David Grossman v. Max Blumenthal

Anyone familiar with Max Blumenthal’s journalism—in print or video (his interviews with Chicken Hawk Republicans are legendary)—knows him to be absolutely fearless. Whether he’s exploring the id of American conservatism or the contradictions of Israeli nationalism, Max heads deep into the dark places and doesn’t stop till he’s turned on all the lights.

Courage in journalism requires not only physical fortitude but also an especially shrewd and sophisticated mode of intelligence. It’s not enough to go into a war zone; you have to know how to size up your marks, not get taken in by the locals with their lore, and know when and how to squeeze your informants.

Max possesses those qualities in spades. With laser precision, he zeroes in on the most vulnerable point of his subjects’ position or argument—he reminds me in this respect of an analytical philosopher—and quietly and calmly takes aim. In academia, this can make people squirmy and uncomfortable; in politics, it makes them downright nasty and scary. But Max remains unflappable; he’s never fazed. And that, I think, is because he’s not interested in making people look foolish or absurd. He’s not a gonzo of gotcha. He’s genuinely interested in the truth, and knows that the truth in politics often lurks in those dark caves of viciousness.

Max’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel has just come out. It’s a big book, but it’s conveniently organized into short chapters, each a particular vignette capturing some element of contemporary Israeli politics and culture (not just on the right but across the entire society). I’m still reading it, but it’s the kind of book that you just open to any chapter and quickly get a sense of both the particular and the whole. You’ll find yourself instantly immersed in an engrossing family romance—one part tender, one part train-wreck—and wish you had the entire day to keep reading. Put it down, and pick it up the next day, and you’ll have the exact same feeling.

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 this country 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, slippery. 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 setting out 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 expelled Palestinians from their homes in order to create the State of Israel itself.

But notice how Max sets the table. Rather than rolling out the standard anti-Zionist party line, Max weaves in the voices of the Israeli right, creating a conversation of difficult contrapuntal voices. It makes for a wonderful, if excruciating, tension.

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” made me shiver.

Max managed to get an interview with Grossman in 2009 at a very 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 encounter 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 starting to build.

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 over Israel, you know exactly what Grossman is going to say, and because of the way Max has set things up, you can see the combination of naivete and cynicism in Grossman’s position on full display.

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 from Grossman 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 Blumenthal’s riposte that Jews outside Israel are insiders, too. Whether in Israel or at the highest levels of American power, that’s what we have become: insiders. That’s what Zionism means for us, whether we’re in Israel or without. 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.


  1. Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) October 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm | #

    Bleak? Yeah. Pitiful, too. After 2000 years, THAT’S what we’ve been waiting for? And what about the lessons of Egypt before that? All entirely forgotten? No more remembering that we were slaves and strangers in Egypt? No sire-ee!

    These people are living on the wrong side of a Klein bottle.

  2. howard October 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm | #

    It is precisely being made into insiders that was the goal off Zionism, synthesizing the cultural and the political wings of Zionism. Peace Now is today the equivalent of Brit Shalom in the preState days; but even they accept and assume a state.
    My goal is to end the occupation immediately. It is my goal to end the Palestinians’ problems as much as possible, that is to alleviate their suffering, without reviving the Jewish problem in its classic form. They are not going to get full justice in this world but neither are we going to get full peace. The Palestinians are not innocent victims; but neither are the Israelis. A world without Israel is in my view unviable for the Jews. I do not say amen to the occupation but I do say amen to a UN sanctioned Israel in the 1967 borders. The world including the Palestinians owe us a refuge where we can be insiders and live and die as free men

    • Ash (@ActivistGal_UK) August 29, 2014 at 2:34 am | #

      I’m a little late to the party (or rather this discussion) as I have only recently come across Corey’s excellent blog as a result of the Salaita affair. I thought Blumenthal’s book was brilliant; he is an incredibly gifted writer and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

      I have to take issue with your comment, Howard, because I found it rather problematic to say the least. Why on earth do the Palestinians “owe” you anything? They have essentially been forced to pay the price for European Christian anti-semitism and a genocide that they did not commit . They have lost a land that they and their people had lived on for centuries, and have been slaughtered and oppressed for decades so that “the Jews” as you put it “can be insiders and live and die as free men”.

      Nobody owes you anything, except the people responsible for the bigotry and genocide that led to the creation of Israel. How ridiculously self-indulgent (not to mention callous) can a person/group of people be when they sit around pontificating about the need for a spare country in which to feel safe whilst another people who have direct ties to that coveted land have to be oppressed and slaughtered in order to achieve that fantasy?! My father’s family is Jewish and they certainly don’t run around thinking that the world owes them anything. They believe it’s important to fight for their rights within the state in which they reside and were born. We could all learn something from that mentality.

      What happened to the Palestinians was incredibly unjust, not to mention criminal, because they WERE innocent victims and it’s now up to international civil society to attempt to rectify that injustice. If we play our cards right, that may well be what we achieve.

  3. BillR October 5, 2013 at 10:42 pm | #

    An interesting review of Grossman’s latest masterpiece:

    SOME NOVELS are met by such a hurricane of hostile criticism that they sink out of sight. Only word of mouth, the contrary opinion running from reader to reader, can occasionally bring them to the surface again. To the End of the Land has the opposite problem. It arrived on a foaming wave of praise which, when they actually get down to its pages, will leave many readers puzzled. Normally an author can deflect blurb hyperbole with a wince. But this fanfare has been on a Hollywood Bowl scale that does Grossman, who has proved himself in the past to be a wise and talented writer, no favors at all.

    ‘To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.’ So wrote Nicole Krauss. Paul Auster ranked the book with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina: ‘wrenching, beautiful, unforgettable’. Grossman’s American publisher called it ‘one of the very greatest novels I shall have the privilege of publishing … When critics look back at the 21st century and list its 20 best novels, it will be on it.’ Several reviewers and interviewers have grabbed at the Tolstoy comparison: the vast scale, the humanity, the panorama of families in a land incessantly at war. Perhaps, they venture, this is the War and Peace of our own times.

    And an even more interesting Letter to the Editor:

    Reviewing David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, Neal Ascherson is right to be reminded of ‘those American war films, proclaimed to be ‘against Vietnam’, in which only the American victims are in focus’ (LRB, 3 February). Grossman’s novel–like most Israeli fictions about the conflict–is almost entirely preoccupied with Jewish suffering, its Arab characters never more than shadows that flit across the stage. What Ascherson misses is the thread that connects Grossman’s aesthetics and his politics. Grossman is, to be sure, concerned about what Israel has done to the Palestinians, but he’s far more concerned with what oppressing the Palestinians has done to Israel. The indifference to the inner lives of Palestinians and the emphasis on Jewish victimization in To the End of the Land reflect the pinched sympathies–and imaginative failures–of the Zionist consensus to which he belongs. This is a major reason why Grossman is so enormously popular in Israel, even on the right. Despite his opposition to the occupation, he remains a loyal soldier. As George Packer touchingly noted in his New Yorker profile, ‘even though he is alienated from Israel’s leadership, he still sends his children into the army.’ The fact that he continues to support a two-state solution ‘even though Arab militants killed his son’ (Packer again) has been turned into another reason to admire him: an example of his supreme generosity (never mind that these ‘Arab militants’ were defending their land against an Israeli invasion). Purportedly an anti-war novel, To the End of the Land breathes new literary life into the old cliché of Israel’s anguished soul.

  4. Ra October 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm | #

    I do not understand how anyone who “possesses those qualities in spades” could fail to see that it is because of Zionism — and the Holocaust, surely — that Jews could finally become insiders — and citizens, full and equal, of the vast majority of Western states, though certainly not, for reasons that both precede and supersede even the Holocaust, the vast majority of Muslim states — in the first place. Instead of “quizzical,” might Grossman have been incredulous instead? I know I am, and I’m a Muslim — from one of those vast majority of Muslim states, at that!

    • Ash (@ActivistGal_UK) August 29, 2014 at 3:32 am | #

      That’s where you’re wrong. Historically, Jews had fared much better under Muslim rule than under Christians especially at a time when they were being persecuted by much of (Christian) Europe. A really great book worth reading is one by Thierry Desjardins “L’amitié judéo-arabe” that actually covers this issue. Not sure if has been translated into English, but if it has bag yourself a copy.

  5. hophmi October 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm | #

    Max Blumenthal is fearless? Sorry, but only on the far left could such a conceit be uttered. He’s more in the category of smug prick who made his bones making fools out of drunk college students. Max isn’t fearless at all. Fearless people examine the faults and contradictions of their own beliefs and assumptions. Max is a leftist who toes the party line, and the party line is to bash Israel and the Israelis with no sense of complexity, humanity, or history. Grossman is a man who has frequently challenged the beliefs and assumptions of his own society. Max is small compared to Grossman.

    • Eamon Murphy October 6, 2013 at 12:48 am | #

      right, & max blumenthal *hasn’t* frequently challenged the beliefs and assumptions of his own society? in order for there to be a party line, there has to be a party; which party does blumenthal support? his work proceeds from a much fuller sense of history than that of so-called supporters of israel in this country

      • hophmi October 6, 2013 at 10:03 am | #

        Oh please. His work proceeds from the same simple assumptions that the rest of the far-left makes. It minimizes Israel’s history as a state of Holocaust survivors, minimizes the rejection of non-Muslim political sovereignty in the Arab world, minimizes the internecine fighting that has been endemic to the region for a long time, treats Israelis as basically a monolith; Max seems to love saying nasty ethnocentric things about Israelis.

        There is nothing complex about Max’s work. Or Corey’s for that matter. They are comfortable American Jews who seem to think like Francis Fukuyama – Jews are successful in American society, so this must be the end of Jewish history, and antisemitism will never happen again. If it does happen, it’s our own fault. Jews like Corey and Max are weighed down by Jewish history. Rather than dealing with it, they’d like to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

        Max does nothing to examine antisemitism within the pro-Palestinian movement. He does nothing to examine similar trends within the Arab world. He treats the Israelis, and their legitimate concerns, with contempt, because in his eyes, they’re less human than he is.

      • foppe October 6, 2013 at 11:51 am | #

        @hophmi It is apparent that you have a lot of experience with making blanket unsubstantiated assertions, and conflating israelis and zionists for political purposes. It puzzles me that you think these are laudable qualities, though, so I wonder why you put them on display.

        In any case, please explain how the fact that your political opponents aren’t politically pure (in the same way that your side probably views the people you oppress as inferior or whatever) excuses zionist oppression (with non-zionist israeli support) of the people that you’ve put into walled compounds with spotty access to flowing water, electricity, and means of economically sustaining themselves? If you feel it does, explain how, without resorting to red herrings, and without attacking the character of the people whose opinions you do not share. If you do not, please reassess your debate talking points memo.

      • eamonpmurphy October 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm | #

        @hophmi you obviously apply two opposite standards to commentators you admire and those you disapprove of. hence in your account grossman is to be praised for challenging, in his limited way (as blumenthal shows through the 1948-1967 distinction) the assumptions of his own society, while blumenthal (an american jew) is to be condemned for not paying enough attention to the flaws of the arabs.

        talk of anti-semitism ‘happening again’ is evidently not a serious response to the crimes and abuses that blumenthal examines. it’s the ‘hey, look over there!’ argument. if you want to say that the palestinians have to be repressed to prevent another holocaust — and i’m only guessing here, since your comments are so vague — you should try to make that argument.

      • hophmi October 7, 2013 at 10:10 am | #

        “and conflating israelis and zionists for political purposes”

        I do nothing of the sort. I see an ahistorical analysis of Israel that applies a utopian vision of politics to disadvantage one state and no others. And I see a casual conflation of Israelis and Nazis among those on the far left. You can read the commentary at Mondoweiss. I am hardly guilty of what you accuse me of.

        “In any case, please explain how the fact that your political opponents aren’t politically pure (in the same way that your side probably views the people you oppress as inferior or whatever) excuses zionist oppression (with non-zionist israeli support) of the people that you’ve put into walled compounds with spotty access to flowing water, electricity, and means of economically sustaining themselves? If you feel it does, explain how, without resorting to red herrings, and without attacking the character of the people whose opinions you do not share.”

        I haven’t put them there. That’s the first thing.

        The second thing is that I don’t view Palestinians as inferior. So cut the BS. You know damn well that I didn’t say anything of the sort.

        It’s a two-sided conflict. The Palestinians are where there are because a sustained campaign of terrorism that continues to this day. There have been multiple times in history that the Palestinians could have achieved statehood in a contiguous state, and they, and their brethren in the Arab world, rejected it largely because they could not countenance non-Muslim political sovereignty in the region. With superiority of numbers and the power of oil politics, they’ve forced their view through the United Nations. The Israelis, faced with a sustained campaign of attacks on their civilians, limited only by the work Israelis did to stop the attacks from happening, have, over time, tried to seal themselves off from the Palestinians. It’s certainly not a long term solution, but it is no different than any country would do under similar circumstances.

        The Palestinians who live in squalor in Lebanese refugee camps do not live that way because the Israelis walled them off. They live that way because the Arab world has purposely made sure the Palestinians continue to be a festering sore in a region where it’s an open secret that they are treated as an underclass by their own brethren almost everywhere.

        People like Max decided long ago to ignore one side of the conflict, and simply advocate for the other side. Unfortunately, like so many Western activists, Max can’t figure out how to do it without amplifying the worst traits in Arab rhetoric and historiography, whether it’s the disgusting Nazi analogies, the South African analogies, the tacit condoning, at Mondoweiss and elsewhere, of antisemitic conspiracy theories about 9/11, the financial community, the lobbying community, etc, etc.

      • foppe October 7, 2013 at 10:36 am | #

        I haven’t put them there. That’s the first thing.

        Spare me the glib responses. There is not a shred of shame over this national program evident anywhere in your response; all you do is to spout off nonsense about the ‘far left’, you straw-man your way towards the trite position that everyone who criticizes zionist territorial ambitions is helping Hitler’s ghost find spiritual peace, as well as the ‘anti-semitist (=?neonazi) agenda’, and your response starts out with the red herring ‘zionists should be excused for what they do because Jews were made to suffer’. You are an uncritical (or worse, falsely-conscious critical, in the way of Grossman) abetter of Zionist affairs.

        It’s a two-sided conflict. The Palestinians are where there are because a sustained campaign of terrorism that continues to this day.

        It is ‘two-sided’ in the same way the Spanish/American-Indian conflict was two-sided; namely with the Spanish having no right to enter the region, technological superiority, and a way of destroying their means of survival. Blather all you want about how the fact that Western civilization did nasty things to Jewish minorities gives Zionistic Jewish the right to do the same to people who they feel are in their way, and who they repress economically, socially and militarily out of a fear of being out-bred, but to suggest that the conflict is in any way a legitimate conflict between two equal parties, with an equal claim to a region, and with one party clearly being unreasonable while the other is, is nothing more than lying to oneself in order to resolve cognitive dissonance.

      • hophmi October 7, 2013 at 10:58 am | #

        “Spare me the glib responses.”

        Don’t misquote me or assume, and there will be no need for corrections.

        “There is not a shred of shame over this national program evident anywhere in your response”

        Excuse me, oh great one. Who the hell do you think you are to demand declarations of shame?

        “all you do is to spout off nonsense about the ‘far left’”

        You’ll have to do better than “nonsense.” That’s a weasal way of saying “I don’t wanna deal with your argument.”

        “, you straw-man your way towards the trite position that everyone who criticizes zionist territorial ambitions is helping Hitler’s ghost find spiritual peace,”

        Sorry, Mr. Projection, but that’s not what I said. What I said was that there’s a strain of Israel-Nazi analogies running through Max’s writing and the writing of Western pro-Palestinian activists.

        “It is ‘two-sided’ in the same way the Spanish/American-Indian conflict was two-sided”

        Not really. It’s two-sided in the sense that you have competing national narratives, with elements of truth and myth in both.

        “Blather all you want about how the fact that Western civilization did nasty things to Jewish minorities”

        It’s not blather. It’s a big part of the question. You don’t want Palestinians to pay for European crimes. But you don’t seem to have a problem making Jews pay for them.

        “gives Zionistic Jewish the right to do the same to people who they feel are in their way, and who they repress economically, socially and militarily out of a fear of being out-bred,”

        Look man, you can use words like “out-bred” as much as you like. It’s about security for most Israelis. They don’t want their children blown up.

        ” but to suggest that the conflict is in any way a legitimate conflict between two equal parties, with an equal claim to a region, and with one party clearly being unreasonable while the other is, is nothing more than lying to oneself in order to resolve cognitive dissonance”

        I didn’t say anything about the parties being equal. But since we’re on the subject, it’s a sort of silly mistake to assume that both parties to the conflict must be equal for a conflict to be legitimate. It’s plenty legitimate; it’s a land conflict. The Israelis certainly have a military advantage, and frankly, they have put much more into developing their society than any state in the region. That said, the Palestinians have far more representatives to argue their case internationally than the Israelis do. So I’d say that in some ways, the Palestinians are politically stronger than the Israelis are.

    • Jeff October 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm | #

      exactly. you hit the nail on the head. Blumenthal idea of journalism is go into a bar with a lot of drunk college students, edit it down so it contains only the most repugnant remarks, and present it as a representative sample. One could easily go to the comments section at Mondoweiss where his most Max’s most fervent supporters are and find equally repugnant remarks, but of course that would be no concern of Max’s. Fearless indeed, hooey.

  6. hophmi October 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm | #

    And by the way, Corey, show some intellectual honesty and integrity and stop distorting what Grossman means by “insider” and “outsider.” He means it in national terms.

    Tell me why anyone should not conclude from your post that what people like you and Max detest is Jewish political empowerment.

    • foppe October 6, 2013 at 4:28 am | #

      My guess is that what they dislike is not political empowerment, but what political empowerment that is predicated on constant violence and oppression does to Jews, and to the people whose suffering is only considered instrumentally, since they are entirely denied voice.. It is a pretty sad historical journey from being ghettoized within Europe to fencing in and economically oppressing people in the country you’ve conquered since then, out of a fear they will out-breed you.

      • hophmi October 7, 2013 at 10:19 am | #

        “out of a fear they will out-breed you.”

        Actually, it’s out of a fear, completely justified by history, that will blow you up along with your small children.

      • foppe October 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | #

        Actually, it’s out of a fear, completely justified by history, that will blow you up along with your small children.

        I wonder what made them so desperate… Oh wait, it’s not something they do because they’re at their wit’s ends, it’s something they do because they’re inhuman monsters. In fact, their inhumanity taints everyone in their cultural and social groups, so they all deserve to be locked away into areas with spotty access to flowing water, electricity, hospitals and places of employment (that offer more than slave wages). So it’s all good.

      • hophmi October 28, 2013 at 11:41 am | #

        “Oh wait, it’s not something they do because they’re at their wit’s ends, it’s something they do because they’re inhuman monsters.”

        Don’t you dare put words in my mouth. I didn’t say that or anything remotely like it.

  7. . (@IsReal1948) October 6, 2013 at 2:57 am | #

    I am sure that Walther Rathenau in 1922 also said the same: “We finally have the chance to be insiders”

    The anti-zionist jews have to learn their own story. But what bothers me more is to see how US Jews believe that the whole world revolves around them. You believe that there are no more Jews in the world, and if the Jews in the world face persecution or bris or shechita ban, we can all go to that wonderful multiethnic philosemitic country, full of lunatics with guns to live together the “american dream” and the “golden age” of the jewish people

    PD1: Zionism is not just of being “insiders”, but be a masters of our own destiny

    PD2: I am also pretty sure that the six million of Israeli Jews are eager to join to the list of full democratic and multi-ethnic states with arab muslims majorities, all respectful of their religious and ethnic minorities in middle east.

    • Mr. P October 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm | #

      Well, the Normans were masters of their own destiny when they subdued the British. The Spanish were masters of their own destiny when they wiped out the Aztecs and Incas. In the US, white settlers became masters of their own (manifest) destiny by giving smallpox-infected blankets to the people who lived here. Is it possible to be a “master of your own destiny” without subjugating a native population? And as for PD2: I’ve always loved this argument. You can count on it showing up 10 minutes into any Israel-Palestine debate. Basically, it says – see how bad the Arabs are? We don’t have to be any better than them!

      • . (@IsReal1948) October 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm | #

        “it possible to be a “master of your own destiny” without subjugating a native population?”…Obviously it’s possible , i am talking about self -determination . There is no contradiction between an ethnic state (like arab, jewish, latvian, estonian, etc, etc states [I guess you want to dismantle all these ethnic states also] ) with democracy, only and only if all rights (civil, political , economic, social and culture righs) extend to all, regardless of ethnic, racial or religious condition.

        “The Spanish were masters of their own destiny when they wiped out the Aztecs and Incas” Someone needs to learn something about geography and history for compare that situation with israel. It also seems lack of understanding about being masters of their OWN destiny, NOT of other people. I think that the palestinian people is entitled to self -determination, but not “from the river to the sea”.

        About PD2 my mention is empirically verifiable. All who believe that in MIDDLE EAST is posible create a SECULAR and MULTI-ETHNIC democracies ( not only de facto but also de jure ) “where all people live together in harmony” is being naive and ignores the geopolitical reality on the ground and its people (and I mean not only the Arabs-muslim) That formulation is a simply recipe for future civil wars, more blood and more suffering. Is easier said when you do not live there or when you live there and you can easily escape.

      • Harold October 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm | #

        Regarding your statement about geopolitical reality – if the area is so antithetical to your “ideals”, then why doesn’t the Jewish state try to move somewhere else? Why doesn’t it try to carve out a slice of, say, Germany, or the UK?

  8. BillR October 6, 2013 at 8:38 am | #

    A cutting critique of the cant that emanates from the likes of Grossman and other “Liberals” in his ethnic-chauvinist state:

    The Myths of Liberal Zionism is a work of political critique as literary criticism, a treatment of statecraft as an adjunct to poetic craft, and it is also an attack on the famous writers of Laor’s generation, whom he reads as providing humanitarian cover for Israeli abuses. Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, even David Grossman, who lost a son in the 2006 Lebanon war–Laor accuses these and others of sanctioning, through impotent dissent and empty rhetoric, the tragic status quo. Novelists who pen pietistic eulogies but have never resisted their governance; public intellectuals who absolve liberal guilt but have never directly opposed the moral compasses of their readership–“They shall not be cleansed.”

    According to Laor, the singular Myth of Liberal Zionism is Liberal Zionism itself. Like the beasts Behemoth and Leviathan, a Zionis liberalis is inconceivable to Laor, because whereas his Liberal believes in openness and the policies of empathy, his Zionist–more than a century after Theodor Herzl recalled Palestine as the Judenstaat–believes that millions can be denied their patrimony, dispossessed, abused, and even murdered in the name of Jewish statehood.

  9. Michael Fahy October 6, 2013 at 9:12 am | #

    The dispossession of the indigenous population of Palestine that resulted from the emergence of the State of Israel is, for most, a matter of historical record. But whether the Original Sin, as it were, is to be traced back to 1967, to the the Nakba of 1948, or earlier, what can be done to reach a viable, if not entirely equitable, solution to the mess that has emerged? That really should be the most pressing question, shouldn’t it? Is a two-state solution still even feasible? That’s a QUESTION for me, I don’t know, but I think that is where the issue of settlements built (and continuing to be built) in the territories occupied in 1967 acquires greater urgency than, pace Rivlin, assertions about the historical equivalence of both sides of the green line. Left or right, It seems to me that drafting a moral balance sheet from a historical perspective is of limited use. The dispossession of a native population that had formed a complex association of distinct tribes, expansion of territorial claims by a colonizing force, the disruption of indigenous social structures, and the misery of the descendents of the dispossessed–would be a perfect description of the Ohlone Indians of the SF Bay Area. One hears very little historical anguish articulated by those whose homes, shops and favorite cafes now cover territory once occupied by someone else. One suspects this is so for two reasons: (a) the Ohlone, as an example, did not survive, having become virtually extinct by 1990 and (b) it is always easier to direct one’s moral opprobrium to situations far from home, ones in which one does not feel directly implicated. The validity of the comparison has its limitations, but if our arguments are based on historical indignation, we ought not be duplicitous or selective. Unlike the Ohloine, the Palestinans have survived and have continued to press their case. The redress of their grievances is likely to be realized less through historical right, and more through the framework of viable settlement in which two populations who equally feel (with reason) victimized by history can live together.

    • Michael Fahy October 6, 2013 at 9:32 am | #

      Correction: “1900.” (The last native speaker of an Ohlone language died in the 1930s.)

  10. The Raven October 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm | #

    “This is what all that brutality against the Palestinians was for? This is what Jews killed and were killed for? To be insiders?”

    Considering that Jews were an abused minority for three times as long as the Atlantic slave trade operated, this gains force. It’s easy to see why Jews would want a Jewish state. The only group I can think of that has suffered greater oppression for longer is women.

    You don’t think the alliance with American fundamentalist Christians is a lasting thing, do you? The fundamentalist supporter of Israel are deeply anti-Semitic, and the reason they support Israel is because they believe that it presages the End Times, after which Christians will go to heaven, and everyone else, Jews included, will literally go to hell. (Or simply be obliterated, depending on which version of the story they believe.)

    I don’t defend the world’s support of the formation of the state of Israel. The Bible is not a real estate deed. (Clark Clifford, Truman’s solicitor general—it was not a formal title then—recorded that Truman, a believing Southern Baptist, credited the Jewish biblical claim on Israel.) I am horrified by the abuses the Jewish state has heaped on the Palestinians. But have a care: Jews have a real grievance, and the world still has not addressed it.

    • Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) October 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm | #

      Sure, the Jews have a real grievance. And yes, the world has not addressed it. But that does nothing to justify anything that’s been done in the way perpetrating violence and oppression of the Palestinian people. You can say that a people oppressed for thousands of years & then pushed to the brink of extinction reacted extremely, in fear for their very survival. And you can say that this excuses a lot.

      But if you say that it wipes out the lessons that were learned from our captivity in Egypt, then you are saying, in essence, that Hitler won. He did not physically destroy the Jewish race, but he did destroy the Jewish group soul.

      I refuse to accept that. I believe that Jews–particularly in Israel–are currently lost in a spiritual wilderness. But they are not dead. They are not destroyed. Hitler hasn’t won yet.

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm | #

        I did not say that anything was excused; I was explaining, not excusing. To take a perhaps-slippery personal analogy: it is known that family abuse victims are statistically predisposed to becoming abusers themselves. This does not make their abuse less of a crime.

        But how can there be peace, with 1500 years of war and subjugation behind and no way to trust?

      • Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) October 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm | #

        Right. I was willing to go even farther–to excuse, at least for the sake of argument here. I wanted to make the bright line I see as bright as possible.

        Apparently not bright enough?

        I have no idea what you mean “1500 years of war and subjugation behind and no way to trust?” Jews have had a much better experience in Muslim lands than Christians ones up until the founding of Israel. Not a picnic, by any means. But not a history devoid of trust and respect, either. There is a foundation to build on, for those who are truly interested in that.

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm | #

        In Muslim lands, yes, and I hinted at that in my other remarks, though that is also a memory of long-gone times. In Christian lands, though?

        • Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) October 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm | #

          So Palestinians suffer & die for 1500 years of the sins of European Christians?

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm | #

        At the moment, yes, that is what is happening. It is like some mutant granddaughter of the crusades.

        Please remember, I am not defending the current situation.

        I’ve had a few hours to reflect and, the more I think about it, the worse the prospects for peace in the next two decades look. There is enough money in the region and enough reasons for conflict among regional parties to keep the wars going, even if the rest of world took no interest. But the rest of the world takes an interest; the rest of the world wants oil. So money and weapons from outside pour into the region.

    • foppe October 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm | #

      So compared to the suffering of a bunch of moderately interconnected, smaller groups with a shared religion, the suffering caused by the triangular trade — which upset the lives of pretty much every indigenous human being living in the African continent between the 16th and 19th centuries — has been found wanting by you? Forgive me for confronting you with the fact, but the idea that you dare to make the comparison at all nauseates me. Racial theory, especially during the periods in which it was explicitly and unapologetically fused with Social Darwinism, was the most hateful theory supporting mass oppression and genocide (two accessible books that come to mind that are particularly clear on this are Graeber’s Debt and Sven Lindqvist’s Saharan Journey/Exterminate all the Brutes) since the invention of writing; by way of example, note how casually Darwin writes (Descent of Man, ch. 6):

      At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked,* will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

      Do you really feel comfortable comparing this western invention to the much more infrequent episodes of Jewish persecution, with all its ups and downs, and all of the various reasons that were invented to justify them?
      Lastly, the World does not owe any particular species (let alone a cultural group within a species) anything; as such, the only thing that should be striven for is normal, healthy, sustainable relations, while all cases of racism/bigotry, sexism, etc. are addressed and untaught. The ‘West’ might, but even if that case can be made, it seems awfully convenient that it has so generously donated a part of the world that was previously inhabited, and not part of the West in any way. As such, if a healthy world happens to be incompatible with the continued existence of the Jewish nation-state (either for demographic or economic reasons), then I’m sorry, but that’s too bad.

      • foppe October 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm | #

        (Tiny point of clarification: are jews more deserving of ‘world justice’ just because they self-identify as a cultural/religious group for longer? If not, where does your logic lead?)

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm | #

        These two things are not separate, but one. The subjugation of Africans was modeled on the subjugation of Jews. The racial theories devised to justify the oppression of blacks were derived from the reasons found for the long oppression of Jews. Did you not realize?

        Nor was the oppression of Jews as minor as you suggest. The position of Jews in Europe, from the time of the triumph of Christianity in the 5th century to the 20th century, was in many ways similar to the position of blacks in the segregated South.

        Must we argue over whose oppression was worse? There perhaps were not so many Jews as Africans, but do small numbers excuse oppression? I only argue that the oppression of Jews in Europe was unimaginably long, intense, and ended in an act of brutality so vast it is still incomprehensible.

        “As such, if a healthy world happens to be incompatible with the continued existence of the Jewish nation-state (either for demographic or economic reasons), then I’m sorry, but that’s too bad.”

        And how is that state to be ended without genocide?

        I do not know the way. But I know which way I do not want to go.

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm | #

        Oh, was writing that as you made your remark on the length of time.

        (Tiny point of clarification: are jews more deserving of ‘world justice’ just because they self-identify as a cultural/religious group for longer? If not, where does your logic lead?)

        I wish I knew. Jews are not less deserving of justice, at least. The other reason the length of time is important is that it shows how deeply embedded this conflict is in European—Christian—culture. With such a long history of oppression it is a wonder that they have not turned away from all European connections, and perhaps in time they will.

      • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm | #

        I guess my logic leads to the thought that there may be no solution in our lifetimes, or the lifetime of anyone now living.

        We westerners have a preference for stories with clearly set out endings and morals all neatly spelled out, and part of that preference comes from Hebrew literature itself. (And also other sources.) But history seldom provides such neat endings.

      • foppe October 7, 2013 at 12:57 am | #

        were derived from the reasons found for the long oppression of Jews. Did you not realize?

        Even if that were true — and I am not inclined to believe the intellectual history of racism is anywhere near that neat — you seem to be suggesting that all types of oppression are equally bad. Yet the point is that racism had to be invented, and reinforced and elaborated on for centuries, before it became possible for Hitler and his compatriots to come up with their ideas about a Jewish “race”. You can only understand the holocaust as an outgrowth of racism, while the line between medieval anti-semitic thinking and racism is much more tenuous. The fact that there is a historical connection between #1 and #2 and #2 and #3 does not entail that #3 is a direct outgrowth of #1, or that #1 is retroactively worse just because #3 happened centuries later. #2 is essential to recognize, and imo at least as horrible in scale as #3 was, even if the history of colonialism-caused genocide and more general suffering was more drawn out and less less well-known because of how it (oddly) isn’t taught in schools as an essential part of western history.

        Must we argue over whose oppression was worse?

        I am only doing so in order to point out that your doing so was a bit inappropriate:

        Considering that Jews were an abused minority for three times as long as the Atlantic slave trade operated, this gains force. The only group I can think of that has suffered greater oppression for longer is women.

        As for this:

        And how is that state to be ended without genocide?

        I quite doubt the palestinians are cruel and militarized enough to do this, or that they want to do this. It is primarily zionist warmongers who keep repeating FUD like that, I would advise you stop listening to their talking points.

      • The Raven October 7, 2013 at 11:34 am | #

        You are avoiding the point. To recap:

        You: “As such, if a healthy world happens to be incompatible with the continued existence of the Jewish nation-state (either for demographic or economic reasons), then I’m sorry, but that’s too bad.”

        Me: “And how is that state to be ended without genocide?”

        You: “I quite doubt the palestinians are cruel and militarized enough to do this, or that they want to do this.”

        I did not say that the Palestinians would do this. Rather, I see no plausible scenario that would end the Jewish state of Israel without ethnic cleansing or genocide. The Jews of Israel will not give up their dream without a bitter fight. Do you imagine that they will?

        While the Palestinians do not have the military power to inflict harm on Israel, others do. The whole world wants the oil of the Middle East. There are many powers willing to arm the combatants, or even send their own armies, to get that oil.

  11. Mitchell Freedman October 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm | #

    I guess I’m still with Grossman. We are wrong to castigate him for having a misplaced hope in Obama’s ability to push Netanyahu, and Netanyahu’s willingness to make tough political decisions outside his party’s comfort zone. Grossman has stood tall where he stands and, contrary to young Max’s argument, Grossman is deeply hated in many quarters in Israel and in the US. We are also wrong to criticize Grossman for wanting to maintain a Jewish dominated State in a world and with a history that often looks great for Jews in particular moments in particular countries, but then suddenly turns ugly and violent against Jews.

    The one staters on the left side of the ledger seem to think the religious fanatics behind Hamas and Hezbollah will be satisfied with a democratic, secular bi-national or multi-national state. I do not share that particular hopefulness. It is less close to reality than the hopefulness Grossman exhibited with respect to Obama’s ability to convince Netanyahu of the need for practical diplomacy with the Palestinians.

    I remain a two-stater, but find that positions is becoming more and more the position of people who don’t count, like writers, bloggers and people who have moral influence, but no control. Naftali Bennett is the new voice of power in Israel. There is, here in the US, a growing BDS movement in various intellectual and college circles that has ironically fed off the one-staters on the right who say “There is no partner for peace” and merrily support Israel’s oppressive ways in the West Bank and every once in awhile bombs and kills people and infrastructure in Gaza.

    Count me as unimpressed as to whether young Max landed any hard blows against Grossman other than attacking Grossman for daring to have hope in and wanting to pursue a two state solution.

  12. The Raven October 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm | #

    “I mean, Jews are enjoying a golden age in the United States.”

    In Moorish Spain, Jews also enjoyed a golden age. As they did in 1920s Europe.

    Golden ages end.

  13. fnlevit October 6, 2013 at 5:07 pm | #

    This article by Corey was reposted today on the anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss. And right away there appeared a comment there by one of the usuals under a preudo name – pabelmont . Read his comment slowly – it has all the elements of anti-Semite in making (or already a made one). Here is the quote

    “Am I missing something, or could even a lib-zio-Israeli notice and take into account that the muck-a-mucks who lead AIPAC, et al., are “insiders” ? The CEOs of all those BIG-BANKS! Etc. The media personalities.

    Granted, many of these people are acting like Fifth Columnists, spies, infiltrators for Israel, members of an “outsider” army who have snuck within the borders and have somehow achieved “leadership”, “importance”, “insiders’ insider-ness”, etc.

    But not against great odds! Not today. NPR and NYT are not being led by heroic infiltrators but by natural “insiders”, privileged upper-class-niks. “Insiders” acting a bit like “infiltrators” if you will, but definitely “insiders”, to the manor born.”

    Congatulations Corey – your readers are following exactly the classic path – from hating Israeli people to hating Zionism to hating Jews i.e. to anti-Semitism. If you are logical you can’t stop half way.

    • Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) October 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm | #

      Jeez Louise! I get anti-Semitic comments on columns at Al Jazeera English all the time–even when I’m writing about US budget fights, or whatever. The idea that comments necessarily reflect ANYTHING about the content of post is bizarre in the extreme.

    • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm | #

      Objecting to the poor conduct of Israel doesn’t make Corey an anti-semite. And, for the record, if the anti-semites want to use my words, I do not support any of the multiple sides in this war, and I do not want to see further genocide or ethnic cleansing.


    • foppe October 7, 2013 at 1:27 am | #

      Fascinating. So Corey is responsible for causing you to worry about Corey encouraging anti-semitism? He should really apologize for that, yes. Personally, though, I would advise you to seek professional help, as you seem to be suffering from a very particular form of paranoid schizophrenia…

  14. Mark Erickson October 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm | #

    J Street’s newest flashy ephemera, 2campaign.org, starts with a section on Borders: “During the Six Day War of 1967, Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. A two-state solution depends on an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would also have a presence in East Jerusalem and be somehow linked to Gaza. However, the presence of hundreds of Israeli settlements in the West Bank complicates the issue. Where the border is drawn will determine which settlements will be part of Israel and which must be evacuated.”

    What a transparent pile of BS.

  15. fnlevit October 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm | #

    Mr. Rosenberg – there are many things which excite anti Semites and let them spray their venom. Now they have another venue – blogs in which Jews bash Israel. And MW has moderators who allow these comments and justify them as TRUTHS. It is true that “Jews being Fifth Columnists, spies, infiltratorsl, members of an “outsider” army who have snuck within the borders and have somehow achieved “leadership”, “importance”, “insiders’ insider-ness”, etc” . Exactly Nazis accusations.

    Look there – now there are comments accusing Jews that this is there fault that they were persecuted in their history. Presumably Holocaust was our fault too. Exactly Nazis arguments.

    Kol Hakavod to MW. Should change its motto from “War of Ideas ….” to “Inciting Anti-Semtism by Bashing Israel”. I find this criminal

    • The Raven October 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm | #

      Is Israel, then, to be above criticism?

  16. fnlevit October 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm | #

    By the way, speaking of BDS – Berkshire Hathaway buys third Israeli company: Ray-Q
    U.S.-based electronic components distributor TTI is acquiring the Israeli electronics company Ray-Q Interconnect, it announced over the weekend. The financial specifics of the purchase were not disclosed.

    TTI is wholly-owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The acquisition still requires approval from Israeli regulatory authorities.

    This would be Berkshire Hathaway’s third acquisition in Israel, following the 2006 deal to buy blades-maker Iscar for $6 billion all told. (The second tranche of that deal was completed in May of this year.) The Iscar purchase had been Buffett’s first acquisition outside North America. Also in 2006, Berkshire Hathaway unit CTB International acquired a controlling interest in AgroLogic, which develops technology for agriculture.

    Founded in 1969, Ray-Q is headquartered in Airport City near Lod and currently has about 70 employees. It also maintains branch operations in Turkey and India. The company supplies connectivity equipment to the military and aerospace industries, and also serves as representative and distributor for other connectivity component suppliers in Israel, Turkey, India and Eastern and Central Europe.

  17. fnlevit October 6, 2013 at 9:53 pm | #

    Also Chinese must be reprimanded – please let BDS take care of this right away.
    The story behind a HK billionaire’s $130 million donation to the Technion
    Li Ka-shing’s generous donation to the prestigious Israeli school of engineering is part of broader plan to build a Western-style technology institute in China’s Guangdong province along the lines of a similar joint project with Cornell University in New York City.

    After more than two years of talks with the Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing signed an agreement this week to donate $130 million from his philanthropic Li Ka Shing Foundation to the institution. The contribution is a part of a larger deal, which will have the Israeli university partner with China’s Shantou University to establish a technological institute to be called Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology in Shantou, a city in China’s southern Guangdong province. The new institute will be built with $147 million of Chinese funding, but will grant its graduates a Technion diploma.

    • Rob Smith October 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm | #

      Did you rilly just equate China with Israel? Israel, which is a supposedly liberal, Westernized democracy receiving billions from the U.S. in beauty prizes annually?

      Oh I get it, you’re equating them in support of BDS.

      As horrible as the Chinese regime is, they haven’t been keeping their minorities in wretched refugee camps for seventy plus years to fester in malnourished Apartheid ghettos.

      • Mitchell Freedman October 7, 2013 at 12:23 am | #

        I guess you missed how the Chinese government treats and treated Tibetans. And I guess you missed the mass of millions the Chinese government killed.

        I am deeply critical of the Israeli occupation and have had to endure among my family and various folks over the years who are Likudniks that I am a self-hating Jew. So let’s not assume I’m coming at this from some Likudnik or neo-con perspective. But even if Netanyahu uttered the same thing in the first paragraph of my response above, he’d be correct, too.

  18. Ross Wolfe October 7, 2013 at 9:44 am | #

    I remember reading David Grossmann’s The Yellow Wind and enjoying its ambivalent portrayal of the First Intifada. To be sure, 1967 was a turning-point. Likewise, it should go without saying that 1948 was of foundational importance for Israeli Zionism. Still, what most of these treatments seem to miss is the longue durée of Zionism’s reactionary character. Perhaps the memory has faded today, but Zionism first came into its own as a reactionary strain of Second International socialism. That is to say, it was a (reactionary) leftist phenomenon. Indeed, many have pointed out that it marked an internalization of European nationalist ideologies amongst diasporic Jews within the socialist movement.

    Zionism expresses the characteristic failure of socialism, and by extension even Marxism, to overcome the so-called “national question.” As Trotsky and others pointed out in critiquing Zionism, the utopian dimension of its ideology can be found in its mistaken belief that the problem of “homeland” can be resolved within confines of the global capitalist order. Strangely, Zionist elements were firmly established within the leftist spectrum leading up to the 1917 October Revolution. From Right to Left, it went trade-union or labor Zionism (Poale Zion), the Bundists, the Mensheviks, and the Bolsheviks, with the post-narodnik populists or Social Revolutionaries interspersed somewhere in between. They all tried to counter-recruit from one another, but interestingly Ber Borochev, the founder of Poale Zion in Russia, led numerous Zionist units of the Red Army during the Civil War against the Whites.

    This isn’t to exonerate Zionism for its subsequent misdeeds, as it was even then a nationalist-reactionary strain of European socialism. Bundists (“seasick Zionists,” as Trotsky referred to them) and Labor Zionists have always been rather slimy characters, but this should not distract from their left-wing derivation. Is there a “moral” to this story? Yes: Marxism cannot be reconciled with nationalism, even of the “most just,” “purest,” most refined and civilized brand.

  19. Corey Robin October 7, 2013 at 11:01 am | #

    Even by the standards of Israel-Palestine discussion, this thread is getting too nasty. If it keeps up I’ll have to shut it down. So everyone tone it down or we’ll just close it up.

  20. Angus October 28, 2013 at 11:16 am | #


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