Fortunately for Jeffrey Goldberg, he not only once lived in Israel but served in its army. Without those credentials he almost certainly would be denounced as an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew. After all, Goldberg had the consummate gall and utter chutzpah to say the obvious: Israel’s West Bank and Gaza settlements have to go.
Actually, Goldberg went even further. In nearly 16,000 words in the May 31 issue of the New Yorker, this Washington-based journalist wrote that in some ways, the Jewish zealots who have established settlements in the heart of overwhelmingly Palestinian areas are as great — or greater — a danger to Israel as their counterparts among the Islamic extremists, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. His article was titled “Among The Settlers; Will They Destroy Israel?”
For raising that question, he has come under unaccustomed attack. Goldberg has spent the past several years reporting and writing about Islamic radicalism and the threat it posed. This made him the darling of the neocons. But now he’s asking similar questions about Jewish zealotry, and for that his integrity, if not his very sanity, has been questioned by the usual American guardians of Israeli security. Among the slings and arrows sent his way was one from Andrea Levin, the head of a media watchdog group, published in the English-language Jerusalem Post. She called Goldberg’s piece “distorted and sloppy with facts.” I read it quite differently: on the nose.
But what really matters is not this or that fact — although I could find nothing wrong in Goldberg’s piece — but his overall point. It is that not only has Israel gotten itself into a demographic and geographic trap with its settlements in Palestinian lands, but it has allowed the most reactionary, belligerent and racist elements in Judaism to establish some of the most provocative settlements. God might want these settlements, as the settlers themselves insist, but it is conscripts, mostly secular Jews, who have to guard them