Just What Makes Goldblog a Middle East Expert, Anyway?

Since I announced that Goldblog would be coming to an end, I've received many e-mails from longtime readers who have expressed various kind thoughts about the blog, and about my efforts here. I also appreciate, grudgingly, the criticism directed my way, except for the criticism from Nazis, Hamas apologists, and Hebron settlers. I've also received many questions from readers about issues they felt I'm leaving unaddressed, and I'll try to answer a couple of those questions before my final post in this space, later this week.

One question that came to me, from a hostile reader, was this: "Just what do you think makes you qualified to comment on Middle East affairs?"

It is a legitimate question to ask, but as luck would have it, I have an answer. Thanks to the assiduous archiving of family documents by Goldblog's mother, I have recently discovered written proof that my studies of the Middle East date back several decades, and were quite rigorous, even in my youth. The document in question is a report card from my Hebrew School confirmation class, which I attended in 1979 and 1980.
 
The synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, on the South Shore of Long Island, is one of the leading temples of the Reform movement (it is now known as as Temple Am Echad, following a merger with another local temple); the rabbi, who is mentioned in the report, was Harold Saperstein, who is generally regarded as one of the giants of 20th century Reform Judaism. Though this transcript contains one troubling note (which I will discuss below), I think this will help Goldblog readers understand why I'm uniquely qualified to comment on Middle East politics:

Goldberg-Report-Card.jpg

Overall, I did very well, I think. I was absent very few times, I would note, though I clearly wasn't the most enthusiastic service-goer. Surprisingly, my worst grade came in the class called, "What is the P.L.O.?" Also a surprise: That Temple Emanu-El taught a class called "What is the P.L.O.?"

My children now attend Hebrew school, and I'm pretty sure they are not studying the history of the  P.L.O. I'm not actually sure what they're studying, but this is a subject for a different discussion.

UPDATE: A number of supporters of the Hebron settlers wrote me to complain that I'm equating their friends with Nazis and Hamas apologists. I'm not. I'm simply saying that they send really execrable hate mail.   

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.