Each time Andrew Sullivan writes negatively about Israel (which is to say, almost every day), my e-mail in-box becomes flooded with pleas that I respond. Sometimes I don't, because I have other, better things, to do. But last week, after Andrew published an egregious and tendentious map meant to deny Jewish claims to virtually any of the land of Israel, I did respond, helped along by about 130 e-mails from readers who were as upset as I was that the Atlantic Magazine's website featured such crude agitprop. I responded quickly, and angrily (even making a mistake in accusing Andrew of not attributing the map. He did, to the anti-Israel academic Juan Cole.) Then, of course, Andrew responded quickly and angrily, and I spent a good deal of time thinking of ways to respond to his response to my response. And then I realized that this is not how I want to spend my life.
Yes, it's upsetting that Andrew Sullivan, a man of obvious intellectual gifts (and someone for whom I retain great personal fondness), has become an anti-Israel propagandist. But it's not my job to counter everything he says. He's not particularly interested in hearing fact-based arguments that undermine whatever argument he happens to be making, in any case. And even if he did care, it's not in the best interests of The Atlantic, or of my journalism, or my sanity, to spend my time worrying about Andrew's ever-shifting views on the Middle East.
So I'm unilaterally disengaging from this struggle. I pray, of course, that Andrew comes to see that his oversimplification of Middle East history and politics has caused real damage to real people, but it's time for someone else to argue with him.
There is another benefit to disengagement. As Goldblog readers know, I'm deeply distressed by many currents in Israeli society and politics, the continuing, disproportionate power of the settlement movement being chief among my concerns. But I find myself hesitant to criticize Israel these days because my words are inevitably used by people who don't have Israel's best interests, or the best interests of American Jews, at heart. So I want to find a new way to write about these issues. The new way, obviously, is the old way. The best use of my time, I think, would be to return to what I originally was meant to do when I joined The Atlantic a couple of years ago, which is to write reported, carefully considered, fact-checked and closely-edited articles about the issues that interest me. In other words, don't expect to see too much on Goldblog about this set of issues, generally. I appreciate all of your letters (except those that begin "Dear Zionist Douchebag," or, "Dear Self-Hating Jewboy Douchebag"), and I'll figure out, as I go forward, what to do with this blog, but I don't think that writing in anger is good for anyone. So here's hoping that the Goldblog Unilateral Disengagement Plan goes better than the Gaza Disengagement Plan.
ONE SMALL NOTE (UPDATE): I appreciate all of your e-mails on this subject, and I also appreciate the request by many of you to keep writing on these issues. What I'd like to do is find a different way to write about these issues in this space. This might mean fewer posts, one or two a week, but reported posts, and it certainly means ignoring all the intemperate nonsense that gets said by extremists on both sides of this issue. Some of you have suggested that there is a middle-ground between magazine pieces and blog posting, and since Goldblog readers are unfailingly intelligent (except for the d-bag bombers, mentioned above), I want to think about this.