Jeffrey Goldberg causes stir with online jabs at Israeli media
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Jeffrey Goldberg causes stir with online jabs at Israeli media

In Twitter fight, US journalist says he may stop reading left-leaning Haaretz; calls Jerusalem Post ‘nuts’ and Times of Israel ‘very reliable’

Jeffrey Goldberg, of The Atlantic, appears on "Meet the Press" in Washington, DC, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images via JTA)
Jeffrey Goldberg, of The Atlantic, appears on "Meet the Press" in Washington, DC, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images via JTA)

US Jewish journalist Jeffrey Goldberg stirred up a media dust storm in Israel after he tweeted that he might give up reading Haaretz.

“I think I’m getting ready to leave Ha’aretz behind, actually,” Goldberg tweeted, including a link to an article in the left-leaning Israeli daily written by two American-Jewish historians who discuss why they have “left Zionism behind.”

Goldberg, a correspondent for The Atlantic who writes frequently about Israel and Middle East affairs, added in a second tweet: “I like a lot of the people at Haaretz, and many of its positions, but the cartoonish anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism can be grating.”

He also dismissed the English-language daily Jerusalem Post, calling it “nuts,” and saying it as well as Haaretz share a “weakness for sinat hinam,” or baseless hatred. He also praised The Times of Israel as being “very reliable.”

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Journalists at both Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post newspapers called Goldberg out over his criticism.

In response to Anshel Pfeffer at Haaretz, Goldberg tweeted: “Look, when neo-Nazis are emailing me links to Haaretz op-eds declaring Israel to be evil, I’m going to take a break, sorry.”

That tweet referenced a column by long-time columnist and critic of Israel Gideon Levy titled, “Stop living in denial, Israel is an evil state.”

Among those apparently pleased by Goldberg’s criticism of Haaretz was Israeli government minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the Knesset for the ruling Likud Party. He retweeted Goldberg’s reference to Levy with his own tweet reading “Wow, there are no words.” Goldberg, who has written critically of the left and right in Israel, responded: “Thanks for the retweet, but I’d prefer it if you spent more time protecting democracy in Israel.”

Erdan responded. “I can do both. Criticizing Haaretz is part of it.”

Seth Frantzman, the Jerusalem Post opinion editor in a tweet threatened to sue Goldberg for slander, calling Goldberg’s baseless hatred tweet “an attack on my reputation and me personally,” leading Goldberg to suggest that Frantzman stop following him.

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The storm began over a Haaretz op-ed titled “We’re American Jewish Historians. This Is Why We’ve Left Zionism Behind,” which was co-written by Hasia Diner, a prominent professor of American Jewish history at New York University, and Marjorie N. Feld, a professor of history at Babson College. In it, Diner asserts that “the exponential growth of far right political parties and the increasing Haredization of Israel, makes it a place that I abhor visiting, and to which I will contribute no money, whose products I will not buy, nor will I expend my limited but still to me, meaningful, political clout to support it.”

She also attributed Zionism as the cause of the “death of vast numbers of Jewish communities.”

“The death of vast numbers of Jewish communities as a result of Zionist activity has impoverished the Jewish people, robbing us of these many cultures that have fallen into the maw of Israeli homogenization. The ideal of a religiously neutral state worked amazingly well for the millions of Jews who came to America,” she wrote.

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