Monday, April 7, 2008

American Jewish Journalist: Is Israel Finished?


"07/04/2008 "Is Israel Finished?" is the question splashed on the forthcoming May front cover of the monthly magazine Atlantic.

In a 12-page feature, Jeffrey Goldberg, an award-winning journalist and American Jew, asks a series of follow-up questions: "How can Israel survive in the next 60 years in a part of the world that gives rise to groups like Hamas? How can Israel flourish if its army cannot defeat small bands of rocketeers? Does the concentration of so many Jews in a claustrophobically small space in the world's most volatile region actually undermine the Jewish people's ability to survive?"

According to the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post, the story covers what Goldberg considers the threat within - as he sees it, the settler movement's progress in thwarting the will of the majority by making a two-state solution untenable. "I'm worried. You can try to defend yourself as best as possible against the external threat, but you have to be aware of the internal threat as well," Goldberg said. "I'm very worried about the 10- to 15-year future of Israel. I'm worried about delegitimization, and delegitimization is a process that Israel can help along," he added.

"American Jews in particular need to realize that things are tenuous", Goldberg said, stressing that it was good, not wrong, to ask the biggest questions. In searching for answers, he spoke to a variety of Israeli politicians, writers and activists including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Prompted in particular by the death of left-wing author David Grossman's son Uri in the 2006 July war against Lebanon, which is a central focus of the piece, Goldberg asked Olmert, "Why is Israel less physically safe for Jews than America?" To which Olmert replied, "Jews are not safer in Israel than they are in other parts of the world, but there is only one place that Jews can fight for their lives as Jews, and that is here."

Israeli author and expatriate Leonard Fein described Goldberg's article as "needlessly inflammatory."
"It breaks my heart. I'm desolate, but I think we're blowing it," said the Boston-based Fein, who founded Moment magazine and now serves on the board of Americans for Peace Now. "While I value [Israel's] economic progress and scientific contributions, I am very apprehensive about the next 60 years, and I think it's a perfectly appropriate thing to say at this time, rather than lull ourselves into an American New Year's Eve."

For his part, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, who had seen the Atlantic cover but not yet read the story, was quoted by the Israeli daily as characterizing the questions posed by Goldenberg as "fair since Israelis are asking them, and friends of Israel are asking them out of love and friendship," he said. Foxman claimed, however, he had a reason not to be troubled. He recalled marking Israel's 25th anniversary and hearing people asking, "Is Israel going to be there for the 50th?", a question that's already been answered for him. "

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