Somebody Get Jeffrey Goldberg A Tissue

To follow up on yesterday’s post about Lee Smith and frivolous charges of anti-Semitism, it appears that Jeffrey Goldberg — while conceding that Smith’s article, for which he served as the sole source, was completely lacking in substance or evidence — is continuing his rather creepy and pathetic vendetta against Steve Walt. Really, Jeffrey, give it a rest. You claim that Walt is obsessed with Jews, but I can assure you that he doesn’t spend a tenth of the time thinking about you that you spend obsessing over him. The fact that so many of Walt and Mearsheimer’s enemies have descended into this sort of hysteria (such as Goldberg’s review of their book) has arguably been more helpful to their case than any number of endorsements of their position would have been.

In any case, Goldberg resorts to one of his frequent tricks, which is quoting from the over-the-top anti-Israel email he receives to try to prove that his adversaries are all anti-Semites. (His other trick is to quote from the over-the-top Likudnik email he receives to try to prove that he’s really a peace-loving liberal by comparison.) Now, some of the email that he holds up as evidence of anti-Semitism is perfectly unobjectionable, if a bit crude for my taste. For instance: “We’re tired of your warmongering ideology. Go apologize to the people of Iraq and Palestine.” I would only add that perhaps Goldberg should preemptively apologize to the people of Iran as well, since word on the street is that he will call for a U.S. war with Iran in the next issue of the Atlantic. Still, some of it goes past anti-Zionism to verge on anti-Semitism, and some is clearly anti-Semitic outright.

But so what? I can guarantee that anyone who writes about the Middle East online for any extended period of time receives plenty of deranged emails and comments from all sides of the political spectrum. Sometimes it is anti-Semitic email ranting about the Zionist Occupied Government of the U.S., and sometimes it is anti-Arab email ranting that there is no such thing as the “Palestinian people,” or that there can be no peace with Muslims because Islam is inherently a religion of war, or that the Palestinians should be ethnically cleansed from the West Bank and driven into Jordan. (Well, actually that last argument was from Mike Huckabee.) This means that if one wants to make the case that the “other side” is a bunch of crazed bigots, it’s quite easy to gather evidence by cherry-picking from the appropriate body of crazy emails. If I had Jeffrey Goldberg’s apparently immense capacity for whining and self-pity, and wanted to portray myself as the persecuted victim of intolerant and bloodthirsty right-wing Zionists, it would not be terribly difficult. I tend to think that this would be a waste of everyone’s time, so I haven’t done so.

Here at Lobelog, we make an effort to weed out both kinds of comments, whether it’s pro-Israel types calling for Arab blood or anti-Israel types calling for Jewish blood. Occasionally one slips through the cracks, as with the two comments that Smith cited in his piece. But it’s hard to think of any particular conclusion to draw from this barrage of loony emails and comments, except that these issues tend to draw out crazies from both sides. Certainly blogging has not done wonders for my faith in the reasonableness of the population at large.

Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



  1. I will say it straight: I don’t believe Jeffrey Goldberg one word. He has not put forward a single piece of evidence where those mails came from. False flags are a long known tactic of the Israel lobby to invent hate to put forward the zionist agenda.

    Just remember the Lavon Affair.

  2. Does anyone really care anymore about being called an anti semite? I don’t, don’t know anyone who does, because now anti semite only means you are a critic of Israel.
    It’s lost it’s original meaning thanks to the rabid Goldbergs types.
    The only people who fear the anti semite slur as far as I can see are the journalist and elected politicans.
    And obviously some of them no longer care either.

    I have said for a long time these smear artist are truely stupid people…they have no understanding of human nature.

  3. I’m afraid two more of my comments “slipped through the cracks” and appeared beneath your post yesterday, complaining that you erased my original comment that “slipped through the cracks,” thereby allowing Lee Smith’s misrepresentation of it to stand. You are going to have to work harder at this controlling-the-discourse thing, Daniel.

  4. How the hell is it anti-Semitic to claim that there is a Zionist influence on the US govt’s foreign policy? It is a fact, that is the case.

  5. Rowan: I’ve restored your original comment, but I’m not sure what the other two comments that you’re referring to are — they don’t show up in our archives. I restored it because it’s been pointed out to me that Smith took it out of context, but please be a little more careful in the future.

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