‘The Nation’ should stage a debate between Alterman and Blumenthal

Israel/Palestine
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Ericalterman-330Max Blumenthal has responded to Nation columnist Eric Alterman’s criticisms of his book with a piece in The Nation, saying:

When stripped of distortions and mistakes, Alterman’s commentary on Goliath is reduced to crude insults.

Meantime, Eric Alterman has now criticized Blumenthal’s book Goliath for a third time in the Nation, and this piece is his longest one yet, evidently because it involves his favorite subject. Titled “Despicable Me,” it describes a series of attacks on Alterman from Blumenthal’s allies.

Alterman lays claim to a long history of criticizing Israel going back to the Lebanon war in the 1980s and says that conservative Jewish organizations have the power to undermine a writer’s ability to earn his living. An important statement:

I suppose the major difference between the attacks of the conservatives who fund and control the professional Jewish organizations and those of Blumenthal and company is that the while the former have the money and power to interfere with my career and undermine my ability to earn my living as a writer and a scholar, the latter have only Twitter accounts.

Excellent point. This explains why liberal writers defer to conservatives on this question (see Samantha Power kissing Shmuley Boteach’s ring).

Alterman also accuses Blumenthal of issuing not one word of criticism of Hamas, but having a “big meanie” hypothesis about Israel.

The “big meanie” hypothesis is, sadly, the foundation upon which all of Blumenthal’s reporting rests. And despite cries of “censorship,” it is also, I imagine, the explanation as to why the book has been so resoundingly ignored in the media.

Alterman has used the same big meanie analysis against the Nation itself, when it opposed the attack on the Mavi Marmara. Alterman said the Nation “consistently demonizes” Israel.

This editorial, like most Nation editorials on the topic, simply assumes that Israel is 100 percent at fault in this conflict, and that whoever opposes it is 100 percent correct.

But my business is not to take Alterman on. (And I don’t agree with everything Blumenthal says.) What’s amazing to me is that a Nation columnist/Nation Books author is slamming another Nation Books author, at some great length, over a very important question: The place for Palestinian solidarity inside the left. That argument is now boiling over in the pages of The Nation and roiling the larger Nation community. As well it should. I imagine that Alterman’s co-author Mark Green, who is as PEP as they come (progressive except for Palestine), is a player in this debate too.

This should be a public debate. Blumenthal says that Robert Wright asked Alterman to go on bloggingheads with Blumenthal and Alterman refused. I’d be scared to debate Blumenthal myself. He’s brilliant, fluid and forceful, as Ian Lustick discovered last week. So maybe Alterman can have a second, and Blumenthal too.

But the debate really must take place, and it should be public. I urge The Nation or one of Alterman’s scholarly institutions, CUNY or Brooklyn College, to set up a debate format that would be amenable to Alterman. (For his part, Blumenthal would show up on a park bench.) They could sell tickets. This would be a big and important event. These guys should stop brawling in ink and have it out in the moment. The issues are too important not to do so.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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  1. Scott
    October 25, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Town Hall, like Radosh v. the Schnier’s.

  2. seethelight
    October 25, 2013, 3:24 pm

    There is no reason why two men of ideas should not talk to each other in a debate format.

    As for Alterman, the man “doth protest too much, me thinks.”

    • Krauss
      October 25, 2013, 3:47 pm

      How is Alterman a ‘man of ideas’, exactly? Ranting about Nader and protecting Israeli status quo, de facto apartheid? I guess he wrote an anti-Bush book or whatever, but that was more an attack on a person rather than any meaningful intellectual proposal the way you’d see from the late Tony Judt’s “Ill Fares the Land”.

      • stephenjones
        October 25, 2013, 6:05 pm

        Eric Alterman is not an analyst, intellectual, or moral presence. There will be no “debate” between Alterman and Blumenthal because Alterman has already showed us (three times) what his contribution to such an event would be.

        And frankly, I wish people would stop using the term “Progressive except for Palestine”. Give the Palestinian/Israel issue more credit: where you land on this indicates one’s political analysis and morality on a range of issues.

        Everyone should ponder the connections between Eric Alterman and Jack Newfield’s reactions to Aaron MacGruder at a $500/plate dinner for The Nation… and their commitment to Zionism. Consider that half the assembled guests couldn’t bear the sight of a black man voting for Nader instead of Gore… I mean, sure we old white liberals believe in black people’s voting rights, but uh…

        link to newyorker.com

  3. seafoid
    October 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Alterman comes across as a real CUNY.

    • Krauss
      October 25, 2013, 3:45 pm

      Funny, but a bit immature seafoid ;)

      • seafoid
        October 25, 2013, 4:19 pm

        FRom this side of the pond, Krauss,
        C+U+N usually mean one thing
        It’s a funny name for a university

  4. Krauss
    October 25, 2013, 3:39 pm

    There will never be debate. Max can destroy Eric easily.
    The reason(s) are threefold.

    1. Max has a greater command of the facts, especially in recent events as he has been immersed in Israeli society for much of the past four years.

    2. Both claim to be liberal, but on Israel, Alterman is a right-wing racialist. Not exactly a liberal position. Max will expose and humiliate Eric’s suppossed liberalism, and this is not merely an intellectual defeat for Eric. It is also a personal crisis. All his life he has been attacking white racists. Now he will be exposed as one too, only that his racism is in supporting a system of oppression not on the shores of America, which is why he got away with it for a long time. Max would undo this and he’d be exposed as the racist he is. Not only an intellectual embarrassment, but also a personal humiliation.

    3. Eric’s starting point is also weak. His attempt at a smear severely backfired, which wasn’t unexpteced, it’s a child’s game to debunk the huge amount of bogus claims he made.
    If a debate would take place, Eric would begin at a negative position before the actual debate even began.

    In brief, there’s no way in hell one of these debates will take place because Eric will be humiliated, which he knows, which is also why he is consistently ducking a debate and will continue to do so from here on out.

    • seafoid
      October 25, 2013, 3:51 pm

      It’s exactly the same reason why the Boston posters were taken down.

      There are no facts for Zionists, only competing narratives.
      Alterman’s competing narrative is very unfit.

  5. OlegR
    October 25, 2013, 3:46 pm

    I am always for a good show.
    Pity Christopher Hitchens is not around.

    • Shingo
      October 26, 2013, 5:28 am

      Hitchens was great so long as he steered clear of topics relating to the Middle East.

    • amigo
      October 26, 2013, 6:34 am

      “I am always for a good show.
      Pity Christopher Hitchens is not around.” oleg.

      Which one did you have in mind oleg.

      The Early Hitchens or the Late Hitchens.

      He was so smart he could not save himself from his own excesses.Chomsky ripped him a new posterior as did George Callaoway.

      Here is just a small example of Galloway dismantling Hitchens.
      link to youtube.com

      Funny , these zio apologists,in a sad sort of way.

      ludwig = CAMERA

      oleg = Hitchens.

      Whose next. Joan time immemorial Peters.You a JP fan hoppy ??.

      Desperate times require desperate measures.

    • Hostage
      October 26, 2013, 9:45 am

      Pity Christopher Hitchens is not around.

      Why? He co-authored and co-edited “Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question”. It’s still available from Amazon and other retailers.

      • OlegR
        October 27, 2013, 8:35 am

        Yeah he wasn’t a fan of the settlments but he would have loathed BDS’s specifically Blumnethal types.Just remember what he wrote about the Marmara in Slate.

        • Obsidian
          October 27, 2013, 10:05 am

          Hitchens read Max like a book and called him a ‘young skunk who hadn’t learned to spit’.

          link to huffingtonpost.com

          Well. Now Max has grown up.

        • Shingo
          October 27, 2013, 6:28 pm

          Hitchens lost all credibility when he backed the Iraq war and couldn’t bring himself to admit he had been wrong. Till the day he died, he insisted that Saddam had WMD, was building nukes and was linked to Al Qaeda.

        • OlegR
          October 27, 2013, 6:30 pm

          I miss reading that guy.
          He really had a way with words.

        • Hostage
          October 27, 2013, 6:57 pm

          Hitchens read Max like a book and called him a ‘young skunk who hadn’t learned to spit’.

          Actually, what I noticed, was that Hitchen’s did not respond to the many verbatim quotes from his own puerile postings that Max had cited.

          link to huffingtonpost.com?

        • Cliff
          October 27, 2013, 7:31 pm

          Who cares what Hitchens thought about Max.

          The only thing that matters is the content. And you trolls have nothing to contradict Max’s writings.

          Just more of the usual STANDARD Zio-babble excuses and diversions.

        • Cliff
          October 27, 2013, 7:36 pm

          OlegR said:

          Yeah he wasn’t a fan of the settlments but he would have loathed BDS’s specifically Blumnethal types.Just remember what he wrote about the Marmara in Slate.

          What did he ever say about BDS?

          Hitchen’s Slate article on the Mavi Marmara is a screed.

          What does this matter? There are 55+ 1 Star reviews of Max’s book and I think NONE of them are verified purchases.

          You haven’t read Max’s book.

          None of you fascists have countered Max’s claims.

          I think the reason you’ve continued to troll here without actually saying something is because your fellow right-wing bloggers haven’t been able to come up with something for you to copy and paste.

        • Obsidian
          October 28, 2013, 1:29 am

          ‘It takes one[skunk] to know one’, I suppose.

          BTW. I Max Jewish on both sides? I always wondered.

        • Obsidian
          October 28, 2013, 2:46 am

          @Hostage

          Maybe you should read the linked articles. Quoting, Hitchens,

          ” I never attended any such meeting at the Museum, on that or any other date, even if Blumenthal prefers – without any checking – to award Faurisson the presumption of truth. I would not advise him to make a habit of that.”

        • Cliff
          October 28, 2013, 6:09 am

          Why have you always wondered that?

          Weird.

        • just
          October 28, 2013, 8:46 am

          Why in the world does that matter to you? Are you Jewish on all sides?

        • Obsidian
          October 28, 2013, 12:15 pm

          “Why in the world does that matter to you?”

          I matters not to me.
          It would, however, help me to better understand him if I knew.

          Many people who fervently commit themselves to a cause, are often motivated by revenge.

        • Cliff
          October 28, 2013, 2:33 pm

          Revenge against what?

          ‘Many people who’ blah blah – is that your expert armchair, non-professional, unqualified opinion?

          Don’t you think it’s pathetic that you and the other Zio-trolls have not cited a passage from the book (other than that which is freely available for preview on Amazon.com) and provided a commentary?

          Every SINGLE one of you trolls have not read the book. So shut up about it.

        • RoHa
          October 28, 2013, 9:38 pm

          “It would, however, help me to better understand him if I knew.

          Many people who fervently commit themselves to a cause, are often motivated by revenge.”

          But if his arguments are sound, his motivation does not vitiate the force of the arguments. You should not dismiss them simply by saying “He just wants revenge.” This is as silly as the “You’re just jealous” response to legitimate criticism.

          Consider the Odones. Their motivation was to save their son’s life. Can we say “Lorenzo’s oil is not a useful therapy” on the grounds of their motivation? Of course not. It would have been just as useful if it had been discovered by an alien who preferred to eat healthy children.

          (And you should not have a comma after “cause”.)

        • Obsidian
          October 29, 2013, 7:02 am

          @Roha

          I never said, “He just wants revenge”.
          You shouldn’t have added quotation marks.

        • Hostage
          October 29, 2013, 7:33 am

          @Hostage Maybe you should read the linked articles. Quoting, Hitchens, ” I never attended any such meeting at the Museum, on that or any other date, even if Blumenthal prefers – without any checking – to award Faurisson the presumption of truth.

          Hey stupid. Maybe you should read the articles and my comments a lot more closely. Max was quoting Michael Berenbaum, then head of the Shoah Project at USC, not a Holocaust denier or revisionist:

          Faurisson’s assistant, Andrew Gray, is a Wagner expert and noted revisionist. On August 31, 1994, you went with him and Faurisson to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC to confront Michael Berenbaum (currently the head of the Shoah Project in Los Angeles). In his book on Revisionism, Faurisson refers to you as one of his “witnesses:”

          We spoke in his [Berenbaum's] office, in the presence of four witnesses (two on either side). I forced him to admit that, paradoxically enough, his Museum contains not a single concrete representation of a Nazi gas chamber (since the model of Krema II is only an artistic creation bearing no resemblance to reality).

          According to Berenbaum, the confrontation was taped by his assistant. Hitchens, will you call for the public release of the tape? Yes or no?

          Among other things, Hitchens response was an example of artless evasion and libel.

          I wasn’t talking about either Berenbaum or Faurisson when I said that there was no response to the many quotes from Hitchens own puerile writings that Max had cited verbatim. Hitchens simply said that anyone could read those and decide for themselves. So here are a few of his comments which affirmed revisionist claims made by Faurisson from Max’s article:

          You then wrote your Minority Report column for the Nation on October 3,1994 about a dialogue between you and Faurisson. “It is widely alleged that gas chambers– ‘chemical slaughterhouses’ — were used to destroy European Jewry,” you reported Faurisson telling you. “Very well, where is there a surviving authentic model, or photograph, or model of the operation of one such?”

          You replied, parrotting Faurisson’s own words to Berenbaum:

          “My own first answer must be that I have never seen such a relic of an operating gas chamber (though I have seen small-scale crematoria in camp museums in Germany).

          Faurisson then asked you whether you “understood that much anti-Nazi propaganda is just that? That there was no soap made from human fat? That the confession of Rudolph Hoss, commandant of Auschwitz was extorted by coercion and in any case mentioned a total death at Auschwitz that not even the Israel experts at Yad Vashem credit?”

          Your unbelievable reply: “Here, my answers are yes and yes, because I know that the story in the first case, and Hoss in the second, have been debunked.” And who “debunked” these stories other than Faurisson himself? Who?

          link to huffingtonpost.com

        • talknic
          October 29, 2013, 8:26 am

          @Obsidian “@Roha

          I never said, “He just wants revenge”.
          You shouldn’t have added quotation marks”

          Roha first quoted you verbatim

        • RoHa
          October 29, 2013, 9:07 pm

          ‘I never said, “He just wants revenge”.’

          And I didn’t actually say you did, but simply replace the offending sentence with “The belief that he wants revenge is not sufficient reason to dismiss his arguments.” You will find that my point still stands.

        • Obsidian
          October 30, 2013, 6:13 am

          I said nothing about dismissing his arguments base on his motives. Did I?

        • RoHa
          October 30, 2013, 7:07 am

          When you said, “It would, however, help me to better understand him if I knew. Many people who fervently commit themselves to a cause, are often motivated by revenge”, it gave me the impression that you might. But if you are not going allow any possible motivations influence you, that’s fine.

  6. Citizen
    October 25, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Just want to repeat the link to Blumenthal’s response to Alterman–it’s devastating: link to thenation.com

    • MHughes976
      October 25, 2013, 5:08 pm

      Yes, it’s good stuff. And the comments seem to run strongly Max’s way.

  7. Annie Robbins
    October 25, 2013, 4:11 pm

    “big meanie” hypothesis is, sadly, the foundation upon which all of Blumenthal’s reporting rests. And despite cries of “censorship,” it is also, I imagine, the explanation as to why the book has been so resoundingly ignored in the media.

    he imagines this why the book has been so resoundingly ignored in the media? and he calls his review ‘the i hate israel book’? as if he is not the media, as if the entire purpose of his review doesn’t read like he’s trying to get the book ignored by everyone.

    I suppose the major difference between the attacks of the conservatives who fund and control the professional Jewish organizations and those of Blumenthal and company is that the while the former have the money and power to interfere with my career and undermine my ability to earn my living as a writer and a scholar, the latter have only Twitter accounts.

    and what about alterman’s ability to impact max’s career and undermine his ability to earn a living as a writer? i read here that over at amazon, many many of the reviews cited alterman. it’s just strange to me because i read altermans’ hit piece and had he just brought up salient points instead of conflating a bunch of unsupportable stuff mixed w/ad hominems. if he didn’t like the book he should have used concrete examples why. not swiss cheese full of holes and inaccuracies.

    that said, i have not read alterman’s new review. if it’s anything as slimey as the last i am not sure i even want to. and what’s with the cowardly actions of not debating max in public.

    of course, this makes me really want to read max’s book. i just have to get myself over to amazon one of these days.

    • OlegR
      October 25, 2013, 4:14 pm

      You really should read something more interesting Annie.
      How about the late Yoram Kaniuk’s Tashah or
      Amos Keinan’s Al Daat Atzmo.

      • W.Jones
        October 26, 2013, 1:43 am

        Altermann recommends instead the book “Genesis”:

        The “big meanie” hypothesis is, sadly, the foundation upon which all of Blumenthal’s reporting rests. And despite cries of “censorship,” it is also, I imagine, the explanation as to why the book has been so resoundingly ignored in the media. Many critical books about Israel are published and reviewed these days…. I have no doubt that John Judis’s harsh rendering of Israel’s founding and the role of the US government in its early development will [receive a great deal of attention] as well. [It has] a strong, critical point of view of Israeli behavior rather than a pro-Zionist point of view. Both books, however, were written by authors who recognized the fact that that to tell just one side of an extremely complex and multifaceted story can be worse than telling none at all.

        AMAZON Editorial Reviews
        “Genesis, John Judis’s history of the Truman administration’s relationship to Israel and its neighbors, is a smart, unsentimental, and independent-minded rendering of a complicated tale. His arguments and evidence challenge the comforting myths that sustain all sides of this tragic conflict and, in doing so, have the potential to point all its actors in a more hopeful direction in the future.” —Eric Alterman

        What do you think?

        • OlegR
          October 27, 2013, 6:11 pm

          Haven’t read it maybe it is good.

        • Hostage
          October 27, 2013, 6:59 pm

          What do you think? . . . Haven’t read it maybe it is good.

          It doesn’t exist yet, but I per-ordered it.

        • just
          October 27, 2013, 8:26 pm

          From Amazon’s site:

          “In Genesis, John B. Judis argues that, while Israelis and Palestinians must shoulder much of the blame, the United States has been the principal power outside the region since the end of World War II and as such must account for its repeated failed efforts to resolve this enduring strife.

          “http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-American-Origins-Israeli-Conflict/dp/0374161097

          Happy to read it, but seriously– it is the US and Israel who need to “shoulder the blame.”

          Period.

          “Support for Israel and opposition to Palestine has been another strong theme in The New Republic. According to Martin Peretz, owner of TNR, “Support for Israel is deep down an expression of America’s best view of itself.”[8] According to journalism professor Eric Alterman, “Nothing has been as consistent about the past 34 years of TNR as the magazine’s devotion to Peretz’s own understanding of what is good for Israel…It is really not too much to say that almost all of Peretz’s political beliefs are subordinate to his commitment to Israel’s best interests, and these interests as Peretz defines them almost always involve more war.”[8]”

          (wiki)

          Has the whole world gone mad?

        • W.Jones
          October 27, 2013, 8:37 pm

          Did you Just ask that question?

        • W.Jones
          October 28, 2013, 7:18 am

          I meant, why did you Just ask that question?

        • just
          October 28, 2013, 8:49 am

          Because Alterman actually sounds sane in his assessment of TNR.

          As for blaming the Palestinians, well– that is complete and utter idiocy.

        • W.Jones
          October 29, 2013, 2:54 pm

          Just,

          I know what you mean about your first statement. He sounds like he is thinking critically. Probably within it you can find a grain of his other thought, though. That is, he criticizes TNR and Peretz for being far too hawklike. He casts aspersions on Peretz for thinking war is good for Israel or in its best interests. You may conclude that Altermann sees peace agreements as in Israel’s best interests, which he upholds.

          Based on the comments above, you may conclude that looking out for Israel’s interests is a goal of Altermann. Naturally this itself is not bad- we should want Israelis to live in peace with Palestinians keeping both of their rights intact. However, by making those interests a place of such sole concern, it may not be a complete surprise if he objects to Blumenthal’s revelations of intolerance as “not” “good for” the State. This goes back to the whole idea of “pro-Israel, pro-peace”, when in fact there is an ongoing confrontation with another side. An analogy can be drawn to WWI if you could find a party that is “pro-France and pro-Peace”. The Versailles Treaty may not be a completely unforeseeable expectation if the victors had such a mentality. Despite also being theoretically pro-peace and anti-empire, pro-nation parties in Europe supported war, which is very tragic.

      • Shingo
        October 26, 2013, 5:29 am

        How about the late Yoram Kaniuk’s Tashah or
        Amos Keinan’s Al Daat Atzmo.

        What makes them more interesting?

        • OlegR
          October 27, 2013, 6:16 pm

          Well for one thing they are not tedious to read.

          The first is autobiographic first person account of a young combatant during the 1948 war specifically the civil war stage and the battles around Jerusalem.

          The second is a biography of an interesting talented and difficult person written by his wife after his death from Alzheimer .

          Both are beautifully written especially Tashah.

        • Shingo
          October 28, 2013, 5:52 am

          Well for one thing they are not tedious to read.

          Nor is Blumental, unless what he has to say is simply too confronting for you to read, but Max has a superb writing style.

          The first is autobiographic first person account of a young combatant during the 1948 war specifically the civil war stage and the battles around Jerusalem.

          Sounds tedious.

          The second is a biography of an interesting talented and difficult person written by his wife after his death from Alzheimer .

          Sounds morbid and depressing.

        • Cliff
          October 28, 2013, 6:11 am

          You havent read either of those books LOL.

          Just like you havent read Max’s book.

      • talknic
        October 26, 2013, 10:48 am

        @ OlegR You really should read something more interesting like the hundreds of resolutions adopted by the majority of the UNSC condemning Israel’s illegal activities outside the State of Israel.

        • OlegR
          October 27, 2013, 6:17 pm

          What would be the point they all were a waste of precious forests.
          Like most of UN or even UNSC resolutions.

        • Shingo
          October 28, 2013, 5:54 am

          What would be the point they all were a waste of precious forests.

          Lots fo lives were wasted in WWII and 911. Are you saying there is no point in remembering them too?

        • OlegR
          October 28, 2013, 6:34 am

          What is the relevance of those tragedies to the current Impotent and corrupt
          organization “Debate club for Dictators” that is the current UN.

        • Shingo
          October 28, 2013, 7:02 am

          What is the relevance of those tragedies to the current Impotent and corrupt organization “Debate club for Dictators” that is the current UN.

          The fact that you can held accountability in such contempt, not to mention that Israel has corrupted the biggest and baddest dictatorship at the UN, which underlines your hypocrisy too.

        • OlegR
          October 28, 2013, 11:30 am

          There is no accountability enforced by the UN
          only words.
          / Israel has corrupted the biggest and baddest dictatorship at the UN, /
          Are you talking about the US
          do pray tell how is it a dictatorship not to mention biggest and baddest.

        • Shingo
          October 28, 2013, 5:18 pm

          There is no accountability enforced by the UN
          only words.

          Tell that to Iran and Iraq.

          do pray tell how is it a dictatorship not to mention biggest and baddest.

          1000 + military bases throughout the world

          Conducts drone attacks in any country it chooses with impunity

          Reserves the right to attack anyone it wishes without regards to international law

          Imposes unilateral sanctions and blackmails other states to comply

          No one comes close in the dictatorship stakes

        • talknic
          October 29, 2013, 8:16 am

          @ OlegR “What is the relevance of those tragedies to the current Impotent and corrupt organization “Debate club for Dictators” that is the current UN”

          Uh huh. So why is Israel still a member state? It’s the same UN Israel is desperate to improve its image with by rejoining the UNHRC while attempting to gain a seat on the UNSC.

          It’s the UN that had Iraq booted out of Kuwait. It’s the UN that feeds millions of refugees as best it can. The UN whose UNRWA protected and cared for Jewish refugees in Israel until the Israeli Government belatedly took over

          It’s the same UN and UNSC Israel DEPENDS ON FOR PROTECTION via the US UNSC veto vote.

          Israel desperately needs the UN to keep committing its crimes. If Israel relinquished its UN Membership it would lose its US Veto vote protection and become a failed state by virtue of its crimes

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 29, 2013, 8:47 am

        “Yoram Kaniuk’s Tashah”

        Given that Kaniuk called israel “ludicrous, blunt, vile, dark, sick, and it will not last,” his work might be worth reading.

    • Philip Munger
      October 25, 2013, 4:34 pm

      Very well put, Annie. I did read Alterman’s third “essay.” It is an uncomfortable read, as he unwittingly lays a lot of context he might not even understand himself, on how he has buckled under external pressure over the years, to create his unique fief in the ZioBorg.

      Hope to get around to reading Max’s response later today.

      Chance of Alterman appearing in a debate-like forum with Blumenthal: <25%.

    • Reds
      October 25, 2013, 5:06 pm

      Read both Max’s response and Eric.

      While Max provide example after example as to why Eric review was distortful. Alterman’s was again snide, personal, and colorful in his use of Ad Homs against Blumenthal and anyone who support him. MHD pays himself on the back for being attacked by the right.
      The odd thing is he talks about Max dad and Clinton.

      • Philip Munger
        October 25, 2013, 5:44 pm

        The odd thing is he talks about Max dad and Clinton

        Reds,

        Alterman’s continuous references to Sydney Blumenthal almost strike me as some sort of veiled threat toward Max – as if Alterman is in on some sort of secret about a hidden shortcoming of Max’s father, that Eric is too kind to reveal publicly. Yet. Re-read the references. Vaguely creepy.

        Then again, I may be reading too much into it.

        • W.Jones
          October 26, 2013, 12:54 am

          Philip and Reds:

          Altermann says the book’s author’s father is circulating “scurrilous attacks” about him to mutual friends? Why would he do that and what would those attacks be?

  8. Danaa
    October 25, 2013, 4:18 pm

    As Krauss says above, there’s no way Alterman can agree to debate Max, if only because he, Alterman, knows next to nothing about israel, be it the history, current political climate or trends. So all he has left is the very lame “what about hamas?”, as if that was an argument, or a point of fact. Max did not exactly extohl hamas in his book either, the subject of which was attitudes within israel. And if the subject of hamas did ever come up, then Alterman will have to respond about the unbearable conditions in the gaza civilian internment camp (or ghetto, as some call it), and he would have little defense there – other than more “but what about Hamas?”.

    In a debate, Max will have all his facts straight about israel and what goes on in the various segments of that society, and Alterman will have – what? some warmed over factoids? some hasbara sheets that can be debunked by a child?

    Neh, not gonna happen. For the same reason no liberal zionist will debate Phyllis Bennis, or even Phil himself, just to use a couple examples.

  9. Nevada Ned
    October 25, 2013, 5:42 pm

    I’ve read the original article by Blumenthal, the original attack “review” by Alterman, the reply by Blumenthal, and two more attacks by Alterman.

    Alterman lost the debate, decisively. He appears not to know much about Israel, and it’s not even clear that he read Blumenthal’s book beyond the table of contents.

    In the past, Alterman has been clever by successfully “navigating” the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, voicing enough (mild) criticism of Israel to keep credibility at The Nation, while acting as the enforcer against harsher criticism of Israel (a posture which helps his career with the Israeli lobby). Alterman was thus positioned to be The Nation’s in-house columnist for Israeli hasbara.

    This most recent debate between Blumenthan and Alterman will seriously hurt Alterman. In his piece, “Despicable Me”, Alterman says that he’s not going to debate facts with Blumenthal. Which means that Alterman has surrendered on the facts, choosing instead to salvage what is left of his credibility by reciting his track record, as an alleged critic of Israel.

    • justicewillprevail
      October 25, 2013, 6:46 pm

      Alterman, not unlike Boteach this week, has made a public fool of himself, scrabbling around to justify his smear article. If the height of his intellectual prowess is to bleat ‘what about hamas’ and reduce Max’s detailed reporting to ‘the big meanie’ hypothesis, then he has lost already. You can’t imagine someone with this paucity of arguments having the nerve to face Max in public, there is no evidence to suggest he has any reasoned basis on which to make a stand, just the usual mix of innuendo, whataboutery and self-promotional gloss. Fail.

  10. Justpassingby
    October 25, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Alterman, a typical angry israel-firster.

  11. ToivoS
    October 25, 2013, 6:09 pm

    This is an interesting exchange. I think Alterman has badly wounded himself here. Before now, I really did not think of him as being a strong Israel supporter and in fact had no association with his name and Israel — rather he just another somewhat wishy washy liberal. He has now defined himself as one of the hasbara brigade. This cannot help his reputation and might cost him readership among many progressives.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    October 25, 2013, 7:40 pm

    RE: ‘The Nation’ should stage a debate between Alterman and Blumenthal

    A GREAT INTERVIEW ON SAM SEDER’S “MAJORITY REPORT”:
    ● 10/22/13 Max Blumenthal – Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel
    Journalist Max Blumenthal explains why he wrote his new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, understanding the key institutions of Israeli society, Israeli education, what drives Benjamin Netanyahu, the human rights crisis in Israel Palestine now, why so many Israeli’s live abroad, the rise of the far right in Israel and why it dominates and the danger of redefining Judaism globally.
    LINK – link to majority.fm

  13. Rusty Pipes
    October 25, 2013, 9:58 pm

    There is no need for a debate. Alterman has no further insights to add. His latest blog post, a better written and more lengthy post than his cover story, has clearly been given more attention. He emphasizes that it was written for free. Alterman has invested his free time to regain his liberal respectability after exposing himself in such an unseemly manner in his original review.

    For some reason, Alterman is surprised that after writing a piece called “The I Hate Israel Handbook,” he has gotten negative responses from some among the Nation’s readership. It is as though he is surprised that there are some American liberals (both Jewish and non-Jewish) for whom the range of acceptable discussion about Israel is not somewhere between Liberal Zionist and Neocon. The American debate about Israel/Palestine has been shifting for a few years; but Alterman appears to have been blindsided by that reality.

  14. just
    October 25, 2013, 9:59 pm

    Alterman failed, and will continue to fail. He will run away from any debate with Max– he’s a loser who can only use print to whine and lie about the truths that Max has brought into the sunlight. 3 “rebuttals” already? He uses ad hominem attacks with assumed impunity– it won’t work.

    Twit.

  15. W.Jones
    October 26, 2013, 12:43 am

    The bottom of Eric’s blogpost (3rd response) says: “Editor’s note: Eric Alterman will respond to Max Blumenthal’s most recent post in the Letters to the Editor section of a forthcoming issue of The Nation.”

    Doesn’t that sound like Altermann will write a fourth response? That may be more interesting reading here, I suppose, for MW’s commentors.

    Peace.

  16. Kathleen
    October 26, 2013, 12:53 am

    Apologize for the off topic link. But did you folks see that Hayes covered Adelson’s insane threats against Iran on his show?

    Top GOP donor says nuke Iran
    Chris Hayes tackles GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s latest foreign policy recommendations.

    link to msnbc.com

  17. W.Jones
    October 26, 2013, 1:34 am

    Truth is different from “facts.” Facts can easily mislead if presented in a purposely (or even accidentally) distorted context.
    link to thenation.com

    Sentence 1 is a good example of how facts can mislead. It is a true fact that truth is different than facts. It can be a “truth” that being nice is good. But isn’t that a true opinion, not a true fact?

    But anyway, true facts are part of Truth, and so this philosophical instruction does not somehow disprove that Max’s “technically accurate” facts are not true. At most, they can be used in a misleading way, but those facts themselves are true.

  18. Justpassingby
    October 26, 2013, 4:39 am

    The israel-firsters have already given Blumenthal’s book 77 negative reviews. This book must be good!

    link to amazon.com

  19. piotr
    October 26, 2013, 3:39 pm

    There are 52 reviews with 1 star (worst), 24 reviews with 5 starts (best) and 3 in between. By the way, review number two (5 stars) is by MJ Rosenberg.

    I guess Alterman is not the best partner for a debate. he is prone to repetition and voicing extremely questionable theories as a “truth” — mercifully, he explains that to him, “truth” is independent from “facts”, which gives the hint about his intellectual methodology. You have start from compiling the “proper context” which allows to sift through mountains of fact and quickly sort them as “confirming”, “irrelevant” and “exceptions”. From that standpoint, Blumenthal compiled a bunch of irrelevant exceptions and thus the book is a piece of trash. To cite the immortal words from fablog:

    “It sure was a long way till the end of the world,” says me.
    “The way was guarded by lions and chimeras and manticores and logicians and other ferocious beasts,” says Giblets.
    “Fortunately we are impervious to logic,” says me.
    “Modus ponens has no hold on Giblets!” says Giblets. “He swats antecedents like flies!”

    Alterman bravely swats the antecedents.

    • Cliff
      October 26, 2013, 4:00 pm

      Nearly every single one of the 5-star reviews is hounded by the EXACT same handful of Zionist trolls.

      This just goes to show you how psychotic these people are. Unhinged and fanatical.

      None of them read the book. They seem emotionally incapable of subjecting themselves to reality or – in the most generous terms I could offer a Zionist – ‘another view’.

    • edwin
      October 26, 2013, 4:02 pm

      If you only count the verified purchases he has received 5 star reviews – 9 of them.

      • Cliff
        October 28, 2013, 6:14 am

        Yep.

        None of the 1 star reviews are verified purchases.

        So the pro-Israel cult megaphone’d this one. What a bunch of losers.

  20. ritzl
    October 26, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Another interesting aspect of this exchange is that maybe 5 years ago, Alterman’s first review would very likely have been the end of the conversation. Now Blumenthal responds factually, crisply, directly, and Alterman, in an effort to salvage his reputation (liberal) and career (pro-Israel machine), blows a bigger hole in both by looking the transparent fool/tool.

    The hasbara effort is becoming remarkably like one of those Allstate “Mayhem” commercials. “Shaky. Shaky. Shaaa-ky.” Crash.

    link to youtube.com (It’s a commercial, sorry.)

    Be the “random windstorm,” Max (and everyone).

  21. W.Jones
    October 26, 2013, 6:29 pm

    Blumenthal gave a good talk on Democracy Now on his book:
    link to democracynow.org

    Do you come away with was a sense that what we may regard here as occasional intemperate posters are there not only common, but expected?

  22. Nevada Ned
    October 27, 2013, 3:12 am

    I’ve started reading Max Blumenthal’s book, and I’m now read about 20% of it. The book is just devastating. All the Israeli pretexts are blown away. This book can make a big difference, if people read it.

    Previous recent books have been influential: books Jimmy Carter (Peace not Apartheid) and Walt and Mearsheimer (The Israel Lobby). For both of these books, the usual suspect attempted to smear them as anti-Semites, etc., but without success. The two books went on to the NYT best seller list, and stayed there for months.

    Goliath may top them all. Merely as exposition, bringing together incidents from scattered sources, the book is a triumph.

    The other side (the Israelis and their supporters) must know that they have no good answer to Blumenthal’s indictment, so their only hope is to convince people not to read it. Hence Alterman’s attack is an attempt to smear the book and the author.

    If Blumenthal’s book is widely read, it will have a big influence, especially on non-Jews, and on Jews who are not irrevocably committed to Israel’s right wing..

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