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Jeffrey Goldberg, Bret Stephens Discuss Israel's Future

By: Dr. Neil Rubin, Beth Tfiloh High School Jewish History Department Chair

“There’s something to be said for the ‘Crazy Nixon’ approach to foreign policy,” Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, one of my all-time favorite journalists, told us last night at the annual Beth Tfiloh Dahan Lecture.
“It was created by [Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger who said, ‘Look, you should make a deal with me because you don’t know what the president [Nixon] is going to do.’ Of course, that’s predicated on the fact that the president isn’t crazy.”

He had a dialogue – moderated by Sen. Ben Cardin – with another all-time favorite, Brett Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and The Jerusalem Post, and now of the New York Times. Hearing two intelligent, reflective and respectful colleagues – the first center-left and the second center-right – was a gale-force wind of proverbial fresh air.

Oh, Goldberg also said that it’s possible that “in the coming months” there will be a proxy war by Iran against Israel on the Golan, using Syrian troops and associated thugs – even resulting in the occupation of parts of the Golan Heights “if only for a few hours, which would be a psychological boost.”

For his part, Stephens said that he has known new National Security Director John Bolton (of Baltimore) for years and does not see in private the raving “war-monger” others fear. “Would I rather have an intelligent adviser that the president will listen to than one that he doesn’t listen to? Of course,” Stephens said, at one point referring to Bolton’s new role as an “adult supervisory” one.

We can quibble with particulars, but the enjoyable night revealed how bereft we now are of civil conversations when mining our differences.

Listen to audio from the discussion here.
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