Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg and journalist Dan Baum (who left the New Yorker under something of a cloud in 2007) are engaged in a Jew-on-Jew brawl, over health care and Joe Lieberman. Two days ago, Baum sent an email to Jewish friends and contacts imploring them to contact Lieberman and object to his pledge to filibuster a health care reform bill, which Lieberman has threatened to do if a bill contains any hint of a public option. “I’m the last guy in the world to try to organize people by religion, but we Jews may be the only people to whom Senator Joseph Lieberman might listen,” Baum wrote in the note, which he told us he sent to about 50 people.
Goldberg, who is also a Tablet Magazine contributing editor, objected to the faith-based corralling and posted what Baum calls a hostile attack on his Atlantic blog. Baum “may have revealed himself to be an ‘As-a-Jew,’ a particular Semitical sub-type,” Goldberg wrote. “As-a-Jews are people who invoke their heritage only when they feel a need to dump on another Jew, or a Jewish organization, or the Jewish state. It’s a low practice.”
Calling Goldberg’s post “despicable,” “vicious,” and “smarmy,” Baum confessed to us that he frankly didn’t understand it. “Yes, I am a Jew. I am appealing to other Jews to put pressure on a Jewish member of the Senate as Jews. I don’t know what a ‘Jew-type’ is,” he said. “If he supports Senator Lieberman’s position on health care, he should say so. But I don’t really know what he’s objecting to, unless he’s objecting to any kind of identity politics, in which case, that train’s done left the station.”
Reached by phone, Goldberg stated bluntly that he’s “for a single payer system. I’m for completely removing the profit motive,” and further explained that his post has nothing to do with Senator Lieberman or health care. What appalls him is Baum’s “ethnic bullying” with its implication that there is only one Jewish point of view on health care; such an approach diminishes Judaism, Goldberg said. Baum, he continued, is using his “blood ties to an ancient tribe to make a self-righteous point. You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a member of the tribe and you live that membership in a kind of way or you don’t believe it’s a tie that binds and you don’t live in a way that suggests it’s a tie that binds. But to invoke your blood connection to Joe Lieberman seems kind of atavistic,” Goldberg said. “You can’t be Noam Chomsky and Abe Foxman in the same email.”
The Ineffable Dan Baum’s Latest Project [Atlantic]