Eric Alterman v. Max Blumenthal

19 Oct

Over the years, Eric Alterman has written many articles I’ve disagreed with. I’ve never commented on them publicly because he’s a colleague at Brooklyn College. But in the current issue of the Nation Alterman devotes a column—and then a blog post—to a critique of Max Blumenthal’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

Even if you haven’t read Blumenthal’s book, it’s not hard to see that Alterman is writing out of an animus he can’t get a hold of. His prose gives him away.

Alterman writes, for example, “And its [Goliath’s] larding of virtually every sentence with pointless adjectives designed to demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject is as amateurish as it is ineffective.” A writer more in control would have seen that it’s not possible for an adjective to be both “pointless” and “designed to demonstrate the author’s distaste for his subject.” Also, that it’s not wise to lambast the use of adjectives with a sentence deploying three of them—and then to follow that up with a sentence using two more.

As it happens, however, I have written about Max’s book on my blog, and Alterman’s portrait bears little resemblance to the book I read.

Where Alterman finds only “juvenile faux-cleverness,” a “case against the Jewish state” that is “carelessly constructed,” reporting that is “technically accurate [!], but often deliberately deceptive,” arguments that are “simplistic and one-sided,” and “a profoundly unreliable narrator” who “nastily and condescendingly mocks” other reporters—more cowbell, baby!—I found a trove of patient and persuasive on-the-ground reporting (Blumenthal spent a year in Israel and Palestine and several additional months in the region), almost all of which Alterman ignores. Had he allotted less space to those adjectives and more to an engagement with the book, Alterman might have come up with a credible critique.

But it was this final passage in Alterman’s column that really made me wonder if we had read the same book:

The most bizarre episode in the book occurs when Blumenthal is granted a rare interview with the deeply admired left-wing Israeli author David Grossman, who lost his son in the 2006 Lebanon war. Grossman rejects Blumenthal’s proposal for “the transformation of Israel from an ethnically exclusive Jewish state into a multiethnic democracy,” not for the obvious reasons—that it is a pipe dream, given the hatred between the two sides—but because of his understanding of 2,000 years of Jewish history, in which restrictions have kept Jews from fully participating in the life of the societies in which they’ve lived. This inspires Blumenthal to lecture him that his own personal experience as the son of a White House “insider”—Clinton adviser and former journalist Sidney Blumenthal—and the experience of other “insider” Jews in the United States leads him to “have a hard time taking [Grossman’s] justification seriously.” The Israeli author and champion of its peace movement soon thereafter ends the interview and asks Blumenthal to please tear up his phone number. Here, our author attributes the response he receives, yet again, to Israeli myopia and lack of understanding of the way the world really works.

In my post, I had singled out that chapter on Grossman for special praise. And because I quoted Blumenthal’s treatment of Grossman at such length, I think it’s useful to reproduce that post here. Readers can judge for themselves whether or not I get Blumenthal right, but I hope it’s clear just how small Alterman has made things. Not only for himself but also his readers. An opportunity for deep moral reflection—about the abyss between Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, about the power and status Jews have attained throughout the world, about violence and vision—has been missed. We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Here’s an edited and revised version of what I wrote.

• • • • •

One chapter, in particular—”The Insiders”—has gotten into my head these past few weeks. It’s a portrait of David Grossman, the Israeli writer who’s often treated in the US as something of secular saint. Less arresting (and affected) than Amos Oz, the lefty Grossman was to Jews of my generation a revelatory voice, particularly during the First Intifada. But in the last decade, his brand of liberal Zionism has come to seem more of a problem than a solution.

I’ll admit I was skeptical when I first started reading the chapter because Grossman is not a typical subject for Max. He’s cagey, elusive. Max knows how to fell Goliath, I thought to myself, but can he get inside David? Turns out, he can.

Max begins his treatment of Grossman by articulating the conundrum of many lefty Israelis: like other liberal Zionists, Grossman thinks Israel’s original sin is 1967, when the state seized the West Bank and Gaza and the Occupation officially began. But that position ignores 1948, when Jewish settlers, fighters, and officials killed Palestinians or expelled from their homes (the Nakba) in order to create the State of Israel itself.

But Max sets the table in an unexpected way. Instead of directly confronting Grossman with the standard anti-Zionist line, Max allows the voices of the Israeli right to speak instead. It makes for a fascinating conversation of difficult contrapuntal voices.

Despite his outrage at the misdeeds committed after 1967, Grossman excised the Nakba from his frame of analysis. Of course, he knew the story of Israel’s foundation, warts and all. But the Nakba was the legacy also of the Zionist left, as were the mass expulsions committed in its wake, and the suite of discriminatory laws passed through the Knesset to legalize the confiscation of Palestinian property. Were these the acts of an “enlightened nation?” By singling out the settlement movement as the source of Israel’s crisis, Grossman and liberal Zionists elided the question altogether, starting the history at 1967.

Though the Zionist left kept the past tucked behind the narrative of the Green Line, veterans of the Jabotinskyite right-wing were unashamed. In September 2010, when sixty actors and artists staged a boycott of a new cultural center in the West Bank–based mega-settlement of Ariel, earning a public endorsement from Grossman, who cast the boycott as a desperate measure to save the Zionist future from the settlers, they were angrily rebuked by Knesset chairman Reuven Rivlin.

A supporter of Greater Israel from the Likud Party, Rivlin was also a fluent Arabic speaker who rejected the Labor Zionist vision of total separation from the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. (He appeared earlier in this book to defend Hanin Zoabi’s right to denounce Israel’s lethal raid of the Mavi Marmara against dozens of frothing members of Knesset.) Contradicting the official Israeli Foreign Ministry version of the Nakba, which falsely asserted that Palestinians “abandoned their homes…at the request of Arab leaders,” Rivlin reminded the liberal Zionists boycotting Ariel of their own history. Those who bore the legacy of the Nakba, Rivlin claimed, had stolen more than the settlers ever intended to take.

“I say to those who want to boycott—Deer Balkum [“beware” in Arabic]. Those who expelled Arabs from En-Karem, from Jaffa, and from Katamon [in 1948] lost the moral right to boycott Ariel,” Rivlin told Maariv. Assailing the boycotters for a “lack of intellectual honesty,” Rivlin reminded them that the economic settlers of Ariel were sent across the Green Line “due to the orders of society, and some might say—due to the orders of Zionism.”

Greater Israel had become the reality while the Green Line Israel had become the fantasy. But with the election of Barack Obama, a figure the Zionist left considered their great hope, figures like David Grossman believed that they would soon be released from their despair.

That line about Rivlin being a fluent Arabic speaker is a nice touch. But that line “those who bore the legacy of the Nakba, Rivlin claimed, had stolen more than the settlers ever intended to take” hits hard.

Max managed to get an interview with Grossman in 2009 at a difficult moment in Grossman’s life. Grossman’s son had been killed in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, and he wasn’t giving interviews. But Max got one. He opens his account of that interview on a sympathetic note:

Grossman had told me in advance that he would agree to speak only off the record. But when I arrived at our meeting famished and soaked in sweat after a journey from Tel Aviv, he suddenly changed his mind. “Since you have come such a long way, I will offer you an interview,” he said. But he issued two conditions. First, “You must order some food. I cannot sit here and watch you starve.” And second, “No questions about my son, okay?”

Grossman was a small man with a shock of sandy brown hair and intense eyes. He spoke in a soft, low tone tinged with indignation, choosing his words carefully as though he were constructing prose. Though his Hebrew accent was strongly pronounced, his English was superior to most American writers I had interviewed, enabling him to reduce complex insights into impressively economical soundbites.

Max then moves the interview to politics, and you can feel his frustration with Grossman slowly mounting.

At the time, Grossman was brimming with optimism about Barack Obama’s presidency. Though the Israeli right loathed Obama, joining extreme rightists in the campaign to demonize him as a crypto-Muslim, a foreigner, and a black radical, liberal Zionists believed they had one of their own in the White House. Indulging their speculation, some looked to Obama’s friendship in Chicago with Arnold Jacob Wolf, a left-wing Reform rabbi who had crusaded for a two state solution during the 1970s before it was a mainstream position. If only Obama could apply appropriate pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, still widely regarded as a blustering pushover, Israel could embark again on the march to the Promised Land, with the peace camp leading the tribe.

“This is the moment when Israel needs to see Likud come into contact with reality,” Grossman told me. “For years they have played the role of this hallucinating child who wants everything and asks for more and more. Now they are confronted with a harsh counterpoint by Mr. Obama, and they have to decide if they cooperate with what Obama says—a two-state solution—or continue to ask for everything.”

Grossman seemed confident that Obama was willing to confront Netanyahu, and that he would emerge victorious. “A clash with a strong and popular president is not possible for Israel. Israel can never, ever subjugate an American president,” he claimed. “I see Netanyahu reluctantly accepting the demands of Obama to enter into a two-state solution. [Netanyahu] will pretend to be serious about it, but he will do everything he can to keep the negotiations from becoming concrete. He will drag his feet, blame the Palestinians, and rely on the most extreme elements among the Palestinians to lash out in order to stop negotiations. My hope is that there is a regime in America that recognizes immediately the manipulation of the Likud government and that they won’t be misled.”

By the time Max poses a question about the US flexing its muscles to change Israeli policy, you know what Grossman is going to say, and the combination of naïveté and cynicism on display is exasperating.

I asked Grossman if Obama should threaten Netanyahu with the withholding of loan guarantees in order to loosen his intransigent stance, as President George H. W. Bush had done to force Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (Netanyahu’s former boss) to the negotiating table. He rejected this idea out of hand. “I hope it shall be settled between friends,” Grossman responded. “The pressure Obama applies should be put in a sensitive way because of Israeli anxieties and our feeling that we’re living on the edge of an abyss. The reactions of Israelis are very unpredictable. It will take simple and delicate pressure for the United States to produce the results they are looking for. But whenever American presidents even hinted they were going to pressure Israel, they got what they wanted. Netanyahu is very ideological, but he is also realistic and he is intelligent, after all. He will recognize the reality he is in.”

Max doesn’t say anything, but you can see his eyes rolling in frustration and impatience (mine certainly were). Now he’s ready to get personal, to zoom in on the empty silence at the heart of Grossman’s position.

For Grossman and liberal Zionists like him, the transformation of Israel from an ethnically exclusive Jewish state into a multiethnic democracy was not an option. “For two thousand years,” Grossman told me when I asked why he believed the preservation of Zionism was necessary, “we have been kept out, we have been excluded. And so for our whole history we were outsiders. Because of Zionism, we finally have the chance to be insiders.”

I told Grossman that my father [Sidney Blumenthal] had been a kind of insider. He had served as a senior aide to Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, working alongside other proud Jews like Rahm Emanuel and Sandy Berger. I told him that I was a kind of insider, and that my ambitions had never been obstructed by anti-Semitism. “Honestly, I have a hard time taking this kind of justification seriously,” I told him. “I mean, Jews are enjoying a golden age in the United States.”

It was here that Grossman, the quintessential man of words, found himself at a loss. He looked at me with a quizzical look. Very few Israelis understand American Jews as Americans but instead as belonging to the Diaspora. But very few American Jews think of themselves that way, especially in my generation, and that, too, is something very few Israelis grasp. Grossman’s silence made me uncomfortable, as though I had behaved with impudence, and I quickly shifted the subject from philosophy to politics. Before long, we said goodbye, parting cordially, but not warmly. On my way out of the café, Grossman, apparently wishing to preserve his privacy, requested that I throw my record of his phone number away.

Like Blumenthal, you leave the interview feeling uncomfortable. Both at that anguished and abject confession that Jews “finally have the chance to be insiders”—This is what all that brutality against the Palestinians was for? This is what Jews killed and were killed for? To be insiders?—and at Blumenthal’s reply that Jews outside Israel are insiders too. If being an insider is the best defense of Israel Grossman can come up with, what happens to that defense when it confronts the fact that Jews can be insiders outside of Israel? That’s the question that Max is asking and that Grossman doesn’t answer.

With this exchange, Max reveals the chasm between Israeli and American Jews and the surprising provincialism of some of Israel’s most prominent writers (as a piece by Laura Brahm earlier this year suggests, that provincialism may be more endemic among liberal Israelis than we realize). But he also exposes the deeper impasse of the eternal outsider—from whom the most ancient cries of justice, justice were heard—come in from the cold. Whether in Israel or at the highest levels of American power, Jews have become insiders. Whether we’re in Israel or without, that’s what Zionism means for us: we’re on the inside. The people of exile, the wandering Jew, has come home.

I’ve been sitting with that bleak exchange for days.

38 Responses to “Eric Alterman v. Max Blumenthal”

  1. Philip Munger October 19, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Thanks for your response to Eric Alterman’s review. I will be writing a response too. Additionally, I’ll be hosting Max on November 2nd at firedoglake’s Book Salon, from 5 to 7 pm Eastern time. Anyone can sign up there and ask Max anything they want about his book. Even Eric.

  2. Hampus October 19, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    I hate to defer to A. Cockburn on this, but he really set precedent with his Cockburn Vs. Alterman:

    “He has some sort of obsession with me, which I suppose is flattering. I’ve never known a fellow to unify so many otherwise mutually antagonistic people in dislike of him. Long ago, I concluded his stuff is worthless — one more bedraggled little plume on the funeral hearse of the Democratic Party. The furthest I’ve gone is to call him a twerp — part brown-noser, part cheeky chappy.”

  3. hophmi October 19, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Of course, you distort what Alterman wrote by omitting the examples he gives of Max’s polemical work, including his presentation of fiction as fact, his trafficking in rumor, and his liberal use of inappropriate and offensive Nazi analogies.

    It is indeed bizarre for a privileged Western kid to go to a Middle Eastern country, sit down with a man who has spent his life in the peace movement, and tell him how he should run his business and how his country has no merit. It’s not only bizarre. It’s darkly humorous. Because Jews gained some political power in the United States, the 2000 year history Grossman discusses is somehow irrelevant. How naive and self-serving the pampered children of the elite are.

    Max’s statement that Israeli Jews should either “indigenize” or leave is not darkly humorous. It’s frankly fascistic and disgusting.

    • sevendecadesofme October 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      Alterman’s piece slings a lot of nasty adjectives at the messenger, Max, but pretty much ignores the solid facts Max brings up in every chapter.

    • Cliff October 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

      You will have to forgive the ‘hophmi’ character. He is a pathetic troll who has called the Palestinian people (in their entirety), ‘Nazis’ (vis a vis the Mufti).

      He has also said that Palestinian agency is genocidal (again, via the Mufti).

      In short, he is a liar and a racist.

      Max never used ‘Nazi analogies’ – whatever that means. Neither ‘hophmi’ nor Alterman have read Max’s book. If you check Amazon.com, you will find reviews for Max’s book hijacked by Zionist trolls like ‘hophmi’ and other keyboard pro-Israel activists.

      • hophmi October 20, 2013 at 8:52 am #

        For those here, Cliff is some disgruntled graduate student who likes to claim that I claimed that Palestinians are Nazis. If you review his thousands of comments on Mondoweiss, you’ll find that he has a well-deserved reputation for nastiness and for making unsubstantiated claims like this.

        For the record, I never made any such claim, and I ask the moderator here to ban all future comments from Cliff that make this claim, since he tries to make it over and over again regardless of my protest. I have taken the position that Mufti allied himself with the Nazis, and that this political folly hurt the Palestinians. But I have never asserted that Palestinians as a people are Nazis. I want to make that absolutely clear, so that when this claim is raised again, the moderator will know what my position is.

        I also ask, that, in conjunction with the basic rules of moderator sites, claims of “liar” and “racist” be disallowed.

        It is not only well-known that Max’s book contains Nazi analogies, but Max admitted as much in his panel with Ian Lustick. It’s really not a secret to anyone who reads Max’s writing.

  4. Yastreblyansky (@Yastreblyansky) October 19, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    I don’t manage to read anywhere near everything you write, but I caught the first version of this and it made me sad–now I’m supposed to start thinking unkind thoughts about David Grossman?

    Now I get that it’s not about Grossman but the whole project, and the moral compromises of liberal Zionists being unsustainable, no matter how much you might want to love any particular liberal Zionist. It wasn’t Likudniks who originally occupied the Territories or built the nuclear weapons. Moshe Dayan spoke really good Arabic too.

    • BillR October 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Indeed, all this guff about how the Liberal Zionist project lost its way due to rise of some kind of Tea Partie (Likud and those to its right) in Israel is an absurd denial of history. The so-called Liberals were even more racist and criminal-minded when it came to “redeeming the Homeland” from 2000 years ago:

      http://www.isreview.org/issues/72/feat-tikvaint.shtml

      • hophmi October 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

        “The so-called Liberals were even more racist and criminal-minded when it came to ‘redeeming the Homeland’ from 2000 years ago…”

        Have you read the views of our founding Fathers on slavery and black people in general? Do you think today’s Americans should be judged on the basis of their views?

  5. samuel farber October 19, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Hi Corey, Again, an excellent column on Israel. If you have not yet seen it, make sure to read the current October 21 issue of The New Yorker where Ari Shavit (a sort of Israeli Tom Friedman) writes about the Arab city of Lydda and what happened to it in 1948. The article is a very interesting example of a guilty Zionist who decides that is better to live with his guilt than set things right. Regards to you, Laura and Carol from sam and Selma. Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 05:26:38 +0000 To: samuelfarber@hotmail.com

    • ontogram October 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      It is interesting that Shavit repeats (uses) several tropes of Zionism in his accommodation of the nasty business at Lydda: (1) a focus on complexity, the fine grain obscuring the coarse event and (2) steadfastly suffering the moral pangs as a Zionist.

      The liberal Zionist position should not forget the Nakba, it should rather draw the line at ’67 as enough and seek reparations for the crimes of 1947-8.

      • ontogram October 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        BTW — Max’s book is incredibly patient and detailed. I admire this writing very much.

    • hophmi October 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Are the babies Palestinian suicide bombers blew up in the Sbarro’s pizzeria “guilty”? Are Holocaust survivors who moved to Israel because they had no place else to go “guilty”? Are Arab Jews who were expelled from their homes throughout the Middle East “guilty”?

      • ldld November 2, 2013 at 9:06 am #

        Suicide bombing ended years ago.

        Your Jewish apartheid terrorist State killed more people in 2.5 WEEKS than all suicide attacks IN GENERAL did in 30 years.

        Suicide bombing is a Zionist meme. It was bad in and of itself but in the context of violence within this conflict as a whole – it was and IS a BLIP.

        The Jewish State’s colonial policies and on-going war on the Palestinian people have produced far more deadly and frequent violence.

        Fixation on Palestinian suicide bombing of yesterday is simply a Zionist tactic of diversion.

        Whilst these thieves STEAL the remainder of Historic Palestine they will find all matter of EXCUSES (Hamas charter, verb,noun,anti$emitism, suicide bombing from 6+ years ago, etc. etc.).

  6. Geoff Kl October 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    kudos to max and all his willing thralls

    you have now made it certain that this book will never get reviewed by another legit source

    max destroyed all possible credibility regarding his views on Israel, long ago, with his “feeling the hate in jerusalem” vid

    • Jonny Butter October 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      I had to go watch the video to find out what you’re talking about. Unless I’m mistaken, Max didn’t say a word in it. How did he destroy ‘all possible credibility regarding his views on Israel’ by wordlessly shooting that video and posting it? Are those kids CG? Did he put words in their mouths? Interesting that you think deciding who has credibility is not only subjective, but up to you, and not a rational thing. If you answer, please just be (mercifully) direct, like those racist kids were.

      • Geoff Kl October 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

        by interviewing drunk american college kids and presenting them as typical israelis

        and when confronted, as he couldnt defend his own work, he had his “guide”, joseph dana, do it for him.

        http://maxblumenthal.com/2009/06/feeling-the-hate-in-jerusalem-on-the-eve-of-obamas-speech-in-cairo/

        as you noted, you never hear the questions…yet dana insists that most of the subjects have “dual citizenship” and “were from high socio economic backgrounds and had developed thoughts about current Israeli politics. ”

        yet all they asked was the “simple question” “What do you think of Obama and Israel?”

        so how did dana and blumenthal ascertain the rest of their findings?

        man on the street interviews have no news worthiness. they are for entertainment purposes only. thats why jay leno does it.

        they have even less news worthiness when done in a bar with drunk american college students

        the video showed the lengths that max would go to to engender hate.

        and that is why he has no credibility

        and that is why he cant get an interview with any legit news service

        and now, you all have made sure that no legit reviewer will touch this book

        which is fine by me, because other than regular readers of mondoweiss, no one is buying it.

      • Geoff Kl October 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        sorry, cut myself off again

        did max put words into these kids mouths? i dont know. he made sure to edit out his questions.

        really think those kids were racists? did you listen to the first one calling herself(very slurred) a “tea bagger”? a term used by liberals to disparage the tea party people

        maybe they are racists….maybe not

        but polling both in america and israel before the eve of the inauguration, obama had strong support from both the american jewish community and from israelis…so this small group of drunks was representative….of nobody…except maybe other american drunk college kids, in a bar down the street

      • ldld October 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

        Max did not put words into their mouths. You can clearly see and hear the racism in those Birthright goons for yourself – unless of course you choose not to.

    • ldld October 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

      The Feeling The Hate video was an excellent look into Israeli Jewish and American Jewish racism.

      Max has only alienated himself from the Zionist community – so what? All voices critical of Zionism (in a meaningful capacity) are libeled/slandered and marginalized in the mainstream press in the US.

  7. CK MacLeod October 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Neither side, or neither “inside,” grapples with the profundity from a Judaic philosophical perspective of the predicament encapsulated in the post’s final two lines. To reach this Inside, to “come home” in this way, is to lose touch with the prophetic tradition that prophesied the selfsame homecoming. The new identity replaces the old one, and, where it is not an amalgam of contradictions and imitations, it puts dimly grasped and highly uncertain possibilities next to moral deprivation: self-realization as self-annihilation in the current epoch, which also cannot be understood except as a product of another equation in a parallel format. This double and divided Golden Age is the greatest thing ever to happen to the Jews since the commencement of Jewish history, and necessarily the end or culmination of a uniquely Jewish purpose in the world as the Jews had understood it: So also a loss that neither “inside” can now comprehend without threatening all that has been gained since the worst thing ever to happen to the Jews since the commencement of Jewish history.

    • John Bows October 20, 2013 at 1:16 am #

      Anything other highly tangential, pedantic goings-on that you wanted to share, or are you good?

  8. fnlevit October 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Blumenthal recreates the old Soviet Pravda propaganda style.

    Blumenthal’s style reminds the old Soviet Russia newspapers propaganda style in describing “capitalist world” with all their primitive distasteful accusations, always most negative interpretations, repeated “dark” comparisons and pointless adjectives all meant to stress the authors total despise of those capitalists (Zionists here) and what they are doing to the working people (Palestinians).

    And always plenty of weird conspiracy theories explaining in the most pervert way all the facts. Actually the readers can see many elements of this style reappearing now on the RT channel.

    In general it is hard to comprehend how can one take Blumenthal seriously. He is just an overgrown teenager and behaves like a teenager with laughable primitive comparisons, total lack of understanding of the big picture, grasping at obvious notions and pushing them in a most grotesque direction.

    I feel that he found this style of annoying the adults when he probably was 13 or 14, saw that it is good and continued with this. But not in a rigorous world of say technology or medicine or even serious literature. No, he is not that talented. He is good in outraging. So he is doing this in this ephemeral world of journalistic where there never were good criteria of quality. Being “yellow” (even in the anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli cult) brings him popularity and attention which he needs so much.
    So extraordinarily primitive.

    • ldld October 19, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

      Blumenthal is not a propagandist. He points the camera at Israelis and Israelis do the talking – debasing themselves.

      The ‘fnlevit’ character has copy/pasted the above comment of his and spammed it on Mondoweiss and Amazon.com’s review section for Max’s book.

      He and all the trolls are out slandering Max’s book without even reading it. So their ‘criticisms’ are nothing but non-sensical rants that do not cite a single page from the book.

  9. Hampus October 20, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    It’s amusing to see the defenders of Israel getting increasingly insane. They just toss any mud to see what sticks. “Pravda” “Anti-semite” “credibility” etc.

  10. Mitchell Freedman October 20, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    The last time Corey posted on this, I commented that the case against Grossman by Blumenthal is not made because Blumenthal is taking a moment in American history where Jews are insiders as being the end of History. In fact, History is not kind to Jews in most countries after such a period of insider status. That is what Grossman was talking about. It was and is stunning to me that Blumenthal is oblivious to this based upon what Corey has provided in his posts.

    I am in the midst of a great book called “Lawrence in Arabia” by Scott Anderson and he talks about Curt Prufer, who was a German national running a spy ring in the Middle East in WWI, and about his sometime girlfriend, Fanny Weizmann, Chaim’s sister. Prufer eventually became an honored Nazi in the 1930s and never blinked at the fact that he had been friends with Jews during WWI who had supported the German government as former German citizens. Things change in a nation’s History and culture, and sometimes quickly. Let’s hope people like Blumenthal don’t have to learn that lesson the hard way. For if he does, my family and I will too, but we don’t need to first learn the lesson.

    Oh, and because of the nature of these types of threads, I have to say the following: I am a big fan of Chomsky, have defended Finkelstein in various instances and consider him a solid scholar. I would describe my Zionism as more in line with the Meretz Party in Israel and am supportive of J Street here in the USA as an alternative to what I consider to be an odious influence, AIPAC. I oppose the settlements and strongly support peace talks with Palestinians with no pre conditions. I support the two state solution.

    Now, enjoy yourselves…:-)

  11. fnlevit October 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I was asked why I call Blumenthal style – the old Soviet Pravda style. Here are some clarifications.
    This is about a bar in Haifa with the local Arab owner who decided to ban those in IDF uniform from entering since “we identify” them “with our own oppression”.
    Blumenthal picks on this really extra ordinary exotic situation and presents it as if it routinely happens in Israel. Pravda was an expert in that – picking on some outstanding incidents in the West (strikes, natural disasters, incidents, protests) and using them to demonstrate the GENERAL awfulness of the Capitalist regime. They called it – the tainted/decaying Capitalist system. Blumenthal and other anti-Zionists are now learning to apply it to Israel. I hope with the same results (we know who decayed in the end).
    Actually Blumenthal is not understanding that this Haifa bar story is actually an unbelievable demonstration of Israeli remarkable tolerance and diversity. And total absence of the culture of violence so common in many Western countries.
    Imagine a bar in say Liverpool owned by an Iraqi Moslem who would ban people in British Army uniform to enter. Or better still a bar in Chicago with a ban on US Army uniform. On the basis that these uniforms are symbols of …. etc. I would not give much chances for such a bar to survive one night. Perhaps a few.
    Yet this extraordinary Haifa bar survives for months and gets closed because the owner was “disillusioned”. Not beaten, not arrested, not banned, just “disillusioned”.
    The story starts with a uniformed soldier banned to enter and calling his farther to help who calls the police. His “well-connected” father (classic Pravda trait – use pointless adjectives to pump negative mood)

    And what? What did the police of this “apartheid state of Israel” do? Guess for a minute. Now read -:
    The police informed them (father and son) that “the bar had the right, as a private club, to refuse service to customers, as is common practice in Israel. “
    Total surprise, right? I mean let’s credit the police. And the country which has such a police. But Blumenthal (and Pravda) is not interested in anything positive about Israel (tainted Capitalism). No, it is actually very negative since “Ironically, the private club designation permits Jewish clubs and bars to refuse entry to Palestinians.” Again classic Pravda redirection of thre reader attention. True or not, who knows – it has the right combinations “private clubs”, “Jewish clubs”, etc to create the desirable mood.
    Blumenthal then tells us that the story was on TV (a clear Zionist crime), that “somebody organized Facebook campaign to boycott the bar. Thousands of Israelis signed up”. You get pumped right in – Zionists criminals ILLEGALY using FB for their criminal purposes. By the way, thousands, is it many or few? I am actually surprised that there were so few.
    But many or few what was the result? Guess again. Guess.
    The next month, “a mob of Israeli students and soldiers ….. rallied outside the café ….”. ONLY THE NEXT MONTH? NOT THE NEXT DAY OR HOUR OR MINUTE. And “the mob”. Not demonstration, not group – the “mob”. Like Mafia, right? Right wing Mafia, what else. Clear like sunlight. The mob.
    And (oh, my God) they included “members of the Likud-linked Im Tirtzu”. What a monstrous violation of all democratic norms! “The Likud linked”. Likud is the largest party in Israel. True, it is right wing like Republicans in US. But a legitimate democratically elected party. Is this a crime to be “Likud linked”?
    Well Pravda style is based on the previously created negative images like Capitalism, expoatanion, propaganda, etc. Here Blumenthal uses earlier established negative context for “Likud”.
    And how big was that “mob”? How big would you guess? Thousands, tens of thousands? Well– a bit less, just hundreds. Not much success of a FB campaign it was – wasn’t it?
    And what did this “mob” do to the IDF uniform banning bar? Destroyed it? Set on fire? Broke windows at least? No, worse. Much worse. “They marched outside the bar, SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, draping Israeli flags over the front sign and (Hear! Hear! ) blocking patrons view of the street.”
    I must say that this piece is a vintage Soviet times Pravda style. If you don’t focus for a second it pumps the mood of absolutely oppressive regime letting such crimes to happen. Singing national anthem! How do they dare? And the police? What did the police do to those criminals? O, horror – “the police stood watching”. Instead of arresting all this “mob” for singing national anthem they just stood aside watching. Totally corrupt apartheid, zio, nazi, rasist, supra, super, (did I forget something?) police.
    Etc, etc. Continuing in the same style. An attempt to close the bar by municipality order “ was appealed to the court and a judge struck down the order, citing no evidence of discrimination”. Good, right? Democracy, court, judge. No, no, that is not what Blumenthal (Pravda) is after. “The refused soldier went to a civil court and got damages. This ruling according to Blumenthal and in keeping with Pravda style mood pumping was without citing “any law that was broken”. Aha, again, zio, supra, etc.
    So – the owner was eventually disillusioned. What was the original illusion from which she “dis”-ed? We can only guess. Blumenthal relates to us that she was planning to relocate to Ramallah. Well – can you imagined how disillusioned can she became if she tries to pull a similar trick there. Like opening a bar banning say Hamas members to enter. Or PLO. I wouldn’t recommend such a stunt to her. No Blumenthal will be able to help her survive even a day.

  12. hophmi October 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    An example of how Max distorts the story can be found in the first few pages of the book, where he omits, almost completely, the history of rocket fire into Gaza, presenting it instead as a story of a blockade, and a few rockets in the days leading up to the Gaza War. No mention of Disengagement. No mention of the thousands upon thousands of rockets fired into civilian areas. Only a mention of few rockets that cause “consternation” in Israel.

    That’s a great example of using “technically accurate” facts for propaganda purposes.

    • Harold October 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      I think it’s sad that a culture which has many legitimate historical grievances resulted to using the same tactics they experienced in order to build their current nation, and then have the brass to say that it was warranted.

      Yes, the Holocaust was a tragedy – and yes, the Jews as a people were persecuted unjustly throughout the time between the fall of Jerusalem and today. But that does NOT make it right to then turn around in 1948 and displace people from their homes.

      I make no distinction between “left” and “right” Zionists – regardless of their political leanings, what they did as a group to the Palestinians was unforgivable.

      • hophmi October 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

        “I think it’s sad that a culture which has many legitimate historical grievances resulted to using the same tactics they experienced in order to build their current nation, and then have the brass to say that it was warranted.”

        I think it’s sad that people look at 1948 and compare it to historical persecution Jews experienced, as if they lived in Pollyannaland. This is the real world. There isn’t a nation in existence that doesn’t have some unpleasantness in its history. I will never advocate having the Jews pay a price that isn’t paid by Americans, Europeans, Arabs, or anyone else who committed similar sins, and in just about every case, worse ones.

      • ldld November 2, 2013 at 9:08 am #

        What hophmi means is that if you’re creating a State it’s ok to ethnically cleanse and possibly commit genocide.

        So hophmi believes the Nazi extermination of European Jews was justified since hey, where are the Native Americans?

        Hophmi is the very definition of a Judeo-Nazi.

  13. Corey Robin November 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m afraid I have to close the comments section. On this issue there just seems to be no way to have a civil discussion.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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