Goldberg Syndrome — An Epidemic in the Making

Jonah Goldberg, the former editor of National Review Online who owes his status as a “conservative” pundit to his mom’s proximity to the stain on Monica Lewinsky’s dress, is now applying his journalistic talents to shilling for Israel’s war. But would somebody please call the re-write department? His latest screed denies the Qana massacre even took place:

“Aspects of the Qana story don’t jibe, starting with the timeline. The building collapsed seven hours after the bombing (which remains the likely explanation now). Some of the bodies don’t look like they were killed in a building collapse, and refrigerated trucks were reportedly brought in before the media could visit the site, perhaps delivering corpses. An elaborate 30-foot-long banner condemning a bloody lipped Rice for the attack was improbably at the ready for a protest that morning. Bloggers around the globe are steadily picking apart other details, to the dismay of many who like their anti-Israel storylines tidy (see for a summary).”

Jefferson Morley gives us the lowdown on the growing “revisionist” movement among Israel’s amen corner, which denies each and every atrocity committed by the Israelis even as they occur:

“The Qana conspiracy theory not only underscores how the Internet can misinform (an old story), it also reveals a popular demand for online content that attempts to explain away news reports that Israel (and by proxy, its closest ally and arms supplier, the United States) was responsible for the deaths of dozens of women and children in a Hezbollah stronghold. At a time when American and Israeli public opinion of the war diverge radically from the world opinion elsewhere, the emergence of a right-wing equivalent of the Sept. 11 conspiracy theories is worth noting.”

It turns out that the “report” about refrigerated trucks being brought in with fresh corpses for the Hezbollah “show” originated with the “Israel Insider,” a vehemently pro-Israel web site based in Israel that backs its claim up with — nothing:

“Citing news images of the event, [Israel Insider publisher Reuben] Korvet said the bodies of 57 civilians ‘looked like they had been dead for days’ and suggested that Hezbollah operatives planted them there.”

How did refrigerator trucks get to the scene without being seen by the Israelis, whose aerial photography noted other details of the scene? Korvet insists the dead bodies “must be something else,” and asks “who were these people.” Morley, with an audible sigh of astonished resignation, answers:

“That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the independent accounts of The Washington Post‘s Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star‘s Nicholas Blanford.”

And Morley has a few questions for the “revisionists”:

“Who killed the Hashems and Shalhoubs, if it wasn’t an Israel bomb? Korvet and the other bloggers don’t offer any theories.

“How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.”

Goldberg’s suspicions about the “timeline” of the Qana massacre are definitively answered in this story in Ha’aretz:

“The survivors spoke of two bombings, one at 1 A.M., and the second some 10 minutes later. However, what appeared to the survivors as a second bombing may have been the sound of the building coming down. None of the survivors said that the building only collapsed several hours later.” 

But, then again, what do they know?

Morley e-mailed one prominent denialist blogger, Richard North, asking for proof of his contentions, and received this telling reply: “All I have to go on is gut instinct.” That instinct which tells him Israel can do no wrong.

“I appreciate his candor,” writes Morley. “It confirms that he has no evidence to support the central claim of his blog posts. North says he is just trying to ‘raise questions,’ which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel’s supporters prefer fantasy to fact?”

Senor North, Goldberg, and their ilk have always preferred fantasy to reality: indeed, the neocons, in their more effusive moods, openly disdain what one administration official described to writer Ron Suskind as “the reality-based community,” which is based on the old-fashioned method of studying empirical facts, and is today being tossed in the dustbin of history by the War Party:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'”

It isn’t the historians, however, who will discover the roots of what I call the Goldberg Syndrome — the tendency to make up “facts” when reality doesn’t fit your pre-determined ideological convictions. Because this isn’t politics, it’s psychopathology we’re dealing with here — a form of mental derangement that is sure to become more widespread in certain quarters as evidence of Israel’s ruthless brutality begins to pile up. By the time the Israelis finish their blitzkrieg, it no doubt will have reached epidemic proportions.