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Ayalon vs. Goldberg, on Twitter

Let’s get ready to rumble!

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Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, spoiling for a fight.(Daniel Bar-On/AFP/Getty Images)

In one corner, in gray suit, we have former ambassador to the United States and current Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, purveyor of a recent viral YouTube video (nearly 200,000 hits) that, shall we say, elides much of the complexity surrounding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

In the opposing corner, in khaki slacks, we have contributing editor Jeff Goldberg, who noted (via the Forward) that the video is an almost word-for-word copy of a video made by a settlers’ organization, and concluded, “The Israeli Foreign Ministry Is Now Part of the Settlement Movement.”

Fights scored with round winner getting 10 points, loser getting nine; additional points docked for knock-downs. Gentlemen, you know the rules: Twelve rounds, obey my instructions at all times, no hits below the belt, and keep it to 140 characters. Ding-ding!

Round 1 @DannyAyalon: “Can you please give me the reference to the future of the West Bank that you allege is made during the video?”
@Goldberg3000: “Sorry, I’m not sure I understand your question.”
Analysis: Parrying, dodging, not much movement or anything. A bland 10-9 round for Ayalon.

Round 2 @DannyAyalon: “what in the video made you state ‘The West Bank belongs to Israel now AND FOREVER’ and then launch into expletives?”
@Goldberg3000: “Just one expletive, actually. Maybe the claim that the Jews already made a painful concession by giving up Transjordan?”
Analysis: Nice deflection by Goldberg on Ayalon’s claim of coarseness, and then a nice shot to the body—accusing Ayalon of changing the terms of debate by giving Israel more credit for concessions than it merits. 10-9 Goldberg.

Round 3 @DannyAyalon: “That is the sole basis for your unequivocal stance that we will hold on to the territories forever???”
@Goldberg3000: “Your entire project is designed to legitimize Israel’s hold over the territories forever.”
Analysis: Furious combination from Ayalon, which Goldberg mostly absorbs, but can only offer one body-shot in return. Many judges will see this differently, but it’s gotta go 10-9 Ayalon.

Round 4 @DannyAyalon: “It only talks about history w/o reference to future. It mentions negotiations, if we want to hold on 4ever, why mention this?”
@Goldberg3000: “Sure does. But my worry is about Jewish decision-making. Keeping the WB will bring about the end of Israel as we know it.”
Analysis: Slight advantage Goldberg. 10-9 Goldberg.

Round 5 @DannyAyalon: “Please back up your statements. Prove to me where that is stated in the video or elsewhere or retract.” And: “I ask you again. Where in the video is this stated, even implicitly?”
@Goldberg3000: “Come on, man, own your feelings! You want to hold onto the settlements, you don’t like the idea of a Palestinian state. Etc.” And “The video is a pro-settlement video. One reason we know this: It’s the same video put out by settlers!” And: “You’re right. Your video was designed to convince Israelis to abandon settlements and leave the West Bank.”
Analysis: A flurry from Goldberg! Momentum shifting his way. Ayalon will need to go on the offensive if he wants to regain control. 10-9 Goldberg.

Round 6 @DannyAyalon: “‘You don’t like the idea of a Pal State.’ Look at my 1st interview given in office….”
@Goldberg3000: “Mere words. What have you done to bring about creation of Palestinian state? Expanding settlements doesn’t count.” And: “Let me rephrase my question: Have you done more to end the West Bank occupation, or solidify it?”
Analysis: Goldberg has opened a cut over Ayalon’s right eye—that the actions on the ground speak louder than words in interviews. Expect Goldberg to keep working that cut for the rest of the fight. 10-9 Goldberg. Goldberg up 58-56, halfway through, with momentum his way.

Round 7 @DannyAyalon: “Please provide me with one quote, just one, to back up your assertion.” And: “Firstly please address the fact that you have not been able to back up earlier statements. You just move on to another issue.”
@Goldberg3000: “1. You argue settlements are legal, citing Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg (1908-1990). 1000s of scholars say otherwise.” And: “2. When we met in your office last year, you told me Palestinians only interested in destruction of Israel.” “3. In your office, you spoke feelingly of Jews’ inalienable right to rule Judea and Samaria.”
Analysis: First knockdown of the night! Ref starts count, Ayalon gets up around six or seven, and ref signals fight can go on. Still, 10-8 round for Goldberg. Ayalon is going to need a KO at this point.

Round 8 @DannyAyalon: “OK, but that is not what you said. Please back up your original assertions, not detract to other issues.” And: “Still not addressing the issue 12 Tweets later. Do you admit you made a mistake?”
@JeffreyGoldberg: “Gevalt. I cede the point: You’re opposed to settlements and would like to leave the West Bank as soon as possible.”
Analysis: The little-used sarcastic left hook (a favorite of Sugar Ray Robinson)! 10-9 Goldberg.

That’s where we are at for now. Goldberg way up on the cards, Ayalon bleeding, and only four rounds more to go. Let’s hope this barn-burner continues!

The Battlefield Over Palestinian Statehood Moves to YouTube [Haaretz]
The Israeli Foreign Ministry Is Now Part of the Settlement Movement [Goldblog]
Related: Punchy [Tablet Magazine]

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Yarkoni says:

After following Goldberg’s blog for a while, I am left with the conclusion that:

1) He is not as intelligent as he is given credit. Nothing he “blogs” about really is that creative or well-written. A Christopher Hitchens he is not.

2) His “expertise” is not as deep as one may think. He worked in an Israeli prison and wrote a book, naively thinking that a Palestinian terrorist and him were friends (the terrorist kept to his ways after release – big surprise). Plenty of other writers and terrorist experts have more knowledge than Goldberg.

What’s wrong with you Marc???

Ayalon is fully right!

Goldberg is motivated by anti- israel views. you cannot win this thing without love in your heart…

(and he doesn’t look for the good of Israel)

Adam says:

All the more remarkable given that Ayalon only will fight against someone tweeting from a smaller, lower to the ground chair.

It always amazes me when the wackos doubt JG’s strong, wonderful and unavoidable Zionist credentials. All the while those who yell the loudest against his concerns are, and this is Goldberg’s biggest point, the ones doing all they can to try to ruin the success of the Zionist project.

Yisrael says:

Nice try, Marc. It’s always nice to see where Tablet stands.

Round 1: Goldberg dodges a clear question

Round 2: Goldberg pretends that a historical reference in a video to Israel’s having ceded back lands it took possession of in defensive wars is equivalent to Israel’s stating that it will never give back other lands, as if the last 20 years of Israel trying to give those lands back didn’t happen.

Round 3: Goldberg again evades a question because he would have to answer affirmatively, so he answers generally citing no evidence about Ayalon’s “entire project.”

Round 4: Goldberg acknowledges Ayalon’s factual point, avoids his question about Israel’s 2 years of BEGGING for negotiations, and then COMPLETELY changes the subject to his opinion and a vague statement about “Jewish decision-making.”

Round 5: Ayalon asks him to cite where the video talks about holding on to the West Bank “forever”, even impliedly. Goldberg quite pathetically goes ad hominem and it’s no longer about the video, but Goldberg’s attempt to mind-read Ayalon. Also, Goldberg pretends the video was marketed towards Israeli settlers, which it plainly wasn’t, considering it’s in English, and settlers don’t need convincing!

Round 6: Goldberg dismisses, child-like, 2 years of official Israeli governmental entreaties to the Palestinians as “mere words.” Also ignores the fact that Bibi’s govt has unilaterally taken steps (checkpoints, freezes, slow pace of tenders, Likud reversals on issues, etc.) the past 2 years and received nada, zip, zero from the Palestinians. Goldberg also pretends Israel can snap its fingers and make the other negotiate. Right, the Palestinians don’t exist, it’s all about us!

Round 7: Goldberg still doesn’t answer Ayalon, doesn’t argue illegality, he just cites “1000’s of scholars.” Also ignores the difference between a legal right to do something and a political/societal decision not to do that same thing.

Round 8: Goldberg takes his ball and goes home pouting.

jake says:

wow – what serious journalism we have here
tweeting and all…


Carrie says:

You give the points to Goldberg because you and he are ideological twins. Ayalon is right from the beginning. The video says nothing about the future of the West Bank, so Goldberg was already knocked down in Round 1. Goldberg is bringing up other issues to deflect that his initial post was incorrect.

Goldberg loses because Ayalon is right. Ayalon has never said that in the future ALL of Judea and Samaria will belong to Israel. Goldber always implies that this is what Ayalon means. But Ayalon is saying clearly: “Israel has a right to Judea and Samaria. But we will negotiate which parts will be under Palestinian sovereignty in the future.” The fact that Israel has settlements is nor here not there. Of course if Israel has right to Judea and Samaria it has right to populate it. Surely everybody understands that most settlement blocks are close to the green line and will be annexed. So Goldberg is always misconstruing Ayalon’s argument. Of course Ayalon cannot say clearly: X, Y, and Z we will keep, the rest goes to the Palestinians, because X, Y, and Z are subject to future negotiations with the Palestinians.

All in all, a win for Ayalon because Golberg’s punches are always below the belt.

Carrie says:

What Fabian said. Right now the Palestinians have made their narrative known worldwide- that the West Bank is all theirs, it was part a state called Palestine, and crazy, militant Jews are occupying it. Ayalon is trying to provide some historical accuracy and context.

Why shouldn’t Israel present their side to the world? If they let the Palestinian narrative go viral and they remain silent, as they have been doing for decades, then they put themselves at a huge disadvantage.

I have also always found it nonsensical that Israeli leaders have allowed Abbas and PA elite rip them to shreds in op-eds and on TV, while Israeli leaders remained silent. This led to many Jewish journalists like Goldberg to conclude that Abbas is a moderate man and a peacemaker. I have never ever seen a left wing journalist like Goldberg mention that Abbas was at one point a Holocaust denier. Doesn’t he think that maybe that fact may be important?

Israeli leaders have made lots of mistakes and I see this video definitely as a step in the right direction. Finally. The majority of us are for territorial negotiations with the Palestinians, and this video does not lead me to think otherwise.

One more thing: Goldberg tries to embarrass Ayalon by bringing up things that Ayalon said in their interview, such as most Palestinians seek destruction of Israel. I think Golberg could just look at a Palestinian poll or 2 and see that it is he that is embarrassing himself.

Kleenex says:

Please wake up. The settler movement put out a propaganda video providing a false basis for occupation and for future annexation of the West Bank which Ayalon now uses for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If that isn’t both shocking and disgraceful, I’m not sure what is. And why is it that whenever this painful truth emerges, loyaly to Israel and Zionism is questioned.

Nathaniel says:

Ayalon would have been better off in later rounds by pointing out that, just as in Twitter fights, in negotiations it takes two to tango. He could have said that he can’t want a Palestinian state more than the Palestinians, who will have a state when they answer the big questions about refugees and end of conflict. The only big one for Israelis is the division of Jerusalem.
Goldberg’s biggest flaw, in my view, is when he asks things along the lines of, what have you done to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state? If Goldberg’s position is that creating a state, even unilaterally and without a final agreement, is of primary importance, then why shouldn’t Israel create that state to its liking?
For example, annex everything West of the security fence. Encourage East Jerusalem Arabs to take Israeli citizenship (through inducements, not coercion).
But I’m pretty sure, from reading Goldberg’s blog a lot, that he would disagree with this approach, since it might upset Washington/Brussels/anyone except Israelis. There’s this weird cognitive dissonance where he understands that there’s not going to be an end of conflict, that nobody’s going to disarm Hamas, but he still feels like Israel has to play the peace process game.

Kleenex says:

@Nathaniel. The roadmap initiated by the Bush administration states specifically that Palestinians bring about an end to violence and that Israel freezes settlements. The Abbas government has brought about an almost complete end to all forms of violence against Israel in the West Bank. Israel has continued blatently settling more of the West Bank in violation of the roadmap, international law and requests by all its allies. Right now Israel is the partner who won’t tango because its government falls in line behind the settler movement, illustrated in the youtube video, in the blind notion that real estate is more important than a democratic state.

Ephraim says:

You only score the fight for Goldberg because you are operating on the same assumption he is: that Israel has no choice, morally, legally and politically, but to cede ALL of the land it won from Jordan (not “Palestine”) in 1967.

Ayalon’s WHOLE POINT is that Israel is under no such obligation. He wins on the facts, the history and the law. It is not even a contest. Goldberg has to address tangential issues because he cannot answer the facts that Ayalon presents.

The PA only pretends to accept the so-called “two state solution”. However, anyone who is not blind knows they are lying, as they have always been and as they probably always will. Evacuation of Judea and Samaria will bring Hamas to the heart of Israel and make a catastrophic war more, not less, likely (when the time is right, Hamas will smoke Fatah in Judea and Samaria like a cheap cigar as they did in Gaza).

Has not everything that has happened since Oslo made this clear? The Arabs are clearly operating according to the “Strategy of Stages” adopoted in Khartoum in 1970, which states that any and all land “liberated” will be used not as the basis for a state to live in peace alongside Israel, but as a base for future attacks until all israel is “liberated” (i.e., Israel is destroyed and all the Jews are murdered or driven out).

You need to wake up.

Michal Malk says:

This is utter rubbish. Ayalon who has to worry about his official position, tweeting as Israel’s Deputy Foreign minister, was hamstrung from the get-go – fighting with one hand ties behind his back. Goldberg on the other hand, attacked with gay abandon, knowing ful well that he could cut and thrust at will – that’s what opinionated journalists do. But Goldberg does not actually answer Ayalon’s central question.

I would like to see Ayalon respond in greater detail to some outrageous comments by Goldberg. The Tablet should give hm this platform.

Jenny Bernstein says:

Your kindred spirit may have you up, but most of the tweet threads I saw had you way, way down. You let your ideological prism blind you which skewed your perception. For goodness sakes, the guy wad making a valid argument that the territory is disputed . That’s all! I thought he did rather well actually!

Lenny says:

Ayalon made a reasoned case for the fact that Jews/Israelis have as much right to inhabit that land as anyone else. What’s the kerfuffle about?

Reality says:

Goldberg is a purported zionist in the mold of tom friedman, the tough love school. So all we get, or ayalon gets, is a lecture about what israel should do. And goldberg is quite lear, don’t make waves by claiming your historical land because if you do you will piss off the palestinasn, the haters in europe and egg on the settlers. As long as goldberg buys that progresive kool aid crap he will always oppose an honest historical discussion of that really occurred. However, to some of us, the setllement issue is a smoke scren for the true reason as to wy there is no peae and that is because its about wiping israel off the map. So for me, i love ayalon and lieberman and not because i agree with everything lieberman says, heck no, but because he aggressively asserts and promotes the isreali narrative just as ayalon did with his video. Its the antithesis of livni. Goldberg needs to get a grip and man up, the setlllements are a diversion.

dave says:

Though closer in age, attitude, ideology, upbringing, and “Israel experience” to Goldberg, I’m with the other side on this issue. I can only surmise that as a journalist, Goldberg (and Tom Friedman) is so invested in the two state mantra of the Oslo era that he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. As a journalist, he’s probably schmoozed and yacked about Hamatzav to everyone over the last 10 years as Oslo has crumbled. He’s had to plead so often to naysayers (Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald for example)that Israel really isn’t the worst state in the world and Zionists really aren’t today’s Nazis–that they really want a state for the Palestinians too–that now Goldberg is beholden to that narrative: The Two State solution must come to be, and anything Israel builds over the Green Line is trayf, because that’s the vision “nice” journalists like him and Friedman are expected to have, and maintaining posterity in Washington DC/New York journalist circles is more pressing than stepping back and taking a cold hard look at the new reality presented by the hopes and expecations of Oslo, its decline, and the fallout.

Sorry, though I”m a GenX, Bay Area, secular, Obama voter, with a strong Labor Centrist orientation vis a vis the Israeli spectrum, the only people I see regularly posting with a true grasp of the situation are people like

My two cents: As anyone familiar with Israel knows, there is an intense right/left rivalry there. It seems that some left/center oriented people are so caught up in the desire to check the right’s increasing influence, that they impulsively jump to the Palestinian side regarding the territories out of loathing for the right rather than a genuine thinking through of the issues.

After the effort of nation building in Iraq, we should pause to consider just how much effort would be involved in creating a Palestinian state under current circumstances, and how much of a resource drain it would be keeping this state alive.

dave says:

(COT’D) The last ten years should have made it blatantly obvious just how nonviable the old Oslo two state dream is. Briefly: 1) Palestine’s raison d’etre is not as a real national endeavor but as a negation of Israel. 2) Long before 2005 I wondered just how a non-contiguous Palestine would function. We now see that Gaza and the West Bank are two separate entities, and I’d seriously question the sense of people who really believe a highway connecting the two is going to turn it all around. And yet, people like Friedman still talk about a TWO-state solution!

It’s just not viable at the moment. Most people who’ve been around the block once or twice understand that. And yet, the sanctity of the Green Line remains because “nice” Zionists are still invested in the defunct Oslo narrative. And they are invested in that narrative because in the fight for Israel’s future, they are (understandably) scared of Israel becoming so right wing and religious that they don’t recognize it as their (and my) beloved kibbutz-centered Israel.

There won’t be a contented Palestine existing on Gaza and the West Bank. That’s not what they want, that’s an illusion we sell ourselves. Honoring the Green Line to the meter won’t change the fundamental realities preventing Israel’s acceptance in the Arab world.

Ayalon is a bit of a schmuck. I get it. But let’s get beyond the obsolete truisms about how the occupation and post-Green Line settlement is Israel’s worst enemy that must be stopped now. The “all or nothing fallacy,” as elderofziyon calls it, can easily be disproved as eoz does, and yet, this is still conventional wisdom among mainstream journalists and policy makers.

I think even Goldberg realizes Oslo is dead, and yet he seems to cling to this one vestige of it. At some point Israel will cede WB territory, but we don’t even know to whom yet.

dave says:

(COT’D) My 2 cts: “Palestine” is just an intellectual construct, whereas Israel is a very real, functioning state and not about to disappear. And yet, following the popular narrative, you’d think it was the other way around! That is because we allow it to be the other way around.

For some, Israel as a Jewish state is illegitimate period. For others, Israel as a state is justifiable, but settlements are illegitimate. This is precisely the fallacy that we have to get beyond. Objectively, it’s a tenuous proposal at best. Subjectively, the fairy tale that “the world” will respect an Israel that sticks rigorously to its side of the Green Line is now on the slag heap of good intentions.

I nave no answers. I’m not religious. Keeping the holy sites isn’t imperative to me. But one thing I do know, Palestine is a lot like the emperor with no clothes. For “nice” Zionists and the greater public, there is almost a mantra of mysticism associated with the Pals. “Ooh, they won’t look at us or shake our hands, and now they shook our hands! Yay!” Etc. Etc. There’s so much pomp and world attention fixated on every little aspect of the saga of the Pals, but in reality, there’s not a lot there. We put the air in their sails by our obsequious attentiveness to their every whim and mood. Did it matter whether Ben Gurion or Weitzman turned their away coldly or smiled warmly at their interlocutors? Of course not! No one indulged them like that, nor did they expect it.

That mystical fixation of the Pals. has extended to the Green Line as well. We can continue to fuss and fret over keeping the WB pure and Israeli-free for whenever the Pals. feel like they might deign to talk to us, or we can just say ‘deal off’ and keep building, reminding them that time might not be on THEIR side either.

Also; there are already 2 Pal. proto-states in Gaza and WB, and maybe another one in Jordan, and the Arab world is still transitioning out of Europe-appointed royals.

Israel need not rush to a deal!

Jenny Bee says:

Goldblog: Unless I am deaf/blind, Ayalon did not relate to the future of the territories. He simply asked that you reproduce a single line from his transcript that justifies your acerbic accusation that Israel should hold onto the terriories forever! Hundreds of thousands await your evidence breathlessly.

Sorry Goldberg lost and by extension so has every left-winger. Goldberg is so invested in proving that his support of the most anti-Israel President in history is correct that he contorts Ayalon’s video into something that it is not. Ayalon’s video only corrects the “legal staus” story surrounding Judea and Samaria and the 1949 lines so readily accepted by the Left. It does not decide any outcoem nor does it discuss an outcome. What it does is prove that there is nothing illegal about Israel’s control of the area nor its right to build. Ayalon basically teaches a quick and effective class on international law.

By extension the Left also likes to say that Netanyahu is a right-wing nut case. In fact unlike Rabin, the hero of the left, Netanyahu came out for the creation of a Palestinian State. What Netanyahu is, that Goldberg is not, is Prime Minister of Israel and is duty bound to protect the citizens of his country and ensure the survival of his nation. Unlike the American Left, those who govern Israel deal with absolutes and zero-sum games and the fact that in real life their decisions have life and death outcomes.

Goldberg is so worried about Israel being a “Pariah,” well maybe he is one of those responsible for that moniker because he promotes the lies of those who wish to destroy Israel rather than finding the truth of the matter. And no I am not saying that Goldberg is a self-hating Jew or anti-Zionist Jew. I am saying he is so invested in his own position on the selfrighteous Left that he lacks the ability to review his position and find where he has been wrong.I always find it ironic, that those who castigate the Israeli government the most have no real skin in the game. Would like to know how many loved ones Goldberg is willing to sacrifice to his politics. Those in the Israeli gov’t know their entire families are at stake. For that alone I leave the right of Israel’s self-defense to Jerusalem and not the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

david singer says:

The only time Jews were banned from settling in the West Bank and Gaza for the last 3000 years was the period 1948-1967.

The West Bank and Gaza were included in the Mandate for Palestine in which Jews were to be encouraged to closely settle to reconstitute the Jewish National Home. This right was preserved by article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Israel has the clear legal backing of the Mandate and the UN Charter to settle Jews in the West Bank and Gaza.

It has nevertheless disengaged from Gaza in 2005 and offered to cede more than 90% of the West Bank in 2001 and 2008. This seems to mean nothing to Goldberg.

He needs to have another think.

Like it or not any two-state solution – if it ever eventuates – will have to involve the division of the West Bank between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Ayalon is to be congratulated on his video. Obviously the truth hurts as one can gauge from the attempts to shoot the messenger in an effort to avoid discussing the message.

I am ready to go into another ten rounder with Goldberg – if he is up to the challenge. Let him twitter the statements in the video he says are factually incorrect and I will twitter my reply.

C’mon Tablet – are you ready to stage the bout?

david singer says:

Adam and Kleenex

Apparently Tablet does not want to stage a match-up between myself and Goldberg.

Are you prepared to get in the ring with me?

Post 10 statements made by Ayalon that you say are factually wrong.

I will then post my replies.

Don’t want to sound too cocky but I think you will be knocked out in round 1.

Jenny Bee says:

My Singer you write: ‘The only time Jews were banned from settling in the West Bank and Gaza for the last 3000 years was the period 1948-1967′ True. However you could have added that Mahmoud Abbas as repeatedly stated on record, that he will not allow one single Israel or Jew to live in Palestine, should it become and independent state.

Hershl says:

Is this the same Goldberg who posted online how ashamed he is that Israel rejected Obama’s directive that we go back to the 1967 lines in dealing with those who attacked us and tried to wipe us off the face of the earth?

Is this the same Goldberg who has never missed an opportunity to bash Israel whenever it sticks up for the Jewish people as opposed to the fads of his lefty buddies?

Yes, it is.

Welcome, to our very own Quisling, traitor to the Jewish people, Goldberg, yamkh shmo v-zikharon.

June says:

Is Marc Tracy trying to build up Goldberg’s credintials by staging a contest having no logical interface and then declaring an obviously biast result?

david singer says:

To Jenny Bee

You are correct but that is in the future and depends on Abbas being able to enforce his racist and apartheid viewpoint.

Predicting the future position of Jewish settlement in the West Bank is for the politicians to determine.

All but 19 years of the last 3000 years of Jewish settlement in the West Bank is good enough precedent for me to negate the claim that it is “Palestinian territory”

Colin says:

Goldberg just further proved that the anti-Israel are completely incapable of arguing facts. At no point in this debate do I see him pull out a historical fact to challenge Ayalon. Goldberg instead blatantly put words into the mouth of Ayalon. That’s a clear, indisputable act of defamation.

I don’t know how Goldberg earned a single win in these rounds. Every “punch” was below the belt. Dishonest, factually inaccurate at best, and mostly containing no substance other than personal attacks. I thought this was boxing, but I see the ref allowing a cat fight.

AbeBird says:

Goldberg is a null and void for us! We don’t count him not count on him!


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Ayalon vs. Goldberg, on Twitter

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