J.J. Goldberg

Separating Wheat From Dreck: I Defend a Principled Hawk from a Chickenhawk

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

For the past few months I’ve been getting email blasts several times a day from someone named Dan Friedman (no connection to the Forward’s arts & culture editor), ultra-right email posts with short, pithy barbs aimed at Obama (whom he calls BHO), liberals and the Israeli peace camp. He’s pretty far over the line, but I’ve been opening his posts because they’re short and I’ve found them sometimes witty, and I felt they gave me a window into a mood in certain quarters out there. Until today, that is.

Today I learned something important about the Internet and human frailty. Friedman sent out a post titled “An Israeli Throws in the Towel,” reprinting an article he came across by an Israeli professor. The professor warns that Obama won’t stand up against Iran’s nukes. Friedman introduces the piece with a few choice paragraphs dripping with contempt, pointing to the article as an example of how clueless Israelis are about the real threats they face.

The writer is an American expat living in Israel whose commentary appears in the Jerusalem Post. He has had an illustrious career nailing down one job after another at institutions with important-sounding names. (OK, everyone has a right to make a living.)

Apparently, it’s suddenly dawned on the professor that Obama “isn’t going to take strong action on the [Iranian] nuclear weapons issue.” Welcome to our solar system, dear friend. But what’s most significant about the startling revelation painstakingly outlined in his piece is that the word “Israel” is AWOL and so is any suggestion the unmentioned country might have to try to save its own butt by taking matters into its own hands.

Frankly, it’s pointless and unfair to single out this particular Israeli commentator for criticism. His attitude is so pathetic – and so typical.

df

Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Unless you happen to know, as Friedman obviously doesn’t, that the writer of the article he’s ridiculing, Professor Barry Rubin, is one of Israel’s earliest, most outspoken and best-informed hawks on the dangers Israel faces from Iranian and other Islamic extremism, going back decades. He comes to his pessimism honestly; he’s one of Israel’s leading experts on the non-Arab Muslim countries on Israel’s periphery, meaning mainly Iran and Turkey. He’s been accusing Obama of being soft on Iran since before Obama was elected.

In other words, Friedman is inadvertently ridiculing one of the deans of his own school of thought, because he doesn’t know enough about the stuff he spouts off on to know who his own allies and flag-bearers are.

It will come as no surprise that I don’t agree with a whole lot of Barry Rubin’s conclusions about Israel and its enemies, but I know he knows his stuff as few others do. (Full disclosure: We were friendly back in high school. I think we’ve sort of scowled at each other a few times since.) Agree or disagree with him, though, one dismisses Rubin at one’s peril — unless, of course, one is simply blowing smoke through one’s nose or some other orifice and pretending to be knowledgeable about a sensitive topic one actually knows nothing about.

Friedman should be looking up to the people who created and built the school he subscribes to, not mocking them. But, to be fair, we shouldn’t be surprised when a kindergarten kid hasn’t yet learned the principal’s name. There is so much to learn in those memorable early stages. Look, tsatskele, this goes on the Internet. That goes in the potty.

Here is a catalogue of Barry’s most recent articles on Iran, dating back only as far as 2005. (Follow the links to his other topics; there’s a lot of solid reading there.) Here is a piece he wrote in October 2008, warning that Obama and his team were dangerously naïve about Iran and shouldn’t be elected. I don’t agree with its conclusions, but I take the cautions seriously. I wish Dan Friedman had read it before he started sending out a mass email sliming the author.

By the way, if Friedman finds Israelis as aggravating as he indicates, why doesn’t he just leave them alone?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Iran, Holocaust, Dan Friedman, Barry Rubin

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
N S Wed. Jan 27, 2010

You missed Friedman's point, and thereby proved his conclusion, "His attitude is so pathetic - and so typical." The point is that Israel should stop behaving like a vassal state of the U.S., and realize that salvation shall not come forth from the White House. Rubin should shift his focus from what the U.S. should do to what Israel should do, without relying on the U.S. at all. If Golda Meir refused to comply with Nixon's and Kissinger's absurd demand that it wait for the Arabs to strike first [to prove that they were the bloodthirsty, Islamonazi savage aggressors? as if any such proof was needed], and instead launched a pre-emptive strike, just as they did in 1967, Israel would not have suffered the initial heavy casualties, and would not have needed the American airlift of weapons and supplies. Israel's pathetic leaders can learn a great deal from the example of Sri Lanka, which, unapologetically, mounted a devastating offensive against the Tamil, and responded to international "outrage" with defiance.

Dan Friedman Wed. Jan 27, 2010

"Dreck"? A self-serving remark, coming from a maggot.

Dr Sam Snyder Wed. Jan 27, 2010

From your comments Mr. Goldberg I can only assume you are one of those wrong wired leftist Jews who want to give Arabs a chance to annihilate Israel for some self-serving international Socialist agenda! It is Jews like you and your fellow travelers that have been an anathema to Jews and Gentiles alike in and out of Israel! For shame sir! Dreck is appropriate for your thinking process!!

Talia Zemer Thu. Jan 28, 2010

It's amazing how left-wing people (it's called in Hebrew Smolan, and for some reason, they take it as insult to be called like that) always find fault in rigt-wing people's opinions. First, that's what democracy is all about, with all do respect, and just because the person is more educated BY THE BOOK, NOT LIFE EXPERIENCE,although I'm not really sure if you know Mr. Friedman's background) doens't mean his opinion is always the right one. Just look what happened to the whole financial world, ALL THANKS TO THE EXPERTS!

Richard Sun. Jan 31, 2010

Israel should focus on making a deal with west bank arabs.Then syria then iran.1 thing at a time.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.