‘Zionism has made us insiders’ — David Grossman tells Max Blumenthal

Israel/Palestine
on 68 Comments

This post first appeared on Corey Robin’s site and he allowed us to republish it. Blumenthal’s encounter with Grossman is in his new book, Goliath.–Ed

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.

About Corey Robin

Corey Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin and Fear: The History of a Political Idea.

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68 Responses

  1. James Canning
    October 6, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I of course think the occupation(s) begun in 1967 are most important. Arab leaders are willing to accept the loss of 78% of Palestine. (Israel within pre-1967 borders)

    • tree
      October 6, 2013, 7:33 pm

      Why is it it only important because of the opinions of “Arab leaders”? Does justice rest solely on what is acceptable to leaders? If so, then justice, equality and, for that matter, democracy are doomed.

      • James Canning
        October 6, 2013, 7:35 pm

        @tree – - You really think the issue of what to do with Israel should be decided by referendums? In numerous Arab countries? Not realistic.

      • tree
        October 7, 2013, 1:08 am

        I think it should be resolved on the basis of justice and equality for all. If the heads of African States at the time were agreeable to South Africa remaining an apartheid state, would you have advocated for such because it was “realistic”? Should the US have remained a state that barred blacks or women from voting because the heads of various Latin American and European states agreed to the disenfranchisement?

      • James Canning
        October 7, 2013, 6:41 pm

        @tree – - South African whites were more concerned about demographic inevitaiblity, that blacks would take power in South Africa. Nothing to be done about that. So, making a deal was realistic way forward.

        You appear to assume Israel can be coerced into annexing all of the West Bank. Correct?

      • tree
        October 9, 2013, 5:07 pm

        You appear to assume Israel can be coerced into annexing all of the West Bank.

        No, I do not. I acknowledge that in effect it already has. I am agnostic as to 1 state or 2, but realize that unless all people in I/P are treated equally there will be no justice, and thus no peace. This is not a threat, but a realistic observation that, in order to maintain inequality, violence is always required, and violence is always the reaction: in other words, violence is the symptom, not the disease. Solve the inequality, solve the violence.

      • James Canning
        October 9, 2013, 7:28 pm

        @tree – - I think Israel is being careful not to annex, or appear to annex, portions of the West Bank with too many non-Jews.

      • tree
        October 10, 2013, 6:35 am

        James,
        It seems to me that you always seem to focus on the most shallow and mundane points. Have you nothing to say about inequality? Israel doesn’t officially annex the West Bank, because then it can’t play the “peace process” game, but for all intents and purposes, it has annexed it, and is busy moving Palestinians into smaller and smaller enclaves where they can strangle any Palestinian livelihood and force the Palestinians to leave the West Bank. I assume that you are fine with that, as long as some “Arab leader” signs off on it, and you couldn’t care a whit about justice or equality.

      • James Canning
        October 10, 2013, 6:22 pm

        @Tree – - I agree that Israel would like to force all Palestinians to leave the WB. Or most of them. But fact remains, Israel probably cannot be forced to annex parts of WB with too many non-Jews. Yes, condemn Israel’s oppression of the Pals.

      • Walid
        October 6, 2013, 8:14 pm

        ‘Why is it it only important because of the opinions of “Arab leaders

        They are tired of what is perceived as a giant headache. For the people, it’s something else. This 9-month current charade is going nowhere because the Palestinian people will have no part of whatever is being agreed to behind their backs.

      • Hostage
        October 6, 2013, 8:52 pm

        This 9-month current charade is going nowhere because the Palestinian people will have no part of whatever is being agreed to behind their backs.

        The September polls indicated that half of the Palestinian public supports the talks; that the majority aren’t optimistic about the outcome; but that they do favor passage of a referendum if an agreement is reached. They also favor joining the ICC right now to help stop settlement construction. link to pcpsr.org

    • talknic
      October 7, 2013, 6:38 am

      @ James Canning
      “I of course think the occupation(s) begun in 1967 are most important.”

      Occupation began in 1948 according to the Israeli Government.

      22nd May 1948 “… the Provisional Government exercises control over the city of Jaffa; Northwestern Galilee, including Acre, Zib, Base, and the Jewish settlements up to the Lebanese frontier; a strip of territory alongside the road from Hilda to Jerusalem; almost all of new Jerusalem; and of the Jewish quarter within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The above areas, outside the territory of the State of Israel, are under the control of the military authorities of the State of Israel, who are strictly adhering to international regulations in this regard. The Southern Negev is uninhabited desert over which no effective authority has ever existed. ” link to pages.citebite.com
      ” the Government of the State of Israel operates in parts of Palestine outside the territory of the State of Israel link to pages.citebite.com

      Jerusalem Declared Israel-Occupied City- by Israeli Government Proclamation 12 Aug 1948 link to mfa.gov.il
      /Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/2+Jerusalem+Declared+Israel-Occupied+City-+Governm.htm

      ‘The international regulations at that time said

      Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907 Art. 42 SECTION III
      “Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. “ link to avalon.law.yale.edu

      By 1950 Israel had occupied some 50% of what remained of Palestine after Israel was declared and recognized as Israel ASKED to be recognized “proclaimed as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ link to trumanlibrary.org

      “You really think the issue of what to do with Israel should be decided by referendums? In numerous Arab countries? Not realistic.”

      The 78% of Palestine isn’t Israeli …. yet. None of the territories illegally acquired by war link to pages.citebite.com by Israel by 1950 have ever been legally annexed to Israel.

      Even if the Palestinians agree to cede 78% of their territory to Israel, it must still be legally annexed to Israel to finalize Israeli sovereignty over that territory.

      It IS up to the Arabs to agree that their territory be annexed to Israel. It’s Customary International Law and the US was instrumental in it passing into Customary International Law by having adopted the legal custom of having an agreement in order to legally annex. Texas, Hawaii even Alaska which they bought from the USSR, were all legally annexed according to the legal custom of having an agreement.

      ” (Israel within pre-1967 borders)”

      The pre-1967 borders are in fact the May 15th 1948 borders. No borders have ever changed. Armistice and ceasefire demarcation lines were drawn and changed, neither of which were borders except where they followed already existing borders and the only existing borders were those of the existing Arab states and those of Israel May 15th 1948.

      • James Canning
        October 7, 2013, 6:35 pm

        @Talknic – - Arabs leaders are willing to give Israel clear title to the 78% of Palestine stolen before 1967. You may think this is unfair to the Palestinians.

      • talknic
        October 8, 2013, 9:28 pm

        @ James Canning “Arabs leaders are willing to give Israel clear title to the 78% of Palestine stolen before 1967.”

        Self determination link to pages.citebite.com

        “You may think this is unfair to the Palestinians”

        Self determination over their own territory is fine by me. They’ve clearly thrown the ball back into Israel’s court. Israel’s response is to build more illegal settlements. Eventually the world will wake up

      • James Canning
        October 10, 2013, 7:02 pm

        Perhaps all world leaders need to tell Israel it cannot change borders by growing colonies of Jews in the WB.

  2. seafoid
    October 6, 2013, 2:05 pm

    “The people of exile, the wandering Jew, has come home.”

    Not really. Still wandering. Not sure where home is.
    Zionism is very shallow and unsure of itself.

    It comes out in such ritual pronouncements as “eternal indivisible capital” and the obligatory standing ovations in Congress.

  3. seafoid
    October 6, 2013, 2:26 pm

    Even the high intellectuals of Zionism fall back on the same crap reassurances.
    The lies. There was no continuity with the ancients and the memes were thrown together hurriedly and they suffered dreadfully in the climate .

  4. traintosiberia
    October 6, 2013, 2:36 pm

    How was 1947 or 1948 or the decade of 40s and 50 s covered by American News paper or British news paper ? Any links from any one please ?

  5. pabelmont
    October 6, 2013, 3:07 pm

    [1]

    “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.”

    But, as Peters urged in “From Time Immemorial”, Jews always lived in Palestine. They were not numerous before 1900, but they had no trouble becoming resident. Even after the expulsion from Spain (1492-ish), they were welcome in Palestine. They went elsewhere (e.g., Turkey, Iraq) by their own preference, not under pressure. Or so I understand.

    So where was Grossman getting his “we have been kept out”?

    [2]

    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.

    • fnlevit
      October 6, 2013, 4:49 pm

      Moderator, dont you see here all the elements of the anti-Semitism? I quote
      ” 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. ”

      These people are Jews!

      And the real pearl

      “The CEOs of all those BIG-BANKS! Etc. The media personalities. ”

      This person is an open anti Semite. He he has moved long since from the “anti-Zionism” to anti-Semitism. He is talking about Jews (not just Zionist)- the CEOs oand media. How can you allow this to be posted?

      • Annie Robbins
        October 6, 2013, 7:20 pm

        ok, let’s look at your pearl:

        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.

        how is this anti semitic and how is it any different than max’s point when he says:

        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.”

        i am really not understanding why you think this is anti semitic. then pablemont goes on to say:

        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.

        well, they have. this is what why many feel (incuding our justice department under bobby kennedy) aipac should have to register under FARA link to en.wikipedia.org

        even on the j street article phil wrote about today you hear Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, any political effort that involves pressuring the American government to pressure Israel to do something that Israeli Jews and their leaders are not willing to do “it is at best distasteful to us.

        i watched the video, did you? he is not concerned forthe best action for the US, his priority is serving what the israeli people and gov think is best. this is offensive to me as an american. it is merely a reality that there are many american jews who do act as 5th columns for israel. and a lot of them are ‘insiders’. they are accepted in american society, they are movers and shakers and have done very well in this country. but their first alliance, when it comes to the israel/US relationship is to serve israel’s interests.

        something is not anti semitic if it is true.

      • hophmi
        October 7, 2013, 1:41 pm

        “how is this anti semitic and how is it any different than max’s point when he says:”

        Well, in the first place, Grossman’s use of the word insider has little to do with the fact that there are some Jewish CEOs and some Jewish media personalities. It’s simply Grossman’s way of comparing the existence of a people without a nation-state to one who inhabits a nation-state.

        Your failure to see how an argument that looks at the religion of people who are financial and media leaders and assumes from that that they act a certain way is the argument of a bigot is your own shortcoming.

        You know, it’s all well and good that Max is Sidney’s son, and that Sidney was an aide to President Clinton. So was Vernon Jordan, a much bigger one than Sid Blumenthal. So was Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary. So why does Sid Blumenthal’s job makes Jews collective insiders (and that’s the key concept here, the insinuation that Jews act collectively as Jews) but Vernon Jordan’s job does not make African-Americans insiders and Hillary’s job doesn’t make Protestants insiders?

        “even on the j street article phil wrote about today you hear Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, any political effort that involves pressuring the American government to pressure Israel to do something that Israeli Jews and their leaders are not willing to do ‘it is at best distasteful to us.’”

        It’s distasteful to lots of non-Jewish people too, as well as others whose experience in peacemaking has taught them that the US can’t force a solution on the Israelis or the Palestinians. So why are only the Jews important?

        “i watched the video, did you? he is not concerned forthe best action for the US, his priority is serving what the israeli people and gov think is best.”

        No, Annie. That’s your INTERPRETATION. He believes that the best thing for the United States, should it want to influence a peace agreement, is not to pressure Israelis into doing something their elected representatives don’t want.

        If we go by your logic, someone who opposes bombing Iraq because they believe that Iraqis can’t be forced into democracy, even if US policymakers believe that it’s in the US interest, is pro-Iraqi, and anti-war groups should register as foreign agents for the Iraqi government.

        “it is merely a reality that there are many american jews who do act as 5th columns for israel.”

        No Annie, it is not a reality. The reality is that there are a few Americans on the far right and far left who are bigots and believe that people are not permitted to argue positions that they disagree with without enduring bigoted declaration that they are “Fifth Columnists.” It’s almost exactly like what happened before World War II with Father Coughlin. That’s the intellectual argument you’re channeling.

        ” they are accepted in american society, they are movers and shakers and have done very well in this country. ”

        They? THEY? They are AMERICANS. They are as American as you are. And don’t you ever forget it.

        “something is not anti semitic if it is true.”

        Unfortunately for you, Annie, and your ilk, it is not true, and you are, perhaps unintentionally, a subscriber to bigotry.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 7, 2013, 3:40 pm

        “It’s almost exactly like what happened before World War II with Father Coughlin. That’s the intellectual argument you’re channeling. ”

        Not even close. The closest pre-WWII analogy to people today being concerned with some Americans’ unhealthy attachment to an alien state would be those who argued in opposition to the German American Bund, and that group’s unhealthy attachment to an alien state.

      • traintosiberia
        October 6, 2013, 11:17 pm

        Government shutdown will close museum as non essential service but Tablet magazine thinks it is essential and closure it says – is” Bad For the Jews” 2011 and 2013
        1-
        The Government Shutdown: Bad For the Jews!

        Holocaust Memorial Museum would be closed
        By Marc Tracy|April 8, 2011 10:00 AMShould the federal government shut down because of partisan budget differences, “essential” employees would continue working: President Obama would still be on call, and congresspeople would still receive salaries from your tax dollars (due later this month!). However, thanks to the intrepid reporting of Our Man on the Interwebs Dan Klein, I can confirm that among the “non-essential” government functions that would close pending a new budget is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. “If the government shuts down the Museum will be closed to the public beginning Saturday, April 9th,” a Museum representative wrote in an email, “and no visitors will be allowed to enter the building while the federal government shutdown is in effect.”

        The email added, “The Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust.” Sounds pretty essential to me! link to tabletmag.com

        2-Yet another federally-funded casualty of the government shutdown, now in its second day? The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Washington, D.C. institution.

        “The Museum is closed to the public due to the federal government shutdown. It will reopen when the federal government resumes operation,” reads a message at the top of the museum’s website, confirming a hypothesis published on this very blog back in April 2011: that a government shutdown is bad for the Jews. Oct 2,2013
        link to tabletmag.com

        If Tablet can get confused about what is essential and what is not and between it’s own constant search for permanent propaganda and economic sufferings of the millions from the paralysis of the administration , you can understand why some might question the priority and cold indifference of some semite think tank.

      • Cliff
        October 7, 2013, 5:23 am

        Disgusting LIAR fnlevit.

        This interview is not antisemitic.

        Zionist FASCISTS and COLONISTS like you want to make everything under the sun antisemitic.

        It was GROSSMAN who said ‘insider’.

      • Cliff
        October 7, 2013, 5:31 am

        Israel Firsters are a fifth column. They drag America into Israel’s hatreds.

        They demonize Arabs and Muslims to distract from Jewish colonialism.

        Antisemitism is not objective. It is based on old politics and old religious attitudes from another era.

        Applying historical antisemitism to current geo-political realities is DISHONEST.

      • talknic
        October 7, 2013, 6:52 am

        fnlevit “These people are Jews!”

        Doesn’t make then any less 5th columnists, spies or Israel before the US lobbyists

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 7, 2013, 9:41 am

        fnlevit “These people are Jews!”

        Doesn’t make then any less 5th columnists, spies or Israel before the US lobbyists

        But you don’t understand. To bigots like fnlevit, that expression includes and unspoken assertion, “Those people are Jews! They deserve extra consideration solely because they are Jews.”

        It’s one of the defining pathologies of zionism: That a criticism is illegitimate even if true, if the person critiqued is Jewish.

    • James Canning
      October 6, 2013, 5:11 pm

      Historically, Jews relocated to where economic opportunities seemed promising. Changing countries readily.

  6. pabelmont
    October 6, 2013, 3:34 pm

    “Zionism has made us insiders”. Hmm. Zionism-in-practice has made Israelis owners of a great and valuable property and, as Marx or someone else said so pithily, “All Property is Theft”. Israel got its territory the old fashioned way, the very old fashioned way, by superior military force. They stole it. Bible’s full of stories like that, and so is real history.

    UN Charter comes close to saying that that system won’t wash anymore. Read UNSC 242 (1967). But USA defeated the UNSC.

    Sigh. If Israel is to give anything back, someone else (not the powerless PLO) will have to exercise great force against Israel.

    I’m waiting, he said, tapping his foot impatiently.

    • piotr
      October 6, 2013, 11:34 pm

      Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is not “Marx or someone else”. :-(

  7. German Lefty
    October 6, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Max’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel has just come out.

    I just bought the audio book. The narrator is easy to understand for non-native speakers. That’s not the case with every audio book.

  8. seafoid
    October 6, 2013, 4:59 pm

    There is more to it than insiders. Zionism has hardened a lot of Jews. It has silenced so many people. It has bullied many. And it’s going to crash regardless.

  9. Keith
    October 6, 2013, 5:33 pm

    “Because of Zionism, we finally have the chance to be insiders.”

    It has long been my contention that Zionism has contributed significantly to Jewish success in the US. This occurred for two reasons. The first is that Zionism is a variant of blood and soil nationalism that has weaned American Jews from Marxist universalism. Marxism was viewed as a threat to capitalism, Zionism was not and, in fact, was highly congenial to cooperation with fascism and support for capitalism in general. Both Israel and the US are forms of a national security state. The second is that Zionism replaced Judaism as the unifier of the Jews which Judaism could no longer do having splintered. Zionism provided organized American Jewry with a common power-seeking ideology which focused tribal cooperation and organizational effectiveness. Israel’s success in the 1967 war completed the process. Jews were no longer viewed as socialist/Marxist threats to the status quo, but as stalwart defenders of capitalism and militarism. This success has primarily accrued to the Jewish elites who may no longer require Zionism to maintain their positions of power and privilege.

    • MRW
      October 6, 2013, 10:43 pm

      Where did your comment go, annie?

      • Annie Robbins
        October 7, 2013, 12:53 am

        i changed my mind.

      • MRW
        October 7, 2013, 4:44 am

        @annie. It was a good comment. Piercing insight; it took me aback.

        Every pebble from helpful people helps in carving a new road out of the current morass.

    • bilal a
      October 7, 2013, 5:54 am

      Its something different than blood soil nationalism, it is transnational blood ethno -centrism, with greater Israel as HQ,coupled with non-ethnic global citizenship, but retaining diaspora rights insider claims to the entire world, making the non-cooperative members of the ‘nations’ all ‘outsiders’. Marxist universalism then becomes a bludgeon for cleansing the body politic of the old insiders for replacement with the new , triumphant in their cosmopolitan corporate transnational identity, and morally superior in their Huxley universalism.

      Far from any organized ethnic conspiracy, this seems a non-ethnic evolutionary change in human consciousness, of which Zionism is merely a corollary, marching forward through global mass communications backed up by the full violence of the NATO IMF usury military-intelligence complex.

      What then is the consequence for localist resistance of the older insiders, of which Gaza is but one mere example? Yes there is the depleted uranium, white phosporous, and the drone of drones overhead, but perhaps more insidiously , the 24/7 bombardment of its pernicious totalitarian culture.

      Turning the tribe , extended family human being, into a programmed, hollow materialist, atomized consumer weaver ant laboring for its Walmart Google Queen, it offspring repletes living food storage:

      Honey Ant repletes:
      link to howitworksdaily.com

      Ant colony raiding a rival nest to take away its living repletes

    • Betsy
      October 7, 2013, 9:51 am

      @Keith — this are really interesting ideas. Do you have any links or readings to suggest re/ writings that go into this in depth? One of the strange things about the debate in US about Israel, is how few people are connecting the I/P questions to what it means for the American State & Nation. E.g., the Grossman argument above is so familiar (and disgusting & tiresome) to someone like me who was a teenager in Baltimore during civil rights era. E.g., Baltimore elite keeping Jewish families out of certain neighborhoods & schools & supporting Jim Crow because they argued for the cultural & civilizational value of enclaves of “people like us” –e.g., “insiders” based on some vague combination (in their stupid thought processes) of moral, racial, ethnic, cultural superiority. So, if people are supporting that kind of ethnically based enclaving in Israel, is it ok to now go back to that in the US? The ‘golden age’ of Jewish experience in US has had everything to do with anti-ethnonationalist, anti-racist movements in US. The ideology of Zionism legitimates ethnonationalism & the fusing of ethnic superiority with the State apparatus. What effect does Zionist ideology have on the US, and all our hard fought efforts to try to undo that merging of ethnic identity & elite power?

      • Keith
        October 7, 2013, 1:34 pm

        BETSY- “Do you have any links or readings to suggest re/ writings that go into this in depth?”

        I discussed this in greater detail a little over three years ago in a mini-essay titled “Perverse Triangle” (Link below) Additionally, a short but valuable book I frequently recommend is “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” by Israel Shahak. Also, “The Hidden History of Zionism,” by Ralph Schoenman. There are others, but they are longer, and include “Overcoming Zionism,” by sometime Mondoweiss contributer Joel Kovel.
        link to saskck.blogspot.com

      • Bumblebye
        October 7, 2013, 4:53 pm

        Betsy
        Consider the “gated community”. What are they but poor copies of West Bank settlements? Which, of course, came first.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    October 6, 2013, 6:06 pm

    RE: “Because of Zionism, we finally have the chance to be insiders.” ~ Grossman

    MY COMMENT: Thinking of Grossman’s son, what if being an “insider” ain’t all its cracked up to be?!?!

    • Walid
      October 6, 2013, 8:05 pm

      “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 think about Jews having been outsiders all these years and wonder how much of is attributed to others having kept them out and how much to Jews having
      deliberately kept themselves out with their customs, religion, “next year in Jerusalem” keeping to themselves and among themselves, fighting assimilation and all that because of their perceived exceptionalism.

      I see it here every 5 weeks or so with Phil analysing his Jewishness and thus contributing to perpetuate this exceptionalism that is so often debated. I don’t think there is another cultural, ethnic or religious group that is spending as much time analysing itself. We just saw it again with the recent poll. Grossman is using it to justify the natural need for Zionism with its warts; that’s bogus.

      • crone
        October 6, 2013, 11:05 pm

        Thank you…

      • yonah fredman
        October 7, 2013, 5:24 am

        Walid- The essence of your argument (or wondering) is why didn’t the Jews stop being Jews, give up their customs and joined the religions of the host countries that they were in. This is blaming the victim. Yes, the Jews tried to maintain their identity. To call this “perceived exceptionalism” is a type of barely concealed intolerance for differences and given that the history of mankind for most of the last thousand years has not been nearly as tolerant as mankind in the latter half of the 20th century, it is really an intolerant attitude that you have expressed here. (You wouldn’t tolerate this attitude towards Muslims in Europe today, so why should I tolerate this expression of this attitude towards the Jews?)

      • Walid
        October 7, 2013, 5:01 pm

        Yonah, you’ve turned my questioning of a fact into a condemnation of it, which of course was not my intent. Going back in time, did the Jews insist on living together on the “outside” or were they forced to? I honestly don’t know. When I used the term “perceived exceptionalism” I was simply referring to Jews inculcating themselves generation after generation with the “chosen” and “promised” tags and the probability of their ensuing self-inflicted exceptionalism. As to my feelings towards Europe’s Muslims of today, they’re not as charitable as you would imagine them and not properly reading through my message could be because of the haze of the ever present persecution cloud, possibly another inherent trait of induced exceptionalism.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 7, 2013, 5:21 pm

        “This is blaming the victim.”

        No it isn’t. It’s wondering why they didn’t take what is the superior choice. If someone is told by someone who has the power to carry through on the threat: “Convert to Christianity (or Islam or whatever) or we will kill your children” only a monster would keep his religion.

      • DICKERSON3870
        October 10, 2013, 11:26 pm

        RE: “I think about Jews having been outsiders all these years and wonder how much of is attributed to others having kept them out and how much to Jews having deliberately kept themselves out with their customs, religion, “next year in Jerusalem” . . . ~ Walid

        NOTE: “The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sand – review”, By Donald Sassoon, theguardian.com, 4/18/13

        [EXCERPT] . . . In traditional Judaism there is no injunction to “return” to the “land of Israel”. The ritual “next year in Jerusalem” that is part of the Passover Seder prayer was never a call to action, or to reconstitute a state.

        By the 19th century, those who wanted Jews to “return” to the Holy Land were more likely to be Christian Zionists than Jews. . .

        SOURCE – link to theguardian.com

  11. mcohen
    October 7, 2013, 7:13 am

    Walid says:

    October 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    ” I don’t think there is another cultural, ethnic or religious group that is spending as much time analysing itself.”

    walid,…….i assume that from your name you are middle eastern but
    on this forum a person called “vlad the impaler” could be a little old lady from Brooklyn with a knitting needle

    anyway why I mention the middle eastern connection because there is a good chance you have heard of people called jews

    but before the internet and before the I/p fugwattah many people worldwide when asked if they knew what a jew was would say

    1.a rice noodle
    2.a mastication
    3.a short sharp sneeze

    but now thanks to the internet and the I/p fugwattah everyone knows about the torah,the chumash,zionism,holocaust,……you name it

    if we as jews could keep it quite we would,trust me -look the other way is the other mossad motto
    in fact almost every single person who speaks English has heard of the,,,,dreaded dreadlock mossad——hey probably everyone even knows the motto

    the problem is that the cat is now out the bag and everyone is obsessing about the jews

    it is non jews who are doing the analysing —why would jews bother ,we nominated woody allen as our sole obsessor-he is the go to man for the rest of us who are too busy trying to make a living

    in short walid -why not spend more time comtemplating your own belly button,who knows ,you might even end up discovering a few warts,
    if you look real close

    • Hostage
      October 7, 2013, 4:21 pm

      @mcohen we’ve pointed out time and again that the US taxpayer is getting stuck with the $3 billion per year tab needed to run Israel’s defense scam and we are foregoing all the income taxes on billions more that its supporters pour into the illegal settlement enterprise. We also routine watch our government veto UN sanctions that would have ended the conflict long ago.

      If we are going to piss away our grandchildren’s fortunes, then all of the fruits of that charitable public funding and our political capital should stay in this country or be used to benefit our own citizens. You obnoxious Zionist trolls should meditate on your own plentiful supply of warts and STFU about others for a change.

      • Obsidian
        October 8, 2013, 12:26 am

        America’s, problem plagued, F 35 Stealth Jet program, the most expensive in US military history, comes with a price tag of $395.7 billion.

        And Hostage claims that his grandchildren’s fortune is being pissed away in support of Israel.

        Hostage. Why not come out and blame Israel for the 1 trillion dollars the US wasted in the Iraq war.

      • Hostage
        October 8, 2013, 8:27 am

        America’s, problem plagued, F 35 Stealth Jet program, the most expensive in US military history, comes with a price tag of $395.7 billion. And Hostage claims that his grandchildren’s fortune is being pissed away in support of Israel.

        I don’t see why you mention that white elephant then. Israel is one of the the nine countries that joined to help develop and design the F-35. Major portions of the plane will be manufactured in Israel. Israel has driven-up design costs and complexity by demanding capabilities that were not part of the original specifications, i.e. a two seat version, and integration of Israeli hardware and software. So Israel is an integral part of the problem that I was complaining about.

      • Obsidian
        October 8, 2013, 10:53 am

        I mention that white elephant, and the Iraq war, to balance your absurd claim that your grandchildren’s fortune is being pissed away because Israel receives 3 billion in aid.
        What part of your grandchildren’s fortune is being pissed away on aid to Egypt or the $1 billion Juno probe that’s being sent to explore Jupiter?

      • James Canning
        October 8, 2013, 7:13 pm

        @Obsidian – - I assume you agree that neocon warmongers in the US conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq, and that “protecting Israel” was a large part of their scheme?

      • Hostage
        October 8, 2013, 8:00 pm

        I mention that white elephant, and the Iraq war, to balance your absurd claim that your grandchildren’s fortune is being pissed away because Israel receives 3 billion in aid.

        Correction: Israel receives $3 billion per year, at a time when our federal officials claim that they can’t afford to takeover the failed municipal retirement system in Detroit, because it would require a one time expenditure of $3 billion.

        Our lawmakers have targeted the Food Stamp and Meals on Wheels Program that many seniors and poor families rely upon for defunding or major across the board reductions under the law on Sequestration, which exempts aid for Israel. The only thing that’s absurd is you.

      • Walid
        October 11, 2013, 12:47 am

        “… the US conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq, and that “protecting Israel” was a large part of their scheme…”

        James, I like to blame Israel just as much as everybody and at times a bit more but as to blaming it in large part for the Iraq war, you’d have to start off with the premise that the US does absolutely nothing that is not its favour and that includes the 4 billions annually paid to Israel and Egypt as well as its war on Iraq. If one day the US decides that Israel is of no longer use to it, it would step on it as it would on a cockroach. For the time it’s more a question of looking out for its own interests than of protecting Israel and Israel is riding high as a beneficiairy.

    • Walid
      October 7, 2013, 5:15 pm

      MCohen before you drift out into outer space with your wild guessing about me, I lived many years in a Jewish neighbourhood and was never bothered by the mezuzah at my front door and I even knew what was inside it. So yes, I know what a Jew looks like.

      • mcohen
        October 8, 2013, 5:25 am

        miriam6

        fugwattah is an exclusive mcohen word which means something like “balagan” in Hebrew -I thought it up as soon as I saw the name “walid”-somehow the word combines both Hebrew and Arabic in one word-in my mind that is
        I have grown weary of all the other words and the reasoning behind them to describe the I/p conflict (fugwattah) and feel that a fresh approach is needed,starting with a new language
        in fact on many sites on the internet you hear the same stuff over and over,year after year,from both idiots and highly educated people
        lots to say but nothing new to add
        so
        can you imagine
        a new word that google could not find
        that in itself is worthy of a noble peace prize

      • miriam6
        October 8, 2013, 10:03 pm

        mcohen@;

        fugwattah is an exclusive mcohen word which means something like “balagan” in Hebrew ..

        balagan; a word for chaos or fiasco borrowed from modern Hebrew (where it is a loan word from Russian); “it was utter and complete balagan!”

        link to dictionary.reference.com

        ‘Balagan’ or ‘fugwattah’ both seem entirely appropriate to the I/P conflict..

        I have grown weary of all the other words and the reasoning behind them to describe the I/p conflict (fugwattah) and feel that a fresh approach is needed,starting with a new language

        Imagination will certainly be needed to resolve the great ‘balagan/fugwattah’ that is the I /P conflict..

        The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible
        Vladimir Nabokov

        Keep on doing what you are doing and inventing new words my sweet brother.

        Love Miriam.

        One must still have chaos in him to dance with a shooting star Friedrich Nietzsche

    • miriam6
      October 7, 2013, 5:39 pm

      Mcohen@;

      What or who is a ‘ fugwattah’?

      Maybe a mcohen word for quagmire/ disaster?

      I get the I /P bit but..

      I tried googling it but no result.

      Out of all the commenters here you do have the most original , creative and ‘out there’ way with words..

  12. Les
    October 7, 2013, 11:50 am

    The official denial of the 1948 explusion of Palestinians is why Ilan Pappé chose to leave Israel forever.

    • Walid
      October 7, 2013, 5:48 pm

      “The official denial of the 1948 explusion of Palestinians is why Ilan Pappé chose to leave Israel forever.”

      It was that as well as his troubles with his university when he took up the defense of Theodor Katz’ Masters thesis submitted in 1998 to the U of Haifa about a previously unknown massacre by Israel’s army in the Palestinian fishing village of Tantura during the 48 war that was based on the testimonies of 60 Tantura residents that claimed that over 200 Tantura residents after having surrendered, had been lined up and slaughtered by the IDF’s 33rd battalion. More troubles landed on him when he called on British academics to boycott Israel’s universities. Those combined with death threats he received made him pack his bags.

  13. Obsidian
    October 8, 2013, 12:14 am

    Pappe’s troubles with his university began when he lent his support to Theodor Katz’ Masters thesis; which thesis turned out to be false, doctored, concocted and libelous.

    • Walid
      October 11, 2013, 1:38 am

      “… Theodor Katz’ Masters thesis; which thesis turned out to be false, doctored, concocted and libelous.”

      Nothing false about the Tantura massacre, Obsidian. It’s been documented by Israelis down to the exct IDF’s 33rd battalion that committed this horrible crime. It’s not worth my time to rehash the proof here as you wouldn’t accept it anyway. The list of massacres by the Zionist forces is very long and very vicious. The worst of it is that it started way before the declaration of the state of Israel. How many people were actually expelled from Palestine by the Zionists before the war was started?

      • Obsidian
        October 11, 2013, 4:18 am

        @Walid

        No, no. Please show me your proofs and if they’re convincing than I’ll own up to a massacre. I have no problem with admitting massacres.

      • German Lefty
        October 11, 2013, 11:54 am

        Nothing false about the Tantura massacre, Obsidian.

        Obsidian, here’s some evidence for you:
        link to roadtotantura.com
        It’s the documentary “Road to Tantura” by Hala Gabriel. I watched it a while ago and found it very moving. It contains interviews with several witnesses of the massacre. At 11:10, she interviews a German-born Jew who fled from the Holocaust, later joined the Haganah and participated in the Tantura massacre. He said that this massacre reminded him of what he had experienced as a child.

        Will you now admit that the massacre actually happened?

  14. yonah fredman
    October 9, 2013, 11:48 pm

    I disagree with David Grossman. Having Jews who are Insiders is not the essence of Zionism. The essence of political Zionism is having a Jewish army. If Max Blumenthal’s father had been an insider in the pentagon or in the army then that would be comparable to the Jewish need satisfied by Zionism. Sidney Blumenthal as insider in the Clinton White House does not answer the need of Jews for an army.

    (The Jews need more than just an army, particularly when they established a state dependent upon the world powers, Britain and the US, and against the will of the indigenous in the territory where they established their state and its army. So an army in these circumstances is not sufficient and other talents, more familiar to nonarmy diaspora Jews, far more attuned towards compromise and appeasement and playing well with others, are in fact necessary. But Jews had insiders at other times of history (not up to the level of insider-ness in the current tense west especially USA) but this was not an assurance of well being. An army was the essence of what Zionism provided. (An army with a territory.)

  15. RoHa
    October 11, 2013, 2:01 am

    “the need of Jews for an army”

    Australian Jews had the Australian Army, British Jews had the British Army.

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