Novelist Ayelet Waldman spars with Jeffrey Goldberg over Israels #nationalcharacter

Most people probably weren’t expecting Ayelet Waldman — the author of books like “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,” left-wing critic of Israel and wife of prominent Jewish novelist Michael Chabon, with whom she lives in Berkeley — to give glowing reviews of her recent trip to the Jewish state.

Ayelet Waldman

After all, the trip brought her and several other American authors (including Chabon, Dave Eggers and Rachel Kushner) to the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem to inspire essays on “Israeli military rule.” Waldman (whose Instagram feed from the trip critiques settlers and the conditions of the West Bank) and Chabon will edit a book of these essays set to be published next year — marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War, which left Israel in control of those areas.

But Waldman started a controversy before she even landed in Israel a couple of weeks ago.

Forty minutes later, she clarified that she shares “that national character.” She was born in Jerusalem and lived there for a few years before emigrating with her parents to the United States.

Despite this disclaimer, Twitter users began turning the #nationalcharacter hashtag against her on Tuesday.

Waldman’s tweet on April 19 about the recent Jerusalem bus bombing didn’t help her cause.

This tweet got the attention of The Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, who tweeted that Waldman’s comment was dangerously presumptuous.

On Tuesday, Goldberg called her out again, this time for the #nationalcharacter tweet.

Then things got heated and Waldman blamed Goldberg for the sudden mass reaction to her tweets.


Looks like Waldman won’t be accepting any essays on Israel by Goldberg anytime soon.