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.

  • A Nuclear Iran Would Mark a 'Turning Point in Human History'

    I could have used this quote, from Henry Kissinger, at my recent Intelligence Squared debate in which I argued, with Shmuel Bar, against the motion that Israel could live with a nuclear Iran:

    "The danger is that we could be reaching a point where nuclear weapons would become almost conventional, and there will be the possibility of a nuclear conflict at some point... that would be a turning point in human history," he said.

    This is the biggest worry of all: That a nuclear arms race in the world's most volatile region leads to a kind of quick-draw, launch-on-warning approach by multiple nations, ending in an accidental conflagration. Kissinger:

    "For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching," he said. "In a few years, people will have to come to a determination of how to react, or the consequences of non-reaction.... I believe this point will be reached in a very foreseeable future," he added.

    Here, by the way, is a link to the Intelligence Squared debate, which is worth watching, and not only because my team won. 

  • Is Goldblog a 'Jewish Sewer Pipe for Obama'?

    We here at the Goldblog glass-enclosed nerve center have been called many things by extreme leftists and rightists, but this one stands out.

    We here at the Goldblog glass-enclosed nerve center have been called many things by extreme leftists and rightists, but this one, from a website called "Israeli Frontline," which I'm guessing is part of the Jewish right wing love-Israel-to-death crowd, stands out for its unknowing echo of a familiar Nazi trope:

    The plain truth is Jeffrey Goldberg is a Jewish sewer pipe for Obama. And he's loving every minute of it because, like T. Friedman, Beinhart and the J Street crowd, he wants to "punish" Israel." 

    That would be "Beinart," not "Beinhart," by the way. (Smear artists should know that they undermine the power of their invective by misspelling their targets' names.) Peter and Tom Friedman and the "J Street crowd" can defend themselves. I would like to offer a defense, not of myself, but of sewer pipes. Civilization could not exist as we know it without sewer pipes. They make our cities and towns livable, aesthetically pleasant and healthful places. (I would also note that Israel, a country those at "Israeli Frontline" ostensibly love, also utilizes sewer pipes.)

    For whatever reason, the far-right, Jewish and Nazi alike, despise sewer pipes. When I read this post above (it was motivated, obviously, by my recent column noting that President Obama, according to my sources, believes that Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are), I was struck by its use of the sewer pipe metaphor, which is so often used by anti-Semites, rather than Semites, to describe the perfidious role Jews play in debasing Christian society. One of my regular Nazi interlocutors recently e-mailed me this gem of writing, apparently lifted from some sort of fascist website: "Drive these trash cockroaches out of your community in any way you possibly can. Above all CANCEL YOUR CABLE TV, and get the jewish sewer pipe of pornography and kikesickness out of your life completely. Boycott businesses owned by trash jews, like Home Depot, a kike-owned company that loves to promote homosexuality to children. Shop at Lowe's instead."

  • Just How Far Did the Israeli Electorate Move to the Center?

    Walter Russell Mead, whose writing I consistently enjoy, goes a bit hard on the mainstream media (so-called) for misreading Israeli politics:

    The story as far as we're concerned is the spectacular flop of the West's elite media. If you've read anything about Israeli politics in the past couple weeks, you probably came away expecting a major shift to the right--the far right.

    Mead hints, and Ari Shavit, in a very interesting column, openly argues, that the results of the Israeli election suggest that the right is at least an ephemerally waning phenomenon. I wouldn't go that far, as I'll explain in a second, but first, in (partial) defense of the MSM, what Mead isn't considering is that the rise of Naftali Bennett's far-right Jewish Home Party provoked a counter-reaction among frightened Israeli centrists just before the election, which could account for the fact that most everyone, including most Israeli commentators, thought Bennett would end up with 15 or 16 seats. As it is, his party wound up with 12, which ain't chopped liver.

    On the larger point, it is true that Yair Lapid, rather than Bennett, is the kingmaker of the coming coalition (at least until Shelly Yachimovich brings the Labor Party into the tent -- and talk about a recipe for a stable coalition!). But it is also true that Lapid, and his voters, are not leftists; they are not particularly interested in a preemptive settlement freeze, or even necessarily in an Obama-requested settlement freeze; and they are certainly not interested in "dividing" Jerusalem (which actually would mean establishing a Palestinian capital in the eastern, Arab, neighborhoods of the city).

    And it's reasonably certain that Lapid, while demanding that Netanyahu restart in earnest negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as a precondition for joining the coalition, has other, more important, things on his mind, including and especially the issues that actually propelled him to victory: Ending the subsidies and special treatment of the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox, in particular. So I'm not expecting much movement on the peace process, even with Lapid as foreign minister (the job people are saying he's been offered.) The good thing about Lapid as foreign minister is that Israel will finally have a foreign minister it can send to foreign countries without embarrassment.

  • Quick Israeli Election Reactions

    1) Israelis are most upset by the rising power of the ultra-orthodox (the Haredim). This accounts for Yesh Atid's strong performance. Plus party leader Yair Lapid's hair gel. Also a very important factor.

    2) Yesh Atid is such a Jewish name. "There is a Future." Optimistic, but threaded with melancholy.

    3) Netanyahu could have spent more time focused on social issues.

    4) Kadima. What was that about, anyway?

    5) I'm assuming, for now, a Likud-Yesh Atid-Jewish Home coalition, but anything is possible.

    6) Every television commentator is asking what this means for the peace process. What does it mean for the peace process? Not much.

    7) This election is a reminder that settlers only represent 4 percent of the Israeli population.

    8) Biggest question on my mind: Will Obama and Yair Lapid have chemistry?

    9) Okay, not the biggest question on my mind.

    10) On the one hand, Lapid's victory is a victory for secular Israel. On the other hand, about 40 percent of members of the next Knesset will be Orthodox.

    11) Hamas never fails: A spokesman says that Netanyahu's decision to visit the Western Wall after voting represents a "provocation."

    12) This, from Adam Chandler: "Myth #1: Israelis are disaffected and checked out.
    Counterpoint: The voter turnout in Israel is the highest since 1999 (when Netanyahu was thrown out of office). The most recent numbers released by the Elections Committee show that almost 64% of Israelis have voted. The total may eclipse 70% by the end of the day."

    And this, from my Bloomberg View column:

    A Netanyahu-Bennett-Lapid coalition would be far more likely to take bold action against another of Israel's threats, the rise of the ultra-Orthodox, than to take on the peace process. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Haredi men don't serve in the army and are on the public dole so that they can pursue full-time religious studies. And Haredi political parties are becoming more radical (ayatollah-like, in some ways), demanding sex segregation on public buses and generally trying to erase the line dividing synagogue from state. Lapid's popularity is derived in large part from his stalwart stance against the privileges accrued by the ultra-Orthodox.

    Belief in the efficacy of the peace process has ebbed dramatically, even among those Israelis who know that Bennett's vision of an Israel in permanent control of the Palestinians is a formula for ruin. The weakness of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank; the recalcitrance of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip; and the Arab Spring uprisings, which have left Syria in chaos and Egypt in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, haven't advanced the cause of a two-state solution.

    One more quote to keep in mind, this from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who said three years ago (in a statement just unearthed this month) that Muslims should "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews." Statements like this, which are also often heard in Palestinian circles, give Israelis pause about pursuing compromise.

    The next coalition -- even if it is center-right, rather than hard-right -- is going to have a hard time selling a revitalized peace process.

  • Jake Tapper's 'The Outpost'

    In his Second Inaugural speech yesterday, President Obama once again referred to the coming end of the war in Afghanistan. This was a bit misleading, the conflation of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan with the war's end. The actual war might be going on for a while longer, between the Taliban and the forces America trained and supported. And if those forces lose, America might one day be back, if the Taliban once again decides to turn Afghanistan into a safe haven for terror.

    There have been many books written on the subject of America's seemingly endless engagement in Afghanistan, but none better than Jake Tapper's "The Outpost," which manages to do three things at once: It provides us with a gripping, ground-level understanding of the fight to hold a single patch of Afghan territory, and it lets us see the absurdity of so much of the American decision-making in this conflict. And finally, Tapper renders beautifully the lives of America's forgotten soldiers -- the ordinary men from dead-end towns who make up the core of America's all-volunteer army, who risk their lives (and, in this story, often give their lives) for an America that was not, for them, a land of opportunity. I sat down with Jake a couple of weeks ago at The Atlantic to talk about his book. (In the interest of full disclosure, I read several chapters of Jake's book in manuscript form, and made a few minor editing suggestions.) (And special thanks to The Atlantic's Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, who produced, directed, scripted, catered and lit this video.)

  • Obama: 'Israel Doesn't Know What Its Own Best Interests Are'

    Immediately after the U.S. went to bat for Israel at the United Nations in late November, voting against a resolution that called for upgrading the status of the Palestinians (the resolution passed overwhelmingly), the government of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, turned around and announced, over U.S. objections, that it would begin planning a new settlement in a geographically sensitive area of the West Bank. It was a thumb in the eye of the Palestinian Authority, which proposed the U.N. resolution, and it was a bit of a slap at the U.S., which has consistently counseled Israel against settlement expansion.

    In my Bloomberg View column this week, I describe Obama's reaction to Netanyahu's tactics:

    When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn't even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu's part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.

    In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are." With each new settlement announcement, in Obama's view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.

    And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah -- one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend -- it won't survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel's survival; Israel's own behavior poses a long-term one.

    The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. Next week, Israeli voters will probably return Netanyahu to power, this time at the head of a coalition even more intractably right-wing than the one he currently leads.

    Read the whole thing here.

  • A Wonderful New Book About Scientology, by a Wonderful Writer

    Work from "an unparalleled spelunker of the religious mind"

    Working with Lawrence Wright was one of the great pleasures of my journalism career. Even before I met Larry, at the New Yorker, I was a great admirer of his, and my admiration only grew as I got to know him personally, and as I watched him work. There is no more careful reporter in the world than Larry, and no one who is as thorough and as indefatigable.

    "The Looming Tower," of course, is one of the greatest works of narrative non-fiction published in the past several decades, but all of his work on religion -- he's an unparalleled spelunker of the religious mind -- is very much worth reading. Which is why I'm so particularly excited this week to read his just-published investigation of the Church of Scientology, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

    You can order it from Amazon right here.

  • Egyptian President Calls Jews 'Sons of Apes and Pigs'; World Yawns

    Mohamed Morsi recently deployed an anti-Semitic formulation to describe Jews. Why hasn't it been noted more widely?

    Earlier this month, the Middle East Media Research Institute posted video taken in 2010 of Egypt's current president, Mohamed Morsi, calling Jews the "descendants of apes and pigs."

    The Jerusalem Post provided this summary of his remarks:

    "... Morsi denounced the Palestinian Authority as a creation of "the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people." Therefore, he stressed, "No reasonable person can expect any progress on this track."

    "Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war," Morsi said, "This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know - these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs." (You can watch Morsi deliver these remarks here.)

    Richard Behar, at Forbes, watched what happened once these atrocious remarks were made public:

    I studied the Pigs-and-Apes story's journey and trajectory through America over the past week with Sue Radlauer, the Director of Research Services here at Forbes. We gave it seven days to see if any of the so-called "mainstream media" -- a pejorative phrase that too-often obscures more than it reveals -- bestowed the hate speech even a few sentences of back-page ink.  Nothing.

    Of course, the demonization of Jews is commonplace and de rigueur in the Arab media (although most Americans wouldn't know that because they are not being made aware of it). But what makes this omission in Big Media especially egregious is that Morsi -- sometimes spelled Morsy or Mursi -- went even further than genetically pairing Jews with lower beasts. As you can see and hear for yourself in the Morsi Tapes, he called for an end to any and all negotiations for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians - droning on that all the land belongs to the latter. He called for a boycott of American goods because of its support for Israel. (Of course, he didn't bother mentioning that American taxpayers have provided nearly $70 billion of aid to Egypt, since it made peace with Israel in 1979, and the spigot continues for now.) He even went so far as to label the Palestinian Authority an entity "created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests."

    Egypt is the largest Arab country. Morsi is its president. It seems noteworthy that the president of Egypt recently deployed a traditional Islamist, anti-Semitic formulation to describe Jews. Why, then, hasn't it been noted more widely? One possibility is, to borrow a phrase, the soft bigotry of low expectations. Another: Anti-Semites have done such a thorough job of convincing the media that anti-Semitism doesn't exist that when it does pop up it causes a paralyzing form of cognitive dissonance. I'm open to other explanations, so send them my way. 

  • Not So Fast on the Rise of Israel's Far Right

    A dissent from the conventional wisdom that Israeli politics are lurching rightward.

    Michael Singh, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, dissents from the conventional wisdom that Israeli politics are lurching rightward:

    It is incontrovertible that the list chosen by Likud voters in their recent primary -- which includes hardliners such as Moshe Feiglin -- represents a sharp move to the right for the party. It is also correct that a recent poll by Israel's Dahaf Institute indicates that the Jewish Home-National Union party, which is to Likud's right, stands to more than double its representation in the Knesset, taking seats from Likud and its electoral partner, the secular-right Israel Beitenu party.

    What is noted less often, however, is that left-wing parties have also gained. The same poll shows gains not just for the Labor party, but for the far-left Meretz party as well as social-justice-focused Yesh Atid (which did not previously exist), as well as for Tzipi Livni's "Movement" party. The losers are the Likud-Israel Beitenu coalition, projected to lose nine seats, and the centrist parties -- Kadima, which had twenty-one seats but will cease to exist, and Ehud Barak's "Independence" party, which will not field candidates with his retirement from the Knesset.

    Despite this shifting within both the left and the right, the polls indicate an absence of movement between the two poles. The result, rather startlingly, is that despite the churn, the right-left balance is forecast to remain precisely as it currently stands. The data projects not a more right-wing Knesset, but a more polarized one. It also projects a weaker position for Prime Minister Netanyahu in coalition politics, which could well mean a more right-wing government than that he currently heads, though -- depending on what deals he is able to cut -- this is hardly a foregone conclusion.

  • The Rise of Israel's Far-Right

    The editor of the Times of Israel pens a sobering reality-check.

    David Horovitz with a reality check:

    Sixty-five years after those who spoke for the local Arabs rejected a Jewish state, this will likely be an Israel that has voted to reject a Palestinian state -- prompted by a combination of the Palestinians' intransigence, doubletalk, hostility and terrorism, and of Israeli Jews' security fears, historic connection and sense of religious obligation.

    Curiously, however, this dramatic imminent shift in the national orientation stems less from a surge by the Israeli electorate from left to right -- if the polls are accurate, there isn't going to be all that much of that. Rather, it is the right itself that has already shifted. The right has become the far-right. The Likud is both bleeding support to the adamantly pro-settlement Jewish Home, and itself chose a far more stridently pro-settlement slate for these elections: On the Israeli right in 2013, Benjamin Netanyahu, rhetorically at least, is a discordant relative moderate.

    The Israeli right may not grow by much numerically on January 22. Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Jewish Home and National Union held 49 seats between them in the last parliament, and many polls suggest that those same parties -- some allied, some defunct, some resurgent -- will this time draw a similar number of seats or perhaps just a few more. But this is a different Israeli right, almost certainly helming and setting the tone for our different Israel.
  • Andrew Sullivan Responds to My Last Post

    A question raised and answered

    Andrew writes:

    On Hagel, I wrote that "Goldblog made the calculation, staying politically neutral (which is itself a political decision for him to retain access with both the Obama administration and the American Jewish Establishment)." Goldblog objects:
    What calculation did I make? I simply stated yesterday morning that it didn't seem likely that AIPAC would be making a cause of defeating the Hagel nomination. (Later reporting, by Eli Lake and others, confirmed this.)

    What political decision did I make? I had already written in favor of Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense -- I even wrote that his straight talk could be good for Israel to hear. "Maybe, at this point, what we need are American officials who will speak with disconcerting bluntness to Israel about the choices it is making," is what I wrote, to the displeasure of some in Andrew's "American Jewish Establishment." How is this neutral?
    I could quibble about the manner and tone of Goldblog's writing on Hagel, but he's basically right on this. I was too hasty and unfair. I apologize.

    I'm not sure what the quibbles would be, but never mind. I appreciate that Andrew revisited his post on the issue.

  • What Is Andrew Sullivan Talking About?

    AIPAC, anti-Semitism, and one blogger's imcomprehensibility

    Andrew writes, under the headline "AIPAC Won't Fight Hagel":

    Goldblog made the calculation, staying politically neutral (which is itself a political decision for him to retain access with both the Obama administration and the American Jewish Establishment):
    I'm not so sure AIPAC will be throwing itself into this fight.

    I actually don't know what Andrew is talking about. What calculation did I make? I simply stated yesterday morning that it didn't seem likely that AIPAC would be making a cause of defeating the Hagel nomination. (Later reporting, by Eli Lake and others, confirmed this.)

    What political decision did I make? I had already written in favor of Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense -- I even wrote that his straight talk could be good for Israel to hear. "Maybe, at this point, what we need are American officials who will speak with disconcerting bluntness to Israel about the choices it is making," is what I wrote, to the displeasure of some in Andrew's "American Jewish Establishment." How is this neutral?

    And I have also defended Hagel publicly, both in Atlantic posts and in a Bloomberg View column, against the charge that he's anti-Semitic. You can read my defense here. So what is Andrew talking about?

  • About All Those Neocons at the Pentagon ...

    Chuck Hagel does not represent the revolution in thought some of his supporters, and enemies, believe.

    From The Washington Post:

    For neoconservatives, who dominated foreign policy during George W. Bush's presidency, Hagel represents a threat to their continued influence at the Pentagon. He was critical of Bush foreign policy initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan and has challenged the influence of pro-Israel activists on U.S. foreign policy.

    The previous paragraph actually makes no sense. How much "continued influence" do neoconservatives have at the Pentagon, which is currently run by the Democratic, non-neocon Leon Panetta? And how much influence did neoconservatives have during the reign of Bob Gates, who was an enemy of the neocons? There is no neocon infuence at the Pentagon today, and there hasn't been any for years. I wish people would calm down and remember that Chuck Hagel in many ways resembles Bob Gates in his approach and outlook. Hagel does not represent the revolution in thought some of his supporters, and enemies, believe.

  • Does This Comment Make Chuck Hagel a Philo-Semite?

    What happens when you try to extrapolate from a single decontextualized statement

    From Chemi Shalev:

    President Barack Obama's controversial candidate for the post of U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, believes that in any Middle East peace agreement there is only one issue that is not negotiable: Israel's Jewish identity.

    The former Republican senator from Nebraska, described by conservative Republicans and Jewish critics as "antagonistic" toward Israel and even as a "borderline anti-Semite" wrote in his 2008 book America; Our Next Chapter that any U.S. president is required "to engage actively in the dangerous and politically risky business of peacemaking. We know that a peace settlement will not happen if the parties are left to their own devices."

    However, Hagel added, "there is one important given that is not negotiable: a comprehensive solution should not include any compromise regarding Israel's Jewish identity."

    My take on the accusation that Hagel is an anti-Semite can be found here.

  • AIPAC's Uncertain Role in the Upcoming Hagel Nomination

    AIPAC tries -- sometimes imperfectly -- to both be, and appear to be, bipartisan. And the people who run it aren't stupid.

    I'll have more on the nomination of Chuck Hagel later, but just one note for the moment: There's an assumption out there that AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel group on Capitol Hill, will be supporting an all-fronts effort to block this nomination, for all of the reasons being discussed: He's unfriendly to Israel, he's soft on Iran, and so on. But I'm not so sure AIPAC will be throwing itself into this fight.

    AIPAC, unlike, say, the Republican Jewish Coalition, or the Bill Kristol Coalition, tries --  sometimes imperfectly -- to both be, and appear to be, bipartisan. The people who run AIPAC aren't stupid: They know that if they foment strong opposition to Hagel on the Hill, they will earn President Obama's enmity, whether or not they succeed or fail. Discussions inside the group -- and what the group is hearing from its friends on the Hill, and in the administration -- is that the president very much wants Hagel at Defense, and would be very upset if a group whose agenda he has more-or-less supported (a strong no to containment of Iran, maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge, siding with Israel at the United nations) tries to deny him the defense secretary he wants, and who is a personal friend.

    The administration is worried most about AIPAC -- it does not generally pay attention to the editorials of The Weekly Standard -- and its emissaries have been working overtime to ensure AIPAC's quiescence. I could obviously be wrong, and information may come out in confirmation hearings that makes it impossible for AIPAC to sideline itself, but my guess at this moment is that the AIPAC will not mount a significant campaign on the Hill.

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