The title of this post is straightforward enough. Read J.J. Goldberg if you’re interested in getting a sane, detailed and reported look at what’s happening in Israel-Palestine. J.J. is the former editor of and now editor-at-large and columnist for The Forward, a Jewish-American paper that has existed in various forms for more than a century. (For most of its history The Forward was published in Yiddish.) Some of you will say, Well, that’s hardly going to give me an unbiased or disinterested read on what’s happening. And that’s true as far as it goes. I don’t want to speak for him. But J.J. writes from what is essentially a two-state, liberal Zionist perspective, which, yes, is one I share.
But what’s valuable about Goldberg’s writing – he now writes a blog for The Forward – is his deep knowledge of Israeli politics and culture and his pretty deep sourcing in the Israeli political and defense establishments. (Hussein Ibish is an equally critical read from the Palestinian side.) Whatever you think should be happening, reading his dispatches gives you a very good read into what is happening. (Here’s one from early last month which is a must-read for understanding the origins of a conflict that neither side actually wanted, at least not now.) His was some of the best reporting I’ve seen on just how the two sides got into this situation – in the immediate sense, starting with the collapse of the Kerry would-be negotiations and the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens and subsequent vigilante killing of the Palestinian teen from East Jerusalem until now.
Another thing I like about reading J.J. is that is he gives a good view into the fullness of the Israeli press, most of which of course is in Hebrew and thus inaccessible to most of us. You can read Haaretz, the left-leaning Israeli daily which translates a good bit of its material into English. Then there’s the right-leaning, English-language-only Jerusalem Post and Ynet, the English language portal of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest daily and a more middle of the road read in Israeli terms. But this is only a slice and inevitably a somewhat distorting slice of the press conversation within Israel.
So if you’re interested in learning more about what’s happening, from a very informed source, put his blog on your list of reads. Some of it is very internal to a Jewish-American perspective. But most isn’t. And he’ll give you a deeper grasp of what’s happening, who the players are, both within Israel and amongst the different players in region.