and as an answer to the question of whether Israel can maintain itself as a Jewish-majority democracy, would have been met at AIPAC by a combination of tepid applause, silence, and scattered heckling. It's obvious to me that from now on, Obama should deliver his pro-Israel speeches at the Jerusalem Convention Center, not the Washington Convention Center.

    The speech was, overall, quite eloquent and strong, and very moving from the Jewish perspective (there were bits that were too naive for me, but more on that later). It is the setting, though, that made it brilliant: Standing ovations from young Israelis for an endorsement of a Palestinian state by an enthusiastically Zionist African-American President whose middle name is Hussein. How, exactly, did he pull that one off?

  • Quick Reactions to the Obama Speech in Jerusalem

    For one thing, the President answered the kishka question -- the gut question -- pretty well.

    I'm off to do a couple of interviews, but I thought I would just jot down a few early reactions to the president's speech in Jerusalem. It was a very strong speech -- there were a couple of flat, campaign-like moments -- but overall it was strong. The President was a bit more blunt than I thought, but his bluntness was rewarded by loud cheers from his youngish audience when he talked about the need to create a Palestinian state. (On the other hand, I was sitting near the head of the settlers' council, who seemed ready to explode with anger.) I'm imagining that the Israeli reaction to Obama's call will come as a pleasant surprise to at least some Palestinians.

    The President answered the kishka question -- the gut question -- pretty well. Some people won't be satisfied, but the president conveyed, over and over again, that he stands with Israel, he believes in Israel, and so long as there is a United States, there will be an Israel. He spoke well about the Jewish connection to the land, and made it abundantly clear he believes that Zionism is a genuine and justified national liberatlon movement rooted in ancient history and tradition. And he spoke well of his appreciation for Judaism, exploring its relationship to his own tradition (though the mention of tikkun olam -- "repairing the world" -- would have gone over better in the U.S, where it has become the core idea of progressive Judaism. The way Obama understands tikkun olam is not the way many Israelis understand it).

    I spoke to several members of the audience, who confirmed my impression that Israelis just wanted to know that he liked them. It's hard to understand this from the U.S., but the idea really did take hold here that Obama genuinely hated Israel. So this whole trip is a bit of a revelation for ordinary Israelis.

    On the other hand, I've run into people who were surprised President Obama took it too strong to Bibi (one conservative-leaning Israeli I just ran into suggested that Obama was interfering in Israeli politics as payback for Netanyahu's alleged meddling in the American election). Obama pleaded with his audience to challenge their leaders on the question of peace and compromise. I guess the whole Bibi-Barack love festival has an expiration date.

    One more note: the President spoke most feelingly, I think, when he asked Israelis to imagine the lives of Palestinian children, and asked Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of Palestinians. This seemed reasonable to me, but it probably caused Netanyahu, watching on television, to say, "Well, yes, but first the Palestinians have to understand what it's like to be an Israeli." I've very seldom run into Palestinians and Israelis who can imagine what life is like on the other side without quickly resorting to demands that the other side do so first.  Which is part of the problem.

    More to come.   

  • Operation Desert Schmooze, Hi-Tech Edition

    Is this the most expensive Birthright trip ever staged?

    President Obama's visit to Israel strikes me -- and others -- as the most expensive Birthright trip ever staged. Except that this one isn't paid for by Sheldon Adelson.

    At this moment, he's touring an ad hoc hi-tech fair that was set up with the express purpose of ruining the aesthetics of the Israel Museum. So far, it's been tree-planting and Iron Dome-watching, and tomorrow he'll be at Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl. This is a good time to reiterate that this is not what he actually wanted to do on a visit to Israel (here's my idea of what he actually would have wanted to do).

    It seems pretty clear, based on the wall-to-wall Israeli media coverage, and several conversations with people who might be called average Israelis (as if there is such a thing), that  Obama's charm offensive is working well. The big test comes this afternoon, when he speaks to a large group of young Israelis, and challenges them to think about the future of their country, and about their relations with the Palestinians.

  • There's a War Criminal at My Gym
    Super Crimson/Shutterstock

    There's a War Criminal at My Gym

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