Down-blog, Freddie takes a few shots at Jeffrey Goldberg:
This is like an awful lot of other things that Goldberg is perpetually aggrieved about. The way that he threads the needle between holding views very similar to other writers while still maintaining that those writers are fundamentally malign is that he always imputes the very worst motives to the people he criticizes and yet assumes everyone agrees that his own motives are pure. That’s helpful, for a professional writer, because it helps build a brand where you can at once hold rather progressive views on a controversial subject like Israel, but still get to excoriate pretty much everybody who holds nearly the same views as you do. The ability to be righteously offended is of great value to the professional pundit.
Goldberg is a bit of an odd bird – someone whose perspective on Israel would be at home in the pages of The American Prospect but whose tone is more suited to a Commentary editorial. I’m reluctant to suggest a reason for his idiosyncratic views, but I think this is all a bit more complicated than Freddie makes it out to be.
It’s rarely easy to discuss Israel, particularly for American Jews. Recall Noah Pollack’s charming name for Jewish commentators who opposed the Gaza incursion – the “Juicebox Mafia” – and consider all that the term implies. Being accused of “hating your own inheritance” is enough for anyone to want to protect their right flank with a little rhetorical bomb-throwing.
The only real equivalent I can think of is the Iraq War debate, when pro-war partisans were hurling epithets like “anti-American” at non-interventionists with remarkable aplomb. I was in high school at the time, but I still remember how it felt. I can’t say I cherish the memory of being accused of hating my own country, and I seem to remember most war skeptics rushing to distance themselves from the radical anti-war left. It was an easy way to try and dodge the un-American charge – innocence by disassociation, if you will.
So yes, Goldberg’s hyper-sensitivity to any hint of anti-Semitism is not the most admirable or courageous approach, but I understand the impulse. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t really blame him. Being accused of hating your own people is a hard thing to endure.